My path to and through UX...
I started with a B.A. in Human Ecology back in the 1990s. All I knew was I wanted to do something to help the world, but I had no idea what that was. I didn't find any answers in college, but I did find the ability to ask a lot of questions.
Graduated and a few months later got a job in San Francisco as a Flash Developer at a startup (dot-com boom). A few months later, things went south, but I held onto my job and stayed there for 3 years (3 person startup). While I was working at that startup, I also had a part-time job at Adobe, doing UX. I worked with a great guy named Kevin Mullet, who basically mentored me in UX while I was there for 8 months. I knew this is what I wanted to do and started looking for any opportunity to do UX work at any job I had. I worked at Gap as a UI Engineer, but participated in User Research studies when I could and designed wireframes when no one else was available. It went on like that for a couple of years with me doing more UI work in concert with coding.
Then I was working at an agency and they had a solid UX team. However, I was over in the front-end team. I asked to move to the UX team, but I was told that there weren't any openings and it went on like that for a while. Then my performance review came up. I had somehow knocked it out of the park on the front-end dev team (when I seriously disliked coding) and they offered me a promotion. I said I would rather work on the UX team then be promoted. So I was officially moved over to the UX team and have been working in UX as a Designer/Researched every day since.
Now, I teach UX to other aspiring UX Designers out there. I love it and this is exactly where I want to be. I have used my UX Research and Design skills to design and develop the curriculum and as much of the student experience as I can. I have finally found a way, I hope, to help other people in the world.