How I landed my first job as a UX Designer
And what have I done to get here
In a couple of weeks, I will have spent 6 months working as a Junior UX Designer at The Mill. And to celebrate my first big milestone in my first real job, I’ve gathered everything that has led me where I am right now.
Done with university, now what?
First things first. I didn’t study to be a UX Designer (and who does?). When I started my Bachelor’s Degree I wanted to work in films. Producing, writing, directing…anything.
So I studied a 4-years BA in “Audiovisual Communication” which is a nice way to say: “You will do everything while doing nothing”. A’s and B’s were flying around in all my courses, I was watching films and TV shows all day and I was enjoying life.
But by the time I arrived to my third/fourth year, I realized a couple of things:
- I loved (and still do) cinema but I didn’t want to work in films or anything related.
- And, I didn’t know what to do
So, as any ambitious 20-years-old who thinks everything has to be under control at the age of 25, I freaked out.
Luckily for me, within the degree, some credits were focused on how to write narrative into other media and how new technologies influence the way we communicate. Thanks to the best professors I’ve ever had, I discovered the world of “Interactive Communication”.
In those classes, we had total freedom to create anything we wanted without the constraints of making films. It was the first time I felt very motivated and creative. I had only one weakness: I had lots of ideas but I didn’t know how to fulfill any because I couldn’t code. But I will get to that.
In 2014, I finished my degree in Audiovisual Communication with an Interactive Communication specialization, and with the design for an app as my one and only real project.
So, what now?
Life after university
The year after finishing my BA, I was very confused, and it took me a while to understand what I really wanted. This is a brief summary to get to the point:
- In the summer of 2014, I moved for 2 months to Madrid: I hated working in this particular TV corporate. In the “Digital Department”, 80% of the staff were interns being payed 200€ per month. I did it for the reputation but I wasn’t learning and I couldn’t survive. So I went back home.
- After that, and contrary to my previously made decision, I worked as a Production Secretary in a film production company in Barcelona. I went back to films and I didn’t hate it. But I was sure that wasn’t what I really wanted.
- In November of 2014, and after a few months being ill, my grandfather passed away. He was a very important person in my life and it took me a while (a few months) to get back on my feet, and when I did a very clear idea had formed in my head: I needed to leave.
At that point, I was working part-time in the production company, so in my spare time I tried to find a way to do what I really wanted and to leave.
Biggest. Challenge. In my life.
And I found it: the Interaction Design and Computing MSc at the University of Westminster in London. BAM!
In terms of money, I wasn’t granted anything. Neither scholarships nor financial help of any kind. So making the decision of studying a master’s degree abroad became not only an educational choice but a (big) financial one.
But still, with a loan from the bank (that I will be paying back until I’m 34), and a van full of friends, I moved to London: scared, panicky but full of excitement. In the first three months I was putting in practice lots of things I had learned in my BA (really thankful to all those professors), and enjoying everything.
I would be lying if I said it was easy: it’s been the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. But, I’ve learned coding, improved my design skills and I have a couple of pretty good prototypes to show around. I read and did research, pushed hard to learn new skills and I finished my final project having learned Unity just because I wanted to. So I have a Master in Science in a Computing degree. Sounds really nice when I say it out loud.
It was very clear, once I was done with the master’s, that what I wanted to be doing was design: everything I had read, what really interested me and everything I excelled in, was digital design. And my deepest interest was in UX.
Yes, here it goes. This is how I landed the job
I spent the summer sending CVs, improving my website and working really hard to be the best candidate. And at the end, what really was important was everything I had done to get to that point.
Don’t get me wrong, if you want a job, try to get one. No one will give you anything. And I had applied for lots of jobs, anywhere in the globe, in any kind of company. I just wanted to have my first job experience as a UX Designer.
And in my case, what got me the job was a recruiter fairy godmother who called me on a sunny morning of September in London and offered me THE interview.
I won’t get into the details. I think I have enough to write another post. But knowing what I know now, these are the things that made me ready for this job:
- The Mill is a post-production company, usually working with big clients and tight deadlines. I hated working in a big company before, but I took an experience from there, and now I know what to expect.
- Working with artists, in projects is similar to working in a film. Lots of people working for a shared goal. Well, I thought I was making a mistake by working in film production, and I though it wasn’t important for my career. I was wrong.
- Putting the time, effort and initiative to learning to code and spending one year of my life in a master’s degree, although being one of the toughest things I’ve ever done, has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever taken. And mainly, what made me ready for this.
In summary, and to wrap things up:
Don’t ever think that you are making mistakes when taking some decisions or working in some places. Even if you are not sure what you want to do, you get an experience from everything. You just have to get the best of it, and be aware of what it is that you are taking from that experience, even if it is working at a bakery. And I know what I’m talking about. I worked in one.