8 things those successful job-landed UX students have: a Design Mentor's observation
3 min read
Received a message that one of my students got a design job offer! I mentored 10+ juniors and helped them transition from different industries to land design jobs, including working at multinational companies. Here're a few things I noticed that all job-landing designers have 👇
1) They knew and used their unfair advantages. A mentee is good at focusing on consuming lots of information, and she landed a research job. Another mentee used her sales skill from her previous role to negotiate and get a designer job.
2) They all have working experience. It might be a harsh truth for UX roles: if you just graduated from any school, it will be tough to find a job. UX is about solving complex problems with a team, and people with previous working experience are more likely to get a UX job.
Getting some transferable working experience will be a good starting point if you're a graduate. E.g. sales, customer service or marketing. For graphic designers, starting with brand design, marketing design, or UI will be good.
3) They all failed a few times. Nobody landed their first job from their first application. Actually, most of them started from small jobs such as a 2-weeks contract or volunteering research. Those small steps build their confidence, experience and stories for their portfolios.
4) They are all good at communication. It's not about extroverts or introverts, native speakers or non-native speakers. They could reach out and ask questions or support, and they are not afraid to say, "I don't know".
This is also an inspiration for me: communication is the most valuable skill for any professional - it's transferrable to any job and is definitely a timeless skill. Trends come and go, but the basic ways of communication haven't changed for hundreds of years.
5) They all have a mentor(not a teacher) - this is especially important for a junior designer. By talking to their mentor(me), they can map out blind spots to improve, sense-check their portfolio and receive feedback.
6) They learn design by doing it. Those mentees who were learning while doing a full-time job just found something at work to work on as a designer. They adopted the UX approaches they learned to a real problem. Others did side projects or volunteer work.
They all got a good story demonstrating their design skills and understanding to solve a problem, not just reciting the theory from books.
7) They didn't complain. They all had ups and downs. They had doubts and thought about quitting, and I'm happy that they shared these with me. They all have imposter syndrome, but none of them complained.
One of the best things I've learned from design is that there's no infinite resource like time, effort, money or people. You always need to use what you've got to achieve the best value - that is what design means.
8) They deal with constraints well. A mentee struggled to keep the learning momentum while she took a part-time job and needed to drive 8 hours per day for 2 weeks. Together, we designed an audio-learning approach so that she could learn stuff while driving (safely, for sure).
By doing that, her learning progress wasn't impacted much. Analyse the resource and make rational decisions, reflect and tweak to improve rapidly. Constraints are a designer's best friend.
What do you think? Let me know your thoughts and plz share with the people whom you think will need these 😊