How I Became a UX Person, or Why You Don’t Need a Perfect CV to Be Successful – Part 3

How I became a UX person part 3 or why you don't need a perfect cv to be successful - plus illustration of Mimi in her early thirties

How I Became a UX Person, or Why You Don’t Need a Perfect CV to Be Successful – Part 3

This is part three of my story. I also share it to encourage you if you are currently at a turning point in your (professional) life, for instance. I have often been faced with whether I should start all over again or at least change direction. This question comes quite quickly when I don’t feel comfortable in situations or contexts. For some people, this means that I give up too fast. They then tell me I should “grit my teeth and bare it”. “Pull yourself together!”.

I, however, think differently. I believe I have particularly good antennae for what is good for me and what is not. And also for what I should change. Because every time I listened to that inner voice that said: “This can’t go on like this. We can’t stand it anymore. We have to change something,” something beautiful came out of it.

And by the way, that doesn’t mean that new situations are beautiful from the start or that the beauty will last forever. But I believe that just taking a step in a new direction gives you fresh motivation and momentum, which you need to change something. And when we change something out of ourselves – oh man, that feels incredibly good.

Find parts 1 & 2 here:
👉 How I Became a UX Person, or Why You Don’t Need a Perfect CV to Be Successful – Part 1
👉 How I Became a UX Person, or Why You Don’t Need a Perfect CV to Be Successful – Part 2

But, enough rambling now. On with my story.

At the end of my photography training

Although I gained a lot of new impulses and met great people during my training as a photographer, I also had to realise that this industry is not my world. And coupled with the financial situation, the decision to drop out of school was only rational and correct. But, of course, I also felt like a failure. And I’ll tell you honestly: I didn’t rise from the ashes like a phoenix and immediately had the next great idea for my life.

Instead, I was pretty burnt out. The last two years’ heavy and physical workload had been eating away at me. I had no perspective and a vast mountain of debt on my shoulders. I had to take out a loan for the photography school, but I had to start paying it off from day one. 

I didn’t tell you before, but when I started the training, I was still in a steady relationship – my first – which lasted 11 years. I only got the loan because my boyfriend vouched for me. At that time, I assumed I would be able to shoulder this burden in the security of my relationship. After the first six months, however, I realised that I also had to change other things in my life and broke up with my boyfriend.

A new relationship and a new job

At the end of my time in photography, a few days before my last assignment at the photo studio where I was doing my internship alongside school, I met my new boyfriend and now my daughter’s father. He had just moved to Hamburg and had taken a job at the university here. A “scientist”, I thought that was great. But I sometimes felt small and stupid next to him with my temporary jobs – I now worked in the second-hand shop during the day and continued to work at UPS in the evenings.

So it didn’t take long for me to change things again. And even though I had decided never again to be a developer a few years earlier, it seemed the only sensible way to quickly feel more valuable and, above all, to have more money in my pocket again. I could still remember the fears and stomach aches in my last jobs, and I knew what kind of setting I wanted so that it wouldn’t be like that again: a friendly and supportive team with experienced developers who work in close contact with each other.

In fact, it didn’t take long, and I had a new job in a small agency. Of course, my new boss used the “you don’t have a degree” phrase to pay me as low a salary as possible. He did the same when I tried to negotiate a salary increase after the probationary period. Unfortunately, I didn’t get on very well with him in other respects either and therefore resigned again after a year, despite the great colleagues.

The great publishing house

This time, however, I already had something new in my pocket. Don’t worry, I didn’t change direction again, just the company. I started at a big publishing house in Hamburg as a web developer in a big team. I thought I’d won the lottery – even though my salary was measured against my lack of education again. But I assumed I would no longer be “alone” but would have many people around me to support me. And in part, that was definitely the case.

However, even in this new setting, there were situations in which I felt I was on my own and had a responsibility that I could hardly bear. These were mainly the deployments, i.e. bi-weekly moments in which new code was played out on the editorial websites. We did this via a command line, and things could go horribly wrong. I only knew the most important commands and the whole substructure and everything behind it was an absolute black box for me.

In our area, a different person from the team was responsible for deployment every time. It always took place very early in the morning, when hardly anyone else was in the office – and on the websites. You were accompanied by an operations person who had their office in the basement – what a cliché. They watched the servers and were, of course, responsible for that part. About every four to six weeks, it was my turn to do this task. And I was absolutely panicking about it every time. Because I didn’t have a contingency plan if something went wrong – we didn’t have that. I knew that if something went wrong, there was a problem that I had to solve without knowing how to. Isn’t it logical to be afraid of such an uncertain situation?

And, of course, now and then, something went wrong. And, of course, we always managed to work it out somehow. But the fear stayed with me and got worse. It weighed heavily on me – I think much more than on my primarily male colleagues (or they might not have admitted it, but what do I know).

My daughter

Other things bugged me in this job – which I did longer than anything else so far, namely 4.5 years. For example, our department was part of the internal IT service provider and implemented the ideas and concepts of the editors.

In those years, I was involved in three relaunches (yes, they used to do that – hopefully, no one does it anymore!). I’ve built an endless number of banner ads into websites and entrusted a pretty cool forum with visual spaces (a very innovative concept that unfortunately didn’t catch on). But I always just worked off tickets, and my opinion or input was not really asked for. We only received finished concepts for implementation; it was usually too late for feedback. I found this increasingly frustrating.

I got pregnant, and my daughter gave me a little time out. I could take a year off, which was vital for me. The fact that I was not well during this time has other reasons, which I will perhaps shed light on in another article at some point.


After my parental leave, things went on just as before. Even though I had hoped it would, nothing changed during that year. But still, it was almost two more years before I finally landed in the UX field. But I’m afraid I can only tell you about that next time 😅 .

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