How to make the Shift
I was recently asked by one of our freelancers, how he can make the shift to UX and UI Design as a Graphic Designer? Whilst he has a strong interest in this area, all jobs seem to require two to three years of experience. Another question that he had was whether he should include self-initiated projects in his folio to get a foot in the door?
Whilst making a career shift is hard work, you will have a more rewarding career once you succeed. So bear with me while as I try to build up your confidence and resilience to take the right steps.
Making a career shift is at some levels similar to starting a career as a graduate. As a result, you need to be proactive, driven, diligent, patient and persistent enough not to be discouraged with rejection.
Step one: do your research
If you are interested in UX, firstly do your research. The term UX is thrown around everywhere these days but I assure you that not all professionals who have the titles User Experience Designer or User Interface Designer have the same position description.
Do a research and get an understanding of the market and the type of a UX or UI Designer you would like to be. To learn more about the different types of UX Design jobs you can read “Fifty shades of UX Designers”.
Step two: study
Once you have an understanding of what type of UX or UI Designer you would like to be, It is time to take a course that helps you get a stronger understanding of UX principles.
There are many beneficial courses within institutes such as General Assembly https://generalassemb.ly or Academy Xi https://academyxi.com that could help you. Benefits associated with taking these courses include:
- Being involved in hands-on workshops,
- Building a folio
- Networking with like-minded people.
Step three: self-initiated projects
As I mentioned earlier, you need to treat your transition as if you are a graduate. If you are interested in a specific sector maybe create projects that are aligned with the sector you are interested in. For example, if you are interested in e-Commerce platforms, then create case studies on e-Commerce platforms.
Be proactive and get your hands on as many briefs as you can. If you are interested in becoming a hybrid UX/UI Designer working on websites, then contact your friends and families to see if they know of anyone who needs a new website.
If you are interested in purely UI work. you can take the Daily UI challenges http://www.dailyui.co/ which helps you build your confidence, experience and portfolio. I know candidates who built strong projects with Daily UI’s briefs.
Step four: programs
Learn the required programs. Here is a list of programs currently used:
MindManager: for mind mapping
Visio: for diagramming
Iconjar: organising and storing icons
InVision: real-time collaboration and simple prototyping (commonly used in Australia)
UserTesting: for user testing
Optimizely: for A/B testing
Step five: network
There are plenty of Meetups in Australia where you can network with other UX enthusiasts. Going to Meetups, helps you expand your knowledge and introduces you to potential hiring managers. Some of the Meetups can be very interactive which gives you an idea of what it is like to work as a UX Designer.
Step six: hustle (moderately)
By hustling, I don’t mean hiding behind the bush and jumping at hiring managers, but proactively networking and sharing any new project you work on with your network.
If you work in a company that has a UX team hustle them (moderately) and show them that you are interested in moving into their team. Maybe work on ideas after hours and share them with the team leader.
Step seven: when there’s a will, there’s a way
One of my candidates worked in a company with no UX team and after his studies, he worked proactively to introduce HCD to the company and not only he began his own UX project, he lifted the standard of the design within the company.
I highly recommend not to apply for positions that clearly requires more experience. If you do apply for these positions, at least mention that you know that are not qualified enough and that you are just interested in introducing yourself in case a more junior position appears.
Step eight: do not be discouraged
Lastly, do not be discouraged when you receive rejections. If as a Recruiter I was discouraged with rejection, I would have had probably lost my mind by now. Rejection is a part of starting something new and does not reflect on your skills and abilities. It simply means that this not the right place or the right time.
If you have any other questions that I can answer in an article, please feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org