To transition into UX, don’t ignore your past

2 things surprise me about students transitioning into UX.

The first is their diversity of backgrounds.

I’m talking architects, nurses and engineers.

The second is that they often dismiss their prior professions.

“How do I transition into UX from a TOTALLY different background?”

As a UX career coach, I challenge my students on this.

“Is it so different?

I don’t know anything more user-centered than taking care of a patient or providing customer service.

But they put UX on a pedestal.

And fail to see the connection between their previous jobs to UX design.

  • If you’re an accountant, you’re good at understanding business from a numbers perspective. UX teams can use more business-savvy designers comfortable working with spreadsheets and data.
  • If you have a microbiology background, you’re accustomed to conducting research, running experiments and discovering insights. This rigors of the scientific process is valued by companies that value objectivity and experimentation.

It’s all in how you frame your previous experience.

After all, user experience is freakin’ broad.

If you have affected someone’s experience IN ANY way, you’ve affected the user experience.

Instead of starting from scratch, consider the existing material and career capital you can build off of…

  • Expertise within an industry
  • The types of projects you’ve worked on
  • Universally useful skills like communication and project management

Not only will this give you more confidence when you’re starting out in UX, but you will have a more compelling story when it comes to UX interviews.

I’m not saying this is easy.

(Transitioning into UX is hard, which is why UXBeginner exists.)

So this is my suggestion –

Map out how your previous career relates to UX.

Your existing expertise. Your skills. Your strengths.

Maybe this effort requires a review of user experience fundamentals, processes and deliverables.

But it’s worth connecting the dots.

To have a future in UX,

Don’t ignore your past.


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