Here's How A UI Design Course Brought Me Out Of My Comfort Zone To A New Life In Germany

Realizing she was on the wrong career path, Tricia tells us how she retrained to become a UI designer.

by Jaye Hannah on 5 November 2019

tricia ui 1

Tricia’s story begins in the eclectic melting pot of Singapore, where she kicked off her love affair with design while studying Visual and Graphic Communication at university. Although her degree incorporated some aspects of design, Tricia tells me that digital design remained elusive during her studies. Instead, she focused on advertising, photography, interior design, and branding.

Straight out of university, Tricia found herself working for a local graphic design agency, where her responsibilities included printing posters and logo designs. While she adored the products and materials that she was working with, Tricia often found herself getting frustrated with the slow-paced nature of printed design projects. Feeling disenchanted with the current trajectory of her career, Tricia took to the job boards in search of a fresh challenge.

Alongside researching a new position, there was another dream that Tricia had long since fostered; moving to Germany. Naturally, I’m keen to understand why.

“I lived in Singapore for 14 years, and I always felt like something was missing. I really enjoyed working with international teams, and I found it incredibly insightful to be confronted by different perspectives. I was always really drawn to the diversity of German cities like Berlin.”

Keen to make her dream a reality, Tricia began applying for jobs in Germany as well as in Singapore. After a torrent of hard-hitting rejections, it seemed that the stars weren’t quite aligned. Desperate to make sense of her unfruitful job search, Tricia did an audit of her skillset. Could a gap in her skillset be the reason for the lack of interview offers? Was digital design the road she needed to go down?

Instead of searching for a new job, Tricia went back to the drawing board in search of a new career path. Through her search, she discovered user interface (UI) design. Upon learning that UI design would allow her to build on her foundational knowledge in marketing, branding, and advertising, while also allowing her to segue into digital design, everything finally fell into place. For Tricia, there was not a shadow of a doubt that this was the career path for her.

There was just one question that remained: how would she actually make the switch? Tricia needed a course that she could take in Singapore, and preferably that would be flexible enough that she didn’t need to quit her job. When she came across CareerFoundry, she was thrilled that she’d found a course that ticked all her boxes. Wasting no time, she quickly enrolled in the UI Design Program.

“With CareerFoundry being based in Berlin, I really felt like it would bring me one step closer to my goal of living and working in Germany.” 

The conversation turns to Tricia’s CareerFoundry experience, and she’s quick to speak candidly about her struggle to balance the course with her full-time job. Studying while working full-time can feel like a recipe for becoming burned-out, but with the ongoing support of her mentor Olga, Tricia was able to stay grounded and motivated.

“Even after I finished my course, Olga never stopped being my mentor. I was always able to reach out to her for advice. She’s been amazing.” 

The further Tricia got into her course, the more confident she felt in her decision to pursue UI design. She loved getting to grips with the design process, adapting applications for mobile use, and getting into the users’ head while designing beautiful interfaces. She enjoyed it so much, in fact, that she simply couldn’t wait until the end of the course to start the job hunt.

Around two thirds into the course, Tricia landed a job as a UI designer at a local company in Singapore

“I felt that getting a job as a UI designer while taking the course would allow me to test the skills and processes I was learning in a real-world context. I also thought it would help me build up a more robust portfolio.” 

Patience, she lightheartedly jokes, has never been one of her virtues!

Despite being fresh into her new role, Tricia found herself unable to let go of her vision of living and working in Germany. After three months, she began searching for a job again—this time exclusively looking for positions in Germany. To her surprise, she was accepted for a position as a Senior Usability Engineer in Erlangen, South Germany.

With a job offer under her belt, Tricia suddenly felt confronted with the magnitude of moving so far away from her home, 10135 km away in Germany.

None of my family had lived in Europe before, and I’d never even visited Germany. Everything I knew about the country was from Google. It was a pretty big deal.”

Transitioning into a new career is no small feat. With so much to consider, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and disorientated by all the change happening around you. In Tricia’s case, she also had the inevitable culture shock of moving abroad to think about. When she finally set foot on German soil, however, everything fell into place.

I’m keen to know how Tricia settled into her new job.

“My job entails a mix of UX design and UI design. What I’m doing now feels totally new and fresh. It’s very client-facing, and I’m so glad that CareerFoundry taught me all the theory of user interface design, as I feel like I use everything that I learned on a daily basis. CareerFoundry taught me about the value of the design process, and the design process is very heavily involved in my job. There’s also a lot of project management, which isn’t something I have experience with. The expectation feels high, but I’m rising to the challenge!“

As her manager recently left, Tricia has found herself quickly taking on more responsibility, including interviewing new candidates.

“One of the candidates was a CareerFoundry student! It was even more ironic, because a lot of my interview questions were from the job preparation course. It felt so weird to be on the other side of the interviewing panel.”

It’s certainly been a year of transition and adjustment for Tricia. While she’s joked several times throughout the interview about her lack of patience, it’s clear to me that she’s incredibly adaptable—and exceedingly determined. Tricia’s story is a testament to the fact that rejection should never derail your dreams. Dust yourself off, keep working hard, and you will eventually get to where you want to be—which, in Tricia’s case, is here in Germany!

So, what’s next for Tricia?

“I’m actually taking the UX specialization course, which is great! It’s so useful to have the foundational knowledge of UX, as UX and UI are so integrated.” 

Tricia is still settling into her new job and her new environment. One thing’s for sure; now that she’s here, she intends to stay in Germany for a very long time!

As we round off our conversation, Tricia reflects on how her journey has taught her one crucial thing: the value of being patient. Of course, you should never stop working towards your goal—but Rome wasn’t built in a day. I can’t help but find myself nodding along to her as she talks about it. When embarking on a new career, it’s hard not to want everything to happen at once. But it’s essential to take the time to really understand what you want out of a career change, and how you intend to get there.

The moral of the story? With hard work, patience, and dedication, nothing is beyond reach!

What You Should Do Now

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by Jaye Hannah on 5 November 2019

About the author

CareerFoundry Marketing Content Editor Jaye Hannah

Jaye Hannah

Jaye is a London-based freelance writer and content strategist with a background in EdTech. When she’s not working on her UX writing course, you’ll find her nerding out over inclusive content.