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I'm a designer who moved to San Francisco and broke into tech with a six-figure salary - all without a relevant degree or network. Here's how I did it.

I'm a designer who moved to San Francisco and broke into tech with a six-figure salary - all without a relevant degree or network. Here's how I did it.

Lily Li.
Lily Li




Lily Li moved from Virginia to SF after graduating from an arts school.




She searched the web for local events to find community and eventually started attending hackathons regularly.




Li shares how she started her own meetup for designers and grew from doing exercises and critiques with them.




Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.


I felt stuck. I did the typical Virginian move, moving to work in DC after graduating from an arts school in Virginia. I had been working as a designer for companies in the DC area, starting with an internship for Obama's Executive Office of the President in the summer of 2016, then moving on to work in biotech, medical, and fintech companies.
I'm a designer who moved to San Francisco and broke into tech with a six-figure salary - all without a relevant degree or network. Here's how I did it.

Interning for then-President Obama at the White House campus.
Lily Li

However, I felt none of them were truly pushing innovation. I enjoyed designing digital experiences, but I knew I wasn't fully challenged. Out of curiosity, I looked up how apps like Facebook and Snapchat were designed. Throughout college, these were the most popular apps on every student's phone.I learned that UX or product designers work on designing these apps. However, I knew nothing about the tech industry; it seemed like an exclusive world that only a select few understood.
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