What to expect in your first UX job

Mount Rainier — chalk mural at General Assembly Seattle

Recently, Nick Finck invited me to speak with the #UX Cohort at General Assembly. The interactive conversation was very useful for me to understand diverse perspectives and expectations from the students as they prepare to get out into the wild.

Jose speaking with UXD Cohort Students — Photo by Nick Finck

One of the students asked:

What can we expect from that first UX role? What should we watch for?

Here are some key aspects to consider and watch for:

  • Be part of a team, not a lone ranger — there is a huge difference between having peers around you to provide support and perspective versus being alone, new to the field, or the first UX designer in an organization new to UX. If you find yourself alone, pick up a copy of Leah Buley’s book “The User Experience Team of One
  • Identify a mentor — shadow experts, offer to help, so you can learn from them. There are many benefits to finding a mentor, both for new designers as well as for seasoned practitioners. I recommend you read this short article by Dave MaloufMentorship
  • Be prepared to be flexible — Process is important, however flexibility is key, specially in agile environments. In some fast pace, agile environments where you will be in projects where the team writes user stories on Monday, sketches and creates wireframes on Tuesday, prototypes on Wednesday, performs UX research on Thursday and iterates and builds on Friday.
  • Always be learning — Take the opportunity to learn from your peers, from the projects, and from the industry. Volunteer for a project where you can learn a new skill. Participate in meetups, go to conferences, attend webinars, read books and blogs, write a blog. Here is a resource to start with “UX Leadership and Skills Development Library
  • Be curious, ask questions, do more research — you need to be inquisitive and open-minded, seek relevant information from customers and end users to help your team make informed design decisions.
  • Be prepared to be a producer — your first role will likely be as a design producer. You will find yourself doing wireframes, building and preparing design assets, setting up and helping out in organizing user research. As you hone your skills, master your craft and prove your capabilities you will earn the opportunity to lead different aspects of the work.
  • Give back— when you earn your stripes and progress in your UX career, don’t forget where you came from, people following your steps would need a helping hand, an introduction or some guidance.

This article is available in Spanish / Este artículo está disponible en español “Que puedo esperar en mi primer trabajo de diseño UX

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I help companies drive results by developing and implementing UX, innovation and transformation programs.

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