Getting Hired As A Designer In Just 7 Months: With No Prior Experience

Daniel Daines-Hutt
Daniel Daines-Hutt
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Have you ever met someone and within 20 minutes of talking to them, you know for a fact that they’re going to succeed in life. Be it their outlook, the actions they take, or their perseverance?

I recently got the chance to sit down with a ZTM student who made me think exactly this. He shared his story with me, his success so far, and the hard path that it took for him to get there, during a difficult time.

Although it looks like crazy fast success, he put in some serious work to get there, and it's truly inspirational.

If you’re going through any similar struggles, but also want to learn ui/x design (or any tech skill for that matter) and get a job, then I highly suggest you read his story and take his advice…

Meet Daniar

Meet Daniar- UX Designer

Hi there! My name is Daniar, I’m 24 years old, and I live in Uzbekistan.

I’m currently a UX/UI Designer at a startup called Apexbank, which is a digital bank/Fintech company.


As of our conversation in Sept 2023, we’re still building everything right now, but we are due to launch very soon.

How long have you been in this role?

I’ve been working at this company for around 3 months or so, but I’ve been working with Figma for a while now.

Before this job, I was doing some design work for hotels and restaurants, as well as offering freelance design services, on evenings and weekends outside of my previous job.

daniars freelance design work

Nothing huge, but I was technically a paid designer, although not salaried or anything.

What did you do before you became a UX Designer?

I graduated from my institute in 2020 and really needed a job, but it wasn’t easy. In fact, it's pretty hard to get a job here in Uzbekistan, even if you have a college degree.

Add in the fact that the coronavirus came soon after I graduated, and by the end of the year I was really struggling. This led to me applying for jobs outside of my degree as a courier driver, a waiter, or literally anything that would pay me 🙁.

Fortunately, my applications and efforts didn’t go to waste, and I was contacted by TBC bank and offered the role of a customer specialist.

tbc bank

I ended up working there for just over 2 and a half years.

However, about a year into my work, I discovered Figma and started getting some ideas of what I could do in the future. I remember back in school when I was much younger, and I had dreamed of working as a digital designer. It wasn’t long before I started to learn Figma, and just messed around with it during my free time.

The thing is, after months of messing around and trying to teach myself, I realized that I still didn't really understand much of how to use it - especially because it was my first interaction with a design tool, and I was just learning random things with no structure.

I would want to do X and would Google it, and that was about it really. It was like trying to learn a language, but only learning basic sentences to ask for food etc.

How and when did you start to properly learn Design?

Another year passed and I was promoted in the bank to a credit and debit specialist, so work was great, but I still wasn’t doing what I had passion for.

I knew that I had to pursue becoming a designer as a career, and so some of my friends started sending me simple design work, and I will always be thankful to them for it. It's weird but as soon as I started doing project work and getting paid (even a little), I fell in love with design and was motivated to stop messing around.

So, at the start of 2022, I found some Google UX courses on Coursera and tried those. However, the course was set up with far too much information and very little application or practice, so it was information overload.

information overload

It sucked because I wanted to be applying what I was learning as soon as possible. This meant that even though I was super passionate about learning design, I quit after 2 weeks 🙁.

I then tried some Udemy courses and some training from a random guy on YouTube, but work kept getting in the way and it never felt like I could actually progress. (The promotion meant my focus was on my day job for now).

Then, December of 2022 came around and I found the ZTM courses on web and mobile design and joined almost immediately - even though this would be my 3rd attempt to learn.

Learn how to become a mobile and web designer

I remember watching the intro video and the speech at the start, and it really inspired me to follow through and learn properly so I could do this as a career.

Not long after that I was in the Discord channel and sharing my work and struggles with the community and they were super helpful.

start of the course

The community is super supportive, and everyone wants each other to succeed which was awesome.

Did you have any doubts or worries, seeing as you had tried to learn before and quit?

I have self-doubt all the time, even now that I’m trained and working in the role!

  • With regards to the training? No problem's at all
  • With regards to work? I haven’t come across any issues so far

In fact, it seems like the content and projects I made in the course prepared me for a much higher level than I was required as a beginner UX designer.

For example

My current task is to draw up the mobile interface for the site and app, and I have zero difficulties at all.

Bear in mind that before this I took the course, my total experience was doing simple freelance imagery or landing pages, and yet I’ve had no issues doing this, or more technical work.

How long did it take you to complete the ZTM Design Bootcamp / Figma course?

It took me about 2 months or so, but I was super dedicated. I set boundaries for myself so that I could leave my previous job, and so I wanted to get this done quickly. This meant working a few hours every evening and each weekend, but I got it done asap.

I set the original goal for a month but ended up taking two, mainly because I didn’t want to miss anything that was important. That and the fact that I wanted to make sure I finished my project work so that I had portfolio work I could share and get a job.

Also, I just want to give a heads up and thank my accountability buddy in Discord, because they really helped me to succeed. They were super awesome and so supportive along the way. We ended up actually finishing our courses around the same time, and we still chat even now after we’ve finished.

Likewise, the community support really helped. I would often overthink and overwhelm myself with huge projects, but they helped get me on track to work on smaller things first and build up to larger projects.

early feedback

But yeah, it took me around 2 months in total, including all my portfolio work!. (I have 2 locations, if you want to check that portfolio also).

How did you actually get your new job as a UX Designer?

It wasn't easy...

I started searching and applying for jobs about a month into working through the course - simply because I knew I might need a few ‘practice interviews’ before I would get hired, and you never know right? You might be lucky and get a job right away.

So, I quit my job at the bank, and then sat for my first design interview in Feb of 2023, with the goal to do everything I could to get a job as a digital designer within the next 3 months.

About 30 days later, I finished the rest of my projects in the course, and decided to keep practicing while I was applying for jobs, as it couldn’t hurt to keep improving. To add on to this, I found a '100 days of UX/UI challenge' on Twitter, and followed along with that.

If you're not sure how these work, basically, you already have knowledge of UX design. The goal instead is not to teach you, but to get you to take focused action. And so build something new, every day for 100 days.

I didn’t finish the challenge, but within 30 days, I had created 30 new interfaces for my portfolio, so I feel like I still gained a lot from joining in.

interface design project

All the while I was applying for jobs each day across Turkey, Russia, and Uzbekistan. If there was a job within traveling distance, I applied for it!

In fact, I think I sent over 100 applications in total, which I know seems like a lot, but I was so determined to make this work. However, out of those 100, I only got through to 20 interviews which was a little stressful. It was so annoying because the majority of them would not even look at your portfolio! (It was only those who went through to the interview round who checked on your work).

I was starting to doubt my choice until finally, a new digital bank saw my application and hired me! (I think having experience in Fintech from my previous job, while also being a designer really helped).

daniar got hired

Editors note: We were so pumped to hear Daniar say this. It's what we call Skill Stacking here at ZTM, and we are big proponents of our students finding ways to combine their unique set of skills in ways that make them stand out.

Check out this video on our Youtube channel that goes a bit deeper, below:

Anyways, back to Daniar...

I think a major issue was that some of the places I applied for had filters in place to stop me moving onto the next step. I ended up improving my application process and writing custom applications for each position, and that may have helped me get more of those interviews.

Think*ing back on it now, although it wasn't easy to get hired, it had only been just a little over 6 months since I started the course!

In reality, I started a brand new career and got a job all within 7 months which is just insane...

How do you feel now that you're in this new career?

I feel like a winner!

When I read the email telling me that I had the job offer, I was screaming out loud, I was so happy 😀. In fact, I’m getting emotional just thinking about it, and all the hard work and applications that went out.

Was there a big difference in earnings between your old job at the bank, and your new one as a Designer?

Because I’m still on a trial period, my salary is slightly less than my previous role that I was promoted into at the bank. However, this will change over time and I will earn more.

For example

Once the trial is over, my design role will be almost the exact same salary. Give it a year or two and it could be a huge difference. Add in the fact that this is a job that I love and I couldn’t be happier - even if I continued to earn less!

However, I’m going to keep improving though so I can build up my skills to a senior role in the future, and get paid more.

What advice would you give to others who are just starting out?

Look at the mistakes I made and what worked for me:

  • Don’t try and just figure it all out yourself. You can save a lot of time and effort if you learn from a well laid out curriculum that teaches you step-by-step. (The design bootcamp from Daniel was better than anything else I tried)
  • Likewise, find a community that you can be involved in and ask questions
  • Set a goal and try to stick to it. Maybe even write them down somewhere where you can see them every day, like on your wall or screensaver
  • Believe in yourself and keep at it. Although I was stressed out while looking for work, I was doing this during both a difficult time in the world post covid, and it was only 8 weeks of applications before I was hired. You might get there even quicker

Do YOU want to become a UI/UX Designer?

If you’ve dreamed of becoming a devops engineer, cybersecurity expert, programmer, or a designer like Daniar, but are still stuck in your current job, then now is the perfect time to learn.

Sure, it’s not easy and you will have to learn new skills, and understand the different hiring processes in tech, to make this happen.

But demand for developers, designers, and many other tech roles is high across the world, the pay is great, and the opportunity for growth is amazing. (Some careers even have a severe lack of skilled people to do the job, and they pay high six figures!).

So what are you waiting for?

If you’re not sure where to start, but know you want to get involved in the tech industry, check out our custom career path quiz for some advice on what to learn.

ztm coding career path quiz

The quiz will ask you specific questions around your interests and how you want to work, and life goals, and then suggest specific careers in tech and what you need to learn to get there.

This way you can find out exactly where to start, what to learn, and how to get there.

And who knows? Maybe you’ll be our next success story and be hired in 7 months also!

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