My Unusual Journey from Construction Worker to UX

Photo by Katrina Wright on Unsplash
Photo by Katrina Wright on Unsplash

Meanwhile, I’ve been a UX Designer for over two years. Before that, I worked hard to turn a job I absolutely did not like into a job I absolutely love. My job is now my passion, it’s my Ikigai.

The career switch

Back in 2019, I had decided to leave the construction industry and follow my dream. I regretted every day that I had just missed out on my bachelor’s degree in Interactive Multimedia Design due to the death of my father in 2013. Quitting my bachelor degree program in the final year was not a good idea, but at the time, it was the only solution. Now, it was time for a change. Here is my story.

It all started in 2018 with starting a side job as a graphic designer and web designer. I assumed that if I put a website on the world wide web, the customers would come flooding in automatically. Of course, this was not the case.

In 2019, I thought it would be a great idea to turn my life around without a second thought and go to my employer with the message that I was going to be self-employed as a graphic designer and web designer with no plan, clients or backup. In hindsight, this idea was completely crazy as there was no buffer. But without this leap of faith, I would not be where I am today.

I joined a business club to get some clients. Fortunately, there was an old friend of mine who was the first to give me a chance to build his branding and website. After that, I rolled out a few projects that gave me a taste of branding, web design and web development for small businesses. What intrigued me most during my assignments was to find out the usability and experience of the website. This made me continue with the idea that I ended up with at college. The curious interest in user experience and usability.

From self-employment to a career in UX

Taking all these risks had one goal: getting me into a digital agency’s design role. Because of my additional interest in branding, and lack of in-depth knowledge of user experiences (I was very aware that I only scratched the surface of UX at that time), I tried to apply as a ‘brand strategist’ at Intracto in 2020. The vacancy was far too ambitious, but no guts, no glory.

During the application, my enthusiasm and eagerness to learn were fortunately considered highly enough. Because of this, the interviewers soon realised that experienced brand strategist for national and international brands was too ambitious with the experience I had, but that they could offer me an alternative solution to fill an open vacancy for a junior UX designer. I realise that I got very lucky to get a chance to land my very first UX role without much (if any) experience. Landing your first UX role is the hardest part of all.

From the moment I stepped out of the interview room, I was hooked on UX and everything around it. I am still very grateful to the the people that hired me that day. Without these people — directly or indirectly — I would not be where I am today. I have been following one-day courses at NN/group, a six month university-credited UX course at the UX Design Institute, expanded my UX library with +30 books and read blogs, articles and journals on a daily basis for the past 2 years, to understand the UX design process and its challenges as thorough as possible. My goal is to make the world a little better by making computers easier to use, one experience at a time.

A word of motivation

If you find yourself in a similar situation as I was 4 years ago, know that possibilities do exist. Maybe I didn’t add enough drama to the story but believe me, the nightly hours and stressful situations where there. But almost every situation has a solution as long as you persevere very hard and are occasionally lucky enough to meet the right people at the right time.