Career Transition Success Story – Nora Pirsch – From Yoga to UX Design! (Part 1)

Nora Pirsch

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 transitioned her career to UX design. 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.

You can connect with Nora here:

www.norapirsch.com

Part 1 – Nora’s career transition story:  Networking and Figuring Out What You REALLY Want

Shelley: 

Nora, share with me a brief history of your career up to the point you made your career transition.

Nora:

I was a full-time yoga teacher for about 15 years, I am still yoga teacher, but very, very part time now. And I really got into that because I wanted to travel a lot. And I wanted something that helped people improve themselves and feel better. So it seemed like a really good fit for me. And I still love teaching, I’ll never stop. It’s something that’s very close to my heart and part of me now. But about 10 years into it, I knew that I It wasn’t sustainable, what I was doing, teaching 10 to 12 classes a week, and just barely making paying the bills was really taking a toll on me. And it was hard because it’s something I love to do. But it wasn’t fulfilling me in other ways. So I knew I needed something different. I didn’t know what, so I was very, very gingerly putting my feelers out there for several years. And when COVID hit, I reevaluated what was important to me where I want to focus my time that I have on this amazing Earth. I just started asking questions, I started asking people, what do they do for a living. I really think a huge part of transitioning in general is reaching out and hearing other people’s stories, how did you get to where you are now, and those connections are invaluable. When transitioning you can get a lot of support that way too. And you can get a lot of leads that way into new jobs.

CAreer transition tip: the power of Networking

Shelley:

Absolutely. You’re kind of alluding to informational interviewing, networking. And sometimes I have clients who are grappling with a career transition that really hesitate with that.  They get nervous, they don’t want to do it, their Gremlin/Inner Saboteur gets activated by the whole thing. What if people say no?

Nora:

I’ve always been kind of a natural connector. I’ve always been pretty good at that naturally. But what I would say is, what have you got to lose? And what do you have to gain? Looking at those two sides, how badly do you want this? How badly do you want this information, you have to be really hungry to be really ready for something new. And it’s important to stay close to why you’re doing this because if that gets lost, then then you’ll be lost.

Shelley:

Tell me a little bit about how you went about doing some of these informational interviews or networking? Did you just start with people you knew? Did you reach out to people on LinkedIn that you didn’t have a clue who they were?

Nora:

I asked friends what they were up to. One friend said, I just took a coding class and I thought, Oh, maybe I should get into coding. I knew that I wanted something that was flexible with remote working. I think a lot of people did after COVID. It would be nice to not have to sit in traffic and all that. So that was important to me. And it was also important to me to help people. So, continue to help people, but also be creative, and also do something that that fulfills me. Those were like my three big things that I was looking for. When my friend said, I just took a coding class, it was like a bug in my head. And then I just looked at different coding schools. And I did some research on which one to choose. And the school that I chose was the one where the counselor was really listening to me and liked my background. And she said we have a field called UX. And that was the first time I’d heard that terminology. Okay, what’s that? And she said, it’s improving the user experience with any product. Oh, that’s interesting, because I love using human psychology to help people. And it sounds more creative than coding might be. So I looked into that and I took a couple of free courses over the weekends, and the more and more I learned about it, and dove into it, the more intrigued I was, and it excited me that it was something that I had no clue what that field was, but matched my skills that I already had. It also pushed the boundaries of what I already knew. Because in my work I want to feel like I’m improving myself. So that was important to me as well. And that just seemed like UX had all of it.

Shelley:

You mentioned creativity was important to you.  Define what you mean by creativity.

Nora:

I don’t consider myself necessarily artistic. I’ve never been like a good painter or anything like that. But I’ve always wanted to do something with my hands. I’ve always wanted to see tangible results. My favorite part of UX design work is the research part where I get to interview people. And then I need to translate my ideas, and what I’ve learned from these interviews into something tangible and visible. And that’s where the design part comes in. Through my discovery work and research work, I know where this chunk of information needs to live on the screen. I can put a box there, and somebody else can design the details, but I know that it has to be there. And I know that the button has to be very visible in the corner. But I get to make something. And there’s iterations, and that excites me, because I like to be proven wrong. A lot of this has to do with assumptions, I assume that this, this needs to go there, but then I get proven wrong. And I love that because then I know what to not do anymore, for that specific design. Problems are fun.

Shelley:

I love that. Given your training as a yogini, I’m sure that also has a lot to do with how you’re able to be non-judgmental of yourself. And that natural curiosity, I’m so interesting how these things kind of all relate? What made us successful in one medium can make us successful in a completely different medium. But I love what you say about creativity, because a lot of clients I work with don’t think they’re creative, or they may say I want a job where I can be creative, but they don’t know what that really means for them. And you describe iteration like is your method of creativity. But if you think about the whole spectrum of creativity, there’s disruptive innovation on one side and people who want to be innovative in that way. And then on the other side, it’s more iteration. And you can be anywhere on that spectrum, and still be creative.

Nora:

I think it’s also being teachable and being open to learning new things and expanding your preconceived boundaries. You know, I think that’s important too. And not to be afraid to fall on your face. I am not ashamed that I fail often, I fail daily. But I am not afraid to reach out to somebody that knows the answer.  I don’t mind looking silly or looking stupid to get the right answer to get things right. And again, to the extent you can demonstrate that, even with a previous job, even it’s totally unrelated, it’s a benefit in an interview, “I was thrown in situations where I often didn’t know the answer. And here’s how I went about finding it out.” Employers are more interested in your thought process and how you navigate a problem.

Career transition tip:  finding Additional Training

Shelley:

How did you choose your UX training program?

Nora:

Yes, it was called General Assembly. I did do a lot of research and when something is this big in your life, please do the research. It does not hurt to ask all your friends. Google all the key words. The classes were live, it was nine to five. I had to take out a loan for bills, plus the cost of the school. And I even taught yoga during that time, I would teach and then go to school from nine to five. Wow, it was rough. But if you have that hunger, it won’t stop you. The school had live classes. We were in a zoom room and you had to have your camera on, and I had some great teachers. Some other schools were more like, “Good morning, please watch eight hours of videos.” And I was thought, that’s great, but I do not learn like that. I can’t, I will fall asleep. So I needed something interactive. And they did a great job with doing breakout sessions. And we would put into practice what we just learned.

Shelley:

What I’m taking away from what you’re saying is: Do your due diligence and your research in terms of the learning modalities. Do they use live instruction? Is it all on demand? Excellent.

career transition tip:  Finding Transferrable Skills

Shelley:

Tell me a little bit your previous experience and how UX design built on that because you mentioned yoga instruction. Where was the bridge or the connection point?

Nora:

Along with the yoga teaching, I always had another job or two or three. There was a time where I had four jobs. They were mostly weekend jobs because I was teaching full time during the week. But I catered on the weekends for the last several years before I did this career transition. The skills that really are transferable from my past to this new career is people connecting. That was a big theme. And in the UX world, interviews with users and having people trust you is a huge thing. Also, working with the development team and the technology team to be able to work cross functionally, and be okay with any personality, and having the most productive meetings, no matter what the personalities are in the room or in the Zoom Room. I started to hit on that with my interviews.  When I was teaching yoga, one of my favorite parts was to watch people grow in their practice and understand their body more in certain postures. And it’s similar with UX, you get to be curious. You get to ask questions like, why did you do that? Why did you click that button instead of that one on the left side? That excited me.

Shelley:

What I’m hearing you say is that your passion for people and your ability to connect with people that you honed through being a teacher is really what enabled you to make the career transition. It’s so interesting because I have a client who I’ve helped transition from being a bartender into technology. And it was, again, people skills, because he became a head bartender, and then he was responsible for a whole group of people. And he couldn’t see how valuable that experience was. But I could see it.

How did you craft your resume to tell that story?

Nora:

My school played a huge role in my career transition. And that was one of the reasons I chose the school, General Assembly, because they have a lot of back-end support. Once you graduate, you’re not just left on your own, fending for yourself. They teach you interview skills; they teach you how to write a good cover letter, they teach you about ATS resumes. And I didn’t even know that was a thing and I am so, so grateful for that support. I really don’t think I would have gotten this job without it. They helped me bring to light my strengths. And what were my transferable skills.

Shelley:

What I’m hearing you say, and what I think is important for anyone who’s reading this blog, is how important it is if you are going to take a course of any kind that it’s more beyond just the technicalities of what it is that you’re learning.  That the program has back-end support, like coaching, helping with resumes, helping with mock interviews, helping you to see what part of your skill set are transferable. It sounds like that was a game changer.

Join us next week for the part 2, where Nora continues her career transition journey and talks about how she battled her own gremlins and displayed resiliency through applying for over 80 jobs!

 

Shelley Pernot is a leadership and career coach who is passionate about helping her clients discover their strengths and talents and find a career that utilizes them.  Reach out to me here for a free consultation to learn more about the coaching process and how it may benefit you!


One Response to “Career Transition Success Story – Nora Pirsch – From Yoga to UX Design! (Part 1)”

Leave a Reply