How to smoothly transition into a career in UX?
UX is a growing field and reasonably lucrative one. As the world experiences a continuous flux in terms of the professions that are lost to AI, border restrictions and to unprecedented catastrophes like the current pandemic, there are new professions that emerge and grow faster than ever to replace the disappearing ones. In such a scenario the Luddites will perish, while those who can adapt change and learn fast, will survive and prosper.
The Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari, in his deeply thoughtful and fascinating non-fiction best-sellers Sapiens and Homo Deus, has clearly stated, that the best bet to surviving the future is:
1. Be in a life-long learning mode
2. Try to be in professions which are more subjective in nature and reward qualities typical to being a human rather than a machine.
Keeping this in mind, it will be quite common to find mid-career shifters in to various professions that reward human-ness. Hence, UX is, and certainly will remain one of the top attractions. You should not therefore be surprised to find forty year old interns or fifty-five year old junior designers as a common sight in various companies in the years to come. Besides UX by the very nature of the job gives humans a clear edge over machines, since it requires empathy as key skill. Besides that, UX in spite of being a reasonably lucrative career option, has a relatively low entry bar globally, as compared to many other professions and therefore is ideal for a mid-career transition. The question however is — How to do it smoothly and efficiently?
To understand this let us go through a few real life stories of people wanting to hop careers — A few days back, I happened to meet a bright young writer online, who wanted a career switch in to the world of UX and surprisingly wanted to be a UI designer rather than a content writer! The same day, I met another lady from a Sales background who wanted to make a similar move from Sales in to UX, and wanted to be a UX-unicorn rather than “just” a UX researcher!! And a few days after that, a man from the Middle-East contacted me, saying, that he wanted to get in to UX in the automotive sector, but had limitations due to his location!!!
Given that you are a fighter, a life-long learner and person willing to adapt and flow, let us try to find a few pragmatic and very workable solutions to help each of our friends from the previous paragraph transition smoothly and efficiently into a career in UX —
For the writer, it should be a no brainer to try and get in to the field of UX as a content writer because this is the closest to her current filed of work. She might then choose to progress her career by getting in to research as this is another activity that she might have been doing before writing as a writer. She can then go on to learn more about graphic design and advance her career in to being a UI designer and finally if she is very ambitious then she can learn coding and also about business and project management to finally become a generalist. However, if she tries to become a UI designer or a coder first, then it might be a bit of a massive jump for her, and in spite of all abilities, she might lose heart and quit.
Similarly, the lady who wants to get in to UX from a Sales background, because of her natural talents and training might be best suited for a career in Research where she can use her communication skills and extroverted personality to talk to users and conduct surveys better than the other newbies, and eventually, just like the writer, can spread her wings and specialize in design and then in UX Project Management.
The guy from the Middle-East, should not at all feel restricted because of his geo-political location, and should begin with a UX career in whichever industry he can get in to in his country and specialize in that. He should then use his contacts from within the industry and experience gained to make a switch to a UX career in another country, but preferably in the same industry. He should then try to hop over in to an Automotive-UX job in that country, again using his new set of contacts, a more suitable work permit situation and a more relevant experience.
The career paths laid out for each might seem like a no brainer to most, especially those who have been there and done that …. however, may I remind them over here, that they might as well be suffering from what Colin Camerer, George Loewenstein, and Martin Weber would call — The Curse of Knowledge — which is a cognitive bias that occurs when an individual, communicating with other individuals, unknowingly assumes that the others have the same expertise and background to understand and comprehend a certain problem as them. But then is User Experience research and Design not all about remaining humble, helping others, and freeing ourselves from the curse of knowledge?
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — –
For a deeper dive in to the importance of “diversifying” in a Design career, please follow the link: https://medium.com/design-bootcamp/what-if-roger-federer-tiger-woods-a-raccoon-and-a-koala-were-user-experience-professionals-706177f6a034?sk=a4a9f4b54fcf721efb31866b489baf44
for a deeper dive in to how AI might effect Design professionals, please follow the link: https://medium.com/design-bootcamp/what-if-the-customer-is-a-robot-9be5ac8035a2?sk=78e0bd314abea7a9ac5a52834295106e
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —