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How I figured out I'm on the right path

You guys! I did it! I went to a networking event without kicking and screaming.

And more than that, it was an incredible experience that helped me affirm my decision to shift my career focus to User Experience (UX) design.

Mission Collaborative is a group of passionate DC doers with the mission to help courageous people build careers they love so they can make their fullest contribution to the world around them.

Last week I attended their Career Test Drive workshop, focusing on the theme of using design thinking to test a new career in DC's Tech industry. Imagination can be a limiting factor in seeing yourself in a new career. How do you know what to picture if you don't know what to expect? How do you have the confidence to transition fields when you don't even know what skills may be required of you?

The idea of a career test drive is just genius. In this evening session, 30 strangers got to meet and take part in helping real companies identify, ideate, and solve problems, showing a day in the life of someone in the tech industry.

For those of you reading between the lines on my LinkedIn page, you may have noticed that I have been seeking a change for quite some time. While I love the work I do and have done, I have yet to be able to find my voice or my platform to make that full contribution to the world that I am so eager to make.

I decided to do something radical about this problem. Leave my job, freelance for a bit, then attend a full time career bootcamp to learn User Experience design at General Assembly. Did I just jump into this? Sure. Did I have the network or know-how to ask the right questions to the right people before slapping down my deposit? Well--- not exactly. But, cue Mission Collaborative's Career Test Drive experience last week. HUGE exhale!

I feel like for the first time in a long time I am on the right path. Sure, I wish I found this group of amazing and supportive people a year ago, and I highly recommend all DC career changers check in with Mission Collaborative; but armed with sharpies, post-its, and a tough problem to solve, my Career Test Drive experience helped me to actually see myself in my chosen career.

And I think I'll thrive.

Kiah Guilford is a User Experience Designer with a background in communication. She previously worked for the U.S. Department of State where she wrote papers and presentations to help diplomats mitigate global risks and make informed strategic decisions. Connect with Kiah on LinkedIn.

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