UX design is one of the most exciting industries to go into right now. No matter what your motivations are, there’s nothing more exciting than starting your journey towards becoming a UX designer. For many, quitting work completely in order to study just isn’t financially viable. However, it is entirely possible to study for your new career path while maintaining a full-time job.
Online UX bootcamps are set up to accommodate for flexible and self-paced learning—but the prospect of juggling an online UX bootcamp and a full-time job can feel like a challenge. Worry not! With the right mentality and a robust amount of planning you can succeed, and complete the course without compromising your current job.
In this blog post, we take you through 8 ways to excel in your UX bootcamp while maintaining your full-time job.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Create a clear plan
- Communicate with your employer
- Get on top of your time management
- Find a study buddy
- Make the most out of your mentor
- Put your skills to practice
- Don’t skip self-care
- Stay positive
Let’s dive in!
1. Create a clear plan
The first step when juggling an online UX bootcamp and a full-time job is to create a clear, realistic plan. Start by defining your goal and map out exactly how you intend to get there. When do you want to complete the course by? How much time can you give to your studies every week without it detracting from your job? What changes can you make at home that will accommodate your new schedule?
Familiarize yourself with the course syllabus, make a note of how many assignments you’ll need to do, and break everything down monthly. If you know it will be a busier month at work, you might need to study more the previous month to make up for it. Inform everyone in your personal life about your plan, and they’ll be much more understanding when you miss the occasional Friday night drinks or birthday celebration.
2. Communicate with your employer
Informing your employer about your online UX bootcamp (and imminent career change) may seem counterintuitive—but, put simply, it’s the right thing to do. Being upfront with your employer about important life changes will foster a relationship based on mutual respect. So long as you assure your boss that your studies won’t interfere with your job, they’ll likely appreciate your honesty, and you’ll feel a huge weight off your shoulders.
Telling your boss could even garner you their support and encouragement, rather than arousing suspicion if your performance at work begins to waver or you seem more tired than usual. Your boss might even lighten your workload or offer you flexible hours to accommodate your new schedule. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
3. Get on top of your time management
Whether it’s a physical planner that you can keep on your desk at work or a digital spreadsheet that enables notifications, schedules are vital tools when juggling work with an online UX bootcamp. Take a look at how many weekly hours are required by your UX course, as well as your working hours, and you’ll start to get an idea of what your weeks will look like. It’s also worth factoring in any significant life events that are coming up (anniversaries, trips, etc.) to ensure you’re well prepared for any change in schedule.
The key to creating a schedule is being realistic. If you can only dedicate 10 hours to your studies each week, accept that that’s all you can manage and that it might take you longer to finish the course than you initially thought. Don’t spread yourself too thin, and make sure you account for extra time in your schedule, in case you end up working late one day or have to pick up some additional responsibilities. It might take a month or two, but you’ll soon settle into a nice rhythm!
4. Find a study buddy
Having a study partner is a fantastic antidote to the isolation of studying online. Reach out to someone on your course who is also studying alongside maintaining a full-time job—bonus points if they’re in the same time zone! Having a study partner will offer you new perspectives on the course material, motivate you to stay focused, and allow you to share and exchange knowledge. You can also be each other’s accountability partners, checking in with each other regularly, and keeping each other on track while working towards a common goal.
Above all, having a study buddy makes learning much more fun. With a more social, interactive aspect to your learning, you’re much less likely to procrastinate—and you’ll likely be a lot more engaged with the course content. If you can find someone in your city or country, you could even schedule a time to meet up regularly for face to face check-ins.
5. Make the most out of your mentor
Even the most successful UX designers have mentors. Mentors can truly transform your learning experience. Having walked the same path as you, experienced the ups and downs themselves, their knowledge is valuable. Your mentor is there to help you navigate the course, providing valuable insights and tips along the way. If you start to feel overwhelmed, or feel like you’re losing motivation, your mentor can provide you with help, encouragement and advice, offering a fresh pair of eyes on the situation.
Regarly seeking feedback from your mentors will help you to stay on track. It’s vital that you’re transparent about your work schedule, your goals, and the challenges that you’re facing. Time with your mentor is valuable, so before scheduling each call, write down what questions you want to ask and any concerns you might have to ensure you’re getting the most out of the session. You can learn more about the importance of having a mentor (and how to make the most of yours!) here.
6. Put your skills to practice
UX design is an incredibly versatile discipline that can be applied to a myriad of different contexts and industries. The further along you get in the course, the more your way of thinking and problem-solving will begin to develop and adapt. Start reflecting on how you can apply what you’ve learned on the course to your current job, and it will give you some real-world context to the projects you’re working on. Your colleagues might even offer you some valuable insights when it comes to user research—so don’t hesitate to reach out to them for feedback on a project!
7. Do not skip self care
Between the pressure of keeping up at work and managing your study schedule, it’s easy for self care to slip through the cracks. If you’re stressed, you’re likely to slip into some bad habits: eating junk food because it’s quick and easy, drinking too much coffee or energy drinks instead of water, and so on. Forgetting to take care of yourself is a sure fire way to burn out fast—both mentally and physically.
Take one day off from both work and studying at least every two weeks, and relax. Run a bath, watch your favorite TV show, hang out with your friends. Everyone needs a break, and you’ll likely return to your assignment with a clearer head, and feeling more inspired. Your brain (and your colleagues) will thank you for it!
8. Stay positive
Studying alongside a full time job isn’t easy, and there will be times when you’ll feel overwhelmed. Between your schedule and your lack of downtime, it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re doing this in the first place. Stay positive! Listen to podcasts or motivational TED talks, reach out to your study community and be honest with them if you’re feeling disillusioned. Network with other people who have made the career switch into UX, and reach out to fellow students who might be going through the same thing. Once you’ve completed the course, you’ll feel such a strong sense of achievement—it will be so worth it!
Check out these inspiring stories from CareerFoundry students who studied the UX Design Course while working full time: