Starting a Career in UX - Advice!

getstarted

#1

Hi there!

I am a 25 year old with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. After graduating I did some work in media/design - such as redesigning a website, making a brochure, editing short videos - but I wouldn’t say I’m very advanced in these areas as it was very surface-level work. I then spent a few years abroad teaching English. And now that I’m back in the US I am looking to make a career change and shift into UX design.

I also have been doing Skillcrush for a few months, and can now say I’m somewhat knowledgable about HTML, CSS and Javascript, as well as some parts of web design.

I feel like my background in Anthropology helps me be a good fit for UX, but I don’t have much experience in the design industry overall.

I wanted to see what advice you may have for what steps I should take? I’ve pretty much read all of the material on “how to get started in UX” but I wanted to see, specifically in my case and with my experiences, whether I can self-study and apply for a junior UX position? Or is it better to do a bootcamp like CareerFoundry / DesignLab?

Or is it better to try and find work as a web designer/front end developer and later on transition into UX?

I also heard there are specific User Research positions as well, and was wondering whether this might be a better match for me to initially start a career in UX?

Sorry for all the questions! I would really appreciate any advice anyone has.


#2

Hey Flora,
Welcome. :slight_smile:

Given that you’ve successfully self-studied front-end dev then it seems very feasible that you could self-study UX. Bootcamps are great if you need direction and motivation, but they can be pricey. Ultimately where/how you study isn’t of much relevance – proving what you know is the key. The other good thing about bootcamps is that in some cases they support you in getting a job, and in most cases they provide a solid project that you can document for your portfolio.

Are you in a position to take on pro-bono projects while you study? Building up your experience is key to getting an entry level job these days.

I can’t say this definitively, but I’m not aware of anyone that has walked into an entry level research position. I’d be interested to hear from anyone that has.


#3

Whether UX design or UX research is a better match for you really just depends on what you’d rather do, honestly. Your skill set indicates that you could go either way (but may have an easier time transitioning into design?).

I do know some people who went straight into UX researcher roles; however, it’s those with MAs (and above) in experimental social science fields that generally had a relatively easy time. (At least with the people I know in UX; I think that’s attractive because the nature of the training means that one learns to manage a wide variety of research methodologies.) Those with BA/BS degrees took longer, but it can be done by obtaining examples of your own work and good old fashioned persistence. Being willing to live ANYWHERE for the job will also be a huge factor in how fast you find work.


#4

Hi, Flora!

As Jade mentioned, as far as the design or research side of focus, it depends on what you’re interested in. Depending on the company, you may be asked to do both or focus on one.

As for whether to learn on own or do a boot camp, it really depends on your learning style and persistence. If you work better when held accountable by others, do a boot camp, otherwise, self-study can work well. The key is getting examples of work to show your process, as a company can’t judge your skills well without seeing samples of work to tell the story of your thinking and process.

If you have any questions specifically about UX research area, feel free to reach out!


#5

Thanks for all of your helpful advice!

I am leaning towards the bootcamp option, particularly the ones that have a job guarantee, since I think it will help me be/feel more prepared for working in that industry.

I was wondering though if I should enroll in a bootcamp now, or first do more freelance work in web design/development? Or is that a waste of time since I’ll need to do freelance projects later that focus on the UX process rather than the end product?


#6

As I answer this, please keep in mind that my background is not UX. My suggestion is to go ahead and do what you feel comfortable with at any point in the game.

My thinking follows the advice given to new motorcycle riders, there’s no better teacher than “seat time”. More directly, I think anything you’ll derive benefit from anything UX that you do.


#7

@Piper_Wilson’s right – it’s all about getting as much real world experience as you can. Freelancing design/dev jobs will be useful if you can reverse engineer them to document your process (or use them as fictitious UX projects) but otherwise they will be of little long term value. I’d go for the bootcamp if UX is your end goal.