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I traded teaching for Tech – Zaibaa’s story

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My path into UX design was anything but ‘conventional’. I didn’t have a design background; in fact I trained to become a primary school teacher at university and – as luck would have it – that my first year of teaching coincided with the pandemic. 

Teaching was a very fulfilling job, but it got to a point where the stresses outweighed all the rewards. A change was needed, but I had no idea what I wanted to do.

After a bit of research, I stumbled upon Tech and quickly realised how vast this constantly evolving industry is. From there, I looked into UX design and was fascinated by its multidisciplinary nature. Not only did it provide a creative outlet, but it also involved elements of human psychology, problem solving and business logic; all areas I was interested in.

From reading more about the role of a UX designer and talking to those who had experience in the field, I learnt that I already possessed many of the necessary soft skills, such as empathy, communication, organisation, and critical thinking. But I needed to upskill and learn the hard skills, so signed up to an intensive online UX bootcamp.

Teacher by day, student by night

Whilst teaching, I did a lot of self-learning from the many free resources online and completed my bootcamp. Balancing my day job and studying at the same time was challenging, but it was worth it and eventually, I had a portfolio of work that I could send out to support my job applications.

A bright future

Fast forward to October 2021 and I’m joining AO as UX Designer and since then, I’ve been able to work on big company objectives, upskill, and become a more confident designer as part of an incredibly talented and supportive UX team.

That doesn’t mean I’ve given up my love for teaching – I still like to use my knowledge to support like-minded women to begin their journey into Tech.

My advice:

Deciding to switch career can be daunting and it’s natural to feel self-doubt, but I’ve got two bits of advice for anyone thinking about making a similar leap to Tech:

1. Take it slow 

When changing career, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of information out there and you may think you need to know it all; I’m here to tell you, you don’t – and you won’t!  

At first, focus on what you need to know to land that first role; everything else can come after. My learning process is ongoing to this day. 

2. You already have the skills 

You may think you don’t have any skills to work in Tech, but you do. Everyone has skills that are transferable, no matter your background, and the Tech industry needs people from different backgrounds to bring in new perspectives.

and finally…

Only 3% of female students say a career in Tech is their first choice and women make up just 26% of the Tech industry, so it’s time to take that leap and trust in yourself.

The Tech industry needs you. And it’s time we evened out the playing field.

Zaibaa Patel
UX Designer

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