my name is Georg and I came to the User Experience field by accident but now I love it
I studied geography and geoinformatics in germany, which is kind of a complete unusual area for user experience experts. What practically helped is that geography is an interdisziplinary area as user experience is at well. You learn some statistics, interviewing and evaluation techniques but all directed to geographical questions.
Then I could get in contact with an professor in the area of indoor navigation systems and displays. Going to his classes was pretty exiting because it was the first time I had contact with the emerging online community in user experience. For the seminars you could access a lot of relevant and uptodate material alway related to the quality of information systems.
As I got this contact at the end of the studies it was time to pick a diplom/master thesis. As I had contact with a company selling a bicicle information system for touristic areas, I used this as a starting point. I actually made an explorative and comparative evaluation of two differen bicicle information systems which where actually in use in different touristic regions in germany. For this I used a combination of participatory observation, expert interviews with stakeholders and a survey which was handed out by touristic region offices.
All in all I had the opportunity to dive deep into usability/user experience topics but still had the focus to respond questions in perceptional geography and geoinformatics. So how needs to be a bicicle information system need to be developed so that it will be of added value for tourists directly in context of their actual needs.
As a beginning of my professional career I started it in a User experience consultancy. This was really helpful to learn UX from the ground learning about a wide range of different methods, business needs, user needs, technical constrains, companies and a lot of skills to sell User experience. It would be too much to describe everythin I learned there but what I learned is to love User experience as an area to work in. All the areas you get contact with, all insights about human behaviour, psychology, business needs and so on. I really learned how to love my profession and the community so open to share their skills ... so human.
In this phase of my career I also learned to love User Experience literature .. I actually love to read a lot ...
Since two years I changed to inhouse consulting and also this change is really recomendable. I am more or less a UX team of one trying to get step by step a better acceptance of what I do.
Actually I am the only User Experience expert in my location but fortunally I am working together with HTML/CSS and visual designers in a UXD Team. I am head of this team but we work in close communication and strong collaboration with all the other people in our product. We are doing a lood of ground work, knowledge building and trying to sell what are the opportunities or real User Experience and the opportunities af the integration of users. Unfortunally it is an everyday work to communicate people that User Experience work needs to be reached in collaboration with the integration of real users. Most people here still perceive UX as UI .. which is kind of frustrating sometime. You always get comments like: "So you make our System usable" "So you make our System beautiful ... and so on
However ... I still love my career and in the daily work you need sometimes to get small steps. What actually helps is that in our career we need to be way more innovative and creative than in other careers. That helps to get acceptance and to deliver additional value to other people.
We are problem solvers ,, making thinks work ... that´s why I love UX