31 Oct 2022 11 min read
Changing careers at the age of 30 ∙ How I became a UX/UI Designer
By Shraddha Pawar
That's me at the age of 30!
I was an accomplished architect, so I never saw myself here, as a UX/UI designer.
I spent my whole childhood in the Mumbai suburbs; yet, when I went to the city for college, I was constantly in awe at the sheer amount of labour that went into creating those enormous stone structures. I would sit and stare at those wondering how they must have designed this!
I graduated with top marks in the field of architecture. I worked on great projects with incredible architects.
Mumbai, city of lights! [Photo: Nishit Parikh]
How architecture influenced my life
As time went on, I grew increasingly interested in how architecture could influence our daily lives, our emotions, our behaviors. As a result, I was amazed by the idea that people's lives could be improved through design, and how they would modify every aspect of their lives in response to what we created for them.
I was amazed by the idea that people's lives could be improved through design, and how they would modify every aspect of their lives in response to what we created for them.
After 6 years of working as an architect, the bubble started to burst!
I didn't have enough creative freedom while working as an architect in a large city in India. Lack of space, a tight budget, and a disregard for design deterred me from making this my career. When I say that I was working long hours without receiving a fair wage, I believe that every architect would be able to sympathize. Not to mention having no social life at all!
I enjoy travelling and discovering new locations. How am I meant to do that when I spend all day and night staring at my laptop? But every dark night has a new day asking you to wake up and change your past!
The Taj Mahal, India [Photo: Julian Yu]
The search for purpose
In this pursuit, I started looking for alternative job paths that would complement my architectural design training. It was challenging at first; I would spend my weekends reading articles to learn about people's journeys toward their calling and how switching careers, even at the age of 40, had a positive impact on their lives. I was motivated to find my true calling!
I finally found it after searching for two years. I started my search by looking for architecture businesses that just dealt with design, employing sustainable architectural techniques, and even attempting to explore interior design, but I was having no luck. I needed a stronger purpose, something where design could help solve larger problems.
It was time to expand my search and step outside of my comfort zone.
This is how UX/UI came to me, through a friend. This is also how I found my calling at Antarctica.
How I transited to UX/UI Design
With a lot of fascination and curiosity, my research began, I started exploring what it meant, watched tons of videos on Youtube and read articles on Medium. Youtube is a great platform to find content and yes there’s a lot, so let me help you with some of channels with great content:
Bring Your Own Laptop ∙ For free short courses with an Adobe certified instructor, Dan. Even if UX is not your thing, you can discover something to improve your design skills because he teaches a variety of design tools that are frequently used by designers.
Rachel How ∙ She is passionately committed to sharing her self-taught knowledge and showing others how to make their own way in the creative industry.
Mizko ∙ This channel features over 30 hours of content with just over 1.2M hours watched, including in-depth lessons, tutorials, career advice, and insights into the day-to-day of the Design team.
Vaexperience ∙ Vy Alechnavicius is an award-winning experience designer, design leader, strategist, and UX team manager. He uses the Vaexperience channel to concentrate on more all-encompassing, human-centered services and goods.
Learning the basics first
In 2020, during the pandemic, I took up an online course to learn the fundamentals of UX design. It was a 6-week course with live sessions on the weekends with our instructor. After a day of the course, I knew there and then that this was something I was going to dedicate myself to.
I took up another course, this time the Google’s UX design certificate course. The course covers enough to set students up for entry-level jobs in the UX design space and is a well-respected certificate in the industry.
There are free courses online to get you started on your journey to a new career path, well into UX design specifically:
You can take this course on Coursera for free; the only fee is for the certificate.
This is a free course for members only.
Keep practicing, my friend
A lot of people stop here. Most people enjoy watching videos and reading articles as a form of passive learning, which makes them feel good about themselves, but learning doesn't happen until you put what you've learned into practice.
The simplest approach to get started is to take something that is already available and COPY it or redesign it using a tool like Figma based on what you think is right.
When you take a good design and recreate it pixel by pixel, you may begin to understand why choices were made for the layout, font, and space.
The fantastic design community will support you in this by offering insightful criticism on your work. But don't stop there; continue to test your designs on friends, family and colleagues to receive honest feedback; after all, they might just be the users of your future websites and apps.
It will enable you to iterate and enhance your designs in addition to giving you a new perspective on your project. Asking for comments can make you feel vulnerable, but keep in mind that all of the most well-known designers became who they are through incorporating criticism.
Changing professions can be challenging, especially if you have dedicated a lot of time to one industry. But once you're in the right place, everything magically clicks into place, so follow your gut and take the risk!
It's never too late to make a change in your life; who knows, at forty I might find another passion. I won't be worried because I'll know exactly what to do at that point.
I'll be following my heart up until then to see where it leads.
I hope you enjoyed my story. Give me a high-five if you did!
In my next article I will tell you how Antarctica changed the way I look at design and how we apply design to solving the world's problems through software development so stay tuned!
By Shraddha Pawar
Antarctica is a software concept, design and development company that builds easy to use applications and architects complex to build ecosystems. We do it for people who believe just like us that fighting climate change isn’t an option, it is our generation’s utmost duty.
So we made it simple: the things we do, the products we build, the services we render, must either protect our mothers or protect Mother Nature. Said otherwise, our mission is to either save lives or save Life, penguins included.
We are the good side of technology. We are Antarctica.
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