Looking to pursue UX -- Need advice (and possible mentor)

training
portfolio

#1

Hello, UX Mastery!

I graduated with a BSc in Business last year and have been working at a small tech company for the last 12 months. I have decided that I would like to pursue a career in product development, specifically UX/UI design, as this is what I found most enjoyable at my current position.

Unfortunately, I do not have any formal training in UX/UI. As I said, my degree is in business. That being said, I do have a few technical skills that could be useful:

  1. Mastery of Adobe Photoshop
  2. Strong abilities with Adobe Illustrator
  3. Experience with simple wireframing software, such as Balsamiq
  4. Intermediate experience with HTML & CSS

Moving forward, I am wondering what my best approach to this shift in career would be for me? My largest issue at this point is that I do not have a portfolio and I am unfamiliar with the traditional design process. I have been seriously considering a Masters program in Human-Computer Interaction or Design for Interaction to allow me to build a design process and a strong portfolio to begin with. I would also consider a Bootcamp, if anyone feels this the best option for me.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, and if any experience designers would be willing to chat further with me on Discord, Skype or another channel, please let me know!

Regards,
Nick


#2

Hey Nick! Great to have you here. Hopefully we can get you pointed in the right direction.

My first piece of advice is to start hitting the books now. Whatever route you decide to go, there’s nothing to lose by starting your learning today. Whatever route you want to take in UX, there’s probably been a book written about it. A few common UX book recommendations that come up:

  • Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things.
  • Stever Kurg’s Don’t Make Me Think.
  • Jesse James Garrett’s The Elements of User Experience.

Secondly, recognize that there is no single school of thought about which approach to take on your path to a UX career. UX thrives because the diversity of experience professionals bring to the table only adds to our perspective about what makes great usability.

To that end, some people (like myself) are self-taught pros that found a passion and put into practice. Many others have taken some form of formal UX education, such as a boot camp or university degree.

In general, self-taught UXers have better practical experience in narrow fields, while those getting some sort of formal education are usually stronger in a broader range of topics. Self-taught pros seem to suffer more from imposter syndrome, while the formally educated struggle more with applying concepts in real-world scenarios.

Finally, know that whatever route you decide to take, it’s absolutely possible to get a great job in the field. My recommendation: if you think that getting formal education fits your personal learning style better, then sign up ASAP. If not, get studying and start making the moves you need to make to get into the field. There will be varying opinions about what software to learn, what techniques to focus on, and what direction to take. The truth is it matters less what decision you and more that you make a choice and move confidently in the direction of your career.

I hope that’s helpful. Let me know if you have any questions!


#3

Hi Doug!

Thanks for taking the time to reply in such a detailed fashion! I have only one follow up question for you:
I have no experience or portfolio related to UX. How would you suggest I get some hands-on experience to bolster my portfolio?

Thanks!

  • Nick

#4

You need this: https://uxmastery.com/how-to-develop-project-ideas-for-your-ux-portfolio/


#5

Glad I can help! @HAWK’s post is the best bet to get started.