It sucks to be a Jr. Interaction Designer/Jr. Usability Specialist/ Jr. User Experience Designer

6 Mar 2010 - 6:59am
4 years ago
50 replies
16175 reads
Ali Naqvi
2008

For those graduating in 2008 (When the crisis started), 2009 (when the crisis was at the peek) and 2010 (when almost every 4th is unemployed in Malmö and Copenhagen Area), it really sucked/sucks to be a user centered designer. NO FREAKING JOBS! I was lucky enough to get hired as a technical writer with emphasis on usability....this was my first career job and I learned alot. Its just sad that it lasted for 13 months only.... My employer had to let 35 employees go. I was one of them. 

Now almost 4 months later I am still looking for jobs. Jobs within the field of UCD. I look for usability, GUI design, interaction design, user experience etc.... What do I see? "The candidate should have atleast 5 years of experience....", "The candidate will need to show us a portfolio so that we can see excellent graphic capabilities".  How can a recent graduate fulfill these requirements?? He/she can't!

So what does a recent graduate do?? I have started some evening part time classes in graphic design and eye tracking and hope that I may score some points.

Any input would be appreciated.

Regards
Ali

Comments

6 Mar 2010 - 7:51am
.pauric
2006

Great question.  First and foremost, work on your portfolio & blog, when the right job presents itself you will be prepared.



Now, many will advise not to work pro bono but given the situation... I'd suggest looking around for opportunities that will enhance your portfolio, there are some interesting & rewarding volunteer IxD jobs out there, if you look in the right places.  With 14 years under my belt I still work on open source projects, not always a successful outcome in terms of producing software but I always learn and have something to show for it.
Maybe this can be a new requirement for the IxDA.org jobs site once the dust settles.



I'd also suggest exploring technologies such as Processing to create visualisation/interaction which demonstrates your talent.  I'm always impressed when I see tangible work on a portfolio compared with stale screenshots.



I think the evening courses in graphic design is an excellent move.  Not sure about the eye tracking though, practical - yes, but I dont see a bright future for that method.



Get involved in the local IxDA.  I cannot underline enough how much this will help you.  It's a great networking environment but also an opportunity for you to suggest or organise events that will further your skills.



While it's better to be employed than not, the longer you're not doing your chosen career path the harder it will be to transition to it once an opportunity arises.  Dont get comfortable.



Finally, I appreciate the frustration you and many others are experiencing, try treating this as a design problem.  Break it down in to a project and apply what you learned at school.


/pauric

26 Mar 2010 - 3:40pm
Dan Brown
2004

To add one thing to Pauric's excellent suggestions: Take advantage of the mentoring program at IxDA or IA Institute. I've mentored a few people during their job search and we use our time together to prep for interviews, talk about job search strategies, and review portfolio work. 


Best of luck!-- Dan

On Sat, Mar 6, 2010 at 12:34 PM, pauric <contact@ixda.org> wrote:

Great question.  First and foremost, work on your portfolio & blog, when the right job presents itself you will be prepared.

Now, many will advise not to work pro bono but given the situation... I'd suggest looking around for opportunities that will enhance your portfolio, there are some interesting & rewarding volunteer IxD jobs out there, if you look in the right places.  With 14 years under my belt I still work on open source projects, not always a successful outcome in terms of producing software but I always learn and have something to show for it.Maybe this can be a new requirement for the IxDA.org jobs site once the dust settles.

I'd also suggest exploring technologies such as Processing to create visualisation/interaction which demonstrates your talent.  I'm always impressed when I see tangible work on a portfolio compared with stale screenshots.

I think the evening courses in graphic design is an excellent move.  Not sure about the eye tracking though, practical - yes, but I dont see a bright future for that method.

Get involved in the local IxDA.  I cannot underline enough how much this will help you.  It's a great networking environment but also an opportunity for you to suggest or organise events that will further your skills.

While it's better to be employed than not, the longer you're not doing your chosen career path the harder it will be to transition to it once an opportunity arises.  Dont get comfortable.

Finally, I appreciate the frustration you and many others are experiencing, try treating this as a design problem.  Break it down in to a project and apply what you learned at school.

/pauric

(((Please
6 Mar 2010 - 12:41pm
cjwillet
2009

Hey man,

I was in the same boat as you. I graduated with honors/dean's list from undergrad last year, president of student chapter AIGA, web committee/web chair for our local AIGA chapter, over 2 years of interaction design internships and still wasn't having any luck. I freelanced for 8 months after graduation 'til the right opportunity presented itself to me. Best advice is to just keep improving on your portfolio and yourself - it's all about the hustle! Especially for me coming from a visual design background into UX, it definitely was a challenge but at the same time it's what employers like to see - willingness to go out of your way to push and advance yourself. It shows you are self driven/motivated and a quick learner.

For your portfolio show a variety of work for different projects you have: case studies, personas, competitive analysis, content audits, annotated wireframes, sitemaps, flowcharts, usability testing and then also possibly show you know visual design and front-end dev. That was also another selling point for my new job. Although I'm not a developer nor want to be, having a working knowledge about HTML, CSS, PHP, JAVA, FLASH, etc helps with communication with different teams within the company and also helps with knowing the constraints and functionality of the technology.

Also check out non-profit, start up or internships for work. While it might not be the end result you want, it's a step towards that. You'll make connections, network, create work for your portfolio and might even get paid a weekly stipend. Although an internship is by no means a guaranteed method of getting a full time position, at least it'll look great on your resume.

Keep connected with different organizations like IxDA, AIGA, IAI and others. People know what's up, who's leaving, who's hiring, etc. Also stay connected to different job boards. I know it's hard dude and it seems overwhelming/unending at times but have perseverance.

-Chris

6 Mar 2010 - 1:04pm
.pauric
2006

Just to set the bar on CVs / Portfolios that stand out...

 

http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/creative-designer-resume-curriculum-vitae/

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/11/24/69-sexy-portfolio-designs-to-inspire-you/

 

All a portfolio is going to get you is a foot in the door but in a down economy where 20-50 people are applying for a job, only those who really stand out will get through to interview.

 

I would take another look at http://www.amroha.dk/ and see if you cant apply some creative thinking that engages potential employers. /pauric

11 Mar 2010 - 3:53pm
Mike Eng
2010

Interesting use of information graphics in the CVs. I think many of those examples, while visually appealing and very well executed, are misguided from an information graphics point of view. I studied Ed Tufte's writings on the topic in some depth a couple of years ago for a school project that involved a lot of system visualizations. Tufte's website doesn't get into his ideas much, but his books certainly do.

A lot of those CV examples are missing labels for axes, and some include a three-dimensional element that provides no additional information. Tufte would call it "chartjunk".

6 Mar 2010 - 6:37pm
nandonevespe
2010

Hi:) I'm from brazil - São Paulo

portifolio online

www.nandoneves.com

www.deixaavidamelevar.com.br

games

http://www.nandoneves.com/images/frontEnd/colorindo.swf
http://www.nandoneves.com/images/frontEnd/quebraCabecasTeste.swf
http://www.nandoneves.com/images/frontEnd/memoria.swf

 

--
--
Fernando Neves
Interactive | flash | graphic designer
International Certification HTML/XHTML/CSS pela W3Schools
055 19 8227 4426
www.nandoneves.com
email: fndesigner@gmail.com
gtalk: fndesigner@gmail.com
skype:nandonevespe

7 Mar 2010 - 4:32am
Leon Barnard
2008

The good news is that, in my opinion, there has never been a better time to be in this field. Everybody is talking about User Experience these days. Even small software/web teams now feel that they need to have a dedicated UX designer in order to compete. When I graduated in 2000, most of the jobs that are around today didn't even exist. The only possibilities were for huge software companies like Microsoft. It took me 5 years to finally get into UXD after I got my B.S. degree. It'll happen for you too, certainly much sooner than that. Good luck.

7 Mar 2010 - 7:52am
Ali Naqvi
2008

Thanks for all the comments!

I am very weak with graphics. Thats my main problem. I can't make fancy Flash websites nor am I a very good graphic designer. I am much better at analyzing things and coming up with solutions. But when its about presenting them in a fancy, modern and hip way, I suck.

Looking at all the different links and the amazing graphics (the portfolios, CVs etc) I realized how much more I need to improve. I really need to become better in art.....

Regards

 

Ali

7 Mar 2010 - 2:08pm
Jen Randolph
2008

I strongly disagree with making your resume look anything at all like what I just saw in that blog post. As a UX designer, you're able to empathize with your target audience - e.g. a recruiter - and know that they just want to print the resume and scan it for key information. A recruiter could have dozens of resumes to go through to find one or two people appropriate for a position. In my opinion, the more you can help them do their job, the better it will be for you.

7 Mar 2010 - 6:35pm
Bob Jacobson
2007

Ali, let's be real. 

We are in the midst of possiby the worst recession in world history and certainly the worst American history.  It's unlikely, given the stalemate in Washington, DC, and the chicanery of the thieves on Wall Street and in corporate America generally, that there will be any quick relief -- meaning, in the next two to five years.  Every industry has been affected.  We are still living off the economic blast of the real estate-charged bubble, the mobile and consumer electronics ballons that are now deflating.  I know friends who are becoming smartphone-poor, as the last generation was mortgage-poor, who are running up debts to stay connected.  At some point we're all going to cut back or at least change our habits, and then all the talk about "user experience" being "hot" may cool.  You can knock your head against that hard economic wall or do another take.

Let's do another take. 

Forget all the crap about fixing your resume or advertising elsewhere:  they've been saying that since the 1970s, when I was a junior copywriter looking for a job in the pre-PC days, in midst of recession.  The best story was about the guy who sent out job applications with carrier pigeons.  It worked for him, so everyone else was recommended to try it.  The truth was, until Reagan became President, the economy was in doldrums.  I went back to grad school to get a doctorate in telecom and urban planning at UCLA, the beginning of a remarkable three-decade odyssey that continues today (coincidentally, currently doing very interesting innovation-management and experience design work in Vedbæk, near Copenhagen, and in Malmö, from whence you hail).  I never wrote advertising copy again.

Ali, you were trained as a designer first, a UX designer next, and lastly someone looking for a job in the "interactive" industry.   Forget the industry bit unless you favor a long gestation period as a junior interaction designer.  Plus, you will face intermittent employment and obsolescence as software engineers did a generation earlier.  Next, reconsider the "UX" label.  It may be hot among recruiters who want to pad their roles and colleagues dying to be recruited, but in the larger world, it means the guy who puts the buttons on the digital machine.  I'm exaggerating, of course, but not that much.  My friend Don Norman, the iconic designer who coined the phrase "user experience," tells everyone that he rues the day he compromised "experience" with "user."  Experiences are universal.  Confining the study and design of experience to what "users' do -- a term that ultimately is defined by marketers -- puts the UX designer at a disadvantage in fully applying the talents and skills with which he or she is equipped ... and worse, learning new ones.  I'm always amazed at how mundane are the lessons that UX designers share with each other, about on the level of early masons sharing recipes for the best mortar (while the giants of masonry were erecting edifices).  It's essential to know your tools, but not to limit yourself by them.

There are so many human endeavors, not all of which pay regular salaries (but which pay), for which designers have a role.  Especially experience designers, people who can get into other's heads and inventng new ways of expanding their capacity to feel, learn, and act on their new emotions and knowledge. Right now there's probably a huge role for designers to play in crisis/disaster preparedness and recovery, a "growth industry" if ever ther was one.   Or how about the hospitality industries?  They've been hit hard by fuel costs for travel, but people even under economic stress have a seemingly insatiable appetite for sensations associated with novel environments.  And of course there are those mainstays, the military with its exceptional training requirements, if you can abide it (I can't); and the healthcare industry, where devices are invented by the minute to suck up whatever discretionary investments hospitals, doctors, and their patients can make.  Unless a job requires you to violate your ethics, religion, or personal standards of quality, you might consider taking it and seeing where it goes.

The New York Times recently featured a revealing article by Damon Cave, "In Recession, Americans Doing More, Buying Less" (Jan 2, 2010).  Products are out, experiences are in.  This being so, it sounds to me that an aspiring designer's immediate emphasis should be on helping people to do things (and sell things to do) rather than making more stuff.  Do you agree?

Design is a discipline.  It is the appreciation of constraints and working within them.  Consider the current economic decline and global turbulence -- circumstances that are likely to pertain into the next decade and possibly longer, much longer if climate change will be as bad as the scientists say -- as hard-stop constraints.  So work within them.  Design your life. 

Lauralee Alben, one of the very first interaction designers famous for her work with Apple Computer, Alzheimer's Association, and other major clients, has created a whole new purpose for her practice, AlbenDesign:  "Designing sea changes in business, society, and the environment."  She offers good advice as well as a good model.  Give a gander.  And remember, Ali, good fortune favors the prepared mind.  Although you may never see it coming or it may be unrecognizable (for example, your not getting a "good" job right out of school could be your good fortune), still:  be ready!

7 Mar 2010 - 7:04pm
Bob Jacobson
2007

PS Ali, the field of service design, cognate with interaction design, is wide open and beckoning in Sweden.

Swedish culture enobles "service."  Providing quality service is a value socialized in every Swede.  Yet there are relatively few self-identified service designers working in Sweden.  Practice arbitrage: put this discrepancy to your own use.

Check out the well-attended conference we held in January 2010 at Form/Design Center (for the other readers, the design center in Malmö, Sweden), "Innovation and Design for the Service Industries."  It featured Danish DESINOVA Project innovator clients and service-design participants and service-design counterparts from Sweden.

We archived the presentations in text and video on the Malmö University (Malmö högskola) website, at http://www.mah.se/tjanstedesign ("tjanstedesign" means service design in Swedish). The webpages in Swedish contain an embedded Google Translator for English speakers

8 Mar 2010 - 8:06am
Ali Naqvi
2008

Thank you all for the comments.

Dear Bob Jacobson,

I really appreciate your comments. Excellent remarks and I will definitely look into it.

Best wishes

 

Ali 

 

26 Mar 2010 - 3:50pm
jrrogan
2005

Hi NYC Area Starting/Junior/Intermediate IX/UX/ID/IA's out there,   If you're "here", in the New York City area, (not "thinking" of relocating here ;), send me a "Short/Concise" email with your experience, what you want to do and resume. I get a few Junior job requests a week, and am regularly asked for referrals. I'd be happy to see if I could help out.

  As well, if you're looking for internships, I'm working on an "Alt Energy" startup that has a non-trivial SAAS component.   Email: jrrogan@gmail.com   Rich   --
Joseph Rich Rogan
President UX/UI Inc.
http://www.jrrogan.com


On Mon, Mar 8, 2010 at 8:13 AM, Ali Naqvi <contact@ixda.org> wrote:

Thank you all for the comments.

Dear Bob Jacobson,

I really appreciate your comments. Excellent remarks and I will definitely look into it.

Best wishes

 

Ali 

 

(((Please l
8 Mar 2010 - 10:52am
.pauric
2006

Hi Ali, I understand what you mean when you say " I really need to become better in art.."

While a lot of the CV/portfolios in the link I sent are heavy on the visual design side of things. I would change your perspective on the application of 'art' to your portfolio, the challenge is one of Communication.  I would take a 'picture == 1000 words' approach.  Some specific examples of visual communication applied to CVs.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2563/4028700199_cafdff9199_o.jpg

http://www.stephengates.com/Blog/uploaded_images/SG-Resume2-737111.jpg

http://www.kaukana.be/wp/?p=430

http://dizzia.deviantart.com/art/Curriculum-Vitae-PDF-69050981

http://uito2.deviantart.com/art/Curriculum-Vitae-59987879

I wouldnt say any of these examples are 'Arty', what they do well is demonstrate creative 'out of the box' thinking to an age old problem (CV design) and effective communication of the designer's skillset.  Unless you plan to work freelance you should prepare yourself to be, and employers are looking for, someone who will compliment a team with different perspective on problems (among many other skills).  Producing a CV/Portfolio just like everyone else's will not help employers understand that "(you are) much better at analyzing things and coming up with solutions"..." But when its about presenting them in a fancy, modern and hip way, I suck."  What good are you to an employer if you can't communicate your solutions?  

One immediate thing you can do is extract some of the visuals from your "The Ultimating Waiting Experience.pdf" and break them out in to individual, more digestible, blog posts. Also, the online version of your pdf is not screen friendly, should be rotated 90 ccw.

To Jen's point  "As a UX designer, you're able to empathize with your target audience - e.g. a recruiter - and know that they just want to print the resume and scan it for key information."

I feel this advice is incorrect on a number of levels.  Most recruiters dont understand UX/IxD nor are they Ali's target audience.  They're usually tasked with looking for keywords, so by all means point them at a LinkedIn profile and have a .doc version ready if they ask. However your target audience is the hiring manager, not the recruiter.  Getting your CV past the recruiter on to the interviewer's desk is the easy part.  Impressing them with your thinking & approach, versus presenting them with the challenge of finding out who you are and how you solve problems, is the hard part.

regards /pauric

8 Mar 2010 - 3:45pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

Hi Ali,

I think you've been brave to put this topic out for discussion.

I agree with what Pauric has said. He's given you some great examples and tips.

Copenhagen has some awesome design talent. Is there a way to tap into the local community to find someone to collaborate with, who can help you visually represent your thinking and talents?

As Pauric said, it's about getting your knowledge, insight, and experience in front of the hiring manager. Could you find a partner to work on that with you?

Jared

8 Mar 2010 - 5:07pm
aronoff
2010

As a traditional graphic designer that works in both print and web, I can empathisize with your struggles.

I think that having a sense of optimism and wonder, at any age or notch in the corporate ladder is extremely beneficial. Skills can be learned, and knowledge literally is at your fingertips. But attitude and drive are huge. So, I encourage you to be optimistic and NOT give up.

Everything worth doing is difficult.

I think having a mentor in the industry would help greatly too. I'm a AIGA member as well as a IxDA member, and I feel at numerous times in my career that it helps to get advice from people who have been there before you.

Remember that you can never learn everything, and that there will always be someone who knows something you don't. That being said, be optimistic and friendly, and you can work with anyone, to learn anything.

I wish you luck!!
~Josh Aronoff

8 Mar 2010 - 5:09pm
aronoff
2010

P.S. I'm reading Change By Design by IDEO CEO Tim Brown, and it's helped me really be able to articulate design and design thinking... I recommend it to anyone how has to explain and be an advocate for UI/UX design or graphic design.

8 Mar 2010 - 5:14pm
Norma.Mayer
2010

Good Afternoon!

As a recruiter in this field, I must tell you to keep your chin up.  Things are picking up.  My organization currently is working on a number of UI/UX positions and it seems there is a need out there that I cannot even begin to tap. 

I would suggest looking at reputable staffing agencies that specialize in your field.  Staffing agencies are the first to pick up and would be able to assist you in finding those opportunities to meet your experience level.  During this freelance/contract time you can build your portfolio, network with hiring managers, and get a greater depth of experience under your belt.

This would also help address Pauric's point of "getting past the recruiter."  Many internal recruiters are in fact just scanning for keywords.  These are usually internal HR people that are not familiar with the job function.  As a staffing firm recruiter, it is my business to understand the pain and needs of the hiring manager.  This is what separates my service from that of internal recruiters.  HR recruiters are overwhelmed and looking through hundreds of resumes.  Pauric is right in that you will generally get tossed if you don't meet the descriptions requirements (which doesn't always mean you aren't right for the job!)  Find a staffing firm recruiter that will get to KNOW you, and understand you beyond the written word. 

If you are in (or willing to relocate) to the Chicago, San Fran, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Boston,or Dallas areas, please contact me. 

 

Norma Mayer

10 Mar 2010 - 11:38pm
davewallach
2010

Hi Norma, I am in San Francisco and am definitely looking for work right now as a junior designer.  Here is a link to my online portfolio:

www.hiamdesigns.com/portfolio.html 

If you would like to get in touch with me, I can be reached with the information found on my site.  

 

-David Wallach

9 Mar 2010 - 10:14am
Ali Naqvi
2008

Dear members,

again, I really appreciate your replies and want to thank you all once again.

My problem with regards to art is not that I cannot "think out of the box". The problem is how to visualize it. I need to learn all these programs that graphic designers use. In my last job I did make use of Photoshop, illustrator etc. but only when I had to make diagrams, maps etc. I have no skills when it comes to producing solid, trendy and fancy images. In my image making class I am learning about the philosophy behind making an image with a statement. 

The problem with most recruitment agencies is that they all need people with more experience. A recent graduate with 1 year of tech writer experience is not something they can use. They need people who have been in the business for atleast 2 years AND someone who can show them a portfolio. 

After graduating, while working and after getting laid off, I still buy UCD related books from Amazon in order to know more. The problem is that I have tons of theoretical experience from books. I could sit and quote all day long, but have nothing to show the recruiter. I could sit and tell the recruiter about how to make a qualitative research yet only have experience from my thesis.  

If the recruiters and the corporations won't give us recent graduate a chance, we will end up doing something else. 

regards

Ali

9 Mar 2010 - 11:04am
Mortvia
2010

It's good to know that I'm not the only one who feels like they're bashing their head against a brick wall trying to gain more experience, if not a flat-out job. Ali summed up the problem perfectly. It's frustrating, but think of things on the recruiter's end. They need someone who can do the work right away with no training or guidance. It sucks for us, but it makes sense for them.

One of the things I've been working on  is a proposal for a workshop specifically for those who are new to the UX field. Creating deliverables in a group setting will help to get a feel for what it's like to be working in UX and will give new people something to add to their portfolios. (At least that's what I hope comes of it!)

26 Mar 2010 - 3:50pm
willsansbury
2010

Hi, Ali,

First off, if you can see yourself doing something else, explore that. Design is an AWESOME job, but it's not one you can do well if you don't have a driving, consuming passion for it. Something tells me you do have that passion, though, or else you'd have already moved on... :)

I'd recommend you do one of the following: - Find a nonprofit with a mission that you support and offering them your design services as a volunteer. They'll get something designed for free, and you'll get a chance to take bigger risks than you'd be comfortable with otherwise, which will hopefully result in some professional contacts and a portfolio piece.

  • Find an open source software project and get involved. More and more projects are finding a place for design practitioners in their ranks (Drupal and WordPress jump to mind). Again, you'll get practical experience and a network of contacts who know and value your work.

  • Look for a position that's focused on usability evaluation/testing. Get your foot in the door on the validation side, then become a sponge and soak up all you can on the design side. Then, look for an opportunity to volunteer to take a smaller design project. (You can even find tech writer jobs with usability testing as a component; I got my first real interaction design position by being an opinionated tech writer who'd proven value by bootstrapping a usability testing program.)

Good luck! Remember to keep your chin up and not to devalue yourself--there are enough other people in the world who will tear you down given half the chance.

Will Sansbury

26 Mar 2010 - 3:50pm
Jonathan Warner
2009

Ali:
I certainly understand your quandary, and have been there myself.  I have a couple of recommendations.  
1) Apply for the IXDA mentorship program.  It may take a while to get placed, but the relationship can help you along your path.  At the very least, your mentor can give you occasional pep talks.  A lot of the game in the beginning is psychological.  Once you "break in," you'll find the going far easier.
2) Focus on sketching / design communication rather than detailed graphic design.  As an interaction designer, it's far more important that you can express yourself and test your ideas visually than it is to be an Illustrator expert.  From my experience, about half of the job postings don't require expert-level graphic design.  Moreover, you can always say "I specialize in User Experience. Though I work regularly alongside visual designers, I find it advantageous to focus on interactions and leave pixel-level detail to another." I often say this: it's true, and many employers can hear that message. A "design communication" course (Cooper), basic drawing, or sketching course can help you along with this.
3) Stay active in the field!  As others have mentioned, you need to be able to talk about what you're currently doing. When you find yourself in a conversation with someone who can help you, it's important to have a current project you can discuss in order to demonstrate your ability and thinking.  This could be an open-source project, an art project, or a pro-bono project.  My first job was pro-bono for a new software startup.  Those portfolio items got my foot in the door at the next place.
4) Network! In the beginning, I avoided talking about myself to others because I thought it impolite and selfish. However, I've learned that business is, above all, about humans. If you're excited about what you're doing, talk about it to people who can help you.  IxDA events, the Interaction conference, SXSW, cocktail parties, ... all of it. It's truly amazing what comes out of those things.
5) Include your schooling as "experience."  Other readers may heartily disagree with me here.  I'm not suggesting you call your schooling "professional experience," but you have to think about who you're being compared to.  As few people in the field these days have schooling in Interaction Design specifically, you have a bunch of relevant experience that others had to obtain in the field.  Coroflot asks you for years of "experience," not "professional experience."  Present your number of years of IxD-specific experience, then be up-front about it in an interview or screening call.  Explain that many of your competitors never had the benefit of an Interaction Design degree.
Good luck, and don't worry.  This field is especially difficult to get started in, but begins to open up rather quickly.  
- Jonathan
On Tue, Mar 9, 2010 at 8:11 AM, Ali Naqvi <contact@ixda.org> wrote:

Dear members,

again, I really appreciate your replies and want to thank you all once again.

My problem with regards to art is not that I cannot "think out of the box". The problem is how to visualize it. I need to learn all these programs that graphic designers use. In my last job I did make use of Photoshop, illustrator etc. but only when I had to make diagrams, maps etc. I have no skills when it comes to producing solid, trendy and fancy images. In my image making class I am learning about the philosophy behind making an image with a statement. 

The problem with most recruitment agencies is that they all need people with more experience. A recent graduate with 1 year of tech writer experience is not something they can use. They need people who have been in the business for atleast 2 years AND someone who can show them a portfolio. 

After graduating, while working and after getting laid off, I still buy UCD related books from Amazon in order to know more. The problem is that I have tons of theoretical experience from books. I could sit and quote all day long, but have nothing to show the recruiter. I could sit and tell the recruiter about how to make a qualitative research yet only have experience from my thesis.  

If the recruiters and the corporations won't give us recent graduate a chance, we will end up doing something else. 

regards

Ali

(((Please leave all content
26 Mar 2010 - 3:50pm
benjamin
2007

I understand what you are going through, consider looking at some sites, and using visio or a program that you know, to show how you would handle a change in UX design for that site. Create studies, and then post them on the web. Make yourself a website, post a portfolio of design studies you have created and be prepared to defend your work. Times have changed true, its no longer that easy to just start in the field, but if you have something to show, it will make you look much better and professional.

-----Original Message----- From: ixdaor@host.ixda.org [mailto:ixdaor@host.ixda.org] On Behalf Of Ali Naqvi Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2010 11:09 AM To: ben@mutednarrative.com Subject: Re: [IxDA] It sucks to be a Jr. Interaction Designer/Jr. Usability Specialist/ Jr. User Experience Designer

Dear members,

again, I really appreciate your replies and want to thank you all once again.

My problem with regards to art is not that I cannot "think out of the box".
The problem is how to visualize it. I need to learn all these programs that
graphic designers use. In my last job I did make use of Photoshop,
illustrator etc. but only when I had to make diagrams, maps etc. I have no
skills when it comes to producing solid, trendy and fancy images. In my image
making class I am learning about the philosophy behind making an image with a
statement.

The problem with most recruitment agencies is that they all need people
with more experience. A recent graduate with 1 year of tech writer experience
is not something they can use. They need people who have been in the business
for atleast 2 years AND someone who can show them a portfolio.

After graduating, while working and after getting laid off, I still buy UCD
related books from Amazon in order to know more. The problem is that I have
tons of theoretical experience from books. I could sit and quote all day
long, but have nothing to show the recruiter. I could sit and tell the
recruiter about how to make a qualitative research yet only have experience
from my thesis.

If the recruiters and the corporations won't give us recent graduate a
chance, we will end up doing something else.

regards

Ali

26 Mar 2010 - 3:51pm
sonyugnid
2010

Ali why dont u have  a look at the visual design graphic design portfolios on www.core77.com. there are many tutorials online which teach u all graphic design whether its logos or web site design. But the most important is u should learn to create new designs rather than copying as industry always welcomes designer who have novel and innovative ideas.Start sketching and painting and slowly u will discover the artist inside u and the novel art u can create.

On Tue, Mar 9, 2010 at 9:34 PM, Ali Naqvi <contact@ixda.org> wrote:

Dear members,

again, I really appreciate your replies and want to thank you all once again.

My problem with regards to art is not that I cannot "think out of the box". The problem is how to visualize it. I need to learn all these programs that graphic designers use. In my last job I did make use of Photoshop, illustrator etc. but only when I had to make diagrams, maps etc. I have no skills when it comes to producing solid, trendy and fancy images. In my image making class I am learning about the philosophy behind making an image with a statement. 

The problem with most recruitment agencies is that they all need people with more experience. A recent graduate with 1 year of tech writer experience is not something they can use. They need people who have been in the business for atleast 2 years AND someone who can show them a portfolio. 

After graduating, while working and after getting laid off, I still buy UCD related books from Amazon in order to know more. The problem is that I have tons of theoretical experience from books. I could sit and quote all day long, but have nothing to show the recruiter. I could sit and tell the recruiter about how to make a qualitative research yet only have experience from my thesis.  

If the recruiters and the corporations won't give us recent graduate a chance, we will end up doing something else. 

regards

Ali

(((Plea
9 Mar 2010 - 11:51am
.pauric
2006

I appreciate your frustration... but if stressing about a problem isn't likely to fix it:  Stop stressing and start addressing it.  Visual design is hard, taking a course is a fantastic move but you do not need illustrator to demonstrate some creative thinking about layout & presentation of data - that comes from within.

Also, I feel your pain and have sympathy for those starting out in these difficult times, but please excuse me while I get a little blunt as I've made this point before; There is plenty of IxD work out there that you can add to your portfolio. 

I've been in full time employment for 14 years as an innie.  I have very little work that I can openly show on a portfolio, much of it I would feel uncomfortable showing at an interview anyway.  To compensate for that I get involved in;

open source projects: http://fluidia.org/contributors.php

my local IxD community: http://www.pauric.net/followthemoney/?page_id=2

and 'cos I'm a nerd I build IxD related crap: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pauric/4389850366/sizes/o/

Will any of this stuff land me a job? probably not.  However, if I were to find myself looking for a job tomorrow and I was up against another guy with similar experience, will this stuff help? maybe - it certainly cant hurt.  It will demonstrate my thinking, approach and passion.  If you ever find yourself at interview it's because they want to hire you and they're giving you an opportunity to demonstrate your stuff. No amount of CV level work-experience dates can show an employer how passionate you are about IxD.  I'd also think it fair to say that an employer who takes a gamble on a recent graduate with an interesting portfolio over a guy with 3 years experience and state portfolio is an employer worth working for.

I have one final thing I'd like to impress upon you that I'm not hearing from your posts.  Design in general, but IxD specifically, is not a day job.  Our field is tied very tightly to technology and that's a post which is moving forward at an exponential rate.  Treat your career as an investment for the future.  You will need to add to your skills, keep abreast of the trends.  If you were thinking about Mobile 5 years ago, you'd have a job today.  If you're thinking about ways to communicate design intent without prototyping UI's then you'll have skills that will be in demand in the future.  Exploration of these skills & concepts are not something you'll get from UCD books or full time employment.

Find the stuff your passionate about and get involved.  Nothing ventured is nothing gained.

/pauric

11 Mar 2010 - 11:11pm
Vincent Steurs
2009

Hi Pauric,

I liked the part were you said:

"If you were thinking about Mobile 5 years ago, you'd have a job today.  If you're thinking about ways to communicate design intent without prototyping UI's then you'll have skills that will be in demand in the future."

I loved the example Matt cottam gave in his talk Wooden Logic: In Search of Heirloom Electronics where he said:

"The idea was not to demonstrate how the thing works, or not even show the device in the video, but create a kind of metaphore of what the core central value is."

The video he shows at 17:20 is about an iPhone app for reconnecting loved ones during natural catastrofies and is presented without showing any iPhone or user interface, but it communicates very clear what the concept is about. That was a moment for me I realized the importance of what you refer at as being 'communicating design intent'.

Do you have more examples like that? I love to get some inspiration about ways and techniques in which this can be done.

Thanks!

Vincent

23 Mar 2010 - 5:36pm
.pauric
2006

 

Hi Vincent, thanks for posting that video. To clarify: Communicating design intent, to me, is about storytelling the experience, something that must happen before 'prototyping' begins in certain contexts.

This can take the form of Jeff Hawkins walking around with a block of wood in his pocket as he 'became the user' and lived the experience first hand when developing the palm pilot. Or this series of videos from CIID's IxD program http://dkds.ciid.dk/py/video-prototyping/projects/ for a new service.

"I love to get some inspiration about ways and techniques in which this can be done."

Some practical pointers would be to search out any local storytelling group/association, we were fortunate to have Kevin Brooks & Whitney Queensbury give us a workshop Jan 09

http://boston-ixda.blogspot.com/2009/01/sex-money-and-storytelling.html

I'd highly recommend watching this series of video from Ira Glass on storytelling

http://briansawyer.net/2007/03/02/ira-glass-on-storytelling/

Another, more practical, technique that I apply in my day to day work is comics.  Even if you're working in an old-school environment, comics can be a great way to lead in to the nuts & bolts of a requirements doc, workflow or complex prototype.  Again, giving props to my cohorts at BostonIxDA, we had a fantastic workshop from Amy Cuerva from Mad*Pow 

http://boston-ixda.blogspot.com/2009/04/event-report-using-comics-to.html

And if you're an omnigraffle user I reverse engineered the Google Chrome book by Scout McCloud http://www.google.com/googlebooks/chrome/ in to a stencil for general re-use http://graffletopia.com/stencils/462 . It's actually quite surprising how reusable the individual characters are;

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pauric/3449458625/sizes/o/

to

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pauric/4047222706/sizes/l/

I have yet to get an opportunity to make a video but think we'll definitely do a workshop on this in Boston sometime this year.  Some of the way-finding on the subway is atrocious and ripe for a redesign exercise.

One other thing has been puzzling me recently, this job posting from Apple http://jobs.apple.com/index.ajs?BID=1&method=mExternal.showJob&RID=49482&CurrentPage=1 has a very curious mix of coding, design and prototyping skills, specifically "3D graphics, motion graphics, traditional or special effects animation"  Stood out as something that didnt, in my mind, sit with everything else until now...  When you think of the ipod/itunes product line I guess you could divide the prototyping in to two.  One that might mockup a device and the other that explains the service.  Maybe there has been various iPod design resolutions mocked up to address a singular Experience Prototype (video?)

I wonder what are the boundaries of application of Experience Prototypes, is it just Devices & Services? How suitable are they to sites & applications?

Thanks! /pauric

 

17 Apr 2010 - 12:04pm
Vincent Steurs
2009

Hi Pauric,

Thanks for sharing. I really liked the videos of CIID and of Ira Glass on storytelling. About the cartoons, I would prefer to find a way to practice my own cartoon drawing rather than use stencils. Any sugestions for how to teach it myself? Storyboarding is a great way for communicating, both in cartoon and video form. Hope to find more about it on this forum in the future!

Cheers,

Vincent

9 Mar 2010 - 3:56pm
Matthew Roche
2008

There are a ton of services now where people post design competitions.  Participate.  Many are for logos, but more and more are for web sites, wireframes, and designs.  This is not theoretical, it is practical.  Submit creative, compete, and likely lose.  But you will see what wins, and you will get better.

http://www.crowdspring.com

http://studio.topcoder.com

No one will care what your resume is.  And 6 months in you will start having a portfolio.

11 Mar 2010 - 12:02am
Arif Widianto
2010

It's interesting to hear what everyone said here. I learnt a lot reading this post.

To Matthew, I am one of such people that found some work via one of your mentioned service: TopCoder Studio. Well, with my three years experiences with them (full time work just on their platform, no other freelance as I find the reward is better in Asian standard), I got very good portfolios from some respected companies & organizations (just to mention BestBuy, AOL & MIT). It's worth to try.

I currently trying to find some IxD job in U.S. (I am willing to relocate). The more I read some sad stories, the more nervous I became. Is this recession really serious hurting the job badly? Tough I still find some decent IxD jobs posted here and there. So this is out of topic but still relevant, to anyone who have experiences in recruiting, with decent amount of portfolios from remote work like me, is that possible in to find a company in U.S. that willing to sponsor some foreign talents in current situation?

To Norma: I just submitted my resume to your company database ;)

-Arif

9 Mar 2010 - 4:57pm
Josh Seiden
2003
Ali, You've already got a lot of good advice here, but I'm going to add one or two things. First, you seem very concerned about your lack of visual skills. I applaud your desire to improve your skills here, but you also have to be realistic. People in our field get confused with and improperly compared to graphic desigers. Interaction design (and UX) is not "graphic design 2.0." It's true that most roles in the field require that you be a strong visual communicator, but this is NOT the same thing as being a graphic designer. I encourage you to keep learning, but also to be realistic about your strengths and confident enough in them to seek roles in which you can express them. Along with that, I would encourage you to broaden your search beyond pure UX roles. BA roles, product manager roles and other roles in technology, experience delivery, or an industry of interest can be a great platform of experience on which to biuild a career. Very often these roles benefit from someone who brings a design perspective to bear. This kind of experience can go a long way in differentiating you as a candidate.
10 Mar 2010 - 4:25pm
jasonrobb
2009

If you want a job in UX, here are 3 things you should know:

1. Send your resume everyone. Even if they're asking for a developer/designer/fire-fighter combo, it never hurts to get your resume in front of them. Most places I've talked to don't know what they want, so they load their job descriptions with 10 times as much as they should. (A note to employers after the jump...)

2. Your resume will never be perfect, send it to everyone right nowYour resume is crap, so is everyone else's, send it anyway. The resume is just a means to an end. The job of your resume is to get you an interview on the phone. On the phone, you'll need to sell yourself so you can get a face-to-face interview. In that interview, you'll be tested further. If a company isn't going to talk to you based on your resume alone, you probably don't want to work there anyways. Just one man's point of view. Chances are, you're far more interesting and appealing in person than you are on paper or on the phone.

3. Meet lots of people, not just UX designers. Joining your local IxDA, UPA, or UX Book Club is a good thing. But you should be going to all kinds of events, not just UX focused. The UX events are nice to build camaraderie, but just as important are the off-topic groups. Go to developer, business, startup, and marketing events. Go to all of them in your area. It's a lot of work, but it's the best way to get your name out to a lot of different groups. Chances are good that the other groups want to hire a UX designer more so than the people at UX events.

 

If you want to hire a UX designer, here is 1 thing you should know:

1. Stop loading your job descriptions with so much crap you don't actually need! This was bar none the hardest part about job searching when I was a junior designer. How many UX positions are actually going to require you to write flawless MySQL? It's infuriating to see loaded job descriptions as someone fresh out of school. "Why isn't anyone hiring juniors?" I would ask myself. Because everyone wants the best of the best, so another bit for the hirable UX designer: Act like you're the best (but don't lie about skills) and send your resume anyways.

 

Hope that helps,

 

Jason R.

http://jasonrobb.com

26 Mar 2010 - 5:20pm
jasonrobb
2009

These are all good points. A few others points (and don't take this as sounding jaded, but possibly more realistic):

1. UX/IA is both a task and a career. You can treat it as one or other or both. Right now it's quite in vogue to call yourself a User Experience Designer even if you are just cranking out wireframes. Consider what you'd like to do, the types of environments you would like to work for, the people you would like to work with rather than just the job title, and you will probably find aspects of ID/UA/UX in that company. Send them your resume.

2. Differentiate yourself and get a competitive edge. What would you do tomorrow if someone asked you to port a complex Blackberry app to iPhone, for instance? Do you understand UX and Mobile? Do you understand new technologies such as Natal? What about UX for next-generation fingerless / touch-less devices?

3. Have you contributed original research to the field? This is a way to gain credibility.

4. Are you a contributer to open source projects? When was your latest commit? This is a great way to meet developers, project managers, etc.

5. Do you have any patents? Invent something

6. What about videogames? Can you spec out and design UX for games both mobile and console?

7. What about hardware? What is the latest physical / ubiquitous computing project you have contributed to?

Tim

If you want a job in UX, here are 3 things you should know:

*1. Send your resume everyone.* Even if they're asking for a developer/designer/fire-fighter combo, it never hurts to get your resume in front of them. Most places I've talked to don't know what they want, so they load their job descriptions with 10 times as much as they should. (A note to employers after the jump...)

*2. Your resume will never be perfect, send it to everyone /right now/! *Your resume is crap, so is everyone else's, send it anyway. The resume is just a means to an end. The job of your resume is to get you an interview on the phone. On the phone, you'll need to sell yourself so you can get a face-to-face interview. In that interview, you'll be tested further. If a company isn't going to talk to you based on your resume alone, you probably don't want to work there anyways. Just one man's point of view. Chances are, you're far more interesting and appealing in person than you are on paper or on the phone.

*3. Meet lots of people, not just UX designers.* Joining your local IxDA, UPA, or UX Book Club is a good thing. But you should be going to all kinds of events, not just UX focused. The UX events are nice to build camaraderie, but just as important are the off-topic groups. Go to developer, business, startup, and marketing events. Go to all of them in your area. It's a lot of work, but it's the best way to get your name out to a lot of different groups. Chances are good that the other groups want to hire a UX designer more so than the people at UX events.

 

If you want to hire a UX designer, here is 1 thing you should know:

*1. Stop loading your job descriptions with so much crap you don't actually need! *This was bar none the hardest part about job searching when I was a junior designer. How many UX positions are actually going to require you to write flawless MySQL? It's infuriating to see loaded job descriptions as someone fresh out of school. "Why isn't anyone hiring juniors?" I would ask myself. Because everyone wants the best of the best, so another bit for the hirable UX designer: Act like you're the best (but don't lie about skills) and send your resume anyways.

 

Hope that helps,

 

Jason R.

http://jasonrobb.com [1]

(((Ple
10 Mar 2010 - 8:04pm
Ali Naqvi
2008

Dear members,

once again I am very thankful for all your comments.

With regards to my resume:

I am getting professional help from www.right.com yet no interviews. I receive emails from the employers wherein they tell me how 200-300 people applied for the job and there were people with 10 + years of experience. I apply for jobs that may not be fully USD oriented. My first job as a tech writer wasn't fully ucd oriented either.

regards 

Ali

10 Mar 2010 - 10:50pm
Timothy Jaeger
2010

These are all good points. A few other points:

1. UX/IA is both a task and a career. You can treat it as one or other or both. Right now it's quite in vogue to call yourself a User Experience Designer even if you are just cranking out wireframes. Consider what you'd like to do, the types of environments you would like to work for, the people you would like to work with rather than just the job title, and you will probably find aspects of ID/UA/UX in that company. Send them your resume.

2. Differentiate yourself and get a competitive edge. What would you do tomorrow if someone asked you to port a complex Blackberry app to iPhone, for instance? Do you understand UX and Mobile? Do you understand new technologies such as Natal? What about UX for next-generation fingerless / touch-less devices? Having opinions and beginning to work on these subjects will open yourself up as a younger-but-clued-in candidate.

3. Have you contributed original research to the field? This is a way to gain credibility.

4. Are you a contributer to open source projects? When was your latest commit? This is a great way to meet developers, project managers, etc.

5. Do you have any patents? Invent something, possibly a new interface or navigation system

6. What about videogames?
Can you spec out and design UX for games both mobile and console? The videogame industry has a need for UX.

7. What about hardware? What is the latest physical / ubiquitous computing project you have contributed to? Processing / Arduino is a great way to start integrating physical with the virtual.

These are some thoughts that might guide you (or anyone) thinking about User Experience.

Tim

10 Mar 2010 - 11:14pm
davewallach
2010

Hi Ali, 

It certainly is relieving to know that others out there are also struggling hard.  I graduated with a masters in Human Factors in 2006, then traveled for about 3 years and am now looking for work in my field.... yeah, right when the recession hit (great timing).  In the last year I've been looking for anything UX or UI design related.  I've been lucky enough to have had two informational interviews with long time professionals and some of their advice has been fantastic (although, yes, still looking for a job):

1) You don't need to be hired by someone to have a portfolio.  Your portfolio is meant to demonstrate your work, of course, but in absence of that, it can communicate your thinking and approach to design/analysis (something Pauric was emphasizing with graphically representing your CV).  If you can find a friend or even an acquaintance that needs their website looked at or re-made, get yourself involved, document the process and start your portfolio.  Start doing work now, even if it isn't paid.... it will show what you are capable of doing.

2) Improve your skills.  You're on the right track with taking a class (again, take my advice for what it's worth, as someone that is still looking).  It is fairly straightforward to learn XHTML and CSS, and there are some great online classes that can get you started and help to keep you motivated.  In fact, I took one and made my own online portfolio as a result:

www.hiamdesigns.com/portfolio.html (if anyone out there is interested in taking a look)

Good luck with everything and, really, try your best to not get discouraged!!  It can be very demoralizing to continue to look when basically nothing is coming through.... especially when you know you are a competent, capable person.  I do think that one of the others that posted made a great point though; you are being hired to provide a service and to add to a team.  You must be able to show you have the abilities to do this.  Take on your own projects if nothing else is there.  If nothing else it will keep you sane, keep you productive, and show any potential employer how tenacious you can be.  Good luck!!!

11 Mar 2010 - 6:22am
Iain Arnison
2008

Hi,

I think that is one thing that has not been said here,

"why wait" !!

Pick the company you want to work for, do your research,

  • if you did get a job at the company who would you be working for ?
  • Who is thier boss

Take the inishative, the markets are on the up send your resume to both of them. If you do this your already ahead of the crowd and ahead of any recuritment agancies.

Granted the odd's are against you....

Stay focused, dont get depressed and get a job :o) JFDI

 

26 Mar 2010 - 5:20pm
Jeremy Kriegel
2009

Here is some contratian advice: Forget sending your resume. As you mentioned, if 200 people applied, you are lost in the shuffle. If you know someone at the company, have them submit it. If you're new in your career, your network might be small, but this is something you want to develop and build over time.
Here is a great weapon that few use, the informational interview. Find people who do what you want to do in companies that you'd want to work for. Contact them, even if it is leaving them a message at the front desk or sending them a physical letter. Tell them you want to meet with them to learn about what they do. Many people will respond for two reasons. First, we  like to help others. Second, we love talking about ourselves. You will learn a lot and you will have made a connection.
DON'T try and sell yourself. It will come of as disingenuous. Remember, you contacted them to talk about them, not you. Most likely, they will ask about you. DO have a copy of your resume IF they ask. If they ask about your experience and what you are looking for, then the door is open for that conversation. 
I know people who have had jobs created for them out of informational interviews. If there is a need that you can fill, they'll let you know. You can ask if there are other people they respect that you could talk to that they could connect you with. Now you are starting to build personal relationships with people that are more likely to lead to work.
Another piece of advice I give is to get the book Conceptual Selling. It is written for sales people who do face to face sales calls. Think of yourself as the product and you've got a great interviewing guide. It is very UX. You spend most of your time interviewing them about what they need and a small bit of time showing how you meet exactly that need (if you do. if you don't, save everyone some time and end the interview.). Most companies do not have an interviewing process, so if you take the lead, they will be relieved. Do be aware that if someone else is trying to control the interview, let them.
good luck.
-jer
"Be well, do good work & keep in touch."
    - Garrison Keillor


On Thu, Mar 11, 2010 at 8:29 AM, Iain Arnison <contact@ixda.org> wrote:

Hi,

I think that is one thing that has not been said here,

*"why wait" !!*

Pick the company you want to work for, do your research,

* if you did get a job at the company who would you be working for ?
* Who is thier boss

Take the inishative, the markets are on the up send your resume to both of them. If you do this your already ahead of the crowd and ahead of any recuritment agancies.

Granted the odd's are against you....

Stay focused, dont get depressed and get a job :o)* JFDI*

 

(((Pl
11 Mar 2010 - 7:05pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Ali, I'm not just saying this b/c I'm a professor. I would have said this 3 years ago. A recession is a beautiful time to go get a grad degree. Take a 2-yr break at a school that has a GREAT career services department and amazing alumni in the field you are interested in. Seriously, the story you are saying is hard. You are a tech writer. Breaking into a new discipline w/o the chops to really support it is just hard. I don't even think I would even take you as an intern compared to say recent grads or current students who are design school trained/graduated.

Everyone is trying to tell you to do this and that, but I really think you need to be more realistic about your situation. Get a job, any job. Hell, my first job out of college was working at Barnes & Noble and then a library at Jewish Seminary. Then I tried a year of grad school b4 quitting, then become a research editor for a publishing company and finally 3-4 years after graduating college (forgot to mention the milking cows and teaching English in Israel bit for a year) I got my first real "design" gig and that was in the early boom of Silicon Alley.

Hard times, folks, means being real. It means that how WE became stars won't cut it the same way. There are just too many formally educated designers who do "enough" ixD to ignore that.

So I say again, go back to school and become a formally trained IxD. It's worth the loans. And OMG, you are in Scandi, where there are more free to cheap educational options than stones on the sea shore. If you are an EU person, its like ridiculously cheap to go to school almost anywhere in Europe including Malmo and CIID in your backyard. Umea is just a short flight up the coast, OHA in Oslo is also great.

 

12 Mar 2010 - 6:07pm
Ali Naqvi
2008

Hello David,

I got an MSc in IT and specialized in User Centered Design at www.itu.dk

My interaction design teachers were Simona Maschi, Vinay Venkatraman and Heather Martin who all run CIID. So I am designed trained since all my courses at ITU were related to user centered design.

I took the tech writer job since my task was to incorporate usability and find out user needs aswell.

Ali

12 Mar 2010 - 7:43pm
Dave Malouf
2005

but you still don't feel like you're a designer? Then despite Simona & Vinay's best efforts, maybe the concentration wasn't enough aginst the background of technology centric education of an MSc in IT. 

My point being is if you feel inadequate. FIX IT! However you must. and now is the time to do it. You can fix it yourself or you can fix it by doing it formally.

In the states we have Lynda.com, which is a pretty cheap way to learn tools.

I have to say that whenever I hear people complain about tools, I have no sympathy. My students as part of their ID training NEVER get formal education in graphic tools and they can run circles around me in AI, PSD, InDesign and now even After Effects. This past quarter, I've been pushing my students towards video presentations and w/o a single lesson in AfterEffects many learned enough to create some amazing video prototypes in a week. A WEEK! Mind you this is 1 of 3 studio classes they were taking. So it ain't like they were doing this full time.

As for the piece that tells you WHAT to do once you know how to use the tools. Find mentors, post your ideas on your blog, create a group of people like yourself and help each other through peer learning, etc. etc. 

As for the "getting" of the job. Make your own portfolio. Do your own projects. Do pro-bono work for things and causes that interest you. Know of a society that has a site that sucks? Ask permission to do it for free w/ their guidance and make it happen. Hell, make it an open project so others can engage and mentor you through the process.

It sounds like the ball is fully and wholly in your court.

- -dave

13 Mar 2010 - 2:33am
sbisker
2009

To add to dave's point - 

Hey, industry folks....if you don't want kids fretting about design tools so much and using them as an excuse to shower crummy designs with pretty filters, please stop stressing particular design tools so much in your job postings! Yes, yes, we know offices need to settle on standard tools, and you don't want to spend time training someone unless it's truly necessary. We want to get to designing cool stuff as quickly as you do. However, if it really is so hard to teach visual thinking, and so easy to pick up a new tool, then assume that a good candidate who's learned to express himself well visually through OmniGraffle or Visio (or pen and pencil, or HTML+CSS+jQuery...) will be dedicated enough to the craft to learn whatever tools they need to express themselves within your firm, and just might be worth the risk/ramp-up.

Particularly with more "patterned" platforms like the iPhone, I found I could make seriously realistic mockups with OmniGraffle stencils - used wisely, and judiciously - at the beginning of my career that clients would have sworn were made in Photoshop. In the meantime, I mucked around with Adobe tools on side projects, and did my day job in The Gimp and Visio, as my company couldn't afford to buy me Adobe licenses (but had a spare MSDN license for me). Frankly, I learned quickly that my clients usually don't care whether I make my mockups in The Gimp, or Photoshop, or Visio, or macaroni art - as long as the designs communicate the message they need to, and have at least one deliverable that can be easily shared with cohorts (which means make at least one PDF version, even if it's screenshots of a live website).

-Sol
Solomon Bisker
www.biskerrific.com
13 Mar 2010 - 7:03am
Ali Naqvi
2008

Hello David,

you are right. That is why I started on the Image Making course at Malmo University where I get a basic introduction to Graphic Design.

I read books and also play with adobe illustrator and photoshop at home. I know these tools.Its just that I feel that employers do not post any jr. interaction designer jobs in my area. Its all Sr. postings with tons of years of experience.

I finished my eye tracking class few months ago and will finish the image making class in few months also. Then I will start at another course. At the same time I will keep looking for jobs. I guess finding ANY job right now is better than just receive my Union benefits.

Ali

26 Mar 2010 - 5:31pm
isa hardemo
2009

Ali, I must say that looking for merely posted jobs won't get you very far
and does not really indicate a devoted interest in the field. I work
at Europes biggest company specializing in Interaction Design and UX.
We have an office in Malmö where you are studying AND we've been
hiring people for "jr positions" during the last few months. Haven't
heard from you though...

I suggest you put a little less effort in complaining about your
situation and instead start following the excellent advices you got
from David Malouf recently.

Hälsningar /Isa Hardemo inUse, Malmö

13 mar 2010 kl. 13.29 skrev "Ali Naqvi" :

> Hello David, > > you are right. That is why I started on the Image Making course at
> Malmo > University where I get a basic introduction to Graphic Design. > > I read books and also play with adobe illustrator and photoshop at
> home. I > know these tools.Its just that I feel that employers do not post any
> jr. > interaction designer jobs in my area. Its all Sr. postings with tons
> of years > of experience. > > I finished my eye tracking class few months ago and will finish the
> image > making class in few months also. Then I will start at another
> course. At the > same time I will keep looking for jobs. I guess finding ANY job
> right now is > better than just receive my Union benefits. > > Ali > > (((

27 Mar 2010 - 3:51pm
Ali Naqvi
2008
hello Isa, i did mit know that Europes biggest company specializing in ux was based in Malmø. Thats interesting. Did not see you ón monster or other job sites. i'll visit your website.
27 Mar 2010 - 4:01pm
Ali Naqvi
2008
hello Isa, i cannot see ón your websit. that youve been looking for jr ux designers for months now. what i see is a sr. position in Stockholm posted Jan. 18. thx for informing mé though.
22 Mar 2010 - 10:33pm
Mike Eng
2010

As for learning fundamental graphic design skills (not focused on any particular technology) - I found the books by Robin Williams (the graphic designer, not the actor) to be helpful, though it may be a bit basic at times.

Also, I think it's the nature of this profession to be constantly focusing on the new tool or programming language that we don't know yet. But one good piece of advice someone gave me was simply to "play to your strengths" - you'll do yourself a great service figuring out how to show and articulate the skills that you already have and translating them to the new field you are trying to get into.

26 Mar 2010 - 5:20pm
Erin Myers
2009

Re: [IxDA] It sucks to be a Jr. Interaction Designer/Jr. Usability Specialist/ Jr. User Experience Designer

Hi there,

I know you’ve gotten a lot of advice on this already, but my suggestion would be to intern for companies whose work, client list, and culture are a fit with you. It’s entirely possible that a pro-bono gig could turn into full time employment!

Best of luck,
Erin


On 3/6/10 11:41 AM, "Ali Naqvi" <contact@ixda.org> wrote:

For those graduating in 2008 (When the crisis started), 2009 (when the crisis
was at the peek) and 2010 (when almost every 4th is unemployed in Malmö and
Copenhagen Area), it really sucked/sucks to be a user centered designer. NO
FREAKING JOBS! I was lucky enough to get hired as a technical writer with
emphasis on usability....this was my first career job and I learned alot. Its
just sad that it lasted for 13 months only.... My employer had to let 35
employees go. I was one of them. 

Now almost 4 months later I am still looking for jobs. Jobs within the field
of UCD. I look for usability, GUI design, interaction design, user experience
etc.... What do I see? "The candidate should have atleast 5 years of
experience....", "The candidate will need to show us a portfolio so that we
can see excellent graphic capabilities".  How can a recent graduate fulfill
these requirements?? He/she can't!

So what does a recent graduate do?? I have started some evening part time
classes in graphic design and eye tracking and hope that I may score some
points.

Any input would be appreciated.

Regards

Ali

 

 

 

 

(((Please

26 Mar 2010 - 5:31pm
tessa
2008

understood. i was quite lucky graduating in 1997 - but it took me a while to find a job, too. 2 suggestions:

  1. freelance - take what you can and learn.
  2. get a job in a good company that has a dept. you are looking to get into - it doesn't matter too much what your role is  - work smart, keep your ears perked up, learn the politics and keep your intentions good. You just may get the job you want through an internal post.

best,t
On Sat, Mar 6, 2010 at 4:03 AM, Ali Naqvi <contact@ixda.org> wrote:

For those graduating in 2008 (When the crisis started), 2009 (when the crisis was at the peek) and 2010 (when almost every 4th is unemployed in Malmö and Copenhagen Area), it really sucked/sucks to be a user centered designer. NO FREAKING JOBS! I was lucky enough to get hired as a technical writer with emphasis on usability....this was my first career job and I learned alot. Its just sad that it lasted for 13 months only.... My employer had to let 35 employees go. I was one of them. 

Now almost 4 months later I am still looking for jobs. Jobs within the field of UCD. I look for usability, GUI design, interaction design, user experience etc.... What do I see? "The candidate should have atleast 5 years of experience....", "The candidate will need to show us a portfolio so that we can see excellent graphic capabilities".  How can a recent graduate fulfill these requirements?? He/she can't!

So what does a recent graduate do?? I have started some evening part time classes in graphic design and eye tracking and hope that I may score some points.

Any input would be appreciated.

Regards

Ali

 

 

 

 

(((Please le
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