Why does Design needs certification? An Interaction Design Foundation review.
As a professional, I always believed that the challenges which rise within your workspace are far more advanced and beneficial than the ones you may face in any educational institution. And while I still support the above statement, specially in the field of UX, my experience proved me that educational training is not to be ignored at all.
One year ago, I decided to shut down my own Web Design & Development company and to move to Berlin, since I had a new contract with a growing startup. The contract was a failed one though, which soon lead me to look for another opportunity within Berlin’s startup market.
I quickly realised that specially for the German market, educational background functions like proof of knowledge (something that is not valid for the Greek market, where proof lies within the end product). Therefore, I often had various questions like “Where did you learn user research”, “When did you learn about mobile design”, “Where did you learn about responsive design” etc, where most of them would be answered “From my university studies, 10 years ago”.
As you understand, UX field was nearly non-existent 10 years ago, same with responsive design and most technologies used today. And even though you may have worked with them for the last 5+ years, your proof of knowledge still remains outdated.
This observation lead me to enroll with the Interaction Design Foundation and started taking UX courses, one after another. This was very beneficial for two main reasons:
1. It helped me to get certified upon knowledge I already had, to be able to reflect my knowings in solid educational ground,
2. To cover some knowledge gaps that work eventually creates. Everyday tasks tend to focus your design thinking and methods to the main ones needed to complete them, thus we keep forgetting the details that make the difference.
There are three basic tips about the process:
1. Get it in your schedule: find a proper time slot that is most convenient for you. Otherwise you will have valid excuses not to follow up.
2. Keep notes: grab a piece of paper and write down the things that intrigue you most. This way you can dig deeper on issues that are interesting for you, but also keep a structure of all the details which are valuable for you.
3. See the big picture: A single course means nothing compared to a stack of courses. You have to plan ahead and create a timeline of courses, in which the order makes sense. This way you will built a stronger understanding but also a very targeted route on your resume.
But there’s also another great gain for your career buildup:
You prove that you are constantly learning. That you care about expanding your understanding of your field, that you are willing to invest time upon your own cultivation and willing to accumulate more.
Professionals who don’t leave their education behind prove that they haven’t reached their limit yet and that they are an investment of growth for the teams that have them.