Meet Bethany: From Pursuing a Career in Medicine to Product Design Apprentice at Pinterest

Bethany Burns is a former medical student turned Product Design Apprentice at Pinterest. She is a graduate of the Designlab UX Academy program for career chang…

Alexa Harrison
Alexa Harrison
Jun 23, 2023
Min Read

Before enrolling in UX Academy, Bethany Burns was actively pursuing a career in medicine. But, toward the end of her time in college, she came to the realization that her passion was no longer working in the medical field. 

“I still love and respect the field, but I felt as though I was feeding into something that was no longer feeding back into me (emotionally, creatively, etc.)” says Bethany.

Although she knew it was time for a change, Bethany didn’t feel like she had the time or resources to figure out an alternative career field to pursue...until a forced break enabled her (and many others) to re-evaluate. 

“As terrible as the pandemic was, I also found solace in finally having the time and ability to search and find a career better suited for me. I’m happy to say I found UX Design and Product Design. It was the perfect combination of science and creativity for me,” Bethany says.

Choosing UX Academy For a Full Career Shift

When Bethany began looking for UX design bootcamps, she bounced back and forth between the various education providers. But after taking the Designlab UX Academy Foundations course, she ultimately chose Designlab. 

Here's why … 

  • “First, Designlab offers a variety of mentorship and guidance. I knew learning design would require a lot of self teaching but the promise of 1-on-1 mentorship plus Group Crits really made me feel like I wouldn’t be alone in learning and understanding UX design both conceptually and concretely.”
  • “In addition, Designlab offers a variety of content and resources in a digestible manner which I felt was very important to attaining my learning goals.”
  • “I was also really influenced by the ‘post-grad’ career services. It was super appealing to think I would be receiving support at every step of the journey.”

Once Bethany decided on UX Academy, she applied for the Designlab Diversify Design Scholarship—and received a full-ride scholarship.

“My decision was already solidified by this point, but this was definitely the icing on the cake,” says Bethany.

An image of a competitive analysis of the InHome App.
A competitive analysis of the InHome App.

Bethany’s UX Academy Experience

Bethany says her experience in UX Academy was a positive one, which helped her learn the foundational ideas and process of UX design. The best part? The support she received from her mentor.

“I would reach out to my cohort peers, Group Crit moderators, and especially my mentor—shoutout to Denoja—who was such an influential part of my journey. She was always helpful and very patient with me when I needed it. She often showed me different resources, from browser plug-ins to useful websites, and she was always open for questions,” Bethany says.

Even when she found herself stuck on certain ideas or projects, she knew there was always a resource or person to reach out to for help in the Designlab Discord community.

“Designlab was no doubt helpful in my journey. I used it as a foundational stepping stone in my journey, alongside other resources and activities,” Bethany says.

An image of annotated sketches for the InHome app.
Bethany annotated sketches to ensure she was providing all the necessary visuals and design solutions before wireframing.

Landing Her First Design Role

Now, Bethany works as a Product Design Apprentice at Pinterest 🤩

“I can honestly say I love it!” Bethany says.

While in Designlab Career Services, Bethany found the job opening for her current role via social media. She followed up with an application directly on the Pinterest website.

“The interview process itself was a tedious, but positive one,” says Bethany.

It began with Bethany submitting her portfolio and was followed by several rounds of virtual interviews, where she was able to showcase her work, thought process, and personality. 

What It’s Like To Work As a Product Design Apprentice at Pinterest

“I really and truly enjoy my new job! Coming in as an apprentice, there’s an understanding that I am still learning and bettering my skills, but I love that I’m still treated and acknowledged as a regular designer on the team,” Bethany says. 

As an apprentice, she still has the opportunity to work with a mentor (and manager) for guidance and support when delving into new projects and spaces. 

Plus, she gets to work from home, and has more flexibility than ever. Bethany says working in this role at Pinterest has been “an invaluable experience.”

She says: “Finally being able to work in the UX design field has been everything and more. Becoming a designer has allowed me to find a healthy balance between many of the aspects I craved in a career:

  • I get to be creative while also problem solving to help users. 
  • I get to collaborate with my peers while also taking ownership of my own projects. 
  • There can be so much variety to my day and to my work, but there is still a bit of structure which I like. 
  • There are also so many opportunities and room to grow in this field so I don’t feel like I'll become stagnant.

… All of these aspects make me feel like I’ve chosen the best career path for myself at this time.”

Bethany is currently on the Publishing Experience team at Pinterest—her team focuses on a creator’s experience when publishing on the app. This team includes a variety of people including UX designers, UX researchers, and engineers. 

Bethany’s main job is to complete design projects, many of which utilize the results directly from Pinterest’s UX researchers, which she then passes off to the engineers. 

“While this sounds linear, there is actually a lot of back and forth between everyone in my cross functional team. We meet often and lend a hand where needed to make sure we’re getting the best outcome of the product,” Bethany says. 

Bethany is unable to share the project she’s working on currently—you’ll just have to keep your eyes open for new and exciting changes on Pinterest

“It’s been such a cool and rewarding experience to work on an app that reaches millions of people. I literally learn new things every single day and what makes it even better is knowing that my work can ultimately contribute to other people learning and finding inspiration through the Pinterest app and website,” says Bethany.

An image of the InHome App on a smart phone screen.
The final product of the InHome App: an augmented reality app that reimagines the design and furniture shopping experience for users.

Job Perks at Pinterest

As you’d imagine, working at Pinterest has many perks. 

Bethany received a new keyboard, ergonomic mouse, and webcam for her work from home setup. She also receives a work from home stipend to buy any additional items she needs. Plus, she’s received many packages from Pinterest containing all kinds of merchandise, like backpacks, water bottles, t-shirts, etc. And holiday gifts, too!

“I think my favorite perk thus far was my trip to San Francisco. While I am remote and do work from home, there are times I get to go into the office (with my travel covered). And yes, the office does have so much free food!” Bethany says.

Needless to say, Bethany is finding and enjoying all the perks she can.

Three images of Bethany exploring San Francisco.
Bethany visiting the Pinterest office in San Francisco!

Advice for Those Seeking a Career in UX Design

Now that Bethany has graduated and landed her *dream job* she has some advice for incoming, current, and graduating UX Academy students …

“Once I landed my job, I received such an influx of folks asking me for advice and tips. I usually tell everyone the same things: 

  • Journal your journey which means jotting down your experience during different projects. Write down your thought process at different stages of the project, challenges you faced, things you learned etc. 
  • Next, work on your storytelling. We all tend to follow a similar path of research, define, ideate, etc., but find an interesting way to talk about how you did those things, take us on a journey. 
  • Another tip I like to really press is to find and use your resources. Designlab was a wonderful foundation to get me started in UX, but there’s a lot of things you can do to continue to enrich your journey and goal of getting a job. In my spare time, I would watch YouTube videos and skim articles and books, and volunteer on real world projects. This really helped in the long run. 
  • Lastly, keep pushing and don’t compare yourself! None of us are on the same timeline or path. Some people may receive their job before they even finish UX Academy, while others may still be searching for months after. How fast you can get a job does not always speak to how great of a designer you are. Be confident in your own journey and timing. It'll work out! It did for me.”

Beyond Life at Pinterest

Because Pinterest is flexible and ensures its employees have a positive work-life balance, Bethany has been enjoying her life to the fullest. She’s able to work from anywhere, which allows her to spend time hanging out with her family and friends, traveling, reading, and picking up new hobbies. 

“This career path and job have given me the work-life balance I had always hoped for,” says Bethany. 

She knows she’s fortunate, and is giving back regularly by making time for those who are in a similar situation to what she experienced when trying to break into UX design. 

“I like to take time to chat with different people to offer help and advice in any way I can.”

Looking to the future, Bethany intends to continue to explore the many rewarding career paths that are possible in the world of UX.

“One thing I didn’t realize at first was how vast a career in UX and product design could be. There are so many pathways to explore and grow into. While I'm not sure which one I want to pursue, I’ve made it my goal to keep exploring until I figure that out. I’m going to keep pushing myself to learn both hard-set skills as well as soft ones. For now, I just want to become a better designer day by day!”

Watch the Complete Webinar

Watch our conversation with Bethany in the YouTube video below!

In this webinar, you’ll hear about:

  • Bethany’s journey through UX Academy and how she kept herself motivated
  • How journaling helped her understand her own thought process while working through projects
  • What she’s most excited about now that she’s working at Pinterest
  • Her long term goals and aspirations as a designer

Connect with Bethany on LinkedIn and check out her portfolio.

To learn more about landing your first job in the UX/UI design industry from design career pros, explore UX Academy—which includes up to 6 months of Career Services. You’ll be paired with a Career Coach to identify the right job opportunities, add extra polish to your portfolio, work on your interview skills together, and launch your new career!

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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.