7 Steps To Start A New Career In UX
As someone new to the UX scene, I find that there are always new things to learn, and many days I leave work feeling like my brain is full. There is nothing more impressive than feeling responsible for driving exceptional user experiences. Browsing a website and seeing the insights you helped provide, or purchasing a device that has an interface you helped define. Through my time at Key Lime Interactive, these are some techniques I found helpful to start a new career in UX.
- Read About It!
Whether on the internet, through blogs, reading books, or in school. The first step is to immerse yourself in information. There are some great resources on different topics within UX, as well as many that are great for the basics. Start with the Key Lime Website, it’s a great basis for the types of testing that can be done in UX, and the many aspects of the field.
- Join a Local Organization
Once you have learned enough to hold a conversation, get out there! Looking at LinkedIn groups or Local Meetups, there are multiple opportunities to meet like minds in your community. Your local UXPA or IXDA chapters are a great place to start. The meetings are usually local, free and fun. They include a mix of networking and educational content. Sometimes, you can even share a brew or two over a great conversation.
- Find a Mentor
After you have gotten through steps 1 and 2, finding a great mentor is the next place to start. I’m very fortunate to have industry leaders, such as Ania and the rest of our leadership team, in my office every day to provide valuable insight. But LinkedIn or your local meetup are a great place to find one. I’d recommend starting the conversation with “I’d really love to hear more about what you are working on…. can we chat in the future?.” When I was in a college class, I remember my professor saying, never ask your mentor for a job. It’s really true. A mentor can definitely help you find one, but it's always important to have someone outside of your job to bounce ideas against, or speak in a confidential manner.
- Understand Career Expectations
When starting in a new Career in UX, make sure to understand what your job will look like. Traveling? Project Work? Identify what things you are looking for. It’s also important to understand the different firms in your area. Who are the top agencies. If you are new to the industry, an Agency like Key Lime Interactive, would allow for mentorship, and more room for professional development. Other smaller companies, may only have 1 UX person in the whole company. Before Applying, make sure to consider these things.
Before you are able to start working in the industry, take the time to hone your skills. Intern with a firm to learn more about process and get some firsthand experience. Volunteer to work on UX projects. Reach out to the Local Organizations or your mentor to find ways to begin to build experience. Run a Usability test for a small non-profit. Help protype a small business’ new website. There are limitless opportunities to apply what you have learned with the help of your mentor.
- Start Building a Portfolio
Most UXer have a website portfolio to share. Any past UX and Design work should be included as a place to showcase your best work. The volunteering you just did is another great place to apply to your Portfolio. I can say first hand, we always ask for examples of your work and a portfolio with the applicant’s resume. For more information on building your portfolio, refer to this Portfolio 101 blog post.
- Get Hired!
Once you feel you have learned enough about the industry. Get out there. Apply, network, look for feedback on your portfolio, and take the leap.
Being prepared to start a new career will not only ensure a successful experience, it will also give you the opportunity to understand more about your future career outlook. Using these tips will set the tone for a successful future.