Oct 29th, 2019

UX bootcamp: the stuff they don’t tell you

Joanna Skora

Without a doubt, the demand for UX/UI Designers has become increasingly popular for companies across so many different industries. Managers are recognizing the value of investing in people who have design chops and will save them money and profit them in the long run. Aspiring designers looking for a career change are flocking to design boot camps in the hopes of locking down that dream job right out of school.

Easy, right? Credit: Radostina Georgieva

Let me tell you, the design boot camp will not get you the job. Ultimately what get’s you the job is a continued investment you put into your craft after graduating. It’s not going to be easy and it’s not meant to be.

Set reasonable expectations, and stay humble.

Have you ever known someone who just woke up one day and decided they wanted to change their career, studied the fundamentals for 10 weeks and then landed a job that pays six figures? I haven’t. If you’re considering a design boot camp because you’re passionate about the space of UX and product development, great! Just remember to stay grounded and humble, because you’ll never stop learning and there will always be something you need to learn.

Design boot camp will provide you with a framework so you can continue to add skills to your toolbox and better understand what you do and don’t know about the industry.

Most employers won’t hire someone fresh out of a boot camp.

I don’t blame them! Going to design boot camp is such an amazing way to jump-start a new career in UX/UI Design, but too often you see people come out of school with over-inflated ego’s and certainty that they will land the role but they simply lack the right tools. Even if you have years of experience at your previous job and a set of incredible soft skills, it just might not be enough. Employers want to see what you’ve done post-boot camp: What has your hustle been like? What have you been doing since then? Have you shipped any products?

Just understanding the basics of the UX process isn’t enough. You can tell your prospective employer how you’re an asset to their company, but be sure you can back it up with some solid know-how and industry practices. Believe me, some of the most valuable things I know now I learned from not landing a role with X company because I didn’t know it then.

Keep investing in your portfolio.

You’re done with your course and now it’s time to put your class projects together to build a portfolio. I can’t stress enough how important it is to continue to work on projects to not only gain experience, but to showcase your design thinking, problem-solving, and progression.

Some of the best advice I received was from a Product Designer who told me to stop applying for jobs and work on making my portfolio more robust and showcasing my visual design abilities in it. Ironically, so many UX/UI designers are overlooking the design aspect in their own portfolios, and are presenting their work haphazardly. As a recruiter, I see it all the time. Consider the fact that hiring managers and recruiters are viewing hundreds of portfolios and only spend 10–30 seconds each.
Your portfolio will most likely be your ticket into the interview so make it worthwhile for the person reviewing it.
If you’re not sure how to find projects to work on, check out Dream Projects. It’s a free monthly design challenge that helps you build your portfolio, founded by Adam Perlis – CEO of the Academy. The winner even lands an interview with a major featured company!

almost… Credit: Radostina Georgieva

Seek out designers you admire.

Do not ask them for a job. I repeat, do not ask them for a job. Like many new designers fresh out of a boot camp, I felt frustrated by not hearing back when sending my resume and portfolio out into the black hole that is job websites. I started reaching out to designers who I looked up to because their experience was impressive and their aesthetic equally so. I wanted to hear about how they got started and what hey had to go through when navigating into the world of UX. By connecting with people without expectation of work, and a desire for feedback you gain invaluable insight and feedback from seasoned industry professionals that can help you guide you in the right direction.

Don’t be shy, ask someone if you can buy them a coffee or if they can hop on a call for a few minutes — you’d be surprised by how many people are happy to do so!

Build up your tool kit.

Your teachers and career coaches probably won’t announce it to you, but you’re going to need to continue to invest time and most likely money in your skills after your boot camp ends. There are great resources out there like Udemy, and Coursera where you can buy courses for very reasonable prices and get a bang for your buck. Don’t have it in your budget? You can always find topics to research and learn for free, just as long you have the desire to do so. Some of the best and most valuable things I learned were completely self-taught or taught to me by a mentor. Believing you know everything there is to know about UX fresh out of boot camp will stunt your growth as a designer.

Be Passionate. Be Driven. Be RESILIENT.

Nothing ventured nothing gained. The hurdles you go through in your job search are not meaningless and they will be the stepping stones that lead you to your first role as a UX Designer. Don’t let what appear to be failures break your spirit and take away your drive, you have to be resilient; a quality that is sought after in many designers. You probably either won’t hear back or get rejected by a lot of people, and that’s fine! Always ask for feedback and apply it for the next time around, these are some of the best learning experiences in my opinion.

We’re getting there. Credit: Radostina Georgieva

Originally published on Medium’s UX Collective: UX bootcamp: the stuff they don’t tell you


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