Soon to be psych graduate with no formal work experience wondering how to get into UX Design


#1

Hey everyone,

Like the title says, I’m about to graduate with a bachelors in psychology (minoring in anthropology). I have no formal experience in anything regarding tech (design, development, coding, etc), nor business or marketing. I first heard about UXD a little more than a week ago, and what grabbed me was the user research aspect. People are fascinating to me, and I fell in love with the notion of researching and advocating for the user.

Since discovering UXD, I’ve been researching the heck out of it, watching videos, reading blogs, and I even started reading Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think. I’m going to get David Travis’s Udemy course, and I was checking into the General Assembly UX design bootcamp.

Here’s the problem. Everywhere I turn, it seems as though everything is geared towards:

  • Either people in a similar field (graphic design, front-end development, etc)

  • People who are transitioning from an unrelated career, and/or

  • People with a masters or PhD in something (I’ve seen a lot of people with PhD’s in psychology)

On top of that, I read somewhere (I forgot where) that looking to get a UXD career with no experience in another career is like trying to test for a black belt without knowing the first thing about karate.

I was reading an article on this site (Why A Career In UX Design Has A Low Barrier Of Entry… Sort Of). It was talking about how UXD jobs for recent graduates don’t exist, and that you need to instead get a job that gets you close to the field… like a software tester, project assistant, intern visual designer, etc.

This is all I know - I like researching things. I’ve been researching all about this job, and it’s become an obsession. Similarly, when I am about to make a big purchase, I research the heck out of it. When I am doing this research, I get into a state of flow. Time just zips by. If I could get a job that used this part of me, I think I would be happy.

All of this leaves me very confused, overwhelmed, and intimidated. I am the kind of person who needs a path to follow. A game plan. A list to check off. Everything is so incredibly nebulous right now.

Do you have any advice for learning about and getting into UX Design?


#2

Hey Geoff,
Sorry for the late response – I’m currently on summer holidays and we’re running on a skeleton staff.
I hear your pain though, so I thought I’d jump in and tell you that IT WILL BE OK! Hang in there.

A while back I compiled some of the best advice from the community into a single post for people in your position. You can read that here.

We’ve also written an eBook called Getting Started in UX. If you check your inbox, you should receive a discount voucher off that book any minute now.

I hope those help. You’ll likely get some other great advice as people start trickling back to work.


#3

I just joined so I’m really late to the game, but I was wondering how it’s going?


#4

Geoff,

I hope this finds you well as I know its been some time now since you’ve posted this.

Let me begin with congratulating you on the degree. It’s something I wish I would’ve done right out of high school but chose not to purely because of my tech skill set at the time and ability to be able to work in the IT field.

I understand your frustration and worry 120% as I have felt the same thing myself in the past with the web development field and here as well initially. I would first and foremost say that anything you read on the internet you have to take with a grain of salt. Why? Because I just watched a close friend who was a teller at my bank, had a four year degree in economics, start studying on his own with free material six months ago in Web Development. I gave him little guidance besides the essential couple of item for success to land a job and now next Monday he starts his new junior role at a local company where he will get his experience and resume pieces to officially do what he loves.

It took him awhile, he had to build a small portfolio, be consistent with his efforts, and learn while applying. You can do the exact same thing in the UX field. In my opinion you have a great advantage with the degree as it definitely does apply directly to our field, technical skills you can learn through practice and studying or working in a job where they help you learn these different items.

As for furthering your learning if you decided to go that route, its absolutely not a bad idea either as the direct, intensive exposure and network you can build through doing it can be priceless. I currently am a student with Career Foundry and the invaluable things i’m learning through the UX School and the people I meet daily through Slack whether it be another student another mentor, or maybe even one of CF’s own UX Designers, you really cant put a price on. Having a job guarantee and a placement team waiting for you at the end of the course is also the biggest relief as they can guide you through the rough waters of applying for jobs, prepping, etc etc

I want to extend the offer if you need any help, guidance, encouragement, or just someone to chat with to feel free and reach out to me directly. I’m always trying to check whats going on here at UX Mastery, as its a wealth of knowledge and good people here willing to help so PLEASE reach out :slight_smile:

Talk soon!,

Mike

“The path to success is to take massive,determined action” - Tony Robbins


#5

I was once a psych grad with no formal experience in UX as well - here’s how I got into it.

First of all, I was a visual artist and I lived on computers (circa 2009, Myspace days), so really that’s what started my interest in the field. Back then, I didn’t know what it was actually called, but I designed a forum for NIN fans (as I was one) and my friend, who was into coding, built it. That was my first project, totally unpaid of course, just out of fun.

After, that I did some freelance graphic design work, and started my own concert promotion business. Again, I designed the website, my friend built it. Again, didn’t know what I was doing really, but I had fun and knew I liked it.

Then the major turning point happened: I met a mentor, another UX designer turned coder, who actually explained to me what UX was and gave me an understanding of the formal processes and concepts behind it. From that point, I was able to really hone in and learn and define my field, and read up, etc. Luckily, I had somewhat of a portfolio of personal projects that I had done for free to use as a portfolio, and using my mentor’s network and recommendations, landed a few freelance projects. From there, built out knowledge, more portfolio, and continued on with my career.

So I guess the tl;dr is that I accidentally found a mentor that really helped me break into the industry. My recommendation is to stop reading stuff and get out to IRL networking events and meet some experienced UX people who can help guide you from real world experience and introduce you to the right people. Build a network. :slight_smile:


#6

I am also a Psych grad who ended up fairly recently getting a job in UX design. I got into the field after not knowing what I wanted to do until I took a career planning course and learned about web design. When I was looking into schools I stumbled upon UX bootcamps. I ended up enrolling in one and upon completing the course I participated in the grad show case where I met several companies who were hiring. From the show case I got a couple interviews and a job offer which I accepted.

If you are in the Toronto area it’s a really good time to be going into UX. The majority of my class started jobs within a few months of graduating. The skills we learned in the bootcamp definitely helped us to get jobs. Although, other than the group work you could learn the material on your own. However, the networking opportunities we received through the course were invaluable. So I definitely agree with the comment above about building a network.

Best of luck! :slight_smile:


#7

That’s such a great success story. Was your bootcamp IRL rather than online?


#8

Yes, it was IRL. It was a 10 week intensive course offered by Brainstation.