Changing Creative Lanes: Music Production to UX/UI Design

Andrew Vait’s career switch into UX design highlights the importance of creativity, mentorship, and having a great network.

Emilyann Gachko
Emilyann Gachko
Apr 15, 2024
Min Read

Transitioning from a seasoned musician to a product designer, Andrew’s journey into UX design illustrates the potential to excel in an all-new, but still creative, field. We chatted with Andrew about his move into UX—delving into the challenges he faced, where he found support, and what he’s up to now working on a product design team. 

The Move Away from Music 

While Andrew came from a background as a career musician, he was starting to feel that the space wasn’t exactly right for him anymore. There was both a desire for stability as well as an interest that he’d piqued in UX design that he stumbled upon while working on his personal site.

This is an image of a band performing.
Andrew performing with his band SISTERS before making his transition in UX/UI design as his career.

“My career shift was inspired by two things: a desire for stability; my music production work was beginning to feel like a corporate job, but I was still self-employed. And as I was building my music production studio, I built a website on Wix and started employing UX principles into my marketing strategy without realizing it. I enjoyed the process of making everything pixel-perfect.” 

After realizing that UX design was the right route for him, Andrew started out with UX Academy Foundations, where he encountered what was admittedly a steep learning curve, but also strong support from his mentor, Darold Davis. He thoroughly enjoyed the course, and made the decision to jump into UX Academy full-time. 

Screenshot of UX design work for a travel website.
Part of Andrew's final UX Academy Foundations projects, where he built screens for a travel website.

A Strong Foundation Through Mentorship 

Andrew makes particular note of how impactful his mentors were during the entirety of the program, citing his UX Academy mentor Leah King as also being a huge contributor to his success throughout his learning experience. 

But his mentorship didn’t end there—Andrew took it upon himself to work with an additional mentor outside of Designlab, allowing him to receive more feedback and another perspective. Working with someone outside of the direct program also allowed him to see how what he was learning translated into real-world applications. 

“My mentor outside of Designlab was guiding me through her process for product design. And then I’d work with Leah, and go through the course material, and something would come up that reminded me of a conversation I'd had outside the coursework. So everything felt like it was laid out in a way that was really conducive to bridge the gap between school and real life.”

A Quick Transition in UX Design 

After UX Academy, Andrew quickly landed a role at Robert Half, one of the world’s largest staffing firms; it only took him about two weeks after he graduated to find a job. He’s currently on a design team that looks at user research to help create a more effective user experience for individuals looking to find a job. 

Andrew’s approach to UX Academy was ambitious across the board. Not only did he seek outside mentorship, but he also took the time to secure a real-world client for a UX Academy capstone project. He offered to make an MVP mobile app for company Adventure Nannies—his friend, who is also the CEO, took him up on it.

Mobile screens for app Adventure Nannies.
Screens from the mobile app Andrew created for Adventure Nannies, a company geared towards helping find nannies compatible with a variety of different lifestyles.

Taking Time to Network

Another big factor Andrew placed an emphasis on was dedicating time to networking. He made a point to reach out to both experts in the UX field and professionals who worked in recruitment. 

He found leaning on people who were already in his network, rather than strangers from whom you might not get a response, to be the most fruitful method of communication. Through these conversations, he gained a better understanding of both the design hiring process, as well as how to best present his work. 

“I set up meetings with friends I knew from a previous life who were recruiters, anybody who might interact with product designers, and I would just ask, ‘Can I pick your brain? Will you look at my portfolio? Will you give me some feedback?’ And I ended up amassing a small handful of mentors and a lot of different approaches on getting a job in the marketplace.” 

This is a screenshot of a website for excursion planning.
A high-fidelity mock-up Andrew created for HoWL, an organization that seeks to help young find and enroll in outdoor adventure programs.

Finding Transferable Skills 

While Andrew might not have been working in design previously, being a musician still requires a lot of creativity and collaboration. And although UX is vastly different from music in terms of discipline, those skills readily transfer over into a UX design practice. 

Andrew cites being open to feedback as one of the biggest things he’s brought over from his prior career. Active listening and the ability to understand someone else’s vision or perspective allows him to be able to meet the needs of his team, and has also informed how he takes on feedback in his music career, which he now does personally rather than professionally. 

“Working on my own music outside of business hours, that's the creative energy that I reserve for doing things the way I want to do them. But product design is also informing the way that I receive and actually seek feedback on my own work. I don't have to find a way to compromise, but it makes me want to seek it out.” 

Advice for Aspiring Designers

As someone who has successfully navigated a career shift into design, Andrew emphasizes the importance of mentorship, continuous learning, and openness to feedback. He encourages aspiring designers to engage with the design community and seek a variety of perspectives to help prepare for a transition into the field and understand what it will mean to be a desired candidate for UX roles. 

It can, admittedly, be challenging—but he also doesn’t want to discourage anyone from moving forward. In fact, he felt the opposite, stating that the future of UX, and those who want to work in it, are both vibrant and important. 

“You do have to put in the work. It won't be a walk in the park, but if you want to figure it out, you will be able to figure it out. The world needs product designers—this practice is not going anywhere anytime soon. The world needs good empathetic people who really truly want to understand the process of making a digital product better.”

Check out some more student stories below:

Alumni Spotlight: Yazmin's Journey into UX/UI Design

Alumni Spotlight: Cage’s Journey into UX/UI

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Launch a career in ux design with our top-rated program

Top Designers Use Data.

Gain confidence using product data to design better, justify design decisions, and win stakeholders. 6-week course for experienced UX designers.