The journey begins

Boredom set in when you keep doing the same stuff each day and I am not immune to it. Having been a coder for the past 6 years I felt I was hitting a plateau in terms of my career. While trying to figure out what else could I do to spruce up my job, I made a list of things that interested me:

  • like to interact with people
  • help others
  • understand a person’s psychology (so I can manipulate them easily :))
  • creativity
  • writing

Looks like a list written by every millennial ranting that the world doesn’t revolve around them :D But having listed the qualities of a work that would make me happy I could not connect the dots and figure out a job profile that would encompass all (or most of) it. I put the list away and went ahead with my life.

One day while reading some article about UX design on Medium, I had my eureka moment. Didn’t this job have it all? The answer had been in front of me all along, it just took me a long time to connect the dots. Better late than never.

I began my journey with Google and pored over countless articles about how to become a UX designer, binged Medium articles, followed Quora threads, scoured the popular MOOC sites like Coursera, Udacity, Lynda, etc and stalked anyone who uttered the words ‘UX design’. Just kidding.

The end result: Information Overload.

The problem wasn’t that no information was available, but rather too much of it. This reminded me of the times I try to start a new diet/fitness regimen.

Networking

Faced with way more data that I can sift through, I decided to elicit human intelligence to assist me. I reached out to my friends. Lucky for me a friend of mine was a UX designer. On speaking with him and understanding what a typical day looks like for him, I confirmed I was on the right path. He introduced me to another friend who had made a transition from a software engineer to a UX designer. Both of them had taken the traditional route of doing a Masters in Design from a top institute and then switch careers. But I wasn’t ready to go back to school for another 2 years. I wanted to learn on my own but was I good enough?

I find it tough to pick the right t-shirt to go with my denims, how am I going to learn design on my own. Self doubt loomed large and I latched on to it strongly.

That is when I reached out to entrepreneurs on The Rodinhoods forum. It is a wonderful community of startups and entrepreneurs based out of India who share their experiences and help out newbies. Once I posted that I was looking for help on how to transition to a UX designer profile, a couple of people responded. I wrote emails to them and asked to meet up for a coffee to talk about it. Luckily two of them were based out of Bangalore.

I got to meet Adit Gupta on a Saturday evening for coffee and spoke with Robin Dhanwani over phone. I am grateful that these guys took the time off to speak to a person they barely knew. Thanks guys!

After speaking with them, I came to the conclusion that it is possible to teach oneself UX design. Tough but not impossible. So I set a realistic target of 6–12 months to get a decent understanding about this subject. I have a day job and have no intention of slacking off there. I strongly believe in respecting your day job, after all it puts the food on the table. Also I do not want to rush through things and compromise my physical, emotional and mental well-being.

The path

I set out to create a custom plan to ensure I spent some time each day learning about UX design. In fact documenting my journey was an idea suggested by a friend. It would hold me accountable and also help people on the same journey as mine.

The key takeaway from my experience in the past 1.5 months is that people are willing to help, all you need to is just ask.

I shall keep updating this blog as I keep learning. Please feel free to share your experiences and I hope you find this useful.

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