Breaking into a career in UX

It can be difficult to break into the creative industries. Here are some tips for people looking to start their UX career.

The creative industry is broad and exciting with many opportunities. But it can be difficult to land your first role.

Here are my tips for overcoming some of these challenges and standing out from the crowd in the world of user experience (UX).

I graduated from Norwich University of the Arts with a degree in Graphic Communication. My degree was by no means focused on UX but it gave me a strong set of skills and an understanding of design. I knew that I wanted to explore a career in the industry so decided to challenge myself to learn more about UX and wrote my dissertation on the subject. I then secured an internship at Foolproof before being given a full-time position as a consultant.

When you’re in education it can be difficult to imagine what your future looks like. There are a number of things I’ve learnt along the way which have helped me make the transition and improved my chances of breaking into a career in UX.

Broaden your horizons and get networking

If I were to give one piece of advice to students starting the search for job opportunities, it would be to get networking.

Look out for local groups and meet-ups, or even consider creating an event yourself. In my final year at university I volunteered at a local business-to-business networking group, helping to organise and run the events. It was daunting meeting professionals at first but I soon found my voice and it lead to many great contacts and opportunities. It is in fact how I first began getting to know Foolproof.

By putting yourself out there you will grow in confidence and build connections with knowledgeable people in work. Networking also improves your communication skills and understanding of people. Learning to understand body language and tone of voice comes from practice and this is a skill that I have continued to use as a UX consultant.

Try something new

If you are studying and searching for work experience/ placements, don’t just look for your ideal job role. Branch out and look out for opportunities that might be a little bit outside of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself to try something new, something that will add to your skill set (and your CV). UX is very much a collaborative practice and so gaining an understanding of a mixture of roles and having a broad range of skills will put you in a great position for the future.

Ask for feedback

Everyone has to start somewhere and when you first start your career or internship its okay not to know everything. Make the most of the people you’re working with and ask them to share their knowledge with you. A good way to do this is to encourage feedback on your own work. Be prepared to not always get it right first time. It’s okay to ask for help along the way, it’s the only way you’ll learn. A piece of advice that has stuck with me since my first day at Foolproof is “No question is a stupid question”.

Nurture the basic skills

Working with people (colleagues, clients and of course users) means that being able to communicate effectively is an essential skill for the UX industry. Being able to present yourself in an articulate and friendly manner is key. But listening is also a crucial part of communication; a lot of learning comes from listening to others.

Being able to write and communicate in a professional and appropriate manner comes with practice. In order to get a head start, consider attending a course on copywriting or presenting. If not, practice in your spare time, writing and formatting emails and presenting your ideas to an audience.

Document your learnings

Whilst studying or undertaking placements consider creating a blog or posting online to share your experiences and learnings with others. Not only will it act as a good conversation point for interviews but will also help fill your UX portfolio giving you something to show potential employers.

Developing a voice and opinion on current trends and topics in the industry will also be a great conversation starter. Following companies and agencies on twitter will help you with this. Keeping a strong social media presence will also allow you to connect with potential employers and potentially spot opportunities for the future.

To sum up, here are five things you can do to smooth the transition into industry:

Good luck!
Looking for your next UX designer job role? View our current vacancies: Careers at Foolproof

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