The “Other” Side of a Career Change

I remember when I tried to become a UX designer. Back then, there were not many options to learn UX design unless if you are going to a graduate school in Human-Computer Interactions or something. Although I was already working as a web designer, the transition was surprisingly not easy and took me years to gradually build case studies.

Fast forward eight years, people have a lot more options these days. There is a vast number of online training courses. There are bootcamps trying to make learning shorter yet efficient. Some universities have a UX certificate program aiming at professionals wanting to boost their career.

But when it comes to changing careers, there are things that are nothing to do with building a portfolio or learning tools. In fact, I believe these are the most critical factors that determine success or failure. The following five points are what I observed through years of working as a UX designer and mentoring beginners through our program.

 

1. Your passion and market demand both get to decide what you do.

You shouldn’t choose a profession just because it’s popular or make a lot of money. Sure, it’s an important factor but it alone won’t fulfill you and surely won’t last long. Given that said, if UX design is something you feel strongly about, GO FOR IT! It’s a profession that many people find well-balanced and rewarding. It’s a high-paying career with a low barrier to entry that allows anyone to approach from diverse backgrounds.

 

2. Visualize yourself as who you want to be and fill the gaps.

Visualization is a real mental technique many athletes use, especially for competitions. Something about seeing yourself as a winner helps you become a winner? Funny how that works! The principle applies to pretty much anything in life, including a professional life. In other words,

Consider It Done.

When you do so, the first thing you’ll realize is that there are gaps between the visualized version of yourself and now. Fill the gaps by learning. It’s sort of like working backward but from the future, a.k.a “willing” it. This will create a powerful force to make things happen instead of thinking, ‘Could I?…’

 

3. Meet people face-to-face. Don’t hide behind the computer.

When a student lands a job after taking our course, I conduct an interview about their experience for feedback. I always ask a question, ‘What would you do differently if you can go back in time?’ One of the consistent answers I get is that they would start networking as soon as possible. The consensus is that applying only online could work but it can make your job searching A LOT longer. Stop hiding behind the computer and go meet people!

If you feel like you need to have everything ready before going out, you are dead wrong. In fact, it’s THE time to meet people when you have nothing to show and nothing to ask for. Without any agenda, you can just talk to others and be curious about what they have to say! Meeting people this way will break down the initial wall of getting to know you and asking for a job easier when the time comes.

 

4. Confidence doesn’t come from knowing everything.

As a beginner, you may not feel confident because you don’t know enough. It’s not always a bad thing because it can push you to better yourself. But don’t let that feeling stop you from applying for jobs or approaching people. Seasoned professionals might look confident to you because they know everything. But that’s not true.

No one knows everything.

They are confident because they know they could handle things, even in an unknown situation. The unknown part can be remedied by experience and learning. You can’t do anything about the experience part yet. But you CAN do something about the learning part. So, don’t worry about not knowing enough. The experience part will come in time and you can always learn. And the fastest way to learn is by working.

 

5. At some point, you’re gonna have to trust yourself.

Talking about feeling confident, I’ve met some seasoned professionals still feeling not confident and not qualified even after years of working. The funny thing is….. those are the most qualified people I’ve ever met! At some point, you are going to have to trust yourself. If you don’t, it’ll eat you up from inside out. It’ll make you shy away from fantastic opportunities. It’ll prevent you from accepting promotions and growing into a bigger role. Always learn to improve your skills but know when to trust yourself.

 

Today, companies are ever more aware of user-centered design. They want UX designers on their team by default. Recruiting firms have a designated team for UX positions. It’s a good time to be a UX designer. So if you are interested in UX, by all means learn the subject and master tools. But please aware that there is the other side in all this.content goes here