UX and Career Switch. Should I switch careers into UX?

Want to do UX? Career Switching?

Should I go to school like General Assembly, to learn UX?

Is it time for a Career Change?

Are you thinking of doing UX as a Career? Want to make a switch but are unsure if the course is right for you? 

Recently I was contacted by someone interested to do General Assembly UX Course in his city, he email me asking what I felt about General Assembly UXDI course which I have completed last year (2016). 

For this person, it was career switching from Marketing to UX, and he had quite a few questions regarding the course and job prospects as a UX Designer.

Hope the information compiled below can be of use if you are thinking of making a career switch.

Some points to Note: 

My experience is from the SG Campus so it might defer but some general questions can still apply if you are considering a UX School. I am also relatively new to the UX field having come from a background in Visual / Graphics Design and some software engineering.

Questions Asked:

I studied studio art but not have a strong portfolio, but am still interested in studying UX, to become a “UX Designer”. What challenges will I face if I do not have formal design training?

Art or Design is not a requirement to do the course but it is helpful to know some basic Visual or Graphic Design, since it is part of UX. You will have to eventually be dealing with how humans interact with Graphical Interfaces so a basic knowledge of color theory or layouts and pattersn would be useful. The course covers basics of Graphics design and it is good enough to make designs for UX/UI.

Some classmates were programmers or financial consultants that do not have training in Design but were able to make recommendations, UX/UI prototypes with the limited design knowledge once they were through with the lesson.

What is the overall Course and Experience like for the GA UX Immersive Course?

If you want a review about a detail General Assembly Immersive Course review here is a great write-up: https://medium.com/@elfox/should-i-take-general-assembly-s-user-experience-design-immersive-course-3a1a033e16f9#.1yfc5vxee

But generally the courses are structured similarly around the globe. Instructors are picked from the local industry so that the teach would be able to align with what the industry needs.

At the end of the course you only get a certificate, is it enough to get a job? It depends on how much you can network and meet people in your area needing UX Design and sending out your resumes into the Job Market.

Personally I loved the teamwork and skills you learn working on projects with a deadline. You really have to learn to have empathy for the user and ask good questions to find the real problem. 

We were tasked to write a blog for each project and document our process, which made me want to learn more about writing and communication skills which can be more important than just having Photoshop or Sketch skills.

Is the GA UXDI course a reliable method of entry into the UX field?

There is no sure path to be a UX Designer. Most courses only teaches the bare minimum on a subject. There is a need for continual learning and picking up projects or self-starting your own UX projects.

GA UXDI program is very fast paced they load a lot of information that is useful, but it is still surface level.

One plus side in getting into the industry, there was a job fair at the end of the course where each student will get to showcase their project to prospective employees. It was a good introduction to various startups or agencies looking to hire UX Designers.

How difficult is it to find an entry-level position or internship in UX/UI design? 

The field is still relatively new here where I live, depending on the city where GA resides it can be very mature. But based on my observations most Starting-Out UX jobs involve some UI work or Graphics Design of web interfaces.

Mostly it depends on your portfolio to get the job. You have to keep searching for an employer to hire you, and a bit of luck in the job market.

How I ended up at General Assembly.

I was actually exploring doing a year long master program at Hyper Island, but felt that it was a bit too long as I was out of work in early 2016. I heard about UX from various websites and decided to check out an introduction workshop at General Assembly. I was intrigued and decided that a 3 month course was just about enough time to see if UX was a field I would continue to venture on forward.

The school is what you make of it, it is a good introduction to UX and digital. But it is not exhaustive enough to give you the skills you need to be an advance practitioner.

Closing Thoughts:

Some things you may want to think about before signing up for a course. 

Why do you Want to Do UX? Do ask yourself, are you bored at work? Need a pay raise? Everyone has different goals coming into school.

What is your own End Goal? Is it graduate school? More in-depth design theory? Being a UX Practitioner?

What else can I learn besides UX? General Assembly made me write a medium blog and its one other key skill that I learned to brush up communication writing, and it made me better as a designer, which i am still going to improve it.

Most advice will get old, things change the course is being tweaked for every batch and like most school things upgrade Instructors come and go and life situation changes. What worked for me may not work for you.

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