Julie Durall is a UX designer at Civitas Learning. She and I met in my Intro to UX and UX Portfolio classes at Austin Community College (ACC). In our interview, she talks about balancing family and school as well as battling ageism in tech during her UX career restart.
What were you doing before UX
It took me a while to figure it out. I finally realized that I’m on my fourth career. So my first job out of college was actually in my major. I was an RTF major, which is Radio, TV, and Film.
I got a job at a local TV station as a production assistant, which was a terrible job. You go into RTF thinking, “Oh I’m going to work in movies, and it will be all exciting.” It’s really not that glamorous.
After 10 months of working in TV, I burned out and quit.
It’s picking up trash and painting walls during your spare time, and then running the camera during the news, for half an hour, hour and a half each day. After 10 months of working in TV, I burned out and quit.
So, I went back to working in retail like I did in college. I found a way to combine interests with photography, and I got a job at a camera store. So from there, I transitioned to my second real career, which was administrative assistant work.
What led you to go back to school for a UX career restart?
Working as an administrative assistant brought in supplemental income. There was a point where I get let go from an admin job with no warning and for no reason. I had to reassess my career goals.
I always did like working on websites, and I showed a few people some of my work. People told me that my stuff was good, but it didn’t line up with what was coming out now.
I got a pretty solid feeling that going back to school was the thing I need to do.
I went to the South by Southwest job fair and asked all these tech companies what are the job opportunities. Here’s my experience. Should I go back to school? Is it worth it? I got a pretty solid feeling that going back to school was the thing I need to do.
How did you balance family life, work, and school?
Had I not had the financial support from my mom, I probably wouldn’t have made it. I would have had to go back to working as an administrative assistant.
Fortunately, with ACC, the classes are small, and I had the same teachers three or four times each. They got to know me. It wasn’t a secret that I was also a single mom.
I always came to class, and I did my work. Everything was on time and completed beyond expectation.
Despite the ageism, I had a work ethic that came from being in the workforce for a number of years.
What has been your experience with ageism?
Despite the ageism that is very present in this industry, I had a work ethic that came from being in the workforce for a number of years. You can’t expect other people to baby you and hold your hand through everything.
What is that one thing you would say aspiring designers need to think about? Or should do?
Don’t give up. Don’t give up on yourself. I had two spreadsheets going from my job searches Each one from different rounds of job searches. There were 100 applications on each one and a half a dozen interviews for each round.
If you like the work and if you feel like you’re good at it, then you should keep trying. Being a junior designer is super hard to break in, because people don’t open those positions up very often, and then the market’s just flooded with people.
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Image Credit: Jeduralldesign.com