During my last year in university, I felt stuck in limbo. While I finished my thesis and graduated on a random Tuesday night, I had no plans or expectations for the future. I may love marketing and have a slew of internships under my belt, but none of them sparked my interest. In turn, I felt lost about what to do next.
Everything changed after I watched chunbun’s vlog “A Day in the Life of a UX Designer”. In some way, UX Design reminded me of graphic design, which I explored by dabbling in Photoshop when I was 10. Since I also come from a business background, I thought that pursuing a UX career would allow me to marry my interest in both business and design.
UX+ University gave me a place to start my UX career. It was crazy for me to shift careers without knowing what would happen next or what a career in design looks like. But I trusted my gut and jumped in!
What I Considered Before Applying to a UX Bootcamp
Convincing my parents to let me study again after 2 months of graduating was no easy feat — I reflected on my career goals, researched on various UX bootcamps, and came up with the following list of factors I considered when applying to a UX bootcamp:
As I financed my own studies, I sought the cheapest option available without compromising the quality of my education. Luckily, UX+ University offers a 3-month installment tuition plan, which is much cheaper than US-based UX bootcamps. (UX+ University also offers an ISA agreement, where you pay nothing until you’re hired!)
Because I had a 9-5 internship, I wanted a bootcamp that gave me ample time to study at my own pace. Lectures at UX+ University only ran twice a week from 7 to 9 pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, so I had the remainder of the week to digest the lessons, work on my assignment, and ask for feedback.
A community of experts
A quick LinkedIn search on the people behind UX+ University will tell you a lot about their professional experiences and achievements. Mentors have five to sixteen years of experience in the UX industry, and the founders are also seasoned UX professionals. This means that they practice what they preach.
Through mentors like Cedric, Marco, Anj, Phil, Phil, Frances, CSJ, and Marianne, I’ve learned a great deal about combatting impostor syndrome and preparing for job interviews. These mentors also shared their life stories, which gave me an idea of how they got to where they are today.
5 key learnings from UX+ University
UX+ University ticked all the checkboxes in what I was looking for in a bootcamp, so after applying and getting accepted into the program, I was ecstatic to begin my UX journey.
What I got out of the program was a treasure trove of learnings — learnings which I will always carry with me throughout my career. Below are my 5 key learnings:
1. You don’t need to have a design background to be great at UX.
My classmates at UX+ University came from different backgrounds including engineering, non-profit, and financial technology. Being one of the youngest students, I maximized the opportunity of learning from my classmates, who taught me just as much about UX as I did from my mentors. Whenever I’d work on projects, my classmates, who would draw ideas from their unique experiences, would suggest ways of approaching problems — ways which I myself would never have thought of.
Looking back, I realized that you don’t need to come from a design background to be a great UX Designer. Whatever skills you acquired in your previous jobs are transferable to the UX practice. In fact, 64.25% of UX practitioners in the Philippines came from another industry before transitioning to UX.
2. Share your work early and often; seek for feedback.
At UX+ University, we were trained to share work and seek feedback early on, instead of showing a full-blown output. We did this so that issues could be addressed early in the UX process.
This mindset was particularly ingrained in us during Office Hours, where we presented our works in progress to the whole class. Initially, I struggled because as a perfectionist, I disliked asking for feedback when I’m still halfway through my work. Eventually though, I got the drift, and now I’m more confident in sharing my work out in the open.
3. Stay hungry; stay foolish.
Admitting you don't know the answer to something is the first step toward finding it.
- Doreen Lorenzo
UX+ University trained us to approach problems with a fresh pair of eyes, as if we’ve encountered that given problem for the first time. We also learned to ask questions to know what we do not know and to constantly question our assumptions in uncovering the truth.
Being new to UX, I had lots to learn, but I didn’t know what I had to learn or what my blind spots are. That’s why I maximized my one-hour chats with my mentors. I asked about their UX journey, things they wish they’d done differently, or any advice that is helpful in my own career.
Aside from mentorship calls, UX+ University also provided us with other opportunities to help us gain fresh perspectives on how to approach UX Design. On Saturdays, we had Design Critiques, where we presented our finished work to the class. I always looked forward to attending these sessions, because mentors would point out areas of improvement that I overlooked.
I wanted to grow as a UX Designer, so I paid more attention to these areas of improvement. During lunch time, I worked an extra hour to iterate on my prototypes and presentation slides from the feedback I got. I also rehearsed my presentation to further hone my public speaking skills.
4. Make new friends along the way.
After class, my classmates and I would hop on a Discord voice channel to unpack the lessons we’ve learned. We also used this as an opportunity to get to know each other more — we shared our life experiences and some lessons we’ve learned along the way. It felt refreshing hearing my classmates’ stories because although my classmates come from different walks of life, their struggles were no different than mine.
More than that, we could freely share our thoughts without any judgement. The community was such a psychologically safe place to be in that I still kept in touch with my classmates even after we graduated from UX+ University.
5. Foster a growth mindset.
Leaping into the unknown is scary, so it was easy for me to doubt my own abilities. I often had questions of whether I was good enough or if I was already too late. What changed though, after 16 weeks at UX+ University, was that I’ve learned that I’m capable of anything I set my mind to, as long as I foster a growth mindset.
In a growth mindset, people believe that their basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work - brains, and talents are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishments.
- Dr. Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D
Wrapping it up
This is my story on how I, coming from a marketing background, shifted to UX design. Getting here wasn’t easy, but I realized that if I started working towards your goals today, there's no telling where I'll be in a year. That said, I hope my story inspires you to take that leap and shift to UX, if ever you’re deciding on walking the same path as I did. Best of luck!