Are you thinking of entering the exciting, creative world of UX design? Feeling a little apprehensive about the journey you’re about to embark on? Don’t. You’re not the first – and you certainly won’t be the last – to switch into UX. Every day we see people successfully making the transition. Regardless of whether you’re switching from the advertising industry, the health sector, or any other, if you’re disciplined and committed and have the right support, you too can succeed.
In this post, we’re going to relay the career journey of one of our UX design mentors, Wojciech Hupert. From his personal story to his tool belt and inspirational view on mentoring, Woj shares with us the ins and outs of the discipline, as well as the role of the mentor in getting our students to where they want to be.
How Wojciech Got Started In UX Design
Before moving to Berlin, Wojciech had adventured over to Asia to kickstart his freelancing business; tough and tiring as entrepreneurship is, he found himself back in Europe, engaged in a myriad of fields, including video editing, publishing and sound design (of course, always alongside UX design).
“Every new experience changes us”, he remarks, as he considers the geographic and disciplinary moves he has made throughout his life - beginning with his discovery of UX in Dublin, Ireland.
Woj’s journey to UX design began when he was working in publishing (setting up magazines and complex user manuals) and technical writing (designing clinical research forms and manuals). During this time he was frequently exposed to challenges of working with information architecture and content hierarchy.
Woj recalls that his “transition to UX was gradual”: from an initial understanding of the field in Ireland, where knowledge of UX at the time was still basic, to becoming engaged with design and UI work. In terms of the key to break into the field, Woj tells us that it was “work with other UX designers [which] was definitely the most effective”. Indeed, it has been this central tenet that first enticed him into mentoring; “[it] makes me a great believer in the ‘student-mentor’ learning structure”, he told us.
Becoming A Mentor
Inspired by motivating others as well as reaping the benefits of being exposed to different perspectives, Wojciech embarked on the mentoring journey with CareerFoundry a little over two years ago. He advises those thinking about a career in UX design to “consider being a job hopper”, as well as trying out different sectors: from corporate to freelance to startups, otherwise, he tells us “you might get stuck”.
“UX has so many pockets and there are always enthusiasts gravitating to specific niches”, he tells us. Indeed, the field’s broad scope often attracts a wide variety of people, as well as tools. Wojciech recounts that he “used to experiment a lot”, and only recently “decided to establish a limited set of tools.”
Currently, his “utility belt” includes:
For inspiration, Wojciech relies on the good old tech community. Including:
- shared texts from the Designer Hangout community and CareerFoundry’s own vibrant Slack channel.
- podcasts such as The UX Intern, The Accidental Creative and UX Pod
- Reddit, in particular the subreddits: User Experience Design; UX Design and Usability
As for mentoring, Wojciech expresses sadness in not having had a guiding figure of his own during his career. He recalls that when he first heard of UX ten years ago it was a still a small discipline, that was seldom taken seriously.
“The idea of having a mentor is huge!” he exclaims, “a good mentor is worth his or her weight in gold”.
Changing careers and diving deep into the seas of the tech industry are not easy tasks. According to Wojciech, the biggest challenge students encounter is time management, but although some students who also work day jobs can struggle fitting it all together, others find that juggling a home life and job with an intensive online bootcamp can also serve as a motivating factor.
Luckily, CareerFoundry’s unique mentor model encourages students:
“Mentors can significantly influence student engagement”, Woj explains.
For example, Woj often checks in with his students if he’s not heard from them after a couple days. He tells us that many “like to be reminded that there is someone waiting to see their work”.
Additionally, when students get overwhelmed, Woj resorts to “connect[ing] via Skype and go[ing] through instructions together”. He tells us: “During those calls we also talk about the nature of distractions and try to find ways to eliminate them”, including one of Woj’s favorites: the Pomodoro technique.
A Career In UX Design
What’s it like then to work in UX, we asked, to which Woj responded:
“It’s like being surrounded by ambitious and enthusiastic people whose sole mission in life is to improve how the world works”.
Can you think of better people to work with, or a better mission in your career?
What You Should Do Now
- If you’d like a step-by-step intro to find out if UX design is right for you - sign up here for our free 7-day UX short course.
- If you are interested in becoming a UX Designer check out our UX design course (you'll learn the essential skills employers need).
- If you’d like to speak to an expert Career Advisor for free about how you can really get a new job in tech - connect with us here.
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