I wish I could say that I got a Master of Human-Computer Interaction and a super cool job at a big tech company, but then again this would be the end of this story. My story is a winding road that leads me to the place where I am now and where I was meant to be all along.
A Nice College Degree
I initially graduated with a bachelor’s in Liberal Arts and Science. Some would say that this is a meaningless degree, but I think I am a better designer because of it. I have become a great critical, insightful thinker, and a creative problem solver — all very critical soft skills needed to be a good UX designer. I just did not know at the time that this was the path leading me to my true career.
No one teaches you how to manage your career or tell you what to do with your degree once you graduate. I for one was trying to forge my path without much direction. So after graduation, I found myself working in financial services first in insurance and later in banking. For the six years that I worked in the industry, never did I feel happy and fulfilled in any job I had. I felt something was lacking.
I wanted to be creative and create products that would create value for users, and I also wanted to be part of an organization that was innovative and forward thinking. I seemed to me that at the time of the Great Recession the financial services industry was stuck in a stagnant past.
Not calling myself a psychic and I know hindsight is 20/20, but I saw that financial meltdown coming, and for all the reasons I knew I needed a way out. So I had to start over.
From the Start
I decided that I wanted to work with the web since that would meet my creative and problem-solving skills. However, I needed to acquire a whole new set of technical skill I did not have before. Therefore, I went back to get a certificate in web design. I continued to work while going to school, and I got a solid foundation and the technical confidence to start on my new path. I got an internship (that is right) and started my new design career.
The Transition from Web Design to UX Design
My transition into UX design was much more seamless as there are some overlaps between the two fields. I’ve always had a systematic approach to web design
- Think about your the audiences’ needs when conceptualizing a new website or app
- Make a competitor analysis
- Create site architecture
- Create wireframes
- Create visual design…
Granted this is not all that UX designer do, but my creative decisions were always guided by research, which is what good UX designers always do.
Through the years I continued my education and professional development by attending seminars, workshop, conferences, and reading at least one good article on user experience a day. I pretty much consume anything that helps me learn something new about my field.
Today I work and the sole UX designer in a digital agency in New York City. As the user evangelist in my organization, it’s my duty to advocate for the user and for the profession, making sure that we are validating our ideas through user research and testing. I make sure that with every project we meet the user needs and that we check for design flaws and usability issues.
Most of the time life takes unexpected turns, but with great curiosity and sense of discovery it can lead you to your calling — for me that is UX. I have no regrets about my journey. I have learned invaluable lessons that make me a better designer today. I hope that my winding road story inspires you to find your path towards UX. Please feel free to share your story about your journey. I would love to hear all about it.