Starting a career in IxD, UX, IA

6 Dec 2009 - 7:27pm
4 years ago
16 replies
1902 reads
cjwillet
2009

Being just recently graduated from college, its seemingly very hard to
find an entry level/associate level job since I don't have the
experience and years required to get started. I was thinking I might
have to start with a web design/development job to get my foot in the
door and then gradually transition over once I have some experience
under my belt. Just wondering what approach has worked for others
that has been successful.

Thanks,

chris

Comments

7 Dec 2009 - 3:55am
Anonymous

Chris,

I know it probably seems like everything is against you, but there
are many ways to make yourself stand out to potential employers.
Your portfolio and intern experience may be enough to get your foot
in the door. However, you may want to supplement this with some
really interesting personal projects you've completed. If you like
UX, then why not learn everything you can and do an applied project.
You never know, you could have a knack for it! My best advice is to
get down and dirty and try to soak up as much information as you can
about your interests.

E

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7 Dec 2009 - 11:32am
Mehdi Piraee
2008

Chris

I was exactly in the same position 2 years ago. I had Just graduated
(MSc Interactive Systems Design) with absolutely no work experience
as we didn't have internships here at Nottingham University. I
worked as a freelance web designer and started doing my personal UX
projects which eventually led me to open my own company.

So I would say Erik is right, try to complete some personal projects
to demonstrate your abilities in UX, IA, etc. Meanwhile you could get
a job in web design/development to boost your income.

Good luck,
Mehdi

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7 Dec 2009 - 10:14pm
benry
2008

I echo Erik and Mehdi's suggestions. Rest assured you are not the
only person in this position. I recently wrote a couple blog posts
about just this problem after seeing others in a similar situation.
You might find them helpful:

http://www.benry.net/blog/2009/08/12/finding-an-ia-job-idea-1-practice/

http://www.benry.net/blog/2009/09/08/finding-an-ia-job-idea-2-network/

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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7 Dec 2009 - 12:45pm
Andrew Travers
2009

The only thing I'd add to Mehdi and Erik's good advice is to write
about what you know and share it: turning your personal site from a
portfolio into a blog and using it to help position yourself in the
way that you want others to see you. It will also help you hone your
own thinking and challenge yourself.

As someone who has recruited IA/UX people a lot over the past few
years, there is little more persuasive than seeing someone who works
in our space demonstrate their commitment to it by talking, sharing
and contributing to it.

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8 Dec 2009 - 10:14am
Dan Saffer
2003

A few years ago, I wrote an article (building off Robert Reimann's classic) called So You Want To Be an Interaction Designer 2006. The advice is still relevant today, I think:

<http://www.adaptivepath.com/ideas/essays/archives/000656.php>

Good luck!

Dan

Dan Saffer
Principal, Kicker Studio
http://www.kickerstudio.com
http://www.odannyboy.com

8 Dec 2009 - 12:54pm
yahnyinlondon
2008

Visual design and front-end development is just as challenging as the
user experience disciplines you mentioned. It may seem like easy work
but it still takes certain skills and expertise to be successful in
these areas. It may be easier to get in these areas but be warned
it's still a challenge.

My tips...
Learn as much as you can. Always know that there is room for an
improvement. Develop a specialization. Be involved in the community.
Keep in touch with your classmates.

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8 Dec 2009 - 10:13am
Leah Ellison
2009

Chris,

Thank you for broaching this subject; I am in a similar boat. I'm
currently working at a Technical Writer, but want to get into the
UI/UX field. Unfortunately, my degree is in English/Technical
Communications which is making entry into the field difficult.

I've been trying to land a jr-level web design/development job for
some time and haven't had any luck yet. More than a job, I'm
looking for a mentor...

Does anyone have any good advice on how to find quality mentors that
are interested in knowledge sharing and growing talent?

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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8 Dec 2009 - 11:43pm
cjwillet
2009

Thanks everyone for your feedback and knowledge! I have been
freelancing a lot of visual design/front end development projects in
the last couple of months and trying to incorporate UX/IA components
to not only help create a better end result for my clients but also
help with my own portfolio. I've also been involved with my local
AIGA chapter for several years-recently getting involved with the web
committee.

While visual design/front end dev jobs are definitely as challenging
as UX/IA, it seems as though there are far more associate/entry level
opportunities available in that area in comparison to UX/IA.

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9 Dec 2009 - 9:03am
Matt Nish-Lapidus
2007

It's true that there are more visual design and front-end dev entry
level jobs... but, you might want to consider a different approach to
getting your first IxD/UX job.

Startups are a great place to get in at the ground level, if there
are any in your area that need UX help approach them and sell them on
your skills.

These kinds of jobs are often never advertised... you could pick some
places you'd like to work and try to make lunch or coffee
appointments with people there, preferable people that have hiring
power. Show them how passionate you are, and how you understand
their business, show them that your skills could benefit their
business. If you approach them in a "hey, i'd love to chat" way,
rather than a "are you hiring?" way, you'll probably get to talk
to people that you'd otherwise have a hard time reaching.

Good luck! It's a great career once you get going.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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9 Dec 2009 - 9:55am
david.shaw6@gma...
2004

Leah,

IxDA has a mentoring program. Although I don't know all the details (I know
I should... but haven't had the time to get involved), I'd suggest going to
the ixda.org site and searching for this. There's a ton of great people
here. Also, any local chapter should have events that I'd recommend going
to. You can learn a lot just from talking with folks and who knows, maybe
someone will be willing to be a mentor.

Cheers!
David

On Mon, Dec 7, 2009 at 11:13 PM, Leah Ellison <leahellison at msn.com> wrote:

> Chris,
>
> Thank you for broaching this subject; I am in a similar boat. I'm
> currently working at a Technical Writer, but want to get into the
> UI/UX field. Unfortunately, my degree is in English/Technical
> Communications which is making entry into the field difficult.
>
> I've been trying to land a jr-level web design/development job for
> some time and haven't had any luck yet. More than a job, I'm
> looking for a mentor...
>
> Does anyone have any good advice on how to find quality mentors that
> are interested in knowledge sharing and growing talent?
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=47805
>
>
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9 Dec 2009 - 11:31am
Andrew Travers
2009

Leah, the Information Architecture Institute also provides peer
mentoring through its membership at:

http://www.iainstitute.org/en/members/mentoring/mentoring_program.php

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9 Dec 2009 - 6:58pm
Michael Wong
2009

Hi,

with a background in marketing and sales, I am also finding it hard
to enter the field of UX. My goal is to become an usability analyst;
I am also finding it difficult to enter the field without prior
experience in development. However, I've started working towards a
certificate in Information Design.

For a course project, I would like to conduct an usability test on
either a website or a business application software. Please drop me a
line if you know someone.

Thanks,
Michael

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10 Dec 2009 - 12:36pm
cjwillet
2009

Dan,

wow great to talk to you! I actually just picked up "Designing For
Interaction" last month and just now started to read it-its great.

Matt,

I've actually worked with several start up companies already-helping
with visual design, UX, IA. Unfortunately they weren't able to hire
but I have been looking at other start up companies who are in a
position to hire.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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10 Dec 2009 - 12:43pm
cjwillet
2009

Side note for those also looking-here are some places online worth
checking out for job opportunities. All of them have a job board with
jobs ranging from design, development, etc

twitter.com/ia_uxjobs
authentic jobs
aquent
smashing jobs
design jobs on the wall
aiga
37 signals
ixda
behance
coroflot

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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10 Dec 2009 - 9:36pm
Matt Nish-Lapidus
2007

Chris, glad to hear you've been working with some startups. Even if
they aren't hiring full time, all that works builds your portfolio
and connections. Those are important aspects to keep in mind, and
will lead you in the right direction.

Others have mentioned it, but the importance of meeting people,
making friends, and putting your ideas out there, can't be
underplayed. Those are the central things that will help you build a
successful career.. well, that and doing great work :)

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28 Dec 2009 - 9:19pm
Rachel Powers
2007

Chris, getting into the field and finding the first job can be difficult. Any good undergraduate program should be able to connect you with an internship. Check with your career services office. Your portfolio is key to getting your first job. Consider volunteering or doing pro-bono work for a local non-profit to build your portfolio. Your portfolio can include student projects and client work. Remember to show your thought process when presenting your portfolio. Employers want to know how the Designer thinks and the process they took to get to the solution(s) to the identified core problems.

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