In this interview, Erika tells us about her transition process and how the portfolio she developed during the early stages of the Mastering Interface Design (MID) program was essential for her to have landed this job opportunity.
Erika, please tell us a little more about yourself
I hold a degree in Visual Communication, focused on offline media. While I have always been drawn to the digital aspect of the field, I have yet to gain any professional experience in this area.
For a while, I lived in Dublin, Ireland, and was trying to find a job as a Graphic Designer. The number of openings for Digital and UX Design shocked me. UX was not something totally new to me, but I was really impressed and motivated to research more about this area.
After a while, I returned to Brazil with the focus of studying more about UX Design. So I read many articles, watched videos, attended lectures, and also took many courses. I was in this routine for about six months.
It was during this time that I found the Mastering Interface Design (MID) program and thought it was just what I was looking for.
I built my portfolio with projects from the course, all of them fictitious. I already knew that the portfolio is very important in UX, so I tried my best to create something very detailed.
Recently, I got a job at Totvs, where I'm currently working.
How was your transition from Visual Design to Interface Design?
Actually, I found the visual aspect quite similar. What differed more were the tools used, since Interface designers still use Photoshop a bit, but I learned other tools on my own and with courses.
The most significant difference I noticed was in the research phase. Conducting the entire Design Thinking process, engaging with users, and validating ideas – I had never experienced this before.
But I believe that transitioning to UX Design is not that complicated. At Totvs, there are professionals from diverse backgrounds, ranging from administrators to dentists. This also includes designers, which makes me believe anyone can transition to UX if they desire.
And how was your job search in the field, especially since you had no experience?
Well, it was difficult!
First, I focused on portfolio and soft skills, because I wasn't a Junior, I was zero – I had never made a website, or a banner, in my life.
I took courses and did a lot of networking there. I was getting to know the teachers and students and seeing job openings and applying everywhere. Eventually, one of the teachers knew someone at Totvs who was responsible for hiring and he recommended me for the position.
I was called for the interview, but I wasn't confident that I could make it. I said I didn't know much, that I was a Junior. But I ended up landing the job anyway. In the process, I had to take a test too, but it was a fictitious situation. It took about two weeks for me to get a response from them.
It is very difficult to hire professionals at the Senior and Experienced levels. Therefore, companies are increasingly focused on hiring Junior professionals and training them to their needs. There is a great need for professionals in the market. On the same day that I started, another Junior was starting too.
I think what stood out the most was my portfolio. In fact, I would like to leave this tip for anyone who wants to transition to UX Design – it is essential to have a good portfolio in this area. If you don't have a real case, make a fake one, it doesn't matter. The important thing is to always practice and keep on improving.
Was there anything specific in your portfolio that made a difference?
I think there was because it was a position specifically for UX Design. I had even thought it would be interface related, but I was lucky to get a job in the area right away.
But my bosses here told me that they liked seeing the whole process. I only had three projects in my portfolio, I knew they wouldn't read it if I put much more. I put some images to help draw attention, made it visually appealing, and wrote in as much detail as possible.
And how is life as a UX Designer?
It's been really great! Since I started in late August, I've learned a lot. At first, I even used to get headaches from all the information.
Now, I'm doing projects independently, whereas before, I always had help from a senior with more experience. That still sometimes happens, but they usually have to leave to take care of something else, and I have to finish on my own.
It's quite challenging, there's a lot that I've never seen before. It's been a huge learning experience, and I still have much to learn.
Is there any area you identified more within UX?
I still really like to do layouts. Here, UX and UI Design are separate, but I still do layout sometimes when needed. I particularly like it, but I'm trying to go more into the UX area to see what I think.
So far, I've been enjoying it. I've been exploring a lot and going through several sectors to see what I like most.
I think my biggest challenge is being an introverted, because working in UX means being in touch with people all the time. Sometimes I just want to put on my headphones and be quiet, but I can't. I'm still learning to deal with that.
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How do you think the MID program helped you in your UX Design journey?
I have recommended the MID before and I will recommend it again. I was an embryo, I really started from scratch and got where I am today.
What I appreciated about the Mastering Interface Design (MID) program is its comprehensiveness. Although I knew it was primarily focused on interface design, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it also covered UX design.
I found the close relationships with my mentors to be incredibly helpful. Receiving feedback on my projects and being part of an active community where I could ask questions and exchange knowledge was also crucial to my learning process.
And what are your plans for the future, Erika?
My plan now is to keep learning. I'm a sponge, I'm learning everything I can, and I want to continue like this. First, I need to do this, then I don't know yet.
Who knows, maybe I'll go abroad. I want to be a Senior as soon as possible and maybe work somewhere else around here, to see the change in dynamics, and then go to another country.
Germany is a country that I like, but I don't have any specific place in mind; I think I would go anywhere, actually.
What tip would you give to someone who wants to transition to UX Design?
I think I would emphasize once again the focus on portfolio and specialization, that is, online courses, face-to-face, and tools, among others. Read books and study a lot. Always seek knowledge.
And remember that there are many opportunities for Junior professionals at the moment, so if you have a good portfolio and posture, you will certainly not take long to get an opportunity. And do a lot of networking too!