Pivoting to UX Design Without the Perfect Portfolio – Interview With Ana Magni
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Pivoting to UX Design Without the Perfect Portfolio – Interview With Ana Magni

picture of student who pivoted to ux design

In this interview, Master Interface Design student Ana Magni talks about her process of transitioning to UX from Graphic Design. She also shares her experiences and the lessons she has learned during this process.

She tells us how the first Master Interface Design course exercises have already helped her to create a UX Design portfolio. In addition, she highlights that her willingness to learn made all the difference to get her first opportunity as a Product Designer, already in a large company.

Get inspired by Ana's journey in achieving her goal of working in the UX/UI Design area, and check out her tips for those who want to switch careers.

Ana, please introduce yourself

I have always worked in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where I was born. I graduated in Graphic Design at the beginning of 2017. I chose the profession because I had illustration as a hobby, and design was something related.

During college, I was really into graphics, and I identified myself with it. After graduating, I got into the job market and learned a few things. However, as time went by and with my day-to-day work, I could no longer identify myself with Graphic Design.

I started in Graphic Design at an agency and faced several routine situations that made me question my decision about the profession.

As there were always some jobs in the graphic area related to creating websites and applications, I ended up discovering UX Design. However, this Product Design mentality didn't exist.

In fact, I didn't really know this area and thought it was just a task that was part of Graphic Design, but no, it was something entirely new!

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When did you become interested in UX Design?

Over time I started to research more about Product Design. I researched the creation of websites and mobile apps. I liked interfaces a lot, and it was during this research that I discovered another field: UX/UI Design.

After finding out about this new career option, I was sure that I wanted to pivot to UX. However, I didn't know how to get started.

That's when I learned about Master Interface Design Bootcamp.

Before that, I had bought some courses on Udemy, but I still felt a little lost. When I came across the Master Interface Design, I went for it.

I started the course, and in the very first levels, I created a few projects that brought me closer to the world of UX and opened the doors to my first job in UX Design.

Ana Magni UX Portfolio
Analysis of the Wikipedia website – Master Interface Design Bootcamp level 01 project – Ana Magni

What difference did you find between Graphic Design and UX/UI Design?

At the time when I was in the agency as a Graphic Designer, I realized that even though people were following the normal process of the company, there was no beginning, middle, or end.

Also, the demand for these graphic design projects was not the same, and neither was the briefing. So, the first thing I thought about was how useful UX Design is. That is, in UX, the project has a process, with a beginning, middle, and end, and the focus is always on the user.

I could see that the UX process makes all the difference in the final result of a project. However, I only realized the details of these differences later on, in the company where I work today as a Product Designer.

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Where do you currently work and what is your role?

I work at DTI, a big IT company here in Belo Horizonte. It is known for software development. There are 700 employees, and among them are 60 designers, and I am one of them.

For me, it's an advantage to work here because I work with the developers. In agencies, I used to deal with designers and art directors. At that time, I would create the interface and pass it on to third-party developers I had never seen before. So it was difficult to have a dialog between the designer and the developers.

Another difference I see is that I felt lonely in graphic design. Today, I feel better because we work as a team. This was a huge difference that I noticed. Nobody here is lonely. It is not just an individual task where the pressure is on me; all the employees are a team.

I work in a team, a Squad. I am a Designer in two teams for the same client, but with different projects. One of the projects is inventory management software, and the other is a form builder that generates files to create applications.

Also, it is interesting to mention that one of these squads comprises professionals from different levels and areas.

The organization itself has a culture that is not only profit-oriented. It is important to have rituals. Some of those are: going over with your team all the tasks that need to be done, punctuating the efforts, not being afraid to say what you can't do, etc.

The clients are also very close to us, they are always at the same table, sitting and talking, which is very nice.

How was the admission process for this position?

I used to work at an agency located on the same street as the company I now work for, DTI. So, I watched the employees on the street every day and thought a lot about going there. At the time, I was on Master Interface Design level 2 and thought about finishing the module to have an interesting portfolio.

That way, I didn't rush to do everything at once and had patience.

Then, at one point, I had already advanced in module 2 and had something to show in my portfolio. I tried to apply for a position the company advertised and sent my portfolio to their website.

Coincidentally I was browsing LinkedIn and had already added some people from the company. Then, at the same moment that I sent my resume, a recruiter called me to announce a job opening at the company. I talked to her, saying I was interested. I took their challenge, and after that, I was called for an interview.

I did not pass the interview because they said they wanted someone with more experience. However, they told me that my test was good.

On the same day, a little later that afternoon, another recruiter called me for another interview in the same company but for another position. And off I went again.

After two weeks, I learned that I had passed. In other words, the first recruiter who had interviewed me passed me on to this other recruiter who approved me.

They needed a Junior Staff member because it was a Squad that was starting out. It was a project that the client had just joined, so they told me it would be perfect for me.

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Ana Magni UX Portfolio
Wireframes – Project MID level 2 Wikipedia – Ana Magni

How did your portfolio help in getting hired?

I was still doing level 2 of the Master Interface Design Bootcamp and receiving feedback from the mentors when I had my second interview.

So I put this Wikipedia project in my portfolio as "in progress" along with two other personal projects that I had. One of these personal projects is for e-commerce, and the other is an animal shelter mobile app.

Even though I did not have several finished projects in my portfolio, I thought that if they looked at the process as a whole, it would be positive.

When I was called, they told me that they saw my incomplete portfolio but that they understood that it was in progress. They also observed that I used storytelling in my process.

Since it was a test, they wanted to get to know me, so it was necessary to show that I was willing to learn and develop myself.

One thing I struggled with was not being perfect. Things don't always have to be 100%. This was difficult because I was a perfectionist, and I would only show the result to someone when I was sure it was perfect. I eventually let go of that perfectionism and worried more about the process than the result.

I still haven't completed my portfolio as I would like, but I am doing a little bit every day, and I understand that I don't need to be so stressed about it.

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What are the challenges encountered in UX Design?

When I joined, I was happy that I didn't have the pressure to show that I understood the subject since I was entering a more junior position.

In my group, there are three Designers. One of these Designers helped me a lot in the company because we have a monthly follow-up with someone more experienced to have a conversation about satisfaction and any other relevant matters.

So the challenge for me is to become like the Designer who helped me, a facilitator.

Hence, my growth is not as technical as it is relational. It's about knowing how to deal with situations, and that's something I still have to improve.

Regardless of whether one is a junior or senior, the will to learn is what counts.

Ana Magni Portfolio
Wikipedia Persona MID exercise – student Ana Magni
Persona and User Journey MID exercise level 2 – student Ana Magni

What do you think of Master Interface Design Bootcamp?

As I mentioned, I had taken some courses before MID, but I didn't feel they were a big plus for me.

Due to these previous experiences, I do not easily trust certain courses. However, with the Master Interface Design Bootcamp, it was different. I trusted a lot, and I don't regret it at all.

It was a very good investment because you don't just take the course to get a job. You have to do the projects, share them, and get help from other people in the same situation; this adds to huge personal growth.

Therefore, the MID provides both an advance in professional growth and technical knowledge. It also shows the reality, and that I will get where I want to go.

My recommendation about the course is that even if someone gets the job they want in UX Design, they can't stop studying the levels because it has a lot to add, and for me, it was a great investment.

I'm not forced to do it; I do it because I really like it and it gives me immense satisfaction.

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Ana Magni UX Portfolio
Prototypes – Project MID level 2 Wikipedia – Ana Magni

What are your plans for the future?

I am living one day at a time, thinking a little further away and within the company that I work for today. Thus, my desire is to become a facilitator here in the company.

After I leave here, I would like to work abroad. I have already researched the positive and negative points of the job market abroad, and I hope to have an opportunity.

What advice do you give to those who also want to pivot to UX Design?

LinkedIn is a very important tool if you're looking for an opportunity in UX because it puts you in evidence. On this platform, you are able to connect with someone who works at Google, for example, which you can't do on any other social media. So, to get a UX design role, you must structure your LinkedIn very well.

Another tip I give is not to give up. This happens a lot; I've seen several people giving up, saying that the Brazilian market is not good and doesn't pay well, etc. But I can guarantee that if I can get an opportunity without being 100% ready, without the perfect portfolio, anyone can too.

No one needs to do everything perfectly or wait for the right moment because the right moment does not exist. You have to trust yourself and follow what people say within the Aela community; by doing this, you can get an opportunity in UX Design. So, no rush because there is an opportunity for everyone within UX Design.

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