career transition seeking advice

31 Aug 2010 - 1:52pm
5 years ago
2 replies
1670 reads

Hi all:

I am in the process of a career transition.  I currently work in Digital Asset Management, and am enrolled in a Library/Info Science Masters program (one with some IxD, or related, offerings).  I also have a visual design background.  I am NOT a 20-something/right out of college.

I have done a lot of reading on this site and my question is:  how does a grown up (read: someone who is fiscally independent) become employable as an Interaction Designer, while they are working in another area and/or going to school?  How can I start to get some experience that I can put into a portfolio?  I plan on looking into internships, but it's unclear to me right now if I will be able to swing that financially.

I ask this because it seems that so many of the job postings ask for 3 to 5 to 7 years of experience, and I'm wondering how people get that initial experience under their belt.... again, especially if you are working full-time elsewhere in the meantime.

Also, for those of you who come from a 'pure' IxD background (eg Masters in the field, or lots of experience), can you recommend any books, reference texts, areas of study that I should engage with in my free time?  I think I am in a good program, but I want to make sure I have the grounding I need to succeed in this area.

(fyi, I really appreciate the thoughtful and generous feedback people provide in these postings.)

thanks!  Koren


31 Aug 2010 - 10:14pm

Most UX/IxD internships pay, so you could always transition out of what you are doing and become an intern or entry-level UX person. You might be pleasantly surprised at what some of these lower-level positions pay - but that is very dependent on location.

For your portfolio - take as many design electives as you can. Sketch, a lot. Then sketch some more. If you're in a good program, they are probably throwing all the standard HCI/IxD/UCD books/readings at you. Make it your job outside of the classroom to learn everything you can about the principles and elements of visual design, cognitive perception/psychology, and color theory.

Hope that is helpful!

3 Sep 2010 - 2:11pm

Hi Katey:  thanks for your reply.

I just read your profile and see you are in Washington... I am a native Oregonian, and actually think I will probably be moving back West in a few years.  I also felt an affinity to your professional pursuits.  I have a non-professional interest in Interior Design, and at one point was considering textile design.

Would you mind clarifying a little?

when you say 'sketch', what exactly do you mean?  Literally sketch, like trees, cups, etc?  or do you mean sketch ideas?  If you mean the former, can you say a little more about why it will help me in IxD?  (I'm a broad thinker in this way, but I just want to make sure I understand your perspective.)

I don't know how many HCI/IxD/UCD books I'll be assigned, so if you have specific recommendations, please provide detail.  So far, I own (but haven't yet read) A Project Guide to UX Design: For user experience designers in the field or in the making; and I just bought ID: byond human-computer interaction for school.

When you say design electives, do you mean visual design, or do you mean interface design?  there seem to be a number of classes that will give me some portal/interface design experience.  I like to learn about visual design in general, so I would probably pursue that on my own.

Thanks Katey!  You were my only responder!  :)


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