In today’s blog we are continuing the story of Nora Pirsch, who recently transitioned from a yoga instructor to a UX designer. Nora credits her strong mental attitude in being critical in making the transition!
Nora Pirsch is a User Experience designer that specializes in human connections. The desire to improve people’s day to day lives, has been a theme throughout her adult life.
She has spent 15 years of her life mastering her craft as a yoga instructor and now she has begun her path to improving her skills as a UX designer.
Nora has always enjoyed a challenge, from facing stage fright to showing extreme patience with her naturally fermented bread baking, she never goes down without a fight. When she is not interviewing users, you can find her baking fresh pizza and going for long walks with her dog Finch.
Let’s talk about of interviewing and as it relates to resiliency. You told me it was something like 80 jobs you applied to, and I was blown away by that and just how resilient you are. How did you keep yourself mentally strong, considering that there were probably a lot of setbacks in this process for you?
I had amazing support from school from colleagues that I went to school with, even from people that my mom reached out to that were in the tech industry, and they would tutor me, and find people to help me walk along the path. That’s step number one. And then, part of the after-graduation program was applying to 10 jobs a week, that was the criteria. So that was very difficult in the beginning because I was spending too much time on writing pretty and elaborate cover letters. I really recommend getting a very basic template, and then just add two to three sentences make it a little bit more directed at that company. And that’s it because you will wipe yourself out writing those cover letters. And honestly, what is it 92% Of the companies don’t look at your cover letter until you’ve gone through the ATS.
I normally tell candidates, don’t even submit one unless they specifically asked for it. Because a lot of times they don’t even get read.
Create a Process – Work Smarter Not Harder
A lot of the times they don’t, but my school did encourage it. Because if there’s a candidate that if you’re side by side with, and one has a cover letter and one doesn’t, they’re going to go with the one that paid a little bit more attention.
I came up with a simple template and started applying to more jobs. And then I closely shadowed a couple of the students in my class that were very big go getters, and we became quick friends. She told me what she was doing and her tactics. And I was asked, “Can I can I steal that from you?”And she said, “Oh my gosh, of course.”
Forget the requirements – apply anyway!
I only used LinkedIn for job search; I got the premium subscription. I applied to 85 jobs, and I only interviewed for four or five different companies. I mostly received rejection letters. And I think it sucks, getting that rejection letter, but again, you’re going to fail, you’re going to fall, and that’s okay. It stings a bit, but you just move on. The more I found is the more jobs you apply to, the less those rejection letters hurt. I was excited when I applied to Lego in Denmark. I was totally willing to move to Denmark.
But you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. I applied to everything. Sometimes the companies themselves don’t even really know what they’re looking for until you interview with them. That’s what happened in my company, my job position. The description required a BA and five plus years experience, I have neither. I wouldn’t have applied to that job if I would have seen that and been deterred by that. I just applied to everything that looked even slightly interesting, I didn’t even know what Co Op financial services was. And for me, it’s slightly more important who I’m working with, rather than what I’m working on. The team I’m working with is my extended family now.
It sounds like teamwork was really important to you as well.
1,000,000%. And if they give you that uplifting positive energy daily, then you’re going to work so much better and so much harder and want to improve what you’re working on as well and give that back and I think that is definitely a fourth criteria for what I was looking for in a company.
Fixed versus Growth Mindset
I often talk to clients about growth mindset and fixed mindset. And how often we fall into a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is often described by I’ve got to prove myself. And the more I must prove myself, the less I’m willing to take negative feedback, the less I’m willing to put myself in situations where I might fail. And the distinction between that and growth mindset is I’m going to focus on what I’ve learned in all these situations and how I’ve grown over time, rather than I’m going to focus on some arbitrary thing way out there, I’ve got to be the best at such and such, which is all relative anyway. The mental mindset and not falling into the trap of judging ourselves and being compassionate with ourselves is so helpful when it comes to this.
I think that’s a huge, huge part of it. It is very desirable. from a company perspective, that you can learn and grow with your team, and with the company, and be innovative and creative and see the future, and be open to learning new things. It is very difficult. If you’re stuck in your ways, then nobody wants to work with you. It’s not attractive, as a personality trait. And then you don’t learn anything.
When I was when I was at BP, I had responsibility for capability management. I was responsible for all the incoming new recruits that were coming into the company, and we were assessing them based on learning agility, because what you’re describing is learning agility, it’s the ability to quickly pivot to learn something new, to change directions, to not take feedback personally, and to grow. And I tell you, I would take somebody with high learning agility any day over somebody who had more experience.
I was taught that through my work as a yoga teacher. We had regular meetings where one of the teachers at the studio would teach a class and we would all take their class and then afterwards, we would give feedback. That was like a very regular thing. It was important to me to not only learn how to give feedback correctly, so that it was taken as a tool they can use to improve rather than a shaming thing. On the flip side, it was important to me that I received the feedback as, “this is how I experienced your class.” And not take it personally. Just hear it, absorb what I need to and leave the rest. I learned that very early on with the yoga and that was kind of how I was brought up as well. But I think being able to grow and to be teachable, I think is humongous. And I think that’s a big, big part of getting hired at, because this company, Co-op Financial Services, is growing fast. And they need people to learn fast and to grow with them.
Believe in Yourself
Nora, for anybody out there that’s like on the fence, you know, who’s kind of wondering if they can do this? What would you say?
Uh, so, transitioning careers is part planning and part taking a leap, right. And once you’ve done your due diligence and planning, and you’ve, you’ve, you’ve done your research and all that, you’re at the point you’re at the edge of the cliff, and you just have to jump. For me, the most terrifying part was financial. I had to trust that I was going to work really hard to get a job within three months of me graduating. And the reason for that is because my student loans were going to start three months after school. If I had to go back to teaching yoga full time that was not going to cover it.
Use Linkedin to reach out and network
So I had to find a new job in this new career. And I did that through networking. I networked, like crazy. I emailed so many people, I would even make a template for reaching out to people cold on LinkedIn.
Let’s say you find a company that you’re excited about? Find who the admin is, who the HR person at that company through LinkedIn, and message them and say, “I saw you had a job posting, I’d love to know what you guys are looking for,” or, If you have time, I’d love to chat with you for five minutes.” “I’d just like to pick your brain on what, who you’re looking for to join your team.” And I mean, those little tiny sentences, those little seedlings that you’re planting, they really really add up. And then you’ll have a garden to choose from and eventually I had two offers.I will say, 50 to 60% will not get back to you which is why never put your eggs in one basket. If you’re excited about this specific company message 10 hiring managers. Just put it out there.
That’s why I got the premium account on linkedin. And I highly recommend it although I know it’s a bit pricey per a month, but it’s worth it, if you’re job searching. I don’t have it now, because I don’t need to search any more right now.
I love how tactical you are in terms of your approach with respect to career transition. And, you took an assertive approach. You went and put yourself out there. I’m super inspired by listening to your story. It’s so great to hear and I look forward to following your career and see what you get up to. Because I have a feeling you’re gonna go far. Thank you.
I’m really happy where I’m at right now I am going to continue with this company probably for a while. And I honestly like I don’t think I did anything special. I got up in the morning like everybody else does. I had my coffee like everybody else does, like I just put one foot in front of the other and I did the work. And it really, really paid off. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.