Understanding and discovery

How I fell in love with UX Design and decided to make it my career

Design has always been part of my life, even if sometimes I wasn’t quite aware of it. As a child I used to lose track playing with fonts and effects in PowerPoint when I got my first computer and letting my creativity run wild with Legos. I used to paint and write a lot. Growing up, people tended to look at me differently when I was rooting for new corner coffee place offering black containers with better lids instead of the usual plastic, white ones. Or when I was deciding on what type of water to buy based on the way the bottle looks and its ergonomics. Not to mention later on when analyzing in excruciating details all the features, aspects and mobile app of a new robot vacuum I decided to buy during the pandemic.

Photo by Daniel Cheung on Unsplash

My career started in the corporate world determined to make my own living. I got my first job at an IT company and what followed was a much needed self discovery journey. I switched a couple of roles in the same company, but eventually none of them stuck with me. I was really good at my job, always giving my best and learning as much as I could, although I was lacking excitement and didn`t see any actual, tangible impact of my work. It felt that the job I had was not actually mine.

When I first heard of UX/UI design in a conversation I had no idea what it meant, so I turned to my friend Google. I didn’t know the difference between different types of design or what a UX designer actually does. I got my hands on the books of Don Norman, Steve Krug, as everyone in the field was recommending them. While reading, I was instantly hooked. There was actually an entire science between the things I used to observe and love, not just a gut feeling and a natural draw towards something.

There was psychology, architecture, a bit of art, everything combined, a constant pursuit of UNDERSTANDING and DISCOVERY, learning, unlearning, relearning, all behind a product that people end up loving. It felt like reverse engineering what I`ve always admired, understanding all the secrets behind. How can one not want to make a living out of this?

Photo by Daniel Cheung on Unsplash

Fast forward a couple of months later, I am working in a Consulting firm, and I am lucky to be in a culture which stands by its statement everyday: “Make your own firm”. It doesn’t matter what your current role is, as long as you raise your hand and commit to doing something, having an impact on the world. You get inspired everyday, sometimes great ideas are just a chat with colleagues away. I have almost unlimited learning opportunities, you just need to be willing to put in the effort.

So I started laying the foundation, gathering all the knowledge I could get. I enrolled in an online UX design course on a learning platform, started playing with the tools of the trade, discovered Figma and built my first app, albeit with no research or problem definition beforehand. But it was so fun and engaging. It got me a glimpse into UX and how powerful and beautiful it can be. I fell in love with my work.

Photo by Refika İmge Günyaktı on Unsplash

Confession: my app gets uglier day by day with all the additional knowledge I gather. But I live by the idea that if something we created in the past doesn`t seem that great to us anymore, it means we are growing, learning, shifting perspectives. Have you ever noticed this paradox: as much as you learn about something, the less you seem to know?

My first advice for everyone learning UX Design: embarrass yourself! That means you are growing.

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash

To keep the ball running, I further volunteered to help organize a Design thinking workshop at work, together with experienced designers, which added some missing pieces of the puzzle: empathy in design, structure, community. I got to understand the role of research and the voices of the users, I`ve seen iteration in action and got to meet designers I currently look up to. Turns out they are exceptional people, the kind you can talk to for hours and lose track of time. People who immediately help you identify your strengths and improvement opportunities, are able to guide and inspire you through their actions and knowledge. Who worked for dozens of projects in their career, around the world, ranging from luxury products to helping developing countries.

The flexibility and community you are rewarded with if you work hard in the field is amazing.

You might be wondering at this point what`s the next step for me, what have I done with what I`ve learned until now? Well, I am a big advocate of self- learning. It`s amazing to see how learning new things even 1 hour per day can change your perspective on life and how far you can go. However, during my transition to UX and after learning alone for a while, I`ve felt the need to have thought partners by my side, to discuss the topics I am learning in more depth, to be part of a community and to have the opportunity to ask the questions I`ve always wanted to know the answer to but couldn`t find it.

Receiving informed guidance and connecting with like-minded people is a privilege.

I have been following a bunch of great local designers on social media and when I`ve heard they were starting Mento, a new UX education platform, I knew from the start this was the next step for me. As the name suggests, they are challenging the current UX education and filling-in a major gap: having a mentor to look up to, to offer you guidance, knowledge, to make you a better designer.

One month into it, I couldn`t be happier with my decision. They have confirmed once again how amazing UX design is and what having a mentor and a community around you can change the learning game forever and help you discover your true potential.

Photo by Daniel Cheung on Unsplash

Thinking about my journey ahead, I get excited on working everyday towards becoming a Designer others can look up to, someone combining beauty and science on a day to day basis with confidence, exploring and understanding the world around them, while putting their knowledge to good use and making the life of others better or at a minimum, a little more beautiful and easier.

So far it hasn`t been easy (as I will share in my next articles), but challenging and beautiful. If I can inspire or help at least one person with my learning journey, I would be extremely grateful! Someday, I will become one of the designers I wrote about earlier. Thanks for sticking with me through the process!

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Raluca Maria Angelescu

Raluca Maria Angelescu

240 Followers

UX/UI Designer .Everyone deserves a better designed world! Starting with the morning coffee cup and all the way through digital interfaces.