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April 3, 2023 - 7 min

How to Make a Career Change: Ligia Fascioni’s Story of Becoming a UX/UI Designer at 56

Diana Blaum - Ironhack Germany


UX/UI Design


Ligia Fascioni is (now) a UX/UI Designer, originally from Brazil, who moved to Berlin with her husband in 2011.

Over a decade has passed and a lot has changed in that time. But one of the biggest changes – a change in her career – has happened rather recently. 

In this article, we share Ligia’s story of becoming a UX/UI Designer at 56. We talk with her about the struggles and fears she went through, how to make a career change after 50, her motivation for a change, and if she is happy with the decision she made. 

From Electrical Engineer to UX/UI Designer

Turn the clock back 12 years and Ligia was arriving in Berlin with her husband. Back then she was an Electrical Engineer and worked in that role for decades. 

Before coming to Germany, Ligia completed her Master’s Degree in Automation and Control which led her to a career in Electrical Engineering but she felt that her technical skills were not enough. So, in 1999 she enrolled for an MBA in Marketing and a new world opened up for her. 

She has taken numerous other courses throughout her career and finally got a PhD in Design Management as part of a Production Engineering course.

After some years in Berlin, infected by the startup atmosphere of the city, she and her husband (also an Electrical Engineer) started their own technology company. 

Her work varied a lot and included everything from Python and Javascript programming to helping with the production of GPS-Based reference devices.

If you can’t tell by now, Ligia is a motivated woman who loves to learn. Throughout her career, she has continued to look for ways to learn new skills and improve the work she is doing. 

In 2022 a new phase of her career started. Her startup was sold and she decided to make a career change: UX/UI design was calling to her.

Ligia took several courses about design thinking, service design, innovation, future thinking, future of work, UX Design, and related themes over the course of her career and knew that UX/UI design was a new path she wanted to explore. 

“I’m 56 years old and very excited about this new phase of my (learning) life.”

How to make a career change that builds on your strengths

Ligia notes that she chose to pivot to a career that not only interested her but that also built on her strengths. Her previous experiences in different industries have shown her that knowledge and Information is the best way to gain trust. 

“If people know what you're doing, they'll trust your competence.”

She became an Electrical Engineer at the age of 23. As a young woman in a more chauvinist time, and in a male-dominated industry there were a lot of challenges for her to overcome.

“I worked installing robots in industries and the environment was very hostile -- for example, there were no women's restrooms in most places I worked at that time.”

These experiences were tough, but she also learned that the only way to gain respect and trust was to explain her work in detail to people who didn't understand why she was there. This mentality stayed with her over time and led her to become an expert in explaining complex systems in a way that anyone could understand – which is what UX/UI design is all about. 

“I think UX/UI design is about that: making information accessible to everyone.”

Get ready to learn: Using a bootcamp to gain new skills

Her decision was made and she knew it was the right choice. But naturally, any change can bring with it doubts and confusion. To help her quell the doubts, she knew she wanted to acquire the right skills that would help her thrive in the new career she desired. So she went to Ironhack and enrolled in the Berlin UX/UI bootcamp

When we asked her about her experience at the bootcamp she told us: 

“I highly recommend it as it was an unforgettable experience. For me, it was very enriching but of course, the experience depends a lot on the person who is on the journey. Success also depends on how much you are willing to dedicate yourself. I loved the teachers, classmates, and the whole team. It really is a transforming experience.”

We pried further and asked Ligia about the challenges of the course and if she struggled with anything while learning. 

“Technically, I didn't struggle with challenges; the hardest experience was working with people from very different personalities. For example, we needed to create a Hi-Fi e-commerce prototype for a real business. In the beginning, there were four people, but two days after the start of the challenge, two of them contracted COVID-19.”

Ironhack bootcamps give you the chance to study in a way that suits you – online, in person, full time or part time – but a part of the bootcamp requires group projects. This can be a challenge when you are collaborating with people and learning how to communicate and work together with new people. But these kinds of soft skills are incredibly useful in any UX/UI Designer role so it's beneficial for students to face them before they enter a job.

Ligia continues, “So there were only two people left, with very different backgrounds and different ways of seeing the world. My profile is more analytical and pragmatic; my colleague was more spontaneous and intuitive. In the beginning, it was a big challenge, as we had limited time to discuss all the issues (even the philosophical ones, which my colleague loved to discuss). In the end, I learned a lot! My colleague was a very intelligent person and we both learned that with respect we could work and learn together. It was a very meaningful experience.”

Why make a career change past 50?

With challenges faced along the way, and an already successful career in hand, we were curious about what motivated Ligia to make a change. Many people get comfortable in the jobs they have, and they often even go on to make up a part of a person's identity – especially when they have been doing that same role for years, and have seen success in it. 

Not to mention the fact that a career change past 50 can bring about its own fears. There is always the doubt that it’s too late, or that no one will hire you. But Ligia proves those fears are unwarranted if you are ready to dedicate yourself to the change. 

Part of Ligia's motivation was wanting to make people's lives easier. She decided she wanted to move to a career that would allow her to have a greater impact and this helped her stay focused as she had a goal to work towards and meaning behind her decision. 

“I intend to learn more and more about how to make people's lives easier. I really think that's what UX/UI Design is about.”

Ligia’s advice for anyone looking to make a career change

Ligia has taken a step that many of you might be hoping to make too. Through her career pivot, she has learned a few things and she has some advice to share with any of you that will be walking on the same path soon.  

  • It’s never too late. Life expectancy is increasing with each generation and at 56 I believe I am in the middle of my productive life. Since you're always learning, there's no reason to stop. I think life is too short to have only one profession.

  • IT is dominated by men these days, but I see the scenery changing. I hope that more and more women can occupy spaces that are our right. My advice is: be together with other women. Together, we are invincible. For many years I believed in the chauvinist idea that women were competitive and couldn't be trusted. But this idea is useful for patriarchy to weaken us. The truth is that women are the best friends ever to fight against injustices. The future is female!

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