Merging Arts and Exact Science and Switching to UX Design – Interview with William Brepohl
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Merging Arts and Exact Science and Switching to UX Design – Interview with William Brepohl

Merging Arts and Exact Science and Switching to UX Design - Interview with William Brepohl cover

William is a student in the MID program and tells us a bit about his transition journey from Information Systems to UX Design.

He also talked about how he wanted to combine his creative side with his professional side and eventually became a designer.

In addition, William tells us how the year 2020 was difficult, but despite all the obstacles, he managed to land his first job as a Product Designer.

William, first tell us a little bit about yourself

Hi, my name is William and I'm from Curitiba. My career may have started differently than many of you.

Before I went to college, I took a vocational test and the result came out half for exact sciences and half for arts.

With this profile, I had no clue what kind of career to follow!

So I eventually chose information systems and became a programmer and systems analyst, because I thought that this way I could bring to life things that were logical.

Then I joined a multinational company and stayed there for almost 5 years in different roles, such as SAP analyst, and access analyst, and then I switched to business, becoming a business specialist.

But at the same time that my work was very logical, I've always looked for ways to add creativity to it.

In this sense, I joined committees, helped create websites, tried to change internal processes, and helped put together presentations. Design always wound up being present in some way.

I then left the company and realized that this area of UX and design was very interesting to me. At the time, I was engaged and got some very important support from my fiancée to try to switch careers.

So I spent 2019 studying and got my first job as a Product Designer in early 2020 – in between wedding planning and pandemic stress – at a startup and I was recently promoted to Product Manager and am very excited about the prospects.

Portfólio UX William Brephol
William Brepohl

You already had a knack for design, but what made you decide to leave IT and change to UX?

That's a great question. We can't say that we know exactly everything that contributed to our decisions.

But in my case, I know there are some main reasons that made me decide to switch to UX.

I already had a bit of a kinship with design and creativity within my professional area, but in my personal life, creativity was in everything I did.

I'm a person who loves art, I'm a musician, and I even released an illustrated book with my wife. In fact, at the time, she was in art school and I helped her with her final paper.

For this reason, I wanted to merge what I was already doing outside of work with my professional life.

But it was not an easy decision because I knew that there would be several consequences. For example, salary reduction and even reduced opportunities.

I say reduced opportunities because although the UX Design market is booming, it is less intense than the IT and programming market, which is booming even more.

So I knew there would be these setbacks, but it was all about professional fulfillment. I realized that this way I would be working with my full purpose.

But even though it was a very risky decision, it paid off. This year I have already managed to match my salary to what I was earning back in 2019. So the transition wasn't that bad.

Moreover, my perspective is to be more and more fulfilled professionally, knowing that I will have a nice financial counterpart to support my family.

Reading Tip: Does UX Design Limit Creativity?

Your transition period was pretty intense. Studying, quitting your job, getting married. Was there anything that made you stay focused on switching to UX?

I think it is good to point out that I had no plans to leave the multinational company. I was dismissed.

What happened was that I was focusing on things that they didn't need at the time. I was told that I had a lot of creativity and that if there was an opportunity in UX there they would offer it to me. But since there wasn't, they were letting me go.

This happened one year before the wedding.

As I was not feeling fulfilled in that area, I talked to my wife and she supported me a lot in this transition.

However, it was a very difficult year because planning a wedding requires a lot of financial responsibilities. And since I was unemployed, it was a bit complicated.

But I have always been a person who managed money well and, at the time, I was still living in my parents' house. So, even though I didn't have an income, I didn't have big expenses either.

Also, I had a nest egg that would give me a certain peace of mind for about 2 years without working after getting married.

But even with this financial protection, I struggled with anxiety during this period, and I even applied for jobs that I knew I was not ready for yet.

What helped me during this time was having the support of my family and God. As I am a Christian, I have always sought peace in God.

Besides, studying little by little, executing one step at a time, and facing it out, helped me to overcome my anxiety.

Portfólio UX William Brephol
William Brepohl

How do you set up your routine and figure out what works best for you?

Well, I haven't figured it out yet! I'm in the process of figuring it out.

The truth is that 2020 was a very complicated year. The worries about the wedding, the pandemic, job and career changes, etc. caused me to take my focus off my studies a bit.

I was only able to establish a routine again after I got married.

In the beginning, I was trying to study at night, but I realized that my mood wasn't the same. I was putting off a lot of things. I would come home tired from work and just wanted to be with my wife.

Today I'm trying to wake up earlier, adjusting my study routine to the morning.

So I study, go to work, and when I get home I am able to just do more quiet and relaxing activities.

But one thing that I have realized that makes a lot of difference to me is that I have learned how to pay more attention to the course classes.

I realized that I need to be doing something with my hands to be able to concentrate in class, so I started painting while listening to the recordings.

I realized that my brain works better when I am doing two activities at the same time. This helps me concentrate and encourages me to study.

Reading Tip: Experimentation in Design: How To Make Data-Driven Decisions

What was it like to get your first job in UX Design?

The company I work for didn't have any experience with UX before.

In fact, my boss later told me that he hired me because of my IT background.

Smaller companies need more versatile professionals, and I had to dig in and build the design mentality there.

In the end, they liked the way I worked so much that they called me to be a product and innovation manager because they want me to coordinate a team that implements it there.

But anyway, the selection process was normal, I had interviews and a test.

The test was about evaluating an e-commerce page that they had for mobile. I was a little doubtful about this test because it causes a certain distrust when a company asks you to do an exercise based on something real that they can implement and use later.

I even mentioned this as feedback for the interview, and my boss later told me that he didn't like my comment very much! But the good thing was that they hired me for my profile and dedication.

The most interesting thing is that you really improve when you start applying the UX theory in your work practice. It is very different when you don't have that experience.

I’d say that you are going to turn over a new leaf when you have your first professional experience.

Workshop William Brephol
William Brepohl

Would you be able to point out what made you become more mature at work?

First I began to realize that things are not always as divided as we think.

In big companies, you have a very focused specific job; you only do that.

But when you work with UX Design, you interact with many other areas of the company.

Of course, my main focus is the user, but I also help in other areas, like marketing for example. Just yesterday I gave a training on customer service and customer success.

So, the maturity I had was to be able to see the company as a whole and not only have the vision limited to my area.

Understanding the whole was a very cool lesson and brings a very important sense of accomplishment as well.

Reading Tip: Product Manager: Business, Technology, and User Experience

It's nice that you say that because UX Design is becoming more and more strategic.

Yes, so much so that when I was hired, the company wanted something more visual. They had no idea what UX was.

But I made it very clear that my work was something strategic, that I am not just operational, but I have a lot to deliver and question, about everything and not just about the look of the product.

It was cool that they listened to what I said. It's good when you find a place where people are willing to listen to you, even if it turns out to be a stake on their side as well.

Portfólio UX William Brephol
William Brepohl

If you could go back in time, what would you say to William in 2019?

I really like my journey, even though it is quite difficult. At the end of the day, difficult situations change you.

I would tell him to take it easy, stay calm, and do what has to be done, without being desperate.

Keep doing a little at a time, like a freight train, without wasting fuel, going slowly but always further and further.

William, thank you for your time and lots of success on this path!

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