What I’ve learned since graduating from my UX bootcamp.

Written by Autumn Valjien and Abby Barnhart.

The pandemic left many of us without jobs and a lot of time on our hands. It became the perfect time for many of us to go back to school and make a career pivot. For those of us looking to get into tech, UX bootcamps seemed to be the best option. We’re told that as long as you work hard and put effort into it you’ll make it into the field within 3 months of graduating! For me, the bootcamp experience was incredible, and I left feeling full of hope. The time since has been a serious reality check for those of us who graduated during the pandemic.

WHAT I WISH I KNEW BEFORE BOOTCAMP

  • If you are considering a boot camp, I’m sure you’ve noticed that they are a dime a dozen. Essentially like McDonald’s, popping up on each street corner, and promising a tempting escape into the world of UX Design. Picture this: 3-month boot camp (no time at all in the real world), you’ve gained a breadth of skills, and BAM! You’re a full-fledged UX designer with the understanding that jobs aplenty will be at your fingertips. $80,000 salary, here I come! Okay let’s snap back to reality, while that can be possible, make sure you do your due diligence on researching each boot camp, the curriculum offered, and who the instructors are. Find this information out not only through each respective institution but use those researching chops by interviewing past graduates. I promise you, they’ll give you the real nitty-gritty over any sponsored YouTube video or representative at that particular boot camp. Plus, you’ll get those networking nerves out of the way for when you do enter the field and that’s what you’ll depend on.

WHAT I LEARNED AFTER BOOTCAMP

  • During your course, you will be flooded with information and it’s easy to get hyper-focused on class projects. When your instructors recommend external resources to take a look at, FOLLOW THROUGH ON THAT. Whether that be books, articles, Udemy courses, use this time to brush up on the depth of design. You will be covering the breadth but post-boot camp, you will experience that “jack of all trades, master of none” feeling. Use this time to truly immerse yourself because once you graduate, the job search and building your portfolio will be your most important to-dos.

Take everything with a grain of salt, because although hard work will take you a long way, a lot of it is luck. There are so many things that can improve your odds, but that’s all it’s doing; improving your odds. Your luck will change based on so many factors. Did you make friends with the right people? Are you going to the right webinars? Did you say or do the right thing? What may impress some recruiters, will bore others. What is playful to some, is juvenile to others. You will look back at things you’ve posted, projects you’ve done, things you’ve said to people, and you’ll laugh or roll your eyes, it’s all part of learning. Your job is to keep learning, become the designer you want to be, and stay true to yourself.

In my search to understand the job market I put out a survey for recent graduates, and those who have recently transitioned into UX to get an idea of their experience looking for work. You can check those results out below.

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UX Designer

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