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When to decide your design career is over?

7 months ago from , Senior UX designer

It's the new year and this seems like the season for news outlets to focus on reinvention and career change! I've spend the last 9 months looking for a new UX design job. While continuing to find any job that will take me, I've been working as a product manager but have discovered it's not for me. This was always a consideration for evolving my career. After 9 months it's become pretty clear despite a decade of experience, I'm not that good a designer and I should move on.

Has anyone left design for a completely different career? Or found a way to evolve from being an IC?

18 comments

  • Catalin CimpanuCatalin Cimpanu, 7 months ago

    I've left the design business 5 years ago. I'm now a tech journalist. Worked hard at it. Put in 10-12-14 hours a day. According to Techmeme, did a pretty good job at it.

    Choose something that you like and put all your heart into it. If you get good, people can't ignore you.

    As for the moment "when you decide" ... that's pretty easy. You'll either feel it in your wallet or you'll get bored. But you'll know.

    11 points
  • paavo koyapaavo koya, 7 months ago

    Took me 6 months and a ton of interviews to find a job as ux designer. I was on the verge of giving up and taking a manufacturing job when a company decided to take a chance on me.

    They almost fired me after a month but eventually put their trust in me and have even given me a raise some months later.

    Never give up if it's something you really want to do. There are so many bad hiring managers that have no clue how to spot a good designer. Often it comes down to culture fit over anything which is painful for creatives (who are often considered weirdos). Maybe consider moving to a place with a community/culture/job market that suits you.

    3 points
  • Julian H, 7 months ago

    What helped me a lot was talking to my supervisor or another leading position close to me. When it felt like I had to make up my words about what this job or field, in general, was about in order to fit into what was expected of me/my role I knew it was over. This might not mean that your career in this field is over, but it could clear up your mind around things a bit.

    1 point
  • Bugsy SailorBugsy Sailor, 7 months ago

    What's an IC?

    1 point
  • Harper Lieblich, 7 months ago

    Bob, that sounds like a rough 9 months.

    I’m curious to learn more about your situation:

    • What’s your design background? Do you have formal training or are you self taught?

    • Where are you looking for jobs? What part of the country/world?

    • What do you mean by “UX designer”? Are you focused mainly on user flows and information architecture, or is your experience more broad? Visual design, user research, brand/content strategy?

    0 points
    • Bob Smith, 6 months ago

      Formal design school training plus about a decade of graphic design experience in various roles, mostly editorial design at publications. Since 2009 I've been a UX designer, from junior to senior and even at one point leading a small UX team. I've worked in the UK, Germany and Canada. My UX roles have been very T shaped and I've done everything from user interviews & research to prototyping, design sprint facilitation, and implementing research into designs. My deep-experience on the T would be in the middle, moulding research results into ideas, wireframes and final designs. My experience has been less visual, from my background I'm better with the structure and system rather than the dribbble-worthy gloss visuals/illustrations. (Someone one called my work 'budget'... which given my lack of budget was fair but blunt—I've made how-to motion design videos for $50 and a full Christmas campaign photoshoot for about $150).

      Where am I looking? Across most of Canada... especially the cool parts (Vancouver, Montreal... Vancouver).

      I had another major rejection last week. I've asked for feedback, but I've not heard back.

      Can anyone recommend any of the UX career coaches around? (I've googled names, but I don't know any of the lovely people purporting to do UX coaching).

      0 points
  • Mike Dreeland, 7 months ago

    Finding your niche is hard. You need to take on side and/or freelance jobs to build more experience in what you love to do. Many times after people work with you and like your work, they will keep you on or offer you a full time position. Also 8 out 10 people today get jobs through someone they know. Align yourself with other designers so you are top of mind when opportunities come in and work on your experience one side project at a time. Theres no such thing as luck in business, its when preparation meets opportunity. You got this! Good luck.

    0 points
  • Samantha S, 7 months ago

    is your name really... bob smith?

    0 points
  • Samantha S, 7 months ago

    You live in Canada? Come out to SF Bay area and you will have no problem finding a role bruh

    0 points
  • Stuart McCoyStuart McCoy, 7 months ago

    I'm in the middle of a similar situation. I have 20 years of experience as a designer and developer but I'm finding it difficult to get a job as a senior designer somewhere I can advance to an art director/creative director role eventually. I wouldn't say my career is over but I want to move on from the day to day designing and become more of a mentor and idea person, leave the details to the younger designers. I've spent the past year submitting resumes to a variety of design firms and corporate design teams with only a handful of interviews and a couple of close opportunities that slipped through my grasp. I'm on the verge of working with a recruiter which is something I might suggest you do as well. The design industry is very diverse and a good recruiter can help you find the type of job you want, not just another job in the design industry.

    0 points
    • Bob Smith, 7 months ago

      I've recently engaged a recruiter but it has been slow progress. I'm hoping this will help me either land somewhere needing my amount of experience or will show me the local market is tapped. Not to sound full of myself, but most of the people in the most senior design roles locally have less experience than I do... sometimes half and not good experience. I can understand working for someone younger, that's going to happen, but someone who's less experienced seems too much to take.

      0 points
    • Samantha S, 7 months ago

      Ageism is rampant in the tech industry and blows. How might we fight ageism and hire for talent? (we all are getting older after all...)

      0 points
      • Stuart McCoyStuart McCoy, 7 months ago

        "Ageism is rampant in everywhere and blows". There, fixed that for you. As to how to fix it, I have no idea.

        0 points
  • iterati designiterati design, 7 months ago

    While I can't contribute, since I still design and plan to after 10 years, I wonder have you looked locally or remote as well? What is it you don't like about a PM role?

    As for PMs, many jobs differ greatly, I'd look for something that suits you. Wishing you the best!

    0 points
    • Bob Smith, 7 months ago

      TLDR... my boss. He's not a good manager, and not a very good PM so I'm not learning the proper skills or doing typical PM tasks. I was once told off for sketching out a form layout while talking to the designer. I would consider another PM role but I feel both unsure and awkward with having this short sample experience.

      0 points
      • iterati designiterati design, 7 months ago

        I'd definitely look for another PM job, maybe part-time while working where you're still at. There's always someone that would benefit from your skillset.

        Stepping out of comfort zone always pays off in the end.

        0 points