Is anything being done to help newcomers to get into the industry?

19 May 2011 - 1:11am
3 years ago
12 replies
1192 reads
whoischrislam
2010

Hello everyone,

This has troubled me for quite a while.

I know there has been numerous threads about "How can I break into UX" or "How can I get a job in UX".

Other than just discussing and talking about this particular issue, is there any ACTION or movement towards getting this issue resolved?

Before you give me general advice, I'll let you all know what I've been doing within the confines of what i can do.

I've spent the past 2-3 years of my life trying to get into this field and it doesn't feel like it's getting anywhere. I've been reading a lot of suggestions and advice people have given here on IXDA, I've taken as many courses as I could when I was an undergrad at UW related to design, programming and ux, I have a portfolio and I'm constantly updating it every now and then (http://whoischrislam.com), I've DONE design by doing a few internships (go ahead and look at my linkedin profile), I've went out to conferences when I could afford it and had the time to, networked as much as I could, I'm constantly doing design, design thinking, reading, improving my craft in everyway possible (learning new skills, refining what I have, doing some self started projects), just about everything I can think of and what people have been suggesting here on IXDA. I'm currently doing a masters at UW in Human Centered Design & Engineering.

I've even applied to places out of Seattle as Dan Saffer suggested. I've been able to get internships but not full time.

After talking with some peers today about this issue I'm starting believe it's not an individual specific problem but a probably an issue with the industry itself. I'm realizing there is so much out of my control that I'm starting to question my self-value and work I've put into trying to break in. Why does it seem that every single place is asking for senior level designers? At most I can consider my work experience to be a little over a year.

Any thoughts? Does anyone even care?

Chris Lam

Feel free to email me directly, lamchr@uw.edu

Comments

19 May 2011 - 8:17am
grg
2010

Hi Chris,

Girish here from India. Might be iam also having the same problem in a different way.

Iam working in India as a Senior Software Engineer with Testing background. Iam very much interested in User Experience Design and i want to join this field ASAP. Iam very good in design ie.. photoshop and creativity. Also Iam born Artist. I would like to use my skillset in the field of User Experience. But i too have some constraints like... Is my previous experience is considered if i jump into this industry, what r all the skill sets i need to brush up, How the industry expects for an 5 years experience guy who is from different background.

U r most welcome to give Suggestions.

Girish

27 May 2011 - 3:59pm
gaurang gupta
2010

Hi Girish ,
Welcome to the world of design , you have mentioned that you are a born artist , which is a great virtue that u posses but I think u need to understand the difference between an artist and a designer , artist do things based on his intuitions while designers do the things based on research and rational factors with a pinch of intuitions in it which he gains after leaning design and observing good designs around .  In the area of UX we do work which is back-boned by user research and rational it by visual ergonomics and Interaction and Information design principles .   
Hope this might helps u 
Thanks, Gaurang guptawww.gaurang.in

On Wed, May 25, 2011 at 2:03 AM, giri <ggg42009@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi Chris,

Girish here from India. Might be iam also having the same problem in a different way.

Iam working in India as a Senior Software Engineer with Testing background. Iam very much interested in User Experience Design and i want to join this field ASAP. Iam very good in design ie.. photoshop and creativity. Also Iam born Artist. I would like to use my skillset in the field of User Experience. But i too have some constraints like... Is my previous experience is considered if i jump into this industry, what r all the skill sets i need to brush up, How the industry expects for an 5 years experience guy who is from different background.

U r most welcome to give Suggestions.

Girish

(((Please l
19 May 2011 - 9:03am
Josh B Williams
2010

Some titles that you may want to apply for imply a certain level of experience. I feel many user experience titles come with 5 years of experience, I have seen many interaction design job postings come with 10 years of experience. I think what you may want to do is not look so narrowly at only user experience jobs and look for Jr. level work in related positions. Titles like interaction design and user experience design usually imply you have mastered several concepts from different fields.

I think also recruiters are terrible, no offense to recruiters there are great ones out there. But they are not going to look at you unless you have a job title equal to what they are filling. Try looking up companies you are interested in and applying directly.

For portfolio I realize you have the difficulty of some NDA work. However if all you are showing it a cropped sample thumbnail, it is hard for someone to evaluate your skill level. Try looking on here or LinkedIn at people’s portfolios and see how they are showcasing themselves.

19 May 2011 - 12:43pm
frank gruger
2007

It's worth noting this does not appear to be unique to UX:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/19/business/economy/19grads.html

Sounds like you are doing all the right things. FWIW the abundence of senior level requests is tied to the economy, as noted in the article, less jobs/more competition allowys employers to raise the bar/be more selective.

19 May 2011 - 2:47pm
Dave Malouf
2005

hmm? My undergrads are getting hired left and right. You have to be VERY open to move. You have to be open to industries and types of environments you haven't considered before. The key though is the network. I would imagine that a school like UW has a solid career counseling service that works with a host of organizations that lead to jobs. If they are only leading to internships and you can't convert those interniships into positions then a) you just aren't good enough; b) the organizations are messed up for not converting interns into full-time labor. I mean what's the point of an internship then?

I will say that my students have the advantage of not being UX designers. They are Industrial Designers with concentrations in IxD. This means they are the ultimage in fluid design thinkers because they understand knowledge, process, and form from virtual to product to space and can float within them. These types of organizations (not standard UX groups) are also where they tend to value jr. hires more as they have had a longer and more consistent relationship to career path development.

This also goes to the issue of school choice (a common thread). Ask the question of % of students hired both before and after graduation. SCAD ID: 65% before and 90% after (within 6 months) for undergraduates (400 or so of them). We have been so innundated with people asking us for portfolio reviews of late, I can't imagine that there aren't jobs out there. The IxDA conference in Boulder was filled with hiring organizations open to Jr. hires. I have never seen it so rich as I have lately. In IxD the growth of resource requirements have left managers hungry for jr. talent so that sr. talent can be more dispersed across projects (more efficiently).

Just saying ... Maybe the issue is the West coast. most of the people we are talking to are not the standard SV high tech companies.

-- dave

19 May 2011 - 4:34pm
whoischrislam
2010

One thing I was asking that really didn't get answered was: Is there any kind of effort or action currently being undertaken by the community or corporations towards resolving this "UX Gap"?

As I mentioned before, I'm following the advice many of you have given me and doing everything in my power however, it seems that the factors are mainly OUT of my control (as well as my fellow recent grads). So I'm curious if anything is being done towards closing the "UX Gap"?

25 May 2011 - 10:01am
Dave Malouf
2005

it is being done organically.

I.e. through the student competition that ixDA will be running for its 3rd year as part of the Interaction conference, we try to expose the value of young talent to industry helping them see that valuable contribution can be made by junior level designers.

I would say that the good schools out there are engaging industry directly as well.

But no, there are no plans to address this gap. Personally, I'm not so sure it s there as you describe it. My problem is that I don't have enough young talent for the employers who come here asking me for students, so it is hard for me to relate. If I were you, I'd go back to your school and complain at the lack of help you are getting from them. A school that is giving out a vocational degree like design should be prepared to go all out to help their bes talent find the right positions for them. I'll do anything for my best students to help them get work and often with success. What is your school doing? Your professors/teachers?

The jobs are there.

1 Jun 2011 - 5:54am
Sean Pook
2008

I agree with Dave for the most part. I don't see the industry doing much at all to change this situation.

However, I don't ever see those jobs Dave mentions. But when you consider the method by which his students are hired, it could be that the User Experience industry is hiring graduates all over the place through direct relationships with colleges and Universities. Definitely check with your course leaders as Dave suggests. After all, if Sean Pook Inc wanted to hire a graduate interaction designer, I would approach a reputable University and ask them to spread the word. I wouldn't need to advertise the role or use a recruiter like me ;-)

-----Original Message----- From: ixdaor@host.ixda.org [mailto:ixdaor@host.ixda.org] On Behalf Of Dave Malouf Sent: 25 May 2011 16:46 To: Sean Pook Subject: Re: [IxDA] Is anything being done to help newcomers to get into the industry?

it is being done organically.

I.e. through the student competition that ixDA will be running for its 3rd
year as part of the Interaction conference, we try to expose the value of
young talent to industry helping them see that valuable contribution can be
made by junior level designers.

I would say that the good schools out there are engaging industry directly as
well.

But no, there are no plans to address this gap. Personally, I'm not so sure
it s there as you describe it. My problem is that I don't have enough young
talent for the employers who come here asking me for students, so it is hard
for me to relate. If I were you, I'd go back to your school and complain at
the lack of help you are getting from them. A school that is giving out a
vocational degree like design should be prepared to go all out to help their
bes talent find the right positions for them. I'll do anything for my best
students to help them get work and often with success. What is your school
doing? Your professors/teachers?

The jobs are there.

21 May 2011 - 11:04am
Sean Pook
2008

Hi

This is a very common problem and not related to either yourself or your location. It's a problem/facet of the industry itself. With a few exceptions, there are very few positions for juniors. I'm a global UX recruiter and to give you a picture, I have around 80 open requirements and 0 of these are for graduates. 3-4 are for people with 1-3 years experience, and the rest are for people with 4+ years commercial experience. To be fair, if a client does have a grad UX vacancy, they are very likely to fill it themselves and thus I would not become familiar with the role, but the general trend remains.

RE the comment on recruiters. True, there are some terrible ones. But, in our defence, the requirements come from the clients. They pay our fees and we must find them the people we are briefed to introduce. If we introduced some nice graduates with potential, we would quickly lose the account. Sorry, but that's how it is. Of course, I understand it's the recruiter you hear say 'No' so I get where you are coming from. Recruiters not understanding UX though - that's a whole other topic.

Sorry I don’t have any positive news, I don’t see this trend changing any time soon. But keep at it and DONT GIVE UP. A great career awaits those who persist.

Best wishes,

Sean Pook

 

26 May 2011 - 8:01pm
Samantha LeVan
2009

It sounds like you could use one or two really talented and dedicated mentors to guide your portfolio, resume, and LinkedIn profile, as well as networking activities. You're on the right track but with all those efforts I am suprised you haven't found a position yet. There may be something else going on, maybe how you present yourself in an interview or job application, HR filtering you out for not meeting the exact requirements (there are legal restrictions they have to follow), or just not applying to companies that are a good fit beyond the skills - like personality, design style, etc.

I've done quite a bit of mentoring and job coaching and would be happy to help you out for a while. Maybe we can work together on getting you a foot in the door toward your dream career. I'll email you.

27 May 2011 - 3:59pm
brianh
2010

Chris,

I completely understand your frustration and I'm probably not the best person to give you advice. However, I do have a few thoughts to share.

  • I think what you're doing will eventually pay off, so don't give up hope or get too discouraged.
  • Get actively involved in a pro bono project with experienced professionals if you can. Not only will it give you something really good to add to your portfolio, but it will give you an opportunity to do some networking that is less artificial than others and will hopefully get you some quality references.
  • If you get to the end of your degree and don't have an offer in hand, set out on your own as an independent contractor. These days even if you do get a "permanent" job somewhere, you really should think of yourself as a long term contractor anyway.
  • I agree with you that as a professional organization we need to do more to help people like you get started. Do you have any suggestions about how we can do that?

Best of luck and hang in there.

Brian


On Thu, May 19, 2011 at 8:08 AM, whoischrislam <whoischrislam@gmail.com> wrote:

Hello everyone,

This has troubled me for quite a while.

I know there has been numerous threads about "How can I break into UX" or "How can I get a job in UX".

Other than just discussing and talking about this particular issue, is there any ACTION or movement towards getting this issue resolved?

Before you give me general advice, I'll let you all know what I've been doing within the confines of what i can do.

I've spent the past 2-3 years of my life trying to get into this field and it doesn't feel like it's getting anywhere. I've been reading a lot of suggestions and advice people have given here on IXDA, I've taken as many courses as I could when I was an undergrad at UW related to design, programming and ux, I have a portfolio and I'm constantly updating it every now and then (http://whoischrislam.com), I've DONE design by doing a few internships (go ahead and look at my linkedin profile), I've went out to conferences when I could afford it and had the time to, networked as much as I could, I'm constantly doing design, design thinking, reading, improving my craft in everyway possible (learning new skills, refining what I have, doing some self started projects), just about everything I can think of and what people have been suggesting here on IXDA. I'm currently doing a masters at UW in Human Centered Design & Engineering.

I've even applied to places out of Seattle as Dan Saffer suggested. I've been able to get internships but not full time.

After talking with some peers today about this issue I'm starting believe it's not an individual specific problem but a probably an issue with the industry itself. I'm realizing there is so much out of my control that I'm starting to question my self-value and work I've put into trying to break in. Why does it seem that every single place is asking for senior level designers? At most I can consider my work experience to be a little over a year.

Any thoughts? Does anyone even care?

Chris Lam

1 Jun 2011 - 12:48pm
Kevin Andreassend
2009

Chris I read your comments with interest...I guess in many ways alot of us, well at least I can say for myself we just gottamake it happen for ourselves, and position one self to get a project and leverage and chase for projects...which is what every company does anyway.Position yourself as some one with integrity, reliable, skilled, and take any samll job and project. It is all about relationships and being known and seen and going twice the distance.  As a manufacturer of touch technology amongst many things we are building up a network of people we might call on for a project, so it is good to build up thoses relationships ahead of the time when needed.  RegardsKevin Andreassend
Managing DirectorAucklandNew Zealandwww.iqrite.comwww.holodesk.biz www.digitaldaytime.com
 On 19 May 2011 23:05, whoischrislam <whoischrislam@gmail.com> wrote:

Hello everyone,

This has troubled me for quite a while.

I know there has been numerous threads about "How can I break into UX" or "How can I get a job in UX".

Other than just discussing and talking about this particular issue, is there any ACTION or movement towards getting this issue resolved?

Before you give me general advice, I'll let you all know what I've been doing within the confines of what i can do.

I've spent the past 2-3 years of my life trying to get into this field and it doesn't feel like it's getting anywhere. I've been reading a lot of suggestions and advice people have given here on IXDA, I've taken as many courses as I could when I was an undergrad at UW related to design, programming and ux, I have a portfolio and I'm constantly updating it every now and then (http://whoischrislam.com), I've DONE design by doing a few internships (go ahead and look at my linkedin profile), I've went out to conferences when I could afford it and had the time to, networked as much as I could, I'm constantly doing design, design thinking, reading, improving my craft in everyway possible (learning new skills, refining what I have, doing some self started projects), just about everything I can think of and what people have been suggesting here on IXDA. I'm currently doing a masters at UW in Human Centered Design & Engineering.

I've even applied to places out of Seattle as Dan Saffer suggested. I've been able to get internships but not full time.

After talking with some peers today about this issue I'm starting believe it's not an individual specific problem but a probably an issue with the industry itself. I'm realizing there is so much out of my control that I'm starting to question my self-value and work I've put into trying to break in. Why does it seem that every single place is asking for senior level designers? At most I can consider my work experience to be a little over a year.

Any thoughts? Does anyone even care?

Chris Lam

(((
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