I hope I'm posting in the right forum topic! I'm a week or so away from taking the leap into an immersive UX bootcamp and have so, so many questions!
My story: I've been in academia for about 7 years, I have a AA in visual communications, a BA in art history and anthropology, and an MA in visual anthropology. A lot of my classmates from my master's program have either gone into market research, film editing, or continued to PhD programs, but none of those have been a great fit for me. While I LOVE anthropology, I'm not quite ready to go into a PhD program (I want more work experience), and visual anthropology is so niche its hard finding the typical job anthropology graduates get. I've been doing a lot of free or stipend based work since graduating (the Smithsonian, and small art galleries) a couple years ago and am tired of getting not very far in the cultural sector -- museum jobs are extremely competitive these days. I'm actually more nervous than I expected at this transition, just because I'm so comfortable in the role of academic and really, really want to be successful at UX.
Anyway, maybe three weeks ago I met a girl on an airplane randomly who is a UX researcher and designer and also had an MA in visual anthropology. UX had always seemed nebulous to me and she really encouraged me to pursue it. The work seems really interesting and creative and I want to use my qualitative research skills to really help people in an applied way while working in a team of creative people.
My short term goal is to learn UX skills by taking an immersive bootcamp, build a portfolio, and starting working ASAP. My long-term goal is to do UX for non-profits, NGOs, or really push myself into the cultural sector with my UX practice (something like UXforgood?). What I am ultimately ultimately interested in is service design, and a PhD in Design Anthropology from Denmark. I think a mix between my MA and UX work experience would make me a good fit for that (5-7 years down the road).
So I need to learn the skills, and I want to build a portfolio and transition into the working world as soon as possible. I do not have the time or money right now for another MA (in human-centered design for example), so I have applied to and been admitted into two UX immersive courses in Chicago and I am wondering which one to pick. My first question is: has anyone had experience with General Assembly's UX immersive or Designation's UX/UI design bootcamp ( http://designation.io/ )?
General Assembly's UX immersive bootcamp boasts 10 weeks of instruction, 4 of which are online, and 40 hours a week in person, 5 portfolio pieces, 1 real client project, guest speakers and networking events, possible apprenticeships, and have offices all over the world. They have a whole team dedicated to helping network and they do interviewing techniques / resume workshops. However, I've read some reviews about how the program is really determined by the instructors and they have yet to hire their instructors, and it is their first year running their program in Chicago.
Designation is an 18 week course, first 4 weeks online again, and they have one day instructor and three night instructors, all industry professionals who have already hired (that means I can contact them!). Their in person course is 70 hours a week (more hours, but possible more burnout?), boats 3-5 portfolio pieces, possibly one real client, and really focuses on teaching either graphic design or UI WITH UX -- because they claim that will increase the potential of you getting hired. They only have offices in Chicago.. and couldn't answer a lot of my questions about post-course help in facilitating me getting a job. They have been on Chicago for two years now so they obviously have more industry contacts and they do have one business dev director who works on helping grads get jobs after they finish the course... but that is a lot of work for one person. They are also hosting a service design jam this year which is right up my alley.
I realize this post is getting really long-winded but I am just having an impossible time choosing a bootcamp.
My second question is: Does anyone have experience or know someone who is successful at practicing UX in the non-profit or cultural sector?
And my last question: Does anyone do service design, at least in the US right now? The only answers I have gotten about that are that I could potentially work for an agency that does some service design work for clients.
Any and all help is greatly appreciated.