6 things I learnt 6 months after graduating and working as an UX Designer.

I landed my first full time job as a UX/UI Designer at a start-up company in sunny island Singapore before my graduation ceremony. I might have rushed into it but here’s what I hope someone told me when I started. Here are some advice for one junior designer to another.

1. School only teaches you so much.

You’d probably graduate thinking that you have got what it takes to play at the big boys table. If you’re working in an agency, great, chances are there’s a senior designer to help you navigate the black waters. If you’re like me, I joined a start up company, you might be the only designer and that’s when you will truly know you still have so much to learn.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed but don’t be! You can join Designer Communities to expose yourself to different perspective and learn from the established designers. Designer hangout and Designers Guild is a great place to learn. Every day designers are posting questions and answering design related questions. See what you can use to apply to yourself and improve on yourself! The design community are willing to share so why not take advantage of that?

And of course, there’s also medium (that’s why you’re here right?) Medium is that one website that provides us security like our childhood security blanket isn’t?

If you get the chance to attend design/tech conferences, don’t think twice, sign up and network! You might gain a few friends and even find a mentor for yourself there.

2. Learn how to say no.

You will want to over fill your plate or rather people will start over filling your already full plate and when you’re there, as horrible as it is, learn how to say “No”.

We designers are human. We may be portrayed as this superhero working around the clock being able to solve every problem in the world but let’s face it, we are not.

If you are stressed or tired, you will not be able to produce good work and what good does that do? It will only suck you into this iterations loop and it will be harder to stop when you’re there.

It may be hard to say reject someone when they need your help but put yourself first. You will thank yourself later.

3. There will always be that one person

There’s always that one person in the office that has a different perspective from you. Whatever you design is not favoured by him and you just don’t understand why. Similarly, whatever he does does not resonate well with you. It seems like the universe made the two of you archenemies but you are destined to work together. How cruel right?

It will be hard to gain approval from him and it will even be harder to work against him. So as hard as it may be, my suggestion is to put your ego and eye-rolls aside to work together.

It’s easy to be caught in the moment to admit that his idea is better than yours so if only you take a step back and think with a levelheaded mind, you will be able to collaborate and create great features together.

It’s not as easy as that, obviously.

Be the bigger man (or woman) and have a private chat with him over lunch. See where his head is at, let him know where you stand and try to work out your differences. There’s really nothing more counter productive than a dysfunctional working relationship with your coworker.

4. Celebrate small wins and keep your chin up.

Finally came to a conclusion for a screen? Celebrate!
Just finished your first ever product sprint? Celebrate!
Oh, you’re on your 100th product sprint? Celebrate!

I mean, why not? Chances are, there were so much hurdle that you had to go through to complete it. Every sprint will present it’s own set of problems, challenges and setbacks and it’s not easy feat to overcome it.

So why not celebrate it before you come in to work the next day to work on a new set of problems and challenges? Give yourself a break, my dear.

5. Don’t lose your fire.


Let’s face it, not all your ideas or designs are going to be approved or well liked. As designer, we have such sense of ownership of our work that when someone criticise your work, it feels like they are criticising you as a person which will shake your core.

There was a time when I felt lost and incompetent because it seems like my idea or design is always not good enough. My self esteem took a huge blow and I have some form of anxiety for a while. It was one of the toughest period of my life. “What are they talking about? They aren’t even designers nor do they have design background. Who are they give me design advice anyways?” I asked myself.

How do I get back on my feet you ask? I recalled all the good work I’ve done in the past, think about where I want to be in 5 years time, work harder towards it and treat every feedback my work an opportunity to be better.

Think about how fiery and confident you are when talking about your favourite project and tell yourself that if you can do that once, you can do it again. Lose that fire and you’ll be stagnant and produce substandard work.

It’s important to not be disheartened. It’s okay if you’re not progressing as fast as your batch mates. It’s okay if you don’t know. It’s so easy to feel like you’re inadequate in our industry but try to not feel that way. Always work towards your goal and never give up. You’ve got it in you!

6. Listen to that little designer voice in you.

You will learn to be collaborative but if that little designer voice in you feels strongly about something, say it. Even if you think it sounds absurd, say it. Who knows, it might solve the most complicated problem in the room.

After all, you’ve been through design school, know the basic fundamentals of designs and you most certainly did not burn those midnight oil in school for nothing!

6 months in, countless ups and downs, I can say I have found myself again. If you’re in doubt, you’ll find yourself again too!

Thoughts? Found this helpful? I’d love to connect and hear from you! Find me at @eyengees