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Confessions of a career changer

Updated: Feb 8

Mid-career ramblings of a UX practitioner

Jesse Bailey on Unsplash

Dear UX community,

I care a lot about people wanting to break into design–especially UX writing and content design–since those are my disciplines. Don’t get me wrong, I try to contribute by mentoring and sharing knowledge on LinkedIn and I support anyone who writes and speaks on the topic, but sometimes I wonder,

“What about the experienced content writers, strategists, and designers who are still struggling to find the right job, the right place, or the right recognition?”

I can’t be the only one who feels that way. Can I?

Where the road has taken me

I left a content strategist role at Amazon a little over a year ago. I don’t regret my decision to prioritize my personal life over my career. I got to spend time with family, travel a bit, read a lot. Yet my career was often in the back of my mind. Sometimes I was able to brush it off. Sometimes, especially during the long lockdowns, it haunted me.

I have been somewhat of a career changer. I like to consider myself eclectic. Some people call it generalist, but I don’t like that term. I enjoy learning and experimenting both in my personal and in my professional life. Over 15 years ago, I moved across the world from Italy to San Francisco and haven’t stopped moving since. I still don’t have a place I call home. Similarly, I had different jobs in my career. I started working in film distribution and film festivals. I’ve been a content writer, curator, content strategist, and brand marketer.

Of all the things that I’ve done, content has always been the most prominent and the one I enjoyed the most, whether it was writing, images, video, or audio. I guess I don’t like being idle.

Twists and turns, ups and downs

Now that I am looking for a new role, I’d like to believe my background is an asset. People, friends especially, tell me that. Yet sometimes, I get the feeling that I should have done things differently. Because my career path doesn’t look linear, I think I am at a disadvantage.

Do I feel misunderstood? Yes, maybe more than a little, and rejections from two really large companies didn’t help either.

I look at my peers and I compare myself. Not a healthy behavior, I know. But I also wonder: How did they get over their mid-career slump? How did they progress? What were the hurdles? Maybe someone took a chance on them, mentored them, and supported them in their career progression? I am sure other people just knew what they wanted better than I do.

Sometimes more than on a career path, I feel like I’m on a roller coaster, and it can be unnerving. Maybe yet, I have done what I have done and I still do it because of the thrill of it all, and the excitement of starting a new adventure not knowing what will happen next.

If you find yourself in a position similar to mine and perhaps you don’t know exactly where you’re going, I’m writing to remind you that you’re not alone. Perhaps, what counts is not how fast you get to your destination–or if you even get to it at all–but how enjoyable your journey is.

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