Is it too late to consider career change to UX design field in early forties?

29 Aug 2010 - 11:24pm
3 years ago
28 replies
7746 reads
youkwon
2010

Hi,

I've been in corporate finance field for the past 10 years.  I have BA in English literature, MBA in finance and MS in accounting.  I had my fair share of bumps in my corporate life, but it was not until couple of years ago that I truly noticed that I was not enjoying what I was doing for my life.  I chose my major at business school not because I had passion for finance and accounting per se but it was a path that majority of grad school students chose.  I'm in my early forties now.  Last week, I asked myself whether I was willing to spend the rest of my life doing what I have been doing in the past 10 years and the answer was a clear No.

I seriously started searching for something that I will be passionate about.  Ever since I was in undergrad, I always had great interest in design and making things.  I focused my thoughts on that and I started doing some research on UX design.  I was not that familiar with the field before and the more I learned about the field (through internet search), the more I felt strongly that this is truly what I've been craving to do ever since the early days.  However, considering my background (zero design experience or education background) and my age, I do not know for sure whether making the jump is realistic or not.  It seems that I need to obtain formal education on this, perhaps a Masters degree in UX design.  But even with the degree, my experience in the field is zero.  Hence, high uncertainty in getting hired by companies after graduation.  

 

With that said, I'd greatly appreciate any advice and insight from you on the following:

1. What are the grad schools offering masters in UX design that high-tech companies such as Apple, Google, and the like regularly go to for recruiting?

2. Of these schools, which ones do not require portfolio during application and are open to non-design and CS majors?  

3. What are the skills and knowledge that I need to acquire to successfully complete masters program? For your info, programming languages that I have knowledge in are objective C and Python. 

4. How can I overcome my age and zero UX design experience in the job market?

5. Instead of masters program, do I need to go back to college and get bachelors degree in UX design?

6. If anyone viewing this post started in the past from a similar situation as I am, could you share your experience with me?  

All I want is to do what I love for the rest of my life.  I know so very well how it feels like when this is not the case.  Again, I'd greatly appreciate any advice and insight from you.  Thanks and God bless.

Comments

30 Aug 2010 - 8:28am
youkwon
2010

Hi everyone,

I forgot one thing in my earlier posting.  I am looking for schools in the US.  Thanks for your advice and insight.

31 Aug 2010 - 11:05am
jlsphar
2010

Here are some resources for finding the right school:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_I-Schoolshttp://www.humanfactors.com/downloads/degrees.asp

http://www.ixda.org/node/13175
Good luck!
Cheers!

John Sphar


On Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 2:41 AM, youkwon <youkwon@yahoo.com> wrote:

Hi everyone,

I forgot one thing in my earlier posting.  I am looking for schools in the US.  Thanks for your advice and insight.

((
30 Aug 2010 - 8:45am
gef05
2010

"All I want is to do what I love for the rest of my life."

My only advice is to make sure you know what you're getting into. Consider these basic questions UX applicants often encounter when applying for jobs. They offer - I hope - some insight into the messy reality of being a UXer or IXDer:

--How do you handle being told "forget iterative design, crank out something that works"?

--Respond to the following: "Theory is great, but this is the real world."

--You're given a sketch from a director's meeting and told to "make this pretty." What do you do?

--How do you design when you're on a project where you are not permitted to meet the users, and are not permitted to do internal usability testing?

--Your company refuses to take UX seriously and your role is repeatedly marginalized. How do you advocate?

--How do you handle a development team that ignore a design altogether?

--Your project manager wheels out the old chestnut: "User experience is important, but..." and proceeds to explain how unimportant it is and cuts your hours on the project. How do you handle this?

30 Aug 2010 - 10:05am
brianh
2010

Not to hijack the original topic, which I'm also interested in, but I would LOVE to hear people's answers to these questions. I'd actually like to use this as the focus of one of our local IxDA meetings.
Brian
On Aug 30, 2010, at 10:00 AM, Gary Franceschini wrote:

"All
I want is to do what I love for the rest of my life."

My only advice is to make sure you know what you're getting into. Consider these basic questions UX applicants often encounter when applying for jobs. They offer - I hope - some insight into the messy reality of being a UXer or IXDer:

--How do you handle being told "forget iterative design, crank out something that works"?

--Respond to the following: "Theory is great, but this is the real world."

--You're given a sketch from a director's meeting and told to "make this pretty." What do you do?

--How do you design when you're on a project where you are not permitted to meet the users, and are not permitted to do internal usability testing?

--Your company refuses to take UX seriously and your role is repeatedly marginalized. How do you advocate?

--How do you handle a development team that ignore a design altogether?

--Your project manager wheels out the old chestnut: "User experience is important, but..." and proceeds to explain how unimportant it is and cuts your hours on the project. How do you handle this?

30 Aug 2010 - 10:05am
Christian Crumlish
2006

What does any of that have to do with your age or switching careers?

Sent from my iPad

On Aug 30, 2010, at 10:20 AM, Gary Franceschini wrote:

> "All > I want is to do what I love for the rest of my life." > > My only advice is to make sure you know what you're getting into. Consider these basic questions UX applicants often encounter when applying for jobs. They offer - I hope - some insight into the messy reality of being a UXer or IXDer: > > --How do you handle being told "forget iterative design, crank out something that works"? > > --Respond to the following: "Theory is great, but this is the real world." > > --You're given a sketch from a director's meeting and told to "make this pretty." What do you do? > > --How do you design when you're on a project where you are not permitted to meet the users, and are not permitted to do internal usability testing? > > --Your company refuses to take UX seriously and your role is repeatedly marginalized. How do you advocate? > > --How do you handle a development team that ignore a design altogether? > > --Your project manager wheels out the old chestnut: "User experience is important, but..." and proceeds to explain how unimportant it is and cuts your hours on the project. How do you handle this? > >

30 Aug 2010 - 11:05am
youkwon
2010

Gary,

Thanks for your input. This is the reason that I posted my question on the discussion forum. I need to know what the field is really about. Thanks again for your thoughtful advice. Take care.

Young

30 Aug 2010 - 11:05am
Scott McDaniel
2007

These are excellent questions in general, and I'd love to read what people had to say about them. My initial, non-professional internal reflex is "die inside, just a little."

As for switching career paths at a later point in life, if you're capable of working, I'd say it's never too late. I always look to the example of my great-aunt, who split from being a radio broadcast performer to getting her graduate degree and becoming an English professor in her mid-50s. There would be definite benefits to your previous experience in whatever field (after all, you probably used software, web sites and other digital environments in those jobs, right?).

Cheers, Scott

On Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 11:03 AM, Gary Franceschini wrote: > "All > I want is to do what I love for the rest of my life." > > My only advice is to make sure you know what you're getting into. Consider > these basic questions UX applicants often encounter when applying for jobs. > They offer - I hope - some insight into the messy reality of being a UXer or > IXDer: > > --How do you handle being told "forget iterative design, crank out something > that works"? > > --Respond to the following: "Theory is great, but this is the real world." > > --You're given a sketch from a director's meeting and told to "make this > pretty." What do you do? > > --How do you design when you're on a project where you are not permitted to > meet the users, and are not permitted to do internal usability testing? > > --Your company refuses to take UX seriously and your role is repeatedly > marginalized. How do you advocate? > > --How do you handle a development team that ignore a design altogether? > > --Your project manager wheels out the old chestnut: "User experience is > important, but..." and proceeds to explain how unimportant it is and cuts > your hours on the project. How do you handle this? > >

30 Aug 2010 - 4:05pm
mdostert
2010

It is true what they say...Life begins at 40! And people are getting phds late in their 50s!

Maureen Dostert 919.490.8405 mdostert2002@yahoo.com

----- Original Message ---- From: Scott McDaniel To: mdostert2002@yahoo.com Sent: Mon, August 30, 2010 2:41:55 PM Subject: Re: [IxDA] Is it too late to consider career change to UX design field in early forties?

These are excellent questions in general, and I'd love to read what people had to say about them. My initial, non-professional internal reflex is "die inside, just a little."

As for switching career paths at a later point in life, if you're capable of working, I'd say it's never too late. I always look to the example of my great-aunt, who split from being a radio broadcast performer to getting her graduate degree and becoming an English professor in her mid-50s. There would be definite benefits to your previous experience in whatever field (after all, you probably used software, web sites and other digital environments in those jobs, right?).

Cheers, Scott

On Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 11:03 AM, Gary Franceschini wrote: > "All > I want is to do what I love for the rest of my life." > > My only advice is to make sure you know what you're getting into. Consider > these basic questions UX applicants often encounter when applying for jobs. > They offer - I hope - some insight into the messy reality of being a UXer or > IXDer: > > --How do you handle being told "forget iterative design, crank out something > that works"? > > --Respond to the following: "Theory is great, but this is the real world." > > --You're given a sketch from a director's meeting and told to "make this > pretty." What do you do? > > --How do you design when you're on a project where you are not permitted to > meet the users, and are not permitted to do internal usability testing? > > --Your company refuses to take UX seriously and your role is repeatedly > marginalized. How do you advocate? > > --How do you handle a development team that ignore a design altogether? > > --Your project manager wheels out the old chestnut: "User experience is > important, but..." and proceeds to explain how unimportant it is and cuts > your hours on the project. How do you handle this? > >

31 Aug 2010 - 3:05am
jlsphar
2010

Keep in mind that as human beings, it is in our nature to thrive on change. Rene dubos in man adapting: "It has even been asserted that mutilation in the young, as during primitive initiation rites or in face scarring, results in greater body growth, as well as greater stamina. In any case, it is certain that man functions best when a fair percentage of his neurons are active, provided a sufficient number remain in reserve."

In order to get that experience, you may have to do some projects for peanuts--at least for a little while--and maintain your current job for income. This may feel like mutilation, but you're sure to come out in the end with greater growth and stamina... and a newfound profession.

Cheers!

John

30 Aug 2010 - 11:40am
aronoff
2010

First, I want to encourage you in the fact that you are self reflective and humble enough to even get to the point to entertain a carreer change. A lot of people don't have the courage or fortitude to do even that, so you're halfway there.

Combine these traits that your obviously honing, and I think you're well on your way to doing UX design.

I can't speak for grad schools as I don't have a grad degree. My background is in traditional graphic design, moved into the web, and now am in UX design. It's all pretty much the same. It's communicating in a rich way, with a mind towards the audience, and the humbleness to know when you are wrong in your approach.

I'd say don't even worry about grad schools just yet but read and do research on your own about what the field actually entails, what best practices are, and read read read.

You do need to get experience, but one thing I've found is that the UX industry is incredibly supportive, and you can kind of walk with other people in the same learned space. Join a couple of meetup groups in your town, talk to people at design studios or web studios and go from there.

Above all, don't get discouraged. Good luck!!
~Josh

30 Aug 2010 - 4:05pm
youkwon
2010

Josh,

Thank you for your kind words. I greatly appreciate it. I will heed your advice and start reading books on UX design. Internet offers ton of information but I do admit that they are somewhat choppy. Thanks again!

Young

31 Aug 2010 - 9:26am
aronoff
2010

I would recommend the following for starters:

The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garret
Web Anatomy: Interaction Design Frameworks that Work by Robert Hoekman, Jr and Jared Spool
Designing Interfaces by Jenifer Tidwell
UX Design: For User Experience Designers in the field or in the making. by Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler

These will give you a HUGE understanding not only of UX design, but also of best practices, background, etc. I'd also recommend Change By Design by Tim Brown which is basically stories about using Human Centered Design in business.... it'll get you thinking like a designer before you even design anything.

Try not to get into the weeds too much with theory, (As I give you a reading list, about theory. ;)) and maybe after you read those, ask yourself a couple of questions, and see how you can brainstorm and problem solve out your questions in the UX environment....

UX Design is essentially problem solving... with constraints.

Have fun!! Hope this helps!! :)

~Josh

30 Aug 2010 - 12:05pm
monkeyshine
2010

I'd say the best way to find answers is to explore more. I don't think you need another bachelors but you will need to make a decision between a certificate program and a masters. There are several paths you could take down the UX trail and they each have varying requirements. You may want to first start out with a certificate program to figure out your path or depth of interest. Unless you long to be a masterful researcher right out of the gate, I'd hold off on any master's programs - do that alongside a great job where you have a clearer understanding of your direction.

I'm not sure where you are located but there are several good UX programs around the country. Bentley College in Massachusetts has a well known one but there are programs all over the country.

It's never too late to change your career and if UX design piques your interest and you feel you have some ability in this field, it's a great time to jump in to the field. Unless you have great savings and the ability to intern for next to no money, I'd recommend finding a job that utilizes your current skillset while providing opportunities to grow into a new position.

Good luck!
Deanna



On Sun, Aug 29, 2010 at 9:24 PM, youkwon <youkwon@yahoo.com> wrote:

Hi,

I've been in corporate finance field for the past 10 years.  I have BA in English literature, MBA in finance and MS in accounting.  I had my fair share of bumps in my corporate life, but it was not until couple of years ago that I truly noticed that I was not enjoying what I was doing for my life.  I chose my major at business school not because I had passion for finance and accounting per se but it was a path that majority of grad school students chose.  I'm in my early forties now.  Last week, I asked myself whether I was willing to spend the rest of my life doing what I have been doing in the past 10 years and the answer was a clear No.

I seriously started searching for something that I will be passionate about.  Ever since I was in undergrad, I always had great interest in design and making things.  I focused my thoughts on that and I started doing some research on UX design.  I was not that familiar with the field before and the more I learned about the field (through internet search), the more I felt strongly that this is truly what I've been craving to do ever since the early days.  However, considering my background (zero design experience or education background) and my age, I do not know for sure whether making the jump is realistic or not.  It seems that I need to obtain formal education on this, perhaps a Masters degree in UX design.  But even with the degree, my experience in the field is zero.  Hence, high uncertainty in getting hired by companies after graduation.  

 

With that said, I'd greatly appreciate any advice and insight from you on the following:

1. What are the grad schools offering masters in UX design that high-tech companies such as Apple, Google, and the like regularly go to for recruiting?

2. Of these schools, which ones do not require portfolio during application and are open to non-design and CS majors?  

3. What are the skills and knowledge that I need to acquire to successfully complete masters program? For your info, programming languages that I have knowledge in are objective C and Python. 

4. How can I overcome my age and zero UX design experience in the job market?

5. Instead of masters program, do I need to go back to college and get bachelors degree in UX design?

6. If anyone viewing this post started in the past from a similar situation as I am, could you share your experience with me?  

All I want is to do what I love for the rest of my life.  I know so very well how it feels like when this is not the case.  Again, I'd greatly appreciate any advice and insight from you.  Thanks and God bless.

(((Please leave all
30 Aug 2010 - 3:05pm
youkwon
2010

Hi Deana,

Thank you so much for your kind words. I will keep your advice in mind. As for my location, I'm in memphis, TN. Hence, for me to test the water with certificate program first, I have to find a job in a bigger city and make that happen. Are there any other renowned schools in that field that offer certificate programs besides Bentley College? Also, some schools have programs called human factor, instead of interactive design. Is human factors more geared towards less design aspects? Thanks for your insight and advice!

Young

31 Aug 2010 - 12:05pm
nlguy516
2010

I have been researching this quite a bit myself lately, and I have found certificate programs at Iowa State and Missouri T&I that I plan to investigate further. I am in the same position as you; I'm in my mid-30s and have been working as a web developer for several years. I now am considering a leap into this field as well.

I wish you the best of luck in finding a program. If you can imagine it, you can do it!

-----Original Message----- From: ixdaor@host.ixda.org [mailto:ixdaor@host.ixda.org] On Behalf Of youkwon Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 2:59 AM To: Nora Guy Subject: Re: [IxDA] Is it too late to consider career change to UX design field in early forties?

Hi Deana,

Thank you so much for your kind words. I will keep your advice in mind. As
for my location, I'm in memphis, TN. Hence, for me to test the water with
certificate program first, I have to find a job in a bigger city and make
that happen. Are there any other renowned schools in that field that offer
certificate programs besides Bentley College? Also, some schools have
programs called human factor, instead of interactive design. Is human factors
more geared towards less design aspects? Thanks for your insight and advice!

Young

30 Aug 2010 - 4:05pm
mdostert
2010

The other problem is that recruiters will not look at you without five years experience. I have an MSIS in HCI and I am still looking for work and I have samples and experience, but just not enough.

Maureen Dostert 919.490.8405 mdostert2002@yahoo.com

----- Original Message ---- From: monkeyshine To: mdostert2002@yahoo.com Sent: Mon, August 30, 2010 2:41:55 PM Subject: Re: [IxDA] Is it too late to consider career change to UX design field in early forties?

I'd say the best way to find answers is to explore more. I don't think you need another bachelors but you will need to make a decision between a certificate program and a masters. There are several paths you could take down the UX trail and they each have varying requirements. You may want to first start out with a certificate program to figure out your path or depth of interest. Unless you long to be a masterful researcher right out of the gate, I'd hold off on any master's programs - do that alongside a great job where you have a clearer understanding of your direction.

I'm not sure where you are located but there are several good UX programs around the country. Bentley College in Massachusetts has a well known one but there are programs all over the country.

It's never too late to change your career and if UX design piques your interest and you feel you have some ability in this field, it's a great time to jump in to the field. Unless you have great savings and the ability to intern for next to no money, I'd recommend finding a job that utilizes your current skillset while providing opportunities to grow into a new position.

Good luck! Deanna

On Sun, Aug 29, 2010 at 9:24 PM, youkwon wrote:

> Hi, > > I've been in corporate finance field for the past 10 years. I have BA in >English literature, MBA in finance and MS in accounting. I had my fair share of >bumps in my corporate life, but it was not until couple of years ago that I >truly noticed that I was not enjoying what I was doing for my life. I chose my >major at business school not because I had passion for finance and accounting >per se but it was a path that majority of grad school students chose. I'm in my >early forties now. Last week, I asked myself whether I was willing to spend the >rest of my life doing what I have been doing in the past 10 years and the answer >was a clear No. > > I seriously started searching for something that I will be passionate about. > Ever since I was in undergrad, I always had great interest in design and making >things. I focused my thoughts on that and I started doing some research on UX >design. I was not that familiar with the field before and the more I learned >about the field (through internet search), the more I felt strongly that this is >truly what I've been craving to do ever since the early days. However, >considering my background (zero design experience or education background) and >my age, I do not know for sure whether making the jump is realistic or not. It >seems that I need to obtain formal education on this, perhaps a Masters degree >in UX design. But even with the degree, my experience in the field is zero. > Hence, high uncertainty in getting hired by companies after graduation.
> >
> > With that said, I'd greatly appreciate any advice and insight from you on the >following: > > 1. What are the grad schools offering masters in UX design that high-tech >companies such as Apple, Google, and the like regularly go to for recruiting? > > 2. Of these schools, which ones do not require portfolio during application and >are open to non-design and CS majors?
> > 3. What are the skills and knowledge that I need to acquire to successfully >complete masters program? For your info, programming languages that I have >knowledge in are objective C and Python. > > 4. How can I overcome my age and zero UX design experience in the job market? > > 5. Instead of masters program, do I need to go back to college and get >bachelors degree in UX design? > > 6. If anyone viewing this post started in the past from a similar situation as >I am, could you share your experience with me?
> > All I want is to do what I love for the rest of my life. I know so very well >how it feels like when this is not the case. Again, I'd greatly appreciate any >advice and insight from you. Thanks and God bless. > > (((Please leave all >

31 Aug 2010 - 12:05am
dgavales
2010

Hi,

I transitioned into UX from another field in my 30s, by going back and getting a masters degree in HCI at the University of Michigan School of Information. Since graduation, I've been doing medical software design, which I've really enjoyed. I don't regret the decision to change course, even though it cost me some money and time.

The UM application doesn't require a design portfolio, but the school is also more known for social science research (which translates to product definition, usability) than art-school-style design -- but it kind of depends on what you came in with. I would recommend checking out other iSchools and HCI programs, which tend to be interested in an interdisciplinary student body.

When I was applying to school, even though I thought on paper that it was what I wanted to do, I did 8-10 informational interviews with students and alumni, and that was really helpful. The ideas became more real, and I was energized by the conversations.

Another thing that comes to mind, about career change in general, is the book Working Identity by Herminia Ibarra, an org studies professor at INSEAD. She interviewed career changers and makes the case that people make successful transitions by experimenting, trying out new roles, engaging in new cultures/relationships, and then making sense of the experience iteratively, rather than planning-then-doing. The stories are really engaging, and you might find them something you can relate to.

Finally, you've probably thought of this, but UX designers need to learn about the various domains where we design/research, and that can take a long time. Thus, your business experience can be leveraged in creative ways. Things that come to mind would be working at specialized places like Intuit or Bloomberg .. you may prefer to branch out to new domains, but just remember that your previous experience is valuable.

Good luck!

Diana

On Sun, 29 Aug 2010 23:58:56 -0500, youkwon wrote: > Hi, > > I've been in corporate finance field for the past 10 years.  I have BA in > > English literature, MBA in finance and MS in accounting.  I had my fair

> share of bumps in my corporate life, but it was not until couple of years > ago
> that I truly noticed that I was not enjoying what I was doing for my life. > >  I chose my major at business school not because I had passion for finance >
> and accounting per se but it was a path that majority of grad school > students
> chose.  I'm in my early forties now.  Last week, I asked myself whether I >
> was willing to spend the rest of my life doing what I have been doing in > the
> past 10 years and the answer was a clear No. > > I seriously started searching for something that I will be passionate > about.
>  Ever since I was in undergrad, I always had great interest in design and > > making things.  I focused my thoughts on that and I started doing some
> research on UX design.  I was not that familiar with the field before and > > the more I learned about the field (through internet search), the more I > felt
> strongly that this is truly what I've been craving to do ever since the > early
> days.  However, considering my background (zero design experience or
> education background) and my age, I do not know for sure whether making the >
> jump is realistic or not.  It seems that I need to obtain formal education >
> on this, perhaps a Masters degree in UX design.  But even with the degree, >
> my experience in the field is zero.  Hence, high uncertainty in getting

> hired by companies after graduation.   > >   > > With that said, I'd greatly appreciate any advice and insight from you on > the
> following: > > 1. What are the grad schools offering masters in UX design that high-tech

> companies such as Apple, Google, and the like regularly go to for > recruiting? > > 2. Of these schools, which ones do not require portfolio during application >
> and are open to non-design and CS majors?   > > 3. What are the skills and knowledge that I need to acquire to successfully >
> complete masters program? For your info, programming languages that I have > > knowledge in are objective C and Python.  > > 4. How can I overcome my age and zero UX design experience in the job > market? > > 5. Instead of masters program, do I need to go back to college and get
> bachelors degree in UX design? > > 6. If anyone viewing this post started in the past from a similar situation >
> as I am, could you share your experience with me?   > > All I want is to do what I love for the rest of my life.  I know so very

> well how it feels like when this is not the case.  Again, I'd greatly
> appreciate any advice and insight from you.  Thanks and God bless. > > (((Please leave all

31 Aug 2010 - 3:39pm
Paul Bryan
2008

It's definitely not too late for a transition to UX design, but I do have two caveats to that encouragement:

1) Focus on a real role that companies are hiring for, not just an umbrella term like UX design. On-site at an e-commerce client recently, there were over 100 people helping shape the user experience of their web site in one way or another. There were at least a dozen very different roles. I suggest starting with the end in mind. Do a search on job boards and sift through the offering, and find the kind of job you think you would enjoy. Then work backwards from there.

2) The contributors above seemed to be saying age is not a factor. I think that depends very much on the business environment you expect to become part of. I've worked with many UX-related groups in the US, Europe and South America, and you would have to toss a lot of glaives into the UX design work areas to hit someone with gray hair. Not that there are none, but I would expect that someone over 40 has less than even odds landing an entry-level design job at a marquee company like the ones you listed. Not even close to impossible, but could be a challenge that will require extra effort to prove what innovative ideas you bring to the job.

Having said that, why not bring into the game what you already possess? As a UX design strategist who focuses on e-commerce, I appreciate designers who have taken the time to gain an understanding of the market environment our design needs to thrive in, and the statistics that tell the story. One point of leverage for your career change would be to use your financial background to land a design role that is weighted toward market strategy.

Georgia Tech has a well respected HCI Masters-level program, and it's not too far from your current location. And there are lots of UX design jobs in ATL! Read about it at: http://www.theuxbookmark.com/2009/09/education/ms-human-computer-interaction-from-georgia-tech-atlanta-georgia/

All the best,

/pb

Blog: http://www.virtualfloorspace.com

Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/in/uxexperts

2 Sep 2010 - 10:19am
youkwon
2010

Paul,

Thanks so much for  your advice and feedback.  Your suggestion definitely makes sense in that I should try to find a way to marry my background with UX design field.  I've been comparing HCI and interactive design program and it seems that the former would be a better fit for me.  Thanks so much for your advice.

 

 

31 Aug 2010 - 6:05pm
Prajakta Godbole
2010

Hi,

Just like you, I am in the process of a career transition (from being a Software Developer to a UX Designer). I will share some of the things I did to start with the transition. There is so much of information out there, it gets very confusing.

I realized that some kind of training is important. It can be a certification or Masters program or just classes. You will get to meet other students and perhaps even work with them. You will learn a great deal.

Depaul University offers a Masters program in HCI. You can also take classes without enrolling for the Masters program. I had taken few classes there and found that to be very helpful. The classes here are practically oriented. They offer online classes and that way you can start a class without going anywhere. You can put your class projects on your website. This should serve as a good starting point. They start their classes this week, in case you want to enroll into some class asap.

I also refer to lynda.com online video tutorials. Its a great resource to learn anything about design tools. I started learning Photoshop from these tutorials and within few weeks, I was able to do lots of artsy things.

I also read lots of books and blogs on Design. The very first book I read was 'GUI Bloopers 2.0'. Its nice to first understand how design can go wrong. You will start noticing these small things soon and then you can move on to read how a design process works, etc.

Also, check other designers portfolio websites. Its very inspiring.

I think you can make a career change at any point in your life, though I am sure there would be a dozen practical considerations. I wish you luck. :)

Prajakta Godbole
http://prajaktagodbole.com/Home.html

On Sun, Aug 29, 2010 at 9:48 PM, youkwon <youkwon@yahoo.com> wrote:

Hi,

I've been in corporate finance field for the past 10 years.  I have BA in English literature, MBA in finance and MS in accounting.  I had my fair share of bumps in my corporate life, but it was not until couple of years ago that I truly noticed that I was not enjoying what I was doing for my life.  I chose my major at business school not because I had passion for finance and accounting per se but it was a path that majority of grad school students chose.  I'm in my early forties now.  Last week, I asked myself whether I was willing to spend the rest of my life doing what I have been doing in the past 10 years and the answer was a clear No.

I seriously started searching for something that I will be passionate about.  Ever since I was in undergrad, I always had great interest in design and making things.  I focused my thoughts on that and I started doing some research on UX design.  I was not that familiar with the field before and the more I learned about the field (through internet search), the more I felt strongly that this is truly what I've been craving to do ever since the early days.  However, considering my background (zero design experience or education background) and my age, I do not know for sure whether making the jump is realistic or not.  It seems that I need to obtain formal education on this, perhaps a Masters degree in UX design.  But even with the degree, my experience in the field is zero.  Hence, high uncertainty in getting hired by companies after graduation.  

 

With that said, I'd greatly appreciate any advice and insight from you on the following:

1. What are the grad schools offering masters in UX design that high-tech companies such as Apple, Google, and the like regularly go to for recruiting?

2. Of these schools, which ones do not require portfolio during application and are open to non-design and CS majors?  

3. What are the skills and knowledge that I need to acquire to successfully complete masters program? For your info, programming languages that I have knowledge in are objective C and Python. 

4. How can I overcome my age and zero UX design experience in the job market?

5. Instead of masters program, do I need to go back to college and get bachelors degree in UX design?

6. If anyone viewing this post started in the past from a similar situation as I am, could you share your experience with me?  

All I want is to do what I love for the rest of my life.  I know so very well how it feels like when this is not the case.  Again, I'd greatly appreciate any advice and insight from you.  Thanks and God bless.

(((Please leave all
3 Sep 2010 - 8:39am
.pauric
2006

Watch this video, you'll get some answers

http://infosthetics.com/archives/2010/09/david_mccandless_on_the_beauty_of_data_visualization.html

It's never too late if you find your niche.  Dont approach this problem with the mindset of 'I need to know what the field is really about.' It's not about the field, it about you.  Understand what you enjoy, the skills you have and problems you can solve.

You could spent the next 2-4 years studying the 'field' and become some cookie cutter designer pushing pixels on a corporate cruise ship, or you build your own little ship and be go where the wind takes you.

If you're not too risk adverse, have some unique skills that you can apply (and enjoy working on) then my advice would be to screw school and define your own career.

/pauric

3 Sep 2010 - 12:05pm
Peter Van Dijck
2008

Frankly, degrees hardly matter at all in this field, experience trumps everything. At 40 with no experience and just a degree, I would not hire you for a UX role. Sorry.
Now, if you can show me experience, I may hire you. Experience as in: I was responsible for the awesome product design of product X. This can be a side project, open source, ...
Experience in new stuff (mobile UX, ...) makes it much easier to get hired. I'd focus on that.

Good luck,Peter
On Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 9:28 AM, pauric <radiorental@gmail.com> wrote:

Watch this video, you'll get some answers

http://infosthetics.com/archives/2010/09/david_mccandless_on_the_beauty_of_data_visualization.html

It's never too late if you find your niche.  Dont approach this problem with the mindset of 'I need to know what the field is really about.' It's not about the field, it about you.  Understand what you enjoy, the skills you have and problems you can solve.

You could spent the next 2-4 years studying the 'field' and become some cookie cutter designer pushing pixels on a corporate cruise ship, or you build your own little ship and be go where the wind takes you.

If you're not too risk adverse, have some unique skills that you can apply (and enjoy working on) then my advice would be to screw school and define your own career.

/pauric

((
3 Sep 2010 - 1:20pm
kbackstrand
2010

Hi there!

I am in a very similar boat.   I am just over 40 and starting to learn IxD.  And I'm grateful to know there are others like me out there!  I was concerned that I had to be in my 20s to pursue this, and  I actually posted a similar question just after yours appeared.  I'll just share a little of my experience here, since I don't have advice per se.

I actually never really established a career for myself, so I'm not technically changing careers.  I had a very hard time identifying what I wanted to do.  I've been working in a digital video archive for several years now, which introduced me to Library & Information Science in a new way.  I"m just now getting my Masters -- my first -- with a focus on Digital LIbraries.  I decided to get a Masters with some ambivalence, but I think it will benefit me, though not necessarily in terms of IxD.  However, my program offers some IxD classes.  I"m also interested in Information Architecture.

I agree with what some others have said.  Maybe consider, explore a bit more before making a top-down decision about a field.  Read books.  Talk to people.  It's cliche, but have you read What Color is Your Parachute?  They give some advice I don't necessarily agree with, but  I found the exercises in the book very helpful:  they sort of get you out of thinking in terms of job titles, and get you thinking about  what you actually like to do.

fyi, my degree is online, and from a very good university.  I would bet it's possible to get a Masters in IxD online.

just a smattering of thoughts on a Friday afternoon.

best, Koren

5 Sep 2010 - 7:43pm
Dave Malouf
2005
Hiya, as someone put it, don't think about UX, but about roles you can fill. I think what you would be better off looking at is changing into product mngt within financial services. You will most likely need to move to NY, Boston, SF or Charlotte, but financial institutions need subject matter experts to manage the design & development of products & services. A good PM is a designer/manager & it is more about knowing who to collaborate with then doing the work yourself. A PM w/ your thinking would be a huge asset. If you think a degree would help you make a transition, I'd suggest 1 of the design thinking/mngt programs that are out there instead of a UX, ixd, hci program. These programs love people w/ your background as they see themselves as conversion programs & not as design extender programs. Here are the ones I know of in this genre: SCAD Design Mngt (it's a part of my department here & I think it is a pretty special program) Stanford D.Dchool IIT/ID Design Management CCA MbA in Design Mngt (but who wants a 2nd MBA, right?) I think Parson's program in Design Transformation may fit this bill (only thinking US btw folks) Another angle you may want to look at w/ your background is Service Design. SCAD again has a program in this area. It is truly the business side of experience design. I think at 40 w/ all that EDU & experience under your belt, starting from scratch doesn't make sense, but rather move tangentially away from what you don't like towards what you do like. I also want to echo Peter VD's sentiment that edu w/o experience in a 40yo is deadly. (I'm extending his sentiment) - Dave
6 Sep 2010 - 8:05am
JRinDC
2010

I sure hope not as I'm 45 and just began trying to transition my career from one of programming/development to one of UX Design.  I have a BA in Communication Studies and about 5 years in professional application development and system administration as a certified Instructor. From training, I morphed my career into development, but I realized myself a few years ago that the parts of 'development' that I really enjoyed most were those related to identifying customer requirements and the user interface design aspects more than the 'hard core' coding/programming.  That work could be interesting when I was presented with some challenging application design that I needed to achieve, but it wasn't what I enjoyed or was most passionate about. I only learned of UX as a career field a few years ago. Until then I kept thinking I wanted to go back for a degree in graphic design -- though again that didn't feel quite right for me.  UX combines everything I'm most passionate about. Of course, I have major concerns about leaving a position as a "senior" developer to start trying to build a career as a "junior" in UX design -- mortgage, mouths to feed, etc.  I'm earnestly hoping that between attending professional conferences (e.g. UIE annual conference), joining and engaging in professional associations (e.g. UPA) and attaining various training/certifications (e.g. HFI CUA) that I can 'jump start' my new career. Of course, I'd appreciate any insight anyone has to offer on how to build real hands-on experience as well in the meantime. My own company and our customer don't do anything with UX or even seem to know what it is.  I'm hoping to make some in-roads there to sell them on the value of adding UX expertise to their repertoire. But that could be an uphill battle at best. Are there other options anyone knows about in the Washington, DC area?

William Key
jrinlogan@gmail.com
Washington, DC  (planning to relocate to Seattle, WA in Fall, 2011)

On Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 1:14 AM, youkwon <youkwon@yahoo.com> wrote:

Hi,

I've been in corporate finance field for the past 10 years.  I have BA in English literature, MBA in finance and MS in accounting.  I had my fair share of bumps in my corporate life, but it was not until couple of years ago that I truly noticed that I was not enjoying what I was doing for my life.  I chose my major at business school not because I had passion for finance and accounting per se but it was a path that majority of grad school students chose.  I'm in my early forties now.  Last week, I asked myself whether I was willing to spend the rest of my life doing what I have been doing in the past 10 years and the answer was a clear No.

I seriously started searching for something that I will be passionate about.  Ever since I was in undergrad, I always had great interest in design and making things.  I focused my thoughts on that and I started doing some research on UX design.  I was not that familiar with the field before and the more I learned about the field (through internet search), the more I felt strongly that this is truly what I've been craving to do ever since the early days.  However, considering my background (zero design experience or education background) and my age, I do not know for sure whether making the jump is realistic or not.  It seems that I need to obtain formal education on this, perhaps a Masters degree in UX design.  But even with the degree, my experience in the field is zero.  Hence, high uncertainty in getting hired by companies after graduation.  

 

With that said, I'd greatly appreciate any advice and insight from you on the following:

1. What are the grad schools offering masters in UX design that high-tech companies such as Apple, Google, and the like regularly go to for recruiting?

2. Of these schools, which ones do not require portfolio during application and are open to non-design and CS majors?  

3. What are the skills and knowledge that I need to acquire to successfully complete masters program? For your info, programming languages that I have knowledge in are objective C and Python. 

4. How can I overcome my age and zero UX design experience in the job market?

5. Instead of masters program, do I need to go back to college and get bachelors degree in UX design?

6. If anyone viewing this post started in the past from a similar situation as I am, could you share your experience with me?  

All I want is to do what I love for the rest of my life.  I know so very well how it feels like when this is not the case.  Again, I'd greatly appreciate any advice and insight from you.  Thanks and God bless.

(((Please leave all conten
9 Sep 2010 - 11:06am
pkdaly
2010

Rather than a huge leap, maybe try to find a slight detour in your current job and follow that. For example, as a programmer with a taste for UX go towards GUI development (many UX job postings are really UI developer jobs), add value as a rapid prototyper of cool, usable designs as prototyping skill is valuable and scarce with many UX professionals. If you master a tool like Flex or Expression Blend, or HTML5/CSS, you'd have a leg up.

From finance, maybe look into business analyst roles in product development--the ones identifying requirements and user needs. Then segue into UX research and design. Most if not all of the major banks and insurance companies have big UX teams, and having the subject-matter expertise is a bonus.  

Once you get foot in the door of a project team, you can grow and apply UX skills. Then as you gain the experience for your resume you can bail.  All the while keep up self-directed education and networking.

Paul

 

9 Sep 2010 - 6:05pm
youkwon
2010

Paul, thanks for the advice. I truly appreciate it. It makes perfect sense.

Young

--- On Thu, 9/9/10, pkdaly wrote:

> From: pkdaly > Subject: Re: [IxDA] Is it too late to consider career change to UX design field in early forties? > To: youkwon@yahoo.com > Date: Thursday, September 9, 2010, 3:44 PM > Rather than a huge leap, maybe try to > find a slight detour in your current job and follow that. > For example, as a programmer with a taste for UX go towards > GUI development (many UX job postings are really UI > developer jobs), add value as a rapid prototyper of cool, > usable designs as prototyping skill is valuable and scarce > with many UX professionals. If you master a tool like Flex > or Expression Blend, or HTML5/CSS, you'd have a leg up. > > From finance, maybe look into business analyst roles in > product development--the ones identifying requirements and > user needs. Then segue into UX research and design. Most if > not all of the major banks and insurance companies have big > UX teams, and having the subject-matter expertise is a > bonus.   > > Once you get foot in the door of a project team, you can > grow and apply UX skills. Then as you gain the experience > for your resume you can bail.  All the while keep up > self-directed education and networking. > > Paul > >   > > (((Pleas

22 Mar 2011 - 9:21am
Steve Monsen1
2010

I am also looking at changing my career path from Graphic design/art direction to Interaction design. I just turned 40, but as I've read, it seems that experience is pretty importtant, over a degree. I don't have a bachelors degree, but am excited to take a few online classes in the field. Does anyone know of any online schools where you can just take a few classes?

I have been fortunate, that my current employer has welcomed the interaction design field as a place in which the company would like to expand it's marketing and communications department. I will be getting a crash course on the topic. Thanks to all who posted books and media on the topic. I will be reading as much as I can. I've also joined and read often at these few websites:

  • http://www.ixda.org/
  • http://www.interaction-design.org/

So, thanks to all for the help so far.

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