Meet Jason: From Sales to Senior UX Designer at United Airlines

Jason Thue is a Senior UX Designer at United Airlines and a UX Academy graduate. Read about his journey from Sales to UX Design.

Alexa Harrison
Alexa Harrison
Jan 27, 2023
Min Read

Before enrolling in UX Academy and starting his career as a UX designer, Jason Thue was working in a consultative sales role at a digital marketing and web design agency. He was excelling in his career, but was entirely unsatisfied.

“While I was doing well in my role, I was feeling super stressed, unhappy, and unfulfilled in my career. I didn’t like the trajectory I was heading in. I’m a very creative person and knew I needed to do something that would fulfill that need, and the more I researched UX Design the more I knew it was the right path for me. It took me longer than I’d care to admit to work up the courage to seriously pursue it, and I am so glad I did!” Jason says.

“I did a lot of research on different education options and UX bootcamps, and even considered going the self-taught route. Ultimately I chose Designlab as I knew I needed support and structure, and read a lot of positive things about the community they have created and the mentorship they provide. Designlab was also very competitive in terms of what they offered for the price. The investment I made both with my time and money has more than paid itself off.”

Jason made the decision to resign from his sales job and enroll in UX Academy full-time, which he admits was daunting, but ultimately helped him put 100% of his focus on being a student and seriously pursuing this career path. 

“I saved up quite a bit of money in order to feel more comfortable with this decision and would encourage others to do the same if they are considering the full-time route,” says Jason.

Jason’s UX/UI Design Learning Journey

Prior to enrolling in UX Academy, Jason took UX Academy Foundations to prepare, where he learned foundational UI and visual design skills through hands-on projects that helped him to master tools like Figma. 

“Going through this course only further solidified my commitment to UX and continuing my education with Designlab. Shoutout to Designlab mentor Kieran Black for showing me the ropes when I was still new to Figma and was unsure if I had the design chops to be successful,” Jason says.

Once he continued on his UX/UI learning journey into UX Academy, the mentorship aspect of the course remained particularly key for Jason.

“My experience in UX Academy was extremely positive. My mentor, Pamela Dodera, and I got along super well and she not only taught me a lot but was also very supportive as I completed my coursework and capstones. I also really enjoyed the Group Crit sessions. They are great at preparing you to present and give feedback to others on their designs which is obviously an important skill to learn for this career,” says Jason.

Career Services & The Freelance Life

Once Jason completed UX Academy, it was time to move into Career Services. 

The overall goal of Career Services is to help you identify job opportunities and make sure you have the resources and feedback you need to capitalize on them. All students have access to focused Career Services support for up to 6 months after finishing UX Academy, as well as lifetime access to ongoing career support. 

“There are so many things you can do in Career Services: networking, freelancing, hackathons, applying to jobs, reworking your resume, re-doing your portfolio, re-writing case studies, etc.” Jason says.

Jason started this phase by gaining more real-life experience through freelance projects. Given his past experience with sales and consulting, he was quite successful in freelancing. 

“I was comfortable creating a proposal, scope of work, agreement, etc. which definitely gave me a huge leg up compared to a lot of my peers in the same position. Regardless of your past experience, it's important to identify these areas of strength or experience that you can leverage.”

Then, one day, a recruiter at Artisan Talent reached out to Jason and was very complimentary of his portfolio—now revamped with even more real-world projects—and thought he would be a good fit for a remote contract role with United Airlines. He followed up with his interest, spoke with the recruiter on the phone, and then filled out some paperwork to officially apply. After that, Jason didn’t hear anything for a month, and nearly forgot about it! Finally, the recruiter reached back out and asked if he could interview the following day.

“I had already prepared a portfolio presentation for another company I had interviewed for, so I made tweaks to that in the evening and attended the virtual interview the next day. Since it was a contract offer, I only had one interview. It went really well. I got the contract!”

A screenshot of the Projects section from the portfolio website of Jason Thue.

Working As a Senior UX Designer at United Airlines

Jason then put in the effort to learn as quickly as possible and build great relationships with his United Airlines co-workers, which led to him going full-time at the end of his 6-month contract. Woohoo! Go Jason.

Jason has now been working at United Airlines for over a year, and says that overall things are going great, and his new career in UX Design is everything he imagined it to be and more.

“I really enjoy the culture that my managers have created on the CoreUX team. I love working in the travel industry as that is a passion of mine, and the work is interesting and fulfills my need for creativity,” Jason says.

“Working in UX Design is everything and more. It makes such a big difference to truly enjoy what you do for work. I have a genuine passion for UX Design. I could see myself being happy with a multitude of situations and companies in this career path, which really speaks to the importance of finding the right job role for yourself based on your personality and interests.”

Jason works in an MBT (Mission-Based Team) structure where he collaborates closely with team members from Product, Business, Dev, Data, Security, Research, and more. He leads the Engage MBT, where he works on dotCom, mApp, and even Seatback-related projects for Customer Engagement, Path to Help, and PDE/Wi-Fi workstreams. 

If you’re wondering whether Jason gets any cool perks for working at United Airlines, you bet he does! “Non-rev flights” or non-revenue travel, where airline employees travel for reduced prices, are Jason’s favorite perk of the whole deal.

Jason has already worked on a slew of exciting projects. He was heavily involved in the mApp and dotCom design work for United’s most recent Good Leads The Way campaign. He’s also worked on some of the UX/UI design for United’s Game Center, notably the Santa’s Sleigh game they launched for the holidays. 

United also recently partnered with Meta to launch a new feature in the app to share your upcoming trip in a cool and dynamic way to Instagram or Facebook Stories. It features a looping video background, contextual destination image, and the ability to customize before posting.

An image of pilots in a cockpit taking a photo with a young girl wearing a captain hat.

Jason’s Advice for Aspiring UX Designers

Now that Jason has graduated and landed an amazing job that he loves, he has some advice to share with people hoping to transition into UX Design:

“A lot of times I think we get caught up on the details like presentation skills, portfolio, resume, case studies, networking, etc. At the end of the day, people will want to work with you and hire you if you are someone they want to work with,” says Jason. 

“Define who that person is to you, and get in the habit of being that person. Whether that is building your relationships with your mentor and fellow students, or if you are freelancing for clients or even cold networking on ADPList. All it takes is that one opportunity, and if they feel like you would be a great person to work with, people will overlook your lack of experience or knowledge as they know that will come in time.”

Life Beyond UX Design

Outside of being a Senior UX Designer with United Airlines, Jason lives in a small mountain town in Colorado and enjoys skiing, hiking, biking, and getting together with friends. He’s a hobbyist musician and likes to play video games and frisbee with her dog.

Looking to the near future, Jason says, “I’d like to win a Webby, and am hopeful it will be with United Airlines!”

Connect with Jason on LinkedIn and check out his 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.