I have always been a designer, but for a while, I expressed design through teaching.
A core concept of design is empathy and understanding for users and their needs. Teachers, like designers, have an unique ability to empathize with their students and to create a product (knowledge) that is both easy and fun to use. We are not afraid to experiment with new concepts and tools, and we are not afraid to fail (in fact, that is probably the most important lesson we try to teach our students... that the more you fail, the more you learn).
"I believe that teachers have a unique ability to empathize with their users and be able to create a product that is both easy and fun to use."
As a teacher, I loved to iterate on my lessons, and was always seeking to improve my craft. I worked tirelessly to make the perfect lesson... one that would make my students smile and laugh and learn something interesting along the way. This is what I believe user experience design can and should be. We should constantly seek to delight our users and make their lives a bit easier.
If you are wondering how and why I switched from being a high school biology teacher to a UX designer, I'll give you the short and sweet answer. I have been doing art since high school, culminating in the AP art class, then getting a minor in studio art in college with a concentration in photography and digital media. So design was never alien to me in any way, and it is something I've always made time for in my life. After teaching for 4 years, and slogging through the antiquated public school system, I decided to pursue a career in education technology.
Design was never alien to me, and it is something I've always made time for in my life.
Concurrently, I discovered this exciting new career called user experience design, and wanted to get a degree in it as fast as I could. I enrolled in the immersive UX design course at General Assembly for 8 full-time weeks, and found the career extremely compelling and exciting.
Wanting to leverage my experience in education, I decided to primarily focus on finding employment in edtech. After completing a few short-term contract jobs, I found myself working for EdSurge, which is considered the media hub of education technology. There I worked to help improve their website, make infographics for their publications, and make printed material for events that they held. All the while, I was surrounded by fun, intelligent, and driven former educators like myself.
In the past 2 years, I've found a home working for Care.com, which is a mission-driven company focused on helping families find caregivers for their children, pets, parents, and homes. There, I've had the opportunity to be a traditional UX/product designer, helping improve the experience for all of the caregivers on our platform.
My career in UX design has been very exciting, and I look forward to improving my skills further and working with other talented designers like myself. My jobs have ranged from rethinking the general strategy of a product to redesigning a completely new responsive website, to interactions for branding and marketing. I hope my next adventure will be to work in a talented, dedicated product team, solving interesting problems and working closely with users to make something truly great.