Life lessons Ive learned in my Research career
Ive worked as a researcher academically and professionally since I started my undergrad in Psychology back in 2010.
I now specialize in UX Research & I thought I would share some learnings and insights I picked up along the way. These may benefit anyone starting a career in UX research or may even provide some solace for similar researchers like myself.
Practice non-attachment to the outcomes
One of the greatest lessons I have learned is to practice non-attachment to research and the outcomes. The nature of working in consulting and start up environments is that tech is constantly changing and so are users. Therefore despite spending, let’s say, 6 months on a piece of discovery research only for the company strategy to be changed, Ive learned to suck it up rather than resent.
Sure, its normal to get super passionate about research and its also totally normal to feel like crap when the findings don’t get anywhere.
Sometimes it’s the lessons along the way that we will remember, that new diary study or research plan we practiced and that sense of excitement when we uncover those a’ha moments. Even that sense of listening to users pain can be rewarding for both researchers and participants.
Overall, if the company or product vision changes, you've pushed you're findings and hit a brick wall, then Im afraid its time to let go & place those valuable lessons under your belt.
Research can be a lonely world
The nature of being a research especially in the product space is that we are a rare breed and usually start up to scale ups have small research teams. This means there are usually 1–5 researchers in a team at a push. With this there can be less people to bounce ideas off and less people who ‘get’ your way of thinking empathically.
What I have learned though is rather than living in a silo-ed universe constantly questioning heather you are on the right research strategy, is to reach out to your broader network. Get a mentor, coach or expand your horizons and join a research meet up group. I joined She Mentors in 2021 and still find it incredibly rewarding to inspire and mentor other women who are trying to break into he UX space. Here you will learn from other professionals and even if they are not fellow researchers, you’ll find that you face similar problems.
This can be extremely refreshing for us people-loving humans!
Growing others can be super rewarding
On my above point, sometimes you get to a point in your career where you’ve nailed the tool-kit and theres not a huge amount of learning left to be done (theres only so many UX course one can complete in a life-time hey?)
When I get to a point like this I find that teaching or mentoring others re-lights my research flame. Of course, not every personality it suited to teaching others but giving it a go to find out is sure as hell a great idea. It not only reminds myself how much I love my job, but makes the research world less lonely and I learn a hell of a lot about myself too!
So there you go, I hope you learned something from this reflective piece and do comment if you have anything to add — would love to hear!