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From Engineer to UX Designer: How life put me there and I’m 💙ing it

I love my job as a UX Designer.

It is everything I enjoy doing and I didn’t know it could all go together.

Looking back at my journey, here is every single step that made this happen.

Let’s go back in time (Doc)! 🚓 💨💨💨💨💨

1. Chemist / Physicist

As a teenager, I was fascinated by the physical world. I would experiment with weird liquids in my bedroom or disassemble some electronic stuff to try to reassemble it afterwards (not always a success).

This is fine.

Sitting in a big classroom just to listen to the teacher wasn’t my cup of tea. So I first chose to learn all the basics around chemistry (organic, inorganic, thermodynamics, etc.) and physics (nuclear physics, optics, etc.) through my own trial and error, rather than by the book.

The classroom courses also had computing and statistics classes. We weren’t only learning the fundamentals; we were learning how to measure.

Measuring is a complex art. There are so many possible biases. There is a measurement uncertainty. There is observational error.

📔 Learned: How to measure real stuff and present results.

2. Telecommunications and Computer Engineer

As part of the Y generation, computing science was really attractive.

When I was a kid, my mother would take me to a holiday camp called “Future Kids”! 🤓

Future kids… Back to the future… Got it?

At this camp I learned how to create PowerPoint presentations with links, (offensive) audio, and (horrible) animations. The kind of presentation you would never ever create nowadays! They also taught me how to use FrontPage to create a website, based on a 3x3 table, with a visitors counter and some navigation buttons; all this in a WYSIWYG way.

Long story short: I ended up studying at Telecom Bretagne 🇫🇷. I became an engineer by spending half of my time at school (3–6 month periods) and half of my time in a company (working on real life engineering problems).

📗 Learned: How to spot a problem, define it, split it and solve it. Also learned about stochastic process, but who cares.

3. Business Intelligence Consultant

At the end of my time at school, I took a small class about Business Intelligence (BI). I loved it and decided it would be my first job out of school.

With my small BI toolkit 🎒📊📈, I found the perfect company to keep expanding my knowledge while applying it: Next Decision.

A startup environment, learning opportunities and awesome co-workers: this is what I found there. I worked on various types of BI projects, for small and big clients, with a lot of autonomy. I learned a lot during those 3+ years.

Year-to-date, Twelve-months-to-date, Forecast, … All those BI stuff.

📙 Learned: How to scope a project, understand a client’s problem and associated business goals before jumping to a solution.

4. Remote Business Intelligence Consultant

During those years, I discovered backpacking. A trip to Bolivia opened Pandora’s box: I needed to move!

My relationship with the clients, the work I delivered and the openness of my bosses were good reasons enough to start a “digital nomad” life! 🌏💻🎒

Pretty much my face when I would arrive in a new country.

Place 🇫🇷 after 🇮🇳 place, 🇱🇰 everything 🇲🇾 was 🇹🇭 working 🇰🇭 like 🇭🇰 a 🇯🇵charm.

My plan was then to move from one side of the map 🗺 to the other.

Canada, here I come!

Or not. 🇲🇽

TL;DW, My passport (and my computer) got stolen during my layover in Mexico City. I have still never been to Canada. Instead I met my girlfriend, decided to quit my job in France and to move to Mexico. Y ya!

📘 Learned: Every cloud has a silver lining.

5. Full-Stack Developer

When I moved to Mexico, I didn’t speak Spanish at all.

Side note: I can now decently order tacos and have a 15–20 minutes conversation in an Uber.

Luckily we live at a time in which — if you know how to code — you can survive in any country with startups. Even if you don’t speak the local language.

After a month as a front-end developer in a digital agency, I got to work as a full-stack developer for a company founded by two french fellows.

Pair-programming with the other developer. 🇩🇪 Berlin 📞 Guadalajara 🇲🇽

Thanks to the autonomy I got and the challenges that the company was facing, I refactored an app from JSP to JSF, recreated an app in Java (previously in PHP) and developed an Android app with no previous knowledge in the field.

📓 Learned: How to break into a new technology with no previous knowledge.

6. UX Designer

No need to talk about the emergence of #UX the last few years. The topic got more and more visibility. A lot of people are talking about it.

I was one of those people who would retweet some funny “UX is not UI” memes.

But I didn’t fully get what UX was.

And then I heard about the Wizeline UX Academy. ✨

TL;DW, In 6 weeks, I learned from UX experts about: user research methods, ideation, core design principles, sketching, wireframing, interaction design, prototyping, usability testing and validation.

And guess what? Wizeline hired me just after! 🎉

It’s been two years of having the chance to apply UX to Wizeline products, client products, chatbots, non-digital experiences, and several workshops like Design Sprints or Lightning Decision Jams.

Accurate photo of myself, during a moderated usability test.🇽

📕 Learned: How to apply User Centered Design across multiple mediums and how to solve problems.

Now what?

As much as I believe that we need designers who studied design and worked in the design industry for a long time, engineers who studied computer science and worked in the industry for a long time — and so on with any field, I’m also convinced that people with a cross-functional background can be a great contribution in a team.

Why? To break the silos, to have more diversity in the points of view, to broaden the palette of skills of the team.

A team — especially a Design one—is strong when different opinions are confronted. We are all learning from each other. The more differences, the more we will learn and discover.

📚 Learned: The knowledge itself isn’t the key. The most important part is to keep learning and solving problems.

Share your stories

If you have a similar story or any feedback on this, please reach out through Twitter (🐦 @2is0). I would love to hear about your story!