Does this job exist?

sigh… well, I’ve spent a few days being depressed and upset… but I’m hoping all you amazing UX’ers will give me some good feed back. I’m about 3-4 weeks from being done with the UX Academy, a full time online course and thinking about jobs. I did a Service jam in the spring, and one of the things that really pushed me into UX was the brainstorming, the problems solving and group dynamics.

Now that I’m starting to look at a “real” career, I’m worried that it might not exist? I’m not an expert at anything, I was never a graphic artist (my background is broadcast video editor), I am a “generalist”, I love working together with a group to come up with ideas. I want to do a little of everything, some research, some wireframing, some interviews, some testing, some graphic design… lots of brain storming and problem thinking… but now I’m worried that I either have to be really good at those skills, or just focus on ONE of those skills… I trust you guys! so let me know what you think (ps. I’m in LA, but can relocate anywhere in the world, so maybe LA isn’t the best place for me?)

Ugh. I’m sorry to hear that.

I can think of a few people that will be able to give you support and encouragement.

Calling @Lukcha @maadonna @amanda_stockwell @joenatoli @leighrubin

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I think most people get frustrated at some point. Even the best folks in the field will tell you stories of clients not listening to their advice, struggling to find positions, etc. But if you love UX don’t give up, ever. Use this time to develop the fighter inside you. You’ll need it. More on that in a minute.

I know you said that you don’t have a substantial graphics background. That’s ok. Everyone can learn concepts and everyone can practice. Those two things, in my experience, make all the difference. I came from a 3D background and have leaned VERY heavily on folks from this site to help me out; and they have as they will you.

Back to the exciting fighter thing I was talking about. Once you start understanding those solid concepts, it will show in everything you do; your interviews, your designs, your advice, blogs, etc. You WILL get there if you fight. And once you have that job, stick to those concepts and be prepared to fight for good UX. Punch fear in the face.


I’m a generalist, and not particularly expert at anything. And I get scared of my job future too. It’s hard.

There is so much about chasing a career that is stressful: not knowing your future, putting yourself up for comparison against others, the competitiveness, the impression that everyone wants to employ a UX unicorn, the feeling that you can’t control anything, the long waits, the empty promises, the concept that ‘if you simply do this course you’ll win the job you want’, the ‘Facebook Effect’ that life is rosy and successful for everyone else, the sense that if you’re really going to succeed you can only rely on yourself… In the long haul of looking for a job these things feel like the harsh reality. But, although life can absolutely suck sometimes, I don’t actually believe any of these things are the truth.

I like @maxflyer’s fighter thing—viewing the whole thing as a quest for opportunity, with all the gruelling work and creating of our own luck that it entails, and without knowing if, in the end, we’ll come home with the prize or not. Maybe we won’t? But if we follow our noses we’ll go forward to somewhere. Noticing and adapting to the opportunities we’re presented is wiser than thinking we can control our destiny by doing the ‘right’ things.

From my own experience, I’d point you down the path of using a bunch of your skills in one (junior) UX role, rather than going for something specialist yet. There be dragons for the not-yet-experienced.

Give fear a punch from me too. Thanks for sharing how you feel!


I reckon @leo0 will have some wisdom from experience to share too!

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I love this comment!

Being adaptive as a UXer is so important.

Something that I would add is, take any job adverts with a pinch of salt! Both jobs I have had I got because they knew I was passionate about what I do and was willing to learn new skills. I admitted that I didn’t know everything (in fact in my current job I declined to do part of the interview - a HTML test - as I knew I didn’t know the answer. I admitted this, but said ‘I’m happy to learn this, I know basic HTML and will be able to pick it up quickly.’ I then explained about other skills I had instead, and how I could do that part of the job using other techniques.

You’ll find that companies are adapative too, you can make most roles what you want them to be. If you’re confident in what you say people will listen, and this will enable you to make changes. In a year I have implemented new UX processes in my current company, I have re-jigged the team so that people are using their skills for the best, and am now in the process of hiring more people to join the team.

It’s so true that you make your own luck. Be positive about the future and positive things will happen! :smile:

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Sounds to me like a UX agency rather than an in-house job might be what you would want. I think in-house jobs are more likely to be single person gigs working on a single platform whereas an agency like one a friend of mine works at does jobs for alll sorts of clients both difgital and real world and you’ll be in a team of people with the same goal.

I would recommend getting in touch with some local agencies, tell them what you are doing and ask them that exact question. You might even get a job out of it.

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There is lots of good advice and info here, so I won’t repeat for sake of having spoken up, but here’s something to chew on: there are more available UX jobs than basically any other type of career and it is a CONSTANT struggle to find good candidates. People are hungry for our work!

To the note of not being an expert nor having graphics background: I’m going to tell you a secret. There are only like 5 experts in the whole world about any of the niches within UX and not a single expert about ALL the stuff that’s in UX. The rest of us (which is a big, driven, smart group of kick ass people) know a little bit about this and a little bit about that and maybe a lot about one thing or another. Then we learn as we go. That’s one of the best parts of being in UX - there is ALWAYS new stuff to learn, new technologies to adapt to, new methods to try. And, people come into UX from all kinds of areas - library science, engineering, journalism, graphic design - heck last year at UX Australia there was a story about someone who came to UX from truck driving!

So, I’d leave you with this. Keep practicing the things you’re already good at, be honest about your weaknesses and work on those too, and keep relying on the support of this awesome community!


Love this! So true.

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thank you all so much…! I agree, I probably would like working at an agency more than an in house company… I’m such a beginner that my confidence is pretty low, I want learn more under a mentor at a company or agency… keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to find that kind of job…
you all are great!

@inca431 I’ve been a generalist all my life. As a UXer, that’s kind of the deal, because you have to be aware of and address nearly every facet of product design, development and use, from human psychology to visual principles to information organization and communication.

Forget the fact that you’re not an “expert” at anything — focus instead on what you DO have to offer in a problem-solving situation, because that’s what design of any kind (including UX) is. It’s not what you do with your hands — it’s how you think and why you do those things. Your mind and diversity is what’s most valuable, both to you and any employer or client.

Hang in there and keep putting one front of the other. Some days that’s all you can do, and some days that has to be enough.

In the event that these are helpful, check out a few of my articles on similar topics:


@joenatoli thank you! thank you!! that article really helped!!

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Inca - take a deep breath and jump with me. I too am about to graduate from an online bootcamp, CareerFoundry in my case, and my previous occupation was as a solo video producer, shooter, editor so we have something in common.

There’s a famous quote from someone I can’t remember advising folks in our position to just “jump off the cliff and build our wings on the way down in order to eventually soar” or something like that. Now I assume they were talking about jumping off a symbolic cliff of indecision and self doubt, not a literal one.

I’ve always been a generalist too. The core skills around communication, some technology have remained the same but I’ve never been interested in anything to learn each and every detail about every facet of it. My goal has always been to be proficient, to add value when and where I can. I’ve often given myself a ton of, frankly, “shit” about not investing the time or effort to become a specialist in anything but I don’t feel that’s my calling. I’ve had many, many careers in my 55 years so my path has not been traditional but UX fits right in there and I feel right at home, how about you?.


PS: the quote came from Science Fiction writer Bradbury

“First you jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.”

― Ray Bradbury

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Steve, yes! you and I have very similar backgrounds… I am an expert AVID editor… but I never conisdered myself a “master” because I had no interest in learning all the “effects” and stuff… I was always more interested in story and nuance…

thanks for the quote and advice! let’s def. keep in touch as we move into this career…


@inca431 - absolutely, agreed, let’s stay in touch. You can eventually follow me on my upcoming portfolio site or I am “somewhat” “on” Twitter @UXCrafting. Right now I am 90 percent following people on Twitter and not posting much but I know I should change that.

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You could check out the book UX Team Of One. That has been recommended to me by multiple people based on my current role and it also sounds like the kind of role you’re seeking.

Try attending local UX Meetups, I know that there are several active ones in the LA area; UX Speakeasy in San Diego is great if you want to drive down.

For depression/anxiety:

  1. Check out the guided meditation app Headspace; I’ve found that this has helped me a lot, you can do the first 10 sessions for free. It’s well worth the money.

  2. I’ve also been recommended this book: When Panic Attacks.

  3. Go for a walk, get some sunlight, get some exercise — playing Pokemon Go seems to fulfill all three. Might I also suggest going for a walk in Yosemite national park or Sequoia national park as you’re so close to both :slight_smile: ?

Feel free to reach out to me via email:


Hey @leo0
thanks for the advice! My sister gave the meditation tip today, too…(and I’ve been neglecting that,… sure enough, 10 min. of meditation got me out of my head! that’s always great advice).

Pokemon Go is hilarious and I have been using it as a diversion. You’re also correct that getting out of the house and taking a walk is helpful…

I don’t have much longer in the course, and I’m hoping that a lot of my anxiety has to do with being in a “course online”, which is like working in vacuum. It’s very lonely… makes me realize I definitely do NOT want to be a team of one…LOL… One of the reasons I want to go into UX is because I want to work with a team, but the kind of team that all digs in and does different things based on what needs to be done at the time. I’m not sure I even need to be working in a “digital experience”… I almost wish I was an engineer and could make actual physical things, I think solving those kinds of problems with a team would really cool! Where are you located? are you in the US or Australia??? thanks for tips! chris

Hey, @joenatoli wanted to let you know I passed on that first article to several people in my class… they all thought is was great advice!!! thank you!

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I agree with the others… you don’t need to be an expert, just adaptable (this is being written by a generalist with a web writing background). Every project you work on will be different, so you need to adapt your approach and your skills (and probably learn some new ones) to suit. That is what is fun about being a UXer - every thing is different.

With this comes the challenge that you can feel like you are faking your way through… or like you know nothing. But even that adds fun - asking questions, doing research, learning from others, telling developers you don’t know what the hell they are talking about and getting them to explain in English… :slight_smile:

There will be a job for you. You might look at the job ad and think ‘I can’t do half of that’, but focus on the half you can do, and the rest you’ll learn on the job or find expertise to help you. You can do it!

Good luck.