How did my life after college go?
After graduating from Ithaca College with a BS in Cinema and Photography and minors in Communication, Management, and Design; and the Honors Program, I stayed the Summer in Ithaca, NY and worked part-time for my professor to save money and relax. I didn’t jump immediately into intense job searching because I wanted a break.
I moved to New York City in August 2018 without an apartment or job lined up.
I couch-surfed in a frat house and my good friend Matt’s sofa, eating Ramen and eggs, and living out of a suitcase.
Within a month, I became a proud Brooklyn renter and I got hired as a full-time graphic designer at PEI Media, a private equity conference and editorial company, which I found through an alumni connection.
I grew up in a town that had more cows than people, and where Amish buggies were the norm. My central New York graduating high school had 38 students, so NYC provided quite the switch. I was very fortunate to be moving at the same time as some friends from college, so I had a bubble of friends and a roommate waiting for me.
Career switching from graphic design to UX Design
After about 2 years, I realized that graphic design wasn't for me. When I started to transition to UX Design, I took night classes, freelanced, interned, and volunteered on nights, lunch breaks, and weekends, since I had a full-time job already.
I applied to a competitive UX mentorship program, Hexagon, and got in - working with the best mentor Alina; attended 50+ networking and creative events, went to several coffee dates, listened to hours of podcasts, read articles up the wazoo, and led volunteer projects.
I knew what I wanted, but also recognized it was going to take a lot to transition to a career that I had no experience in yet.
For those of you that are interested in getting into UX design, I don't want to romanticize it. It takes ALOT of time, effort, and emotional energy to get what you want. I'm also not glorifying working nights and weekends, just being transparent about what my experience was.
Many of the resources in this guide are geared more toward full-time work but can be applied in other situations as well. Since I've become a UX designer, most of my projects have been either contract or freelance. That's my preferred way to work so I have the flexibility to work on a variety of projects and create my own schedule. I'll be adding freelance tips in the next release.