A career change


Hi all,

I am new to the field coming from engineering background with +4 years experience as network engineer, and +10 years experience as cartoonist, so yeah this art and engineering.
I have sensitivity regard stuff I don`t like so I decided to get my self a career change, so it was, I quit my job last September , and ever since that time I have been studying UX the topic I have found passion about it after a lot a lot of search.

Of course it`s hard to hit your niche in the UX without any practical experience, so I started to pick knowledge in different topics about UX, research, Wire frames and prototypes, design thinking process, design sprint, interaction design, HCI, usability, and UI elements. Plus reading most of the well known books that relates to this field . I have been studying from different MOOcs, and currently preparing my nano degree in front end development as well. Anyway, so far, I feel that the interaction design is the area I would love to dive in deeper.

I am doing it right? What should I do next? I have only one UX agency in my country and they look for huge experience, I meet them and they said to me “Bro, you`re good, but you need to have experience” …will freelance be good option? If yes, How to build a portfolio without any experience? should I focus on knowledge or should I start doing … lets say wire frames for example (practical)? How can I gain practical knowledge even if I have not been hired?

I know this may sounds as extreme case but I really appreciate your help and mentoring.

Thanks to all.


How cool!

Yes, I think you are, and yes, I agree with the agency your next step is gaining practical experience.

These posts might be useful. They outline some of the ways of building portfolio projects when you don’t have a UX job.


How to start building your first portfolio when you do not have any experience...?
Some advice on building a portfolio
How do I find the first portfolio projects?


Hi! Have you considered working remotely? I have seen many jobs on sites such as remote.com and flexjobs.com (which is a paid subscription but IMO worth it…no affiliation). The advice someone else gave you about how to build a portfolio is also really good. If you can hang on financially, volunteering for a charity to give them a redesign or a consultation is also a way to get some credible work for your portfolio. I was taking courses from edx.org and was working on their nanodegree in UX/UI and it was pretty good; they had exercises you could use for a portfolio, but ultimately it was too expensive since I’ve been out of work so long, so I joined IDF–interaction-design.org, and they have a TON of courses with certificates of completion. Also, take a look at other people’s porfolios at Behance or Dribbble (the Dribbble site has job postings too).

There’s a big difference between front-end development and UX/UI–I think it’s great that you know some front-end stuff, it makes you more of a unicorn in the job market. But if interaction design is in your heart what you really love doing, you’re at the right place here with UX Mastery and if you take my and others’ advice you will figure out what to put in your portfolio.

Cheers and best wishes,



Trying to find some remote or freelance job is a good idea. But even there you will have to compete with others with more experience. While you try for that a couple of practical things you can do right away:

  1. Head over to reddit. There are design/development/ux/ui sub reddits that allow other people to request free works or you can create a thread announcing your availability for free works.

  2. Find some existing, well-known project or work. Make your own version of it - demonstrating how it could be made better. Post that on your own website, Behance, dribbble etc. I once saw a company re-design google’s play store and some other assets that blew me away.


I was changing jobs recently, worked as a recruiter before, and now UX Designer since 3 months. So everything is possible. The position you’re starting from is great. I think you should start looking for an internship, or junior position but don’t limit yourself. I applied for a position that required 2 years of experience and still landed the job. When it comes to getting experience, I recommend edX course - creating wireframes and prototypes - you are creating a made up product. Whatever you create there can be displayed in your portfolio. But remember that not only graphics is important here, but the reasoning behind why you used some functionality, not the other, or why it works the way it works. Prepare it as if it was a project for a client. Also, while looking for a job I was asked several times to prepare some projects. They landed in my portfolio as well. This takes time, but it’s worth it. And don’t spend all of your time on just reading and watching courses. Create stuff. Find an existing app/tool that you think sucks and create a re-design of it. Talk to your friends who might be the potential users, and do an IDI with them and then do the project and decribe your findings and what was the design process. It’s gonna pay off.


mag_sobieszuk, i understand when you say create stuff but
What tripped me up was the “ux research” part…
When creating your UX portfolio did you do real research?
that’s what I’m not clear on…


“Real research” is a term that can be debated. What do you picture when you say that? I think that may make it easier for her to answer your question.


Research as in focus groups observation techniques, task analysis, and
other feedback methods. Setting up a table in the library to have people
try out the website I’m testing…

Let’s say I have an idea on how to make the Gmail interface easier to
manage lots of emails. This comes from my personal frustrations

but I keep hearing research is necessary to prove that’s my issue is a
common problem.

I may be taking this literally.
Piper_Wilson http://community.uxmastery.com/u/piper_wilson Asst.
Community Manager
January 31

“Real research” is a term that can be debated. What do you picture when you
say that? I think that may make it easier for her to answer your question.


Thanks alot :slight_smile:


You can`t imagine how much helped you offerd thanks a lot!
My question is now, What things I can put in my portfolio to show interest in Interaction Design ? Is it possible to link some GitHub JS codes with that for example ?
What is the first step ?


Not real as in real real :wink: But yes, I did a small research. Hiring managers want to know how you think strategically, or analytically. I did research twice, first in a Geek Girls Carrots workshops. We were working on a re-design of an app, or even the whole service that the app was just a part of. We talked to the stakeholders first, which would be difficult with a made-up product, or when creating re-design for a popular app. But you know, it’s all about drawing conclusions, so you can have a friend acting as, e.g., owner of an app/service and interview him. So once we talked to the owner, we knew what was his goal, what he was trying to achieve, and he even pointed out to the areas he knew were his weak points. We did empathy mapping (workshop with volunteers who were nice to sit through with us for an hour and talk), figured out what were the problems, or what people expected. I know this is not the right order of research, but this is what we did. And then we went on to interviewing potential users, as we were able to conclude the target audience during empathy mapping. (There are lots of research techniques that bring you closer to the right answer. I recommend book by Leah Buley “UX team of one” - it has abundance of research techniques). The pseudo IDIs (with our friends) told us what people expected, or did not want at all, and it gave us solid grounds for developing the service. Then we focused on the app itself, drew information architecture, user flows, user scenarios, etc. And then started on the visuals. When it comes to the second research I did, it was about a made-up service. I did an online questionnaire, IDIs with friends. Basically, what I found out was nobody needed the product, so I didn’t create any wireframes/mocups, anything. But it still was a good learning experience.

P.S. I forgot about creating proto-personas, personas - we did that too. When I’m talking about visuals, we started with wireframes and went on to prototypes (Axure). Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for the usability testing but our project won in the contest of the workshops :stuck_out_tongue:


I’m so glad! Anyway, @mag_sobieszuk has some great advice in her post and my favorite UX portfolio site is here: http://www.ericafirment.com/ I think Erica Firment does everything right. Take a look at the whole thing and see where you can replicate parts with your own use cases–maybe start with that, then talk about personas, and then user journey map and show some wireframes and low and high fidelity prototypes… I think GitHub is more for Front End Development and you should definitely link to it but I would focus more on something like Erica did and use GitHub to show that you are kind of a ‘unicorn’, in that you can code as well as do UX/UI. HTH :slight_smile:


I just came across this article taht you might find extremely helpful in starting your protfolio projects. It’s a long read, but tottaly worth the time.