Architecture to UX: A mid-pandemic career switch
Tell us about yourself?
I’m Sherraine, an aspiring UX designer on a journey to switch careers from Architecture to UX. In my spare time, you can find me reading, creating things, or binge-watching Netflix.
What led you to a career in tech?
Like many others, the pandemic brought about a divine season of deep introspection and time to explore within.
Since the age of 16, I had my career all planned out. Quite simply, I was to become an architect. There were no ifs or buts, I just knew what I wanted. So when I finished my degree in Architecture (RIBA Part 1) at Oxford Brookes University, I was excited to move on to the next stage in my plan, a work placement in an architectural practice.
Unfortunately, I was unprepared for the realisation that Architecture school and Architecture in practice were two different worlds. To my horror, after a year and a half into my placement, I began to question whether this was the right career for me. Then soon after my placement finished, the pandemic began and the choice of whether to enrol in a Masters of Architecture course which would now be 2 years of online learning, just didn’t appeal to me anymore.
Unemployed, I started looking for other jobs whilst the pandemic continued on. This period of my life I refer to as my mini-retirement. A time when I was able to explore my creativity in a way that I haven't been able to do for a very long time. A time when I was able to create for the sake of creating.
The job search was gruelling but the retirement had to come to an end. I secured a CAD technician position in a furniture company and after a few months I soon began to feel bored and unchallenged by the role, it lacked the creativity that I had recently reconnected to. I was essentially a cog in the machine, I had no input in the beginning process of the project and very rarely, did I see the outcome of my work.
This was the point at which I started exploring other careers outside or overlapping architecture, such as lighting design or graphic design before stumbling upon UX. I remember watching a YouTube video of someone showing what their day in the life of a UX designer was all about and my heart sang. This was a real job! I loved the way in which UX fused pragmatism and creativity and how much the designer was involved in the entire process.
Months later and my journey to UX ground to a halt. This delay had a lot to do with my own personal fears and lack of confidence. At the time I had just turned 25 and was experiencing a full-blown quarter-life crisis. I feared I was wasting time, I feared trying something new outside of my industry, and I also feared disappointing that 16-year-old version of myself that said she wanted to be an architect.
After some deep introspection and talking to so many other career switchers, I soon realised that people along with their goals evolve, I was no longer that 16-year-old girl.
The vision I have for my life has changed and that’s ok.
Then in comes divine intervention, if you want to call it that, which just so happened to enter in the form of redundancy. With nothing essentially holding me back, I decided to go for it and pivot my career from architecture to UX.
I enrolled on a UX design course (Google UX professional certificate) and managed to line up not just one but two paid internships, one in inclusive design and the other in market research.
So overall it's been an emotional roller coaster and although I have yet to get my first job in tech, I am now full of energy and enthusiasm to continue on the journey.
Wish me luck!
If you could invite anyone to join the Black Valley community, who and why?
I would invite the powerhouse that is Monzo Bank to join and collaborate with the Black Valley community.
Known for changing up the game in the finance and banking sector. It is hands down one of the most used apps on my phone. It is a brand that is committed to diversity and is continuously evolving and striving to achieve better results all whilst doing it in style.
Monzo is also actively involved and supportive of tech communities so I think it would be a great addition.
Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn