Switching Paths: Margie Churchill’s Search for the Perfect UX Career

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Margie Churchill was undeniably stuck. After graduating from the University of Alabama in 2017, she’d planned on pursuing a Master’s and PhD in psychology. Over the course of two years, she was accepted to multiple different master’s programs — but she turned them all down at the last minute. Something just didn’t feel right.

That gut feeling was Margie’s realization that she couldn’t see herself as a psychologist. So she decided to explore other career options. That’s when she discovered her true passion: UX/UI.

“I was doing some research and I came across UX/UI,” she said. “I taught myself a little more about it, and then I started searching for ways to further my education. I came across a boot camp that seemed like the perfect option.”

The UX/UI Boot Camp at UCI Continuing Education was a perfect fit for Margie, who lives near UC Irvine Continuing Education. It didn’t take long for her to decide she wanted to do it.

A blessing in disguise

But first, she’d have to wait. Having just missed the cut-off date to start the boot camp in March, Margie was forced to wait a few more months to begin her new education. The waiting game turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

“Because I had to wait, I had extra time to do the recommended readings and familiarize myself with the technologies,” she said. “That really set me up for success, so I would give people the advice to definitely do those readings. I know they’re optional, but they help so much.”

Straight out of the boot camp, Margie landed a contract job as a UX designer for a startup company. She got to work right away redesigning their mobile and desktop applications, but it wasn’t easy. 

The company worked with real estate professionals, something Margie didn’t have much experience with. “It was a lot of learning on top of keeping up with my UX/UI skills,” she said. But despite the challenge, the company was pleased with her work and soon offered her a full-time position.

Margie knew she was lucky to have a full-time job in the middle of a pandemic that put many people out of work. But just like before, she felt something was off.

“I just didn’t click with the people I was working with and I didn’t enjoy the industry as a whole. It wasn’t for me,” she said.

That’s when two of Margie’s friends approached her about an exciting opportunity. 

Something different

Both friends had worked for creative agencies in the past and were ready to start their own company. But they needed someone with UX/UI skills. That someone was Margie.

“My friends came up with the idea of combining our three backgrounds to build our own agency,” Margie said. “I had the opportunity to hop on board.”

Hop on board she did — and she’s never looked back.

“I’m the digital director, so I use all my UX/UI skills daily,” she said. “I love the freedom of my role and the opportunity to work with so many different clients simultaneously.”

Same skills, new applications

In fact, Margie uses her UX and UI skills in ways she couldn’t have imagined back in boot camp.

She recalls her boot camp instructor having a one-on-one chat with her about expanding her horizons beyond just web design. He explained that big tech companies like Google and Facebook are developing AI software to maximize UX/UI for website-building applications. If she wanted to stay relevant, she’d have to find other ways to use her skills. 

That conversation stuck with her. Today, while she still works often in the digital space, Margie has expanded her skills beyond web design. 

“We do so much packaging, branding, logo, and graphic design,” she said. “And UX gives me such an advantage, especially since my two partners have no background in that. There’s so much more to UX than just the digital space, and I’m really glad I was able to learn that.”

A lifelong passion

There was a steep learning curve for Margie’s new role, but her friends, both heavily experienced in the creative industry, were there to help from day one. 

“I was so lucky because I had two very close friends who have had so much experience,” she said. “There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t learn something.”

Despite the challenges, she loves her job and wouldn’t trade it. And she credits the boot camp with helping her find her passion.

“It changed the things that I care about and helped me uncover the things I’m passionate about,” she said. “I still love what I’m doing now. The boot camp definitely changed my life.”

Find something you’re passionate about. Learn more about UC Irvine Boot Camps in UX/UI, coding, cybersecurity, data analytics, digital marketing, and tech project management today.

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