While it is an often overused phrase typically thrown out with little regard during commencement addresses at College campuses across the Country, the feeling of graduating from anything truly does feel like the close of one chapter, and the start of another. Or the close of one door, and the opening of another. Or the close of [insert closable thing here] and the opening of [insert openable thing here].
To commemorate this moment, as I myself am approaching graduation from Designlab's UX Academy, I have decided to write my first website journal post to recap the experience and reflect on the last few months. Specifically, I will focus on things I learned.
"In order to get a job as a UX/UI Designer, you'll need to demonstrate your transferable skills to your future employer." - Every UX Blog Out There
During my UX Academy course onboarding, one of the big things that Designlab put emphasis on was learning how to present your designs to the team and how to give and respond to constructive criticism. I couldn't help but notice that this was a huge source of anxiety for a number of my fellow students, as the hefty majority considered themselves as introverts. While I would put myself in that category as well, this didn't really phase me in the slightest, and I was really looking forward to it.
The reason? I have a LOT of experience presenting to client's and prospects, many of whom could care less about if they were being "constructive" (or even respectful) with their thoughts and feedback. More often than not, I was presenting in relatively high-pressure situations where thousands of dollars were involved.
As it turns out, if you have experience presenting an hour-long proposal to a bunch of C-Level executives over a $160k+ contract, presenting your choice of typography and button color doesn't really phase you as much.
Outside of my presentation skillset, my knowledge of digital marketing and branding, experience working with startups, and exposure to some insanely bright web developer's have all given me a great foundation of transferable skills that I can bring to the table.
"Everything is design. Everything!" - Paul Rand
"Thinking like a designer" may also seem like a banal platitude but, in reality, it ended up being one of the most exciting things for me about pursuing a career path in UX/UI Design. Now I can't help but wonder what font is used on my shampoo bottle. Or admire the design of the home screen icons on Duolingo. Or complain about the user experience of assembling that bed frame I bought online.
As a nature nerd, the beautiful colors of natural landscapes have taken on new meaning. I've even started to pay much closer attention to the UI of buttons in video games, and admire the game designer's use of progressive disclosure to teach me how to learn complex maneuvers without getting overwhelmed.
Most importantly, I learned that the process of "learning design" will never end. What was, at first, an ominous mountain of things I don't yet know has become an enjoyable, steady climb to gradual learning. Surely, with the continuous advancement of technology that will never change.
"There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up." - John Holmes
Transitioning to a new career path during a global pandemic was an extremely difficult decision for me. Like serious anxiety-inducing difficult.
I have an enormous list of people to thank and I couldn't have gotten to this point without them. Whether that was my Designlab mentor's, Group Critique facilitators, or friends and family who had to listen to me drone on about design patterns while they complained about the touch screen in their new Subaru, I am beyond grateful for every single person who offered their support during this remarkably challenging and chaotic year. Initially, I had debated going the "self-taught" route, and I am so glad that I decided to join the Designlab community so I had a network of people who understood what I was going through and were ready to help however they could.
I am ready to open that door now.