Here are a series of tips from my own journey that helped me tremendously in my career pivot to UX Design.
Everyone is different, use what works for you and drop the rest!
- Talk with people
- Dream big, start small
- Develop a philosophy
- Be confident and disciplined
1. Talk with people
If nothing else, find kind and inspiring people from different backgrounds who can mentor you and challenge your perspective.
It can be tempting to do a job search in a social vacuum, but it might surprise you how willing people are to connect and lend a helping hand.
I have had the pleasure of talking with a bunch of amazing and kind people who made the journey fun and renewed my energy to keep going.
I owe much of my own design philosophy to these mentors and friends.
The different perspectives that you will discover are monumental in forming a holistic understanding of where you are headed. Through talking with people, you will most likely receive the feedback you need to find the right opportunity.
Application: Reach out to people via Linkedin, email, or other medium to find mentors, advisors, and friends in the UX space. Always pay it forward.
2. Dream big, start small
To building your UX dream, start by to produce content now. Wether it is a portfolio, thought leadership articles, or earning design certifications, the sooner you start making the better.
It is far more productive to share your thought process and imperfect work with mentors than it is to present a “perfect” case study made in dark closet somewhere.
I have learned far more, far faster by sharing incomplete work and low fidelity thoughts with mentors who are always easy going and candid than I have from throwing a fully finished case study at someone.
Starting small is about learning. You can’t build your dream quickly if you don’t take small risks in the beginning to learn new ideas, tools, and processes.
Application: Don’t wait, start producing content for a portfolio. Share your work with a diverse group to gather candid feedback. Leave pride at the door and recognize that it might be a messy learning process.
Develop a philosophy
It’s helpful and fulfilling to discover your personal style and develop your own philosophy of design that shows your own thought process.
In a competitive job market, there are tons of people who have excellent hard and soft skills, which means it is difficult to compete on the “skills” level.
However, a key differentiator in the process is your design philosophy which dictates your perspective, how you approach and solve problems, and how you communicate your designs with stakeholders.
Personally, I mainly borrow from Design Thinking, psychology, and art in my approach to solving problems with structure, informed by multiple perspectives.
My design philosophy is always evolving, yours should be too.
Application: Take some time to think about how your influences, personal style, and unique perspective can inform your design philosophy. A design philosophy prepares you to tackle any kind of problem on command with a consistent thought process.
Be confident and disciplined
You as a person and as a designer have a lot to offer and significant value to add to any team.
Be confident in how you conduct yourself and don’t fall prey to imposter syndrome. Trust the process and let your passion reassure you that you are on the right track.
Be disciplined in your work and job search. This means letting discipline take over when motivation is scarce. Trees take time to grow, and so do you. It’s a process, trust that one foot in front of the other will take you far.
Perspective and mindset have been the more powerful forces in my journey and it’s okay to have off days. Just be sure to reflect and take time to recenter yourself each day.
Application: Know your own worth and develop healthy habits to sustain your job search and your own learning.