Aspiring UXer, in a unique situation. Need advice!
29 Apr 2011 - 4:59pm
2 years ago
I'm new to the community, thanks in advance for the welcome :) So I've been out of college since 07, and I'm in a pretty unique situation with my current role and I'd like some advice for how to proceed.
Quick background: For 2 years I was working as a "design consultant," a role which basically had me managing churn and burn web design projects for small businesses. I learned a lot and leveled up my photoshop and design skills, but I was not in a position where I was building sites from the ground up. Each site was small and focused on a central conversion point, such as a "Call Now" number or a "Sign up now" button, so I learned a lot about calls to action.
So now, I am currently working as a "web strategist" for the company I work for, working with content and offerings from HR on the company's intranet. The reason I think it's a unique position is because we're afforded the time to take a project (a project would be, let's say, revamping the Leave of Absence section...adding new content, and structuring it in such a way as to enable employees to find the leave they need to take quickly and easily) through all the UX procedures. User research, personas, wireframes, design mockups, usability tests, feedback...we get to do it all. And by "we" I'm referring to myself and my boss...that's our whole team.
So I suppose my question is, what do you recommend I do to make the most of this opportunity and grow in these areas, and really dive fully into them so I can come away after 1-3 years with a solid understanding of UX, and be headed in the right direction if UX is going to be my new career (as I believe I'd like it to be)? To break the question down:
Readings - What are some essential readings to get the fundamental skills down? I am currently reading "A Project Guide to UX Design" by Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler
Higher/Continuing Education - What are some courses I should be taking, and what would you reccomend for a potential Masters degree? I would very much like to continue school, but in the right direction. Only masters program I've found so far is a quasi-HCI degree at San Jose State (I am in the Bay Area)
Side Projects - How can I get involved in some side work to boost my portfolio and up my skills? I have a potential project that may be an option. A friend and his startup, a group of 3-4 ex-Googlers, approached me with potential work, mostly because we're friends and he'd like to work with friends. They would need UX work...I think it'd be a great opportunity, but I may be too green.
Well that was a huge post, and if you're still reading I truly appreciate you taking the time to give me input. I really want to keep diving into this stuff, and hopefully I'll still be doing it 3-5-10 years from now!