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UX Prototyping

From a Teacher to a UX Designer: The Great Switch

The Great Switch is a series featuring those who have transitioned careers during the pandemic. We hope their stories can serve as inspiration for those who are considering a career switch. Now, more than ever, companies are focusing on employee engagement, shifting to remote or hybrid work models, and employees are prioritizing their careers and health. This is the future of work.

Meet Jessie Olson, a teacher who pivoted to a UX designer during the pandemic. While these industries may seem worlds apart, Jessie’s managed to bring her love for problem-solving and creating beautiful things into the world of UX design. This is her story.

1. What were you doing before the pandemic?

Before the pandemic, I was in my senior year of college pursuing my B.S. degree in Education. When the pandemic hit, I was in the midst of student-teaching and landing my first teaching job as a virtual first-grade teacher.

2. What are you pursuing now?

I am currently pursuing UX/UI Design through an immersive, online UX Bootcamp called DesignLab. Since February, I have completed over 800 hours of professional training covering the full range of UX disciplines, practices and tools.

3. What made this the right time to switch for you/did you have any doubts?

As cliche as this sounds, they say the best time to start is now. After realizing that teaching wasn’t my forever career and I figured out what I wanted to pursue – I made the leap asap! I had no doubts that user experience is what I wanted to pursue, but I did question whether or not leaving my safety net of a secure job and income was the right choice.

FYI – it was! Fully committing to my transition into UX Design has allowed me to give my all into my Academy, projects, networking, etc.

4. What lessons have you learned during this process?

Another cliche, but, I’ve learned to kind of go with flow and just do the best that I can. If I’m being completely honest, changing careers is pretty daunting.. There are so many unknowns, what ifs and have nots. But, with every challenge, comes growth! Aside from the hard skills in UX:

  • I’ve become an excellent problem solver and learned how to turn complex problems into solutions..
  • and can adapt to change quickly.
  • I’ve learned to push myself outside of my comfort zone..
  • and that anything worth it takes persistence and patience.
  • I’ve learned how to not be so hard on myself…
  • and give myself credit for all that I’ve accomplished so far.

5. Have you dealt with imposter syndrome since switching? If so, how did you overcome it?

Yes! Not to be dramatic, but everybody deals with imposter syndrome. I have talked to seasoned designers who say that sometimes they still struggle with it. The best advice I can give is to not let it stop you. Celebrate your successes, let go of perfectionism, practice self-compassion and learn from your failures.

6. What tips would you give someone who wanted to pivot?

If you’re thinking about it, do it. You need to do what’s best for YOU – not anybody else. This is your life and you have control. Take the leap, be persistent and everything will work out how it should. Aside from the cliches, it’s important to:

  1. Do your research! If you are changing careers and need to pursue more education, really look into all of your different options.
  1. Start networking sooner rather than later. Hit up people in the profession you’re pursuing and ask them questions that will help you be better.

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