Are you sure you want to do this? Absolutely sure? Don’t you already a nice job? Aren’t you already happy with what you’re doing?
Oh you like pain, huh? Customers’ and users’ pain, huh? You like solving gaps in experiences? You smile while observing user behavior and ideating different solutions? You enjoy making prototypes and testing ideas?
Well if I can’t dissuade you, then sit down, have a nice cup of coffee (or beer) and read on.
I’m currently a [insert current job]. I would like to jump into to the UX career instead. How do I do it?
Ahh good question. Here are some quick tips:
- Join the your nearest local UX community. If you’re based in Manila, join the UX Philippines community. A lot of people ask this career question (over and over again) and it would be always good to get more feedback from others after they’ve gone through the same process.
- Go to a networking event or meet-up. Watch out for community events and try to join in when you can. Get to know who the local UX experts are. Find out the different specializations. Discover which ones you like. You like research? Prototyping? Visual Design? Front-end coding? Ask who the experts are in each area and make friends with them.
- Find a mentor and ask for opportunities. If you really want to dive in to this field, find a mentor. Ask for opportunities to train (or work) with them. They’re doing a usability test and you fit the persona? Raise your hand and become a participant! They’re looking to organize events? Volunteer and work with them!
- Join many different UX ‘gigs’. Look for not just one opportunity, check out whatever is available and help out if you can. Explore working with many different mentors as well to see different working styles and design frameworks.
- Try doing what your mentors are doing. When you feel comfortable enough to replicate what your mentors are doing, try it on your own. Conduct your own usability test. Design your own web page. Make your own survey questionnaire.
- Keep getting feedback. This is really important! If you designed something, always get feedback. Not just from one mentor, get comments from multiple mentors. You’d be surprised at what some people focus on.Some perceptions might even clash. What’s important is that you see different insights on your work. You decide on which ones you will adopt in your work style later on.
Design Thinking in Your Career
If you’ve been studying UX, you will have heard this phrase called Design Thinking (or perhaps Google’s version — Design Sprint). It’s a very useful framework for deciding what to do not only in design and product development but also your own own career.
If you haven’t heard about this, go ahead and read about it briefly. Go on, learn more about it and come back to this article.
Let’s look at one specific aspect of this. The double diamond model. It looks something like this (like two diamonds, duh):
In essence, this asks you:
- Are you asking the right questions? Are you finding out the right problem for your product or service? Did you define a focus area?
- Are you then finding the right solution? Did you look at the different options out there, try it out and test the various options?
Now let’s apply this idea to your UX Career path. Here’s a sample:
This now guides you:
- Ask questions about UX careers paths from mentors and practitioners. Define what area of UX you want to focus on.
- Explore opportunities in your interested UX area, replicate or practice & then get feedback on your methodology.
Now look at the tips mentioned above. Looks familiar, right? The key, for me, has always been to diverge and then converge. Explore many different ideas first then select areas of focus. Test different approaches & prototypes then get feedback on what works or not.
Find your passion (or stumble into it).
One of the most interesting things I’ve learned in my discussions with other design professionals is that sometimes you don’t find your passion.
Sometimes you just keep doing something. You do it again and again and again. You have fun with it and don’t even consider it work. Before you know, you’re an ‘expert’ in that field.
If you explore many different UX fields, decide to keep repeating work that you’re starting to like, you keep testing, keep getting feedback and just keep learning…
You’ll have been doing UX without even realizing it.
Personally, that’s what happened to me. Treat me to coffee (or beer) if we ever meet and I’ll give you more tips. 🙂