Hmm, we go into this in quite a bit of detail in our ebook. I suspect you’ll probably struggle to find a junior UX role without any experience. Most people who are looking to hire a UX designer are looking for results. They want to know that the person they’re bringing in can deliver change that can be measured, and it’s difficult to convince someone that you can step up and do that if you haven’t done it before. Sadly, the idea of apprenticeship and taking people on to learn from a more experienced mentor is not a model that occurs commonly in UX Design.
Doing lots of reading every day is great, but you really do need to get some experience, and your own portfolio website doesn’t really count as far as projects go. It needs to be a client where you can demonstrate how you defined the problem to be solved, how you approached the problem, talk about your process, what you learned from your research, analysis and testing, and what the outcome was. There’s no getting around this—you need to have done it so that you can talk about it. Now, it doesn’t need to be a large corporate—it could be a local sports club or not-for-profit. Maybe it’s an idea you have for a new app, which you could evolve on your own, or perhaps you could do an uninvited redesign of a well-known brand (including research with some of their customers).
I’d also caution against just applying for jobs that you like. How are you finding these jobs? You’re going to find much better results if you start actively networking within your local UX community (and in the global community—this forum is definitely a good start!). The best jobs aren’t found on job boards, they’re filled by existing staff members who happen to know someone who might be a good fit. Your task is to become one of those people who someone knows.
So yes, get your own website up. But before you apply for a UX job, make your your own website contains content that supports your goal of finding a UX job. That content needs to be examples of work you’ve done. Otherwise you’re just going to be disappointed.