Just graduated with a B.S. in Psychology. No career experience of any sort. Should I attend General Assembly’s UXDI, or go for a Master’s?

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#1

First, a little about me. I live in Austin, Texas. I just graduated college this past May, obtaining a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Anthropology. I’m turning 29 in a few weeks, so you could say that I’m a little late to the post-undergrad scene. It was a long and circuitous route, but I graduated with a 3.46 GPA.

As for my “professional career”, I can’t say that I’ve had the chance to have one. It’s kind of hard to have one while obtaining a degree. All I have is retail and call center experience. You know, the typical string of high school / college student jobs.

I’ve been trying to go the free, learn online route and I’ve been reading books. But thanks to college, I know my learning style. I learn best in an in-person structured environment, where there are projects, deadlines, fellow students, and teachers to whom I can ask questions and receive mentorship.

Given that, I have all but decided upon attending General Assembly’s User Experience Design Immersive course this December. I’m willing to fork over the cash, as I see it as an investment in a bright future.

There is one red flag however. It seems like this course is full of people who are transitioning from a previous career. I’ve even heard that you have an uphill climb if you don’t have any prior experience with visual design and/or CSS / HTML and an overall Tech background (which I don’t have).

I worry that after spending $13,945, working my butt off, and graduating, I will find that employers won’t give me a chance. They will look at my age and my lack of any professional experience and laugh, regardless of my portfolio.

And so my backup plan is to get a Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) degree from UT Austin. Yes, it would be way more expensive – about 2.6 to 2.3 times more. However, I would receive about 57 weeks of learning versus GA’s 10 weeks. And I would get a more thorough theoretical understanding, and perhaps a better portfolio. And my MSIS degree would give me the boost that I may require in the eyes of employers.

I would love to hear from you that I don’t need an MSIS, and that that as long as I work my butt off, I will succeed with GA’s UXDI course. It would be cheaper, quicker, and I may even have a job within a year. But either move will be a substantial financial investment. I just want to make the right investment.


Bachelor in psychology career start
#2

Hi @geoffparker1988
Welcome to the group!

I am a UX Instructor at another boot camp. However, I have taught at General Assembly in San Francisco (both UXDI and part time classes). Personally, I think General Assembly’s program is too light weight to offer anything. But it may be different in Austin than in San Francisco. I would see if you could look at portfolios from people who took the course in Austin and even talk to some of the graduates. When I taught the program you did not need to know any HTML, CSS, or JavaScript. It also wasn’t taught in the course. Same with Visual Design.
Honestly, I don’t think getting a Master’s degree makes much difference either. Most Master’s classes/projects have you work on made-up projects and you need real world experience. Also, do you want to be a researcher or a designer or both?

Hope that helps!


#3

Hey jdebari,

Thank you for the quick reply! I’m torn between becoming a UX Researcher or Designer. I like the qualitative ethnography aspect of research - it combines my analytical nature and my love of people and talent of listening and helping (I was once considering becoming a Psychologist). I also like the creative hands-on approach of design, even if I don’t currently have much background in this area.

I have heard that General Assembly doesn’t have a great reputation in California. It seems to be different in Austin. I’ve reached out to about 20 people on LinkedIn who have recently graduated from the UXDI course and who have a job in UX. They all said it was great. But none of them have the carte blanch background that I have, which is worrisome.

What I need is:

  • in-person, where I can work along others and get used to being in a team. I feel that UX at its core is a colaborative effort, and I wouldn’t be able to tap into this by sitting at home doing an online course.
  • a mentor who can help me through my personal difficulties, confusions, and need for help when they arise.
  • a structured learning environment - somewhere I go to learn, each and every day. Projects and deadlines.
  • built in networking opportunities.

Do you have any suggestions for other courses that may address these needs?

Again, thank you!


#4

Hi @geoffparker1988,

I think you might need to do a combination of things. You could go to GA in Austin, also check out desmentor.com or LinkedIn for a UX mentor at the same time. I don’t know of any program that specifically has built in networking, that would be something you would have to do yourself. There are lots of groups on meetup.com you could check out.

You could also check out Austin School of Design. I think it is a 9 month program and you get a lot more experience.

Good luck!


#5

@geoffparker1988 - Sadly, I don’t have anything substantive to add to what jdebari said but I wanted to wave at you from northwest Austin. :wave:


#6

Thanks Piper!:wave:


#7

Good food for thought from @jdebari as always :slight_smile:

I’m also a UX instructor and firmly believe in the “you don’t need a masters” camp. If you go the GA route in Austin, work your tail off and try to get as much real-world exposure as you can. Might be worth doing some pro-bono work to build your portfolio on top of the class work.

At the end of the day it’s how you add value, solve problems and help people that counts. Don’t worry so much about “what you hear” in terms of an uphill climb. You can do anything you set your mind to. Hope that helps!