In this interview, we talk with MID student Clarissa Arca who transitioned from fashion to UX Design.
In the conversation, Clarissa shares her story and how she managed to change careers in a short period of time.
Moreover, she discusses her greatest learning from the job interviews she had along the way.
Check out this chat and get inspired!
Clarissa, thank you for your time. Please, tell us a bit about yourself
It's a pleasure to be here, sharing a bit of my experience and journey.
My name is Clarissa, and I come from the fashion market, where I worked for 5 years.
In the midst of this path, I became discouraged with the fashion sector due to everything that was happening and the daily routine. I realized that, in the long term, it wasn't what I desired anymore.
Faced with this, I began to rethink my plans and even considered starting my own fashion brand, leaving the market and becoming an entrepreneur.
However, while studying various subjects, such as marketing, branding, and digital marketing, I came across UX, something I had heard of but hadn't explored in depth. I decided to research more about it and became very interested.
This discovery made me change my mind again. I decided not to go ahead with opening my brand and instead, began to dedicate myself to studying UX.
How long did it take from learning about UX, joining MID, and diving into your studies?
From 6 to 8 months, approximately.
Fashion and UX are quite different fields. What led you to the decision to pursue a career in UX?
I had an epiphany!
Since I was very young, I've always been a person interested in things related to computers. I was very curious and always looking for ways to download series and access information.
In the fashion area, I also loved working with Photoshop and Illustrator, so I already had that inclination. However, I worked as a stylist, so I didn't need those skills in my daily life, although I knew how to use them.
With UX, I realized that these tools could be useful for the activities I would need to carry out, albeit with different functionalities. That's when one thing led to another.
I realized that, in addition to the creative part, I also had a special interest in the part related to products, analysis, and research. In fact, that's the part I like most about the profession.
Today I can say that I have become a very analytical person and increasingly appreciate this aspect.
And so, the moment came to unite the creative with this strategic part, of products, and everything else. It was a moment of revelation!
Reading Tip: Do I Need a Design Background to Switch to UX?
How was it to leave your career in fashion and move into UX? Were you scared?
Look, I wasn't scared, but I wanted to know if other people had done the same as me.
So, I went in search of information, because, along with these changes, I also wanted to move cities, from São Paulo to Florianópolis, where there is a technology hub.
Everything kind of happened at the same time.
I knew that in Florianópolis I would find the environment I wanted, and I started to look for people who lived there. I ended up finding someone who had made the transition from fashion to the area of UX and was already working in it.
I was very interested in understanding how this transition was for her, so I contacted her on LinkedIn to talk.
In addition, I also spoke with other Aela students who had gone through the process of changing careers, leaving fashion to pursue UX.
That was the idea, to find and talk to people who had made this transition to the UX field.
How was the beginning of your transition process to UX Design?
I participated in the week of the Workshop that you always hold to understand more about the profession. I really liked it and soon enrolled in MID!
So, everything was pretty much decided. I had talked with some people to see if it was possible to make this change of field and everything made a lot of sense for what I was looking for in my life and career, as well as being aligned with my skills.
I also dedicated a lot of effort to self-awareness, working on that in parallel.
I followed a lot of what you said about scheduling and everything else. I am a disciplined person, which made it much easier for me because I like to be organized.
I faced everything as if it were a job. Of course, I had the opportunity to focus entirely on my studies, as I had already left my previous job.
I had free time to dedicate myself, so I did it as if it were a real job.
Was there ever a moment of panic? Thought about going back?
No, there was no regret.
I have never regretted this decision, in fact, I am very happy to have made it. I believe I have always been UX in life, even though I didn't know or understand the profession at the time.
As a designer, I see that UX makes sense for me, I like it!
For this reason, I do not consider it to have been a radical transition, but rather an almost lateral change. I realized that the concept was already within me. I knew how to do it, but of course, with adjustments to a new reality.
In fact, I managed to fit my previous experience in fashion into Design Thinking. It was a way to better understand this transition.
This approach was very useful for my first job opportunity in the UX field, and I even included it in my portfolio.
Can you explain a bit more about that?
I have always enjoyed talking to people to understand their journeys. I had many conversations with another Aela student, who talked to me a lot about storytelling.
She encouraged me to connect my story in the fashion world with the UX universe, and that's exactly what I did.
I spent a good amount of time trying to fit the Design Thinking methodology into my story. Basically, I realized that the creation of my fashion collection made sense within Design Thinking, as there was an immersion in the process leading up to the development. So, I started telling all about it.
This case was practically my first project, in addition to the zero-level project of MID.
Additionally, I asked for help from a friend on LinkedIn who was involved with mentoring and the digital world. We talked and he helped me with how to position myself on LinkedIn, which is a gigantic universe with many networking possibilities.
At the same time, he suggested that I participate in volunteer work to gain experience. And thus, one thing led to another.
As a result, I joined Ladies That UX here in Florianópolis, which was also a strategic decision since I was moving here, and it would be a great way to meet more people.
Things aligned in this way, with the studies and these other situations, which ended up propelling and motivating me more and more.
What were the challenges you faced during your journey to transition into UX? Was there any particularly difficult moment?
The zero level of MID was very difficult for me because it was something completely new.
At times, I would get anxious because I wanted to quickly enter the market. However, the amount of books and material to study made me feel a bit overwhelmed, which led to moments of worry.
I believe controlling my anxiety was my biggest challenge, but I imagine it's a common difficulty for many people.
To deal with this, I decided to stop thinking that I needed to read all the books at once. I focused on the course program itself and set the list of books aside to read later.
In this way, I followed the MID course and prioritized what was really necessary to enter the market. I knew I needed to develop a case, so I started working on that.
This prioritization was the way I found to try to calm down and overcome anxiety.
As soon as you finished level zero, did you get your portfolio ready and started looking for an opportunity?
That's exactly what I did!
During level zero, I was already creating my portfolio. So, after completing level zero, I already had my fashion case ready, the one I used to make the connection with UX.
During that period, I started to do interviews, even if it was just for practice and gaining experience.
This helped to calm me down, as I felt that I was studying and, at the same time, actively participating in selection processes. Seeing job vacancies and sending out resumes also gave me a sense of movement and progress.
I managed to assemble some cases, including the fashion case, the MID case, and a volunteer case. It was based on these experiences that I achieved my first opportunity.
Later, already working in the field, when I completed level 1 of the course, I got my second job opportunity in UX.
How long did that take?
It took 8 months of study until the first opportunity.
Then I spent about 3 months at that position before moving on to the second opportunity.
What were the first interviews like? Did you get nervous?
Oh, there's always nervousness! Even today!
To deal with that, I always try to prepare well for interviews, using some methods to calm the nerves. For example, I drink chamomile tea before the interview, which helps me feel calmer.
What really stood out to me was the importance of linking my story to the career change. I received compliments for this on some occasions, which made me very pleased.
In the beginning, during the interviews, it was common for them to ask why I wanted to make this career transition. Therefore, I realized that it is essential to have a clear definition in my mind of this change.
I believe it was a great idea to include this connection between my story and the career transition in my portfolio, as it allows me to tie all the information together more cohesively.
What was the biggest lesson from the various interviews you did?
I learned that it's not always just about design or knowing UX and mastering a certain tool.
Sometimes communication and soft skills also play a key role, like the way we express ourselves, our behavior, and how we convey the message.
The biggest lesson for me was realizing the importance of effective communication, being able to express myself well, and maintaining calmness. This proved to be more crucial than just knowing concepts and tools, especially in the beginning when I had only theoretical knowledge.
Moreover, I consider it essential to share all the experience and learning I've acquired, even in other markets, and incorporate them into the UX universe.
And how was it starting in your first opportunity in UX?
Indeed, insecurity can be a challenge.
However, I always had a very transparent attitude with those who hired me, which brought me peace of mind. In moments of anxiety or panic, I reminded myself of this approach, and it helped me to calm down.
The person who hired me was also very understanding and receptive, which was very positive for me.
When I felt more anxious, I chose to study even more to acquire the necessary knowledge at that moment. Acting in this way was what calmed me and made me feel more confident.
During this phase, I used Figma a lot, as the opportunity focused quite a bit on UI. This was positive because I already mastered Figma, which gave me more comfort compared to UX concepts, which were newer to me at the time.
Reading Tip: 7 Soft Skills to Help You Transition to UX Design
You said that you spent a short time in that first opportunity and then quickly another opportunity came up. How did that happen?
That second offer came from a company to which I had previously sent my resume, but at that time, it had not worked out.
We resumed the conversation, and they presented me with the job proposal, which made a lot of sense to me. It was an opportunity more focused on the UX area, exactly what I was looking for.
Until that moment, I was more focused on UI.
I decided to accept the offer because it was an opportunity that I really wanted for myself. The salary offered was more attractive, and the company was larger, which made this change very coherent.
What would you say to the past Clarissa, at the time when she was still unsure about which path to follow?
I would say that it's good that you persisted and moved forward, despite the anxieties. Everything worked out and we are very happy!
I would also tell you to be calm, because things will happen the way you would like. Of course, there are still many things to achieve, but it's good that you persisted!
Where are you investing attention and focus nowadays?
At present, I am very focused on the research area, especially on the first phase of the process of the "first diamond" (Double Diamond).
In this stage, I concentrate on research and synthesis, seeking to organize myself in the best possible way to create relevant connections. It's a phase in which I am fully dedicated.
Do you want to specialize in UX Research?
Actually, I want to be a Product Designer.
But I am trying to focus on these processes to become a professional who knows the end-to-end well.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow the same path as you, changing careers to UX Design?
Initially, I advise the person to clearly understand what they really want. I've had people, including from the fashion field, ask me about this. So, the first step would be to reflect on your true interests and, from there, draw up a plan to achieve your goals.
If the person is interested in UX, studying is essential because this transformation will happen gradually.
I always recommend that people talk as much as possible with others, as this exchange of experiences is very enriching.
Additionally, taking a course is important to stay on the right track and ensure a solid education.