Two years ago, I left my old job to become a UX Designer. This is what I learned during the process.
Work life is changing quickly. These days, it’s quite rare to have just one profession throughout your adult life. People seem more willing to take risks and to start all over again by studying for completely new professions.
Before UX Design, I worked in Graphic Design, Art Direction, and Advertising. Having started my career in the world of traditional print media, I was by no means a techy person by nature. Luckily, at some point, I had the chance to focus more on digital projects and understood that this is where all the fun, exciting and new stuff is happening.I developed a gut feeling that I should change my profession.
The more I worked with digital solutions over the years, the more interested I became in User Experience and Service Design. That is not to say I don’t still deeply value my roots in visual design. However, UX seemed to dig deeper into a topic that I found most interesting: the people I was designing these things for.
I started to study the subject and learn the necessary methods and tools. After a while, I felt ready to step out of my comfort zone and started applying for UX jobs. This was actually really interesting!
When both you and the company you work for have a mutual understanding where you want to go, it makes work life much more pleasant.
I had a few interviews with companies that were very different from each other. That being said, there were many points of view they had in common. Thus, the following list of observations might prove useful if you are considering a new career in UX Design. Some of it even applies to tech companies and switching careers in general.
This is something you can’t take for granted in every field. There is actually a shortage of both UX and service design professionals. Same goes for developers (or tech-savvy UX designers!) – there is a serious lack of people who can code.
I know this is not a simple subject, and a lot of women are intimidated by IT / tech companies. My experience is that since the field is so male-dominated, the companies are sincerely looking for female candidates and see it as a strong plus.
I’m sure there are also plenty of bad examples and non-equal workplaces in tech. But in general, it seems that many companies in the field are genuinely looking for ways to improve the gender gap. Sisters, please apply.
People sometimes have a very hazy idea of what User Experience Design is. Some see it as a form of user interface design, some as “colouring the wireframes” and others as a holistic work method that can include a variety of approaches, from research to design and coding.
After a while, you’ll look back and think how something you struggled with at first is now a natural part of your job.
The most similar view I had of the role was definitely with Taiste. Taiste is focused equally on both design and tech, an approach that in my opinion produces the best results in this field of work. Moreover, the method of combining service design with professional research is something I value a lot. When both you and the company you work for have a mutual understanding where you want to go, it makes work life much more pleasant.
A lot of people in more techy companies seemed to be confused about me wanting to hop off the advertising wagon. It was sometimes surprisingly hard to convince people that this wasn’t just something temporary for me and I actually found this new field more interesting. So my advice is: prepare to explain your reasons why.
UX is a new field and things are moving fast. You will never be ready - except for learning new things. Of course, this is not fun all the time. It sucks to be pretty poor at something at first, but hey, that’s what it takes. And in the end, learning something new is always rewarding. After a while, you’ll look back and think how something you struggled with at first is now a natural part of your job.
I got into UX design hoping to be involved in meaningful projects that dig deeper into the psychology of the users, and to further develop my own skills as a digital professional. And so far, this has really been the case. Based on this experience, the leap into the unknown has truly paid off.
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