Industrial Engineer Career Change Story: How Scott Became a UX Designer

Want to know how to career change from engineering? Let’s find out how Scott went from working in the automotive manufacturing industry to a booming career in UX design. He spent almost two years working at Oracle and recently started a new position as a UX designer at Apple! Here’s his career change story.

by Emily Stevens on 20 February 2023

Industrial engineer career changer Scott Wong, who graduated from the UX Design Program at CareerFoundry

Engineer looking for a career change? Let me introduce you to Scott. He studied industrial engineering at university, and then went on to gain experience in the manufacturing and automotive industries. However, while working at Honda, he grew increasingly curious about usability and bridging the gap between business, users, and technology—a curiosity which sparked a life-changing career transition.

Scott retrained for a career in UX design with CareerFoundry and landed his first job in the industry at one of the biggest software companies in the world, Oracle.

But what are the challenges of an engineer career change? If you’re coming from a background in engineering, you might feel like your current job and the skills you have are just too far removed from your dream role. Fortunately, the reality is rather different—as you’ll soon see when you read Scott’s story. Gaining additional experience, following his curiosity, and networking in a new industry are just some of the challenges Scott overcame during his engineer career change journey.

Hi Scott! Could you tell me a bit about yourself?

Hello! I am a UX designer based out of the San Francisco Bay area. I graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Industrial Engineering where I got my first exposure to human factors and user interface design.

What were you doing before you took the UX Design Program?

Prior to CareerFoundry, I was working for Honda as a supplier quality engineer in the Indiana Auto Plant. As a quality engineer in Honda’s new model division, I was working with automotive suppliers to develop new parts for upcoming Honda models, including the 2022 Civic and 2023 CRV.

Then, once I started getting into UX design, I took on some extra responsibilities outside of my regular job. I got involved with a digital product team, taking the lead in designing an online dashboard for project managers to manage overlapping development schedules.

What made you decide to change careers?

Working as an engineer, career change wasn’t on my mind initially. However, while working at Honda, I became interested in working on user interfaces after reading many customer complaints about the poor usability of the infotainment systems in our cars.

A quote from Scott about his engineer career change journey

And what led you to study UX with CareerFoundry?

I wanted to continue working full-time while having the flexibility of an online program. CareerFoundry offered the curriculum and mentorship I was looking for.

How was your experience with the UX program? What were the highlights and challenges?

Overall, I had a very positive experience with the UX Design Program. The courses are easy to follow along and the supplemental articles are very helpful. While it was challenging to find the motivation to study after working a full day at the plant, I was able to figure out a good routine for getting my classwork and projects done.

After graduating you landed your first job at Oracle! Can you tell me about that?

I started working at Oracle as a UX designer in April 2021. I joined the Oracle CX (Customer Experience) group that focuses on cloud-based CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solutions. I was working on a team of three designers, designing wireframes and user flows for features that are tailored to communications service providers (ex. ATT, Verizon).

Did you know Scott isn’t the only CareerFoundry graduate to land a job at Oracle? Read Andrada’s story: From TV Producer To UX Designer: How I Was Headhunted

That sounds great! How did you get the job?

Outside of applying to jobs online and expanding my portfolio with freelance projects, I focused on networking with other designers and people in the tech industry. This is a piece of advice that I got from nearly every designer I talked to in the past.

I am an avid golfer and one day I happened to get grouped up with some strangers. While striking up a conversation with one of the guys, I mentioned my interest and background in UX design. After telling me that he worked at Oracle, he offered to share my resume and portfolio with his team. The rest is history!

Recommended viewing: How to Network in Tech

That’s amazing! What are you enjoying most about working as a UX designer?

I enjoy working with a diverse team, including product managers and developers. It’s nice being able to bounce ideas off of different types of team members and discuss the feasibility of different solutions.

In your experience, what makes a great UX designer?

I believe that great UX designers are big picture thinkers who understand the overarching problem that needs to be addressed, and have a clear understanding of how their solution will benefit users.

In addition to being user-centric, great designers consider the needs and goals of the business and how their solution will push the company in the right direction.

What advice would you give to anyone reading this who might be considering a career-change into UX and / or thinking about taking the CareerFoundry UX program?

CareerFoundry will provide you with a very solid foundation to start with. However, it is very important that you expand your education beyond the program and take on freelance projects to build up your portfolio.

In regards to job searching, I highly recommend putting yourself out there and networking with designers and managers to uncover the hidden job opportunities that do not get posted online. Who knows…a round of golf might put you in touch with someone that can help you land your first UX role, like it did for me! Best of luck!

Thank you, Scott!

Since we initially spoke to Scott for this interview, his design career has continued to flourish and after almost two years working at Oracle, he’s now a UX designer at Apple. How about that for an engineer career change move?

A LinkedIn post about Scott's industrial engineer career change journey. He's now working as a UX designer at Apple

If, like Scott, you want to make a career change into tech, why not book a call with a program advisor? They’ll help you figure out your next steps. You can also sign up for this free, introductory short course to see if a career in UX design is right for you.

Want to read more engineer career change stories? Check out these articles from more CareerFoundry graduates who made exciting switches to tech roles:

Finally, you can also check out this handy guide from Career Karma on how to change career from engineering.

by Emily Stevens on 20 February 2023

About the author

Emily Stevens

Emily is a professional tech writer and content strategist. She spent over a decade in tech startups, immersed in the world of UX and design thinking. In addition to writing for The CareerFoundry Blog, Emily has been a regular contributor to several industry-leading design publications and wrote a chapter for The UX Careers Handbook. She also has an MSc in Psychology from the University of Westminster.