I am quitting being a full time massage therapist, taking a sabbatical after ten years of my career, then returning to become a full time designer.

I am excited, scared, and nervous. So much is happening at once but I feel like I need this.

When I first graduated from high school, I decided to go into a trade instead of going to college. I chose massage therapy as my trade since I was interesting in helping people and also had a knack for it since I was young. Over the years I have become a certified medical massage therapist (basically means that if you have a specific problem, I was able to help pinpoint the muscles or trigger points that cause the pain.)

I lost my job at the start of the pandemic and was out of a job for months. Having all that free time definitely made me reflect on my next moves. I remember having a conversation with a friend about job changing and they said that tech was a growing. I half-jokingly said, "I would consider going into the field if it means telling nerds how to make things easier for the everyday people to use." Cue my introduction to UI design. My friend explained to me how there is a rapidly growing field in creating websites and applications for the ease of people to use.

With all my free time, I started doing some research. I learned about basic rules and guides for good design. I even downloaded Figma and followed along to some how-to videos to get a feel of how to design with a program. I was also able to find a course on Udemy to get a more in-depth explanations. A lot of YouTube and Google also helped me find vlogs from people in UI design.

I went back into work a couple of months later, but I still kept thinking about UI design, especially since the booking software we used seriously needed some improvements (seriously, after learning about design you can’t stop noticing how things could be better). I still fully enjoy interacting with my clients and I have always enjoyed the problem-solving aspect. Helping people not just feel better, but also adopt better habits for preventative measures. Especially since we had a lot of folks working from home, I became the ergonomics expert for my clients (Proper workspace is important!). When people took my advice and clicked on the links I sent to the emails with videos on improving posture and their home offices, they weren’t aching as much as when I first saw them.

In the start of January of this year, my partner and I had a discussion about what we wanted to moving forward. Since I told him I was considering switching careers, he also thought about whether or not her wanted to stay in his current company. We also talked about how him and I have worked ever since we have graduated from our studies. Some of his friends have taken a break from school before enrolling in college and we both have never gotten that opportunity. We also heard of backpackers who would quit their jobs and travel for months before settling down on a job, so we have done some research.

Back in January of 2020, we were thinking of going to Vietnam that summer, but life had different plans for all of us that year. I am cautiously optimistic with the current situation and things seem to be looking up. With a lot of planning and saving, him and I have officially placed our notices. With this sabbatical, I hope to take the time to rest, meet other people, and take the time to build up my portfolio. I have already started building up a mock-up on Figma to get a head start and I hope to return refreshed and ready to take on a new journey in my career. My partner and I have already bought our one way ticket to Hanoi and we are just counting down the days.

I would appreciate some good reads or advice if you are willing to share. Thanks for reading!

Hi Nicole! I’m a UI/UX Designer in Seattle. My journey into tech/design actually started while I was working as an esthetician. For me, I loved helping clients with their skin, however, the industry fluctuations burned me out. I always knew that was a stepping stone career for me. So, I pursued my B.S. in Computer Information Technology and took the UI/UX design path. I’ve been loving it ever since. We all come to design from different backgrounds. I’d love to help you get started and find your way in design! I know you’ll do great. Feel free to reach out to me if you want to strategize a roadmap plan, need advice, or anything else!
Hi @nbermeo When you're considering upskilling, further education, or any learning opportunities, here's what I'd suggest:- Ensure you feel 100% clear first on your ideal career direction i.e. role, industry and environment- By pursuing career exploration until you feel 100% confident, it will make it much easier to feel confident in which, if any, upskilling experience/opportunity/program would be worthwhile for you - You want to clarify your goal first, so that the pathway to reach that goal is much easier to define and determine- Upskilling is not meant to be used as a "test" of if you'd like that job -- that is what career exploration is for- There's only so much time or money you have to devote to additional learning, so be sure you're being intentional with any choice of course, certification, or any further education opportunityBTW, I'm Rachel, a Career Coach (, and I offer a ton of free videos and blogs on my website here - I help with: a) seeking clarity on your best fit/ideal career path or next step/direction, b) debating upskiling opportunities, c) improving your personal branding, d) pursuing a strategic job search or e) advancing along your path and navigating your current workplace and more! Let me know if you'd like a free initial career coaching call -->