We talked with some of our students to find out what motivated them to pursue a different career and how their process of pivoting to UX Design was.
They also share some tips for those who want to become UX/UI designers but don't come from a Design related field.
Check out this insightful talk with our Master Interface Design students.
To kick off this meetup, please tell us a little about yourselves!
Daniel: I worked as a Motion Designer for about ten years. Throughout that period, I went through some interesting companies until, in 2016, I decided to pivot to UX Design. At that time, I started the Master Interface Design course, and after a while, I moved to Toronto, Canada, where I currently live and work as a UX/UI Designer.
Diogo: I worked in advertising from 2007 to 2018. In late 2017, I also joined the Master Interface Design course, probably in the same class as Daniel. With a short time in the course, in mid-2018, I managed to get into the UX field. Now, I work as a UX Designer at Indra with Luka, also a MID student.
Luka: I also worked in advertising for a long time, since 2009. But around 2017, I realized that the culture didn't match what I believed in, so I quit. I started working as a Designer in a strategic consulting firm, where I learned a lot about Design Thinking. That's what led me to discover UX/UI Design. I fell in love with the area, joined the Master Interface Design course, and here I am, working as a UX Designer with Diogo at Indra.
Victor: I also come from Art Direction, like Diogo and Luka. I've worked for about eight years in advertising agencies. In my last experience, I had the chance to switch areas and started working with UIs. I also started the Master Interface Design course at the end of 2017, and a few months later, in July 2018, I started working at Itaú as a Product Designer.
Joyce: I have a degree in advertising and a background in Art Direction. I had been working in advertising for eight years when I started to feel that it wasn't for me anymore, I felt a lack of purpose. That's when I found out about UX Design. Shortly after, I found Aela and joined the Master Interface Design (MID) course, and so began my UX journey.
Why did you decide to pivot to UX/UI Design? What was the motivation?
Victor: I think there are lots of reasons. When I majored in advertising, we didn't have classes focused on user experience. I went into this area because I liked drawing and making stories. You get into that world, want to be an Art Director, and keep following this path.
But as time goes by, you realize that another creative area is growing (UX/UI), unlike advertising. Nowadays, advertising doesn't solve anyone's problems or help anyone; its sole purpose is to sell.
Also, the work culture in agencies is very peculiar; you work a lot and stay up all night, and I got tired of that. I noticed this other creative area growing (UX Design), where I could create something important that would have an impact, and so far, I can say that this choice has been great.
Luka: Talking about this aspect of agency culture, I remember that a former Creative Director told our team that working hard with no rest was part of the game. That's when I realized that, really, this was part of a game that I didn't want to play.
I thought about pivoting when I was in consulting. I worked with Design and used a lot of Design Thinking. As time went by, I observed how the methodology is applied in UX Design.
This problem-solving aspect, of being able to balance what is best for the client and what is best for the user, was the challenge I was looking for in advertising and eventually found in UX and product design.
Joyce: During my years in advertising, I tried a little bit of everything: I started out doing PowerPoint, worked with events, ad campaigns, and a lot more. After trying it all, I grew tired of it.
I realized I wanted more purpose in what I was doing. Especially in advertising, I see it as a war where you try to force solutions to problems that don't exist or won't be solved. I got truly disappointed, so I started looking for alternatives and found UX/UI Design and the Master Interface Design course.
Diogo: I think it's kind of like what was said before. This glamour part of advertising is really cool when you can put your artwork on a billboard or a TV commercial. But I don't know if I can generate some value with this kind of action; it’s something contrived that doesn't add anything and doesn't impact anyone's life.
I started to have more contact with UX Designers in the company I was working and I got to know more about the area and really liked it.
I’ve heard of a case of a truck driver who got home earlier because of an app, and this really struck a chord with me, because the glamour of advertising didn't fulfill anything for me anymore, it was just campaigning.
After seeing that story, I saw that with my current work, I could add value to someone. As much as it is a sale, it is a conscious sale that is pleasant and provides a good experience. This is something that resonates with me, and caught my attention.
Daniel: During my final paper in college, I noticed a gap in my understanding of project processes. I didn't have this in my background. I have also always loved the business side of things, and, without a doubt, UX/UI Design is very connected to the company's goal and business, so it has always been an area that has interested me a lot; I think that's the point for me.
In the last companies I worked for, I could apply some Design Thinking processes, but I didn't think it was enough. I wanted to participate more in the process and see how users responded to what was delivered to them. So I decided to pivot to UX Design.
In the transition process, did you guys leave everything you used to do behind, or did you bring the lessons you learned from previous areas to UX?
Diogo: In my case, I use my Design background, especially for concepts, and I usually apply it to UI projects. As for tools, I don't have Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign installed on my computer anymore, I use Sketch more often.
Daniel: I have always worked with Motion, but I have a Design major, and this certainly helps a lot when it comes to looking for jobs. I see that those who have a background in Design have less struggle entering the UX/UI Design market.
I still use Motion Design, and I can also apply it to my projects. For me, this is a distinguishing feature that helps me stand out from others in the job market, but I still think people from other areas can easily transition to UX.
Luka: I think that for those who come from Graphic Design and Advertising, the matter of creativity, that is, creating something without thinking about why or how can be very helpful when it comes to rethinking processes.
As I have exercised my creative side a lot in previous jobs, I try to find different and more interesting solutions. So, I think we can bring some of this creativity to UX/UI design and look at things from different angles to find a better solution.
Victor: In advertising, we become the owners of our ideas and products. When we move to a UX/UI Design or Product Designer environment, we still retain a lot of that.
I realize that people who come from other fields don't have much of that, but people who come from advertising fight for their ideas quite strongly.
Joyce: I think people who come from Design have some advantages regarding methodologies, like Agile, Design Thinking, and Sprint. I think if you know those methodologies, you get a competitive advantage.
Would you say that English is essential to work in UX Design?
Daniel: I think it's essential. Here in Canada, it's no use if you don't know it, you have nothing to do. But they don't care about accents; what matters is knowing how to communicate and positioning yourself.
Of course, there may be one thing or another that you don't understand, and you have to ask someone to explain it to you, but I never had a problem with this. There is no other way; English is essential in UX.
Victor: I think English is extremely important, whether you like it or not, we use tools and read articles in English on a daily basis. I've done a few interviews in English, but currently, I'm a little rusty. At the moment, I am trying to get back to practicing every day to catch up.
Joyce: Today, English is no longer a plus; it’s essential. There is a lot of great material for studying, and even if the company is Brazilian, it wants to become global.
If you can't speak English, I think you will miss great opportunities. If you aim for an international career or a career in a big company, it is mandatory to speak English and keep improving it.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to transition to UX but doesn't have experience in Design?
Victor: I think that no matter what field a person goes into, most likely, they will be able to add something from their background to this new area. You can pivot to UX/UI no matter your background.
Diogo: I think that becoming a UX designer is more of a mindset. Most of us come from Design, so maybe we have an easier time with UI Design. For example, people who come from psychology might have an easier time with UX Design.
For me, it was something that happened unexpectedly. I was doing the interviews, understanding what the recruiters wanted little by little, and simultaneously putting my portfolio together.
Moving into the unknown, or a different area can be scary. That's why it's important that you are sure of your decision, try to qualify in the best way possible, and have a community to support you in this process.
What would you say are the dos and don'ts when it comes to landing a job in UX/UI Design?
Victor: When I started the Master Interface Design (MID), I pushed myself and studied hard. Following your tips, I started working a lot on my LinkedIn, sharing thoughts and articles, and there came a moment when some recruiters started approaching me – it was an unprecedented experience.
On one occasion, I had just shared my updated portfolio, and an outsourced recruiter approached me. I found out which company was hiring just one day before the interview.
I didn't take any tests. At the interview, they opened my portfolio and asked me specific questions about the design process. A week later, I got a positive response, and it was another ten days or so before I got in, so it was pretty quick.
I guess that's the key takeaway. Work on your LinkedIn profile; keep posting and showing your work; this is very important, especially in the beginning. Even if it is not amazing, you show that you are dedicating yourself and trying to improve. Besides, you can evaluate your own evolution as time goes by.
Daniel: When I started applying, the processes were a little different. I was interviewed over the phone, in person, with HR, with a manager, with group dynamics, and so on. Until you get the hang of it, the truth is that this first moment is difficult. However, after a while, you start to understand what to do and use several tips, like Aela's, until eventually, you reach the final stage and get a yes.
I have done some tests involving designing apps, and once I also had to make a presentation to the directors of a company. It is common to get nervous, but what matters is to do the step-by-step right.
Luka: Right when I decided to apply for jobs (after I started the MID course and quit my job), I reached a point where I could change my whole portfolio structure, but I still had no project that showed my processes in UX/UI Design.
I went through a few recruitment processes until I got a position. You can have the right mindset, but if you don't have a project in the area, like an app, or a system project, the recruiters realize that you're not ready yet. After I improved my portfolio, things became easier.
One tip is to try to stay calm during the interviews. I was very nervous in the beginning, and this really got in the way. After hearing a lot of Nos, you relax, and things flow better.
Joyce: I joined the MID course in December 2017, but I set a goal to start looking for UX/UI Design positions in August 2018. I did my best and ran as hard as possible to complete the modules.
Suddenly, I saw a UX Design position at a company where I had worked as an Art Director, and I wanted to come back. I rushed, made a portfolio overnight, with modules 1 and 2 of the MID, and submitted it. It worked well; I was called for an interview and landed the position. With just a little study, it was clear that I had the necessary knowledge and was ready for the job.
Unlike the Art Director's portfolio, in UX, you must show everything you have done to get to the final result. The most important point is that you can build the whole reasoning on top of the projects you present. Storytelling is very important in UX/UI Design. You need to tell the story, explain the facts, show the data, and be able to convey this in the interviews.
Reading tip: LinkedIn for Designers: Tips to Boost Your Profile
Do you think that the recruitment process is easier with a referral? Did the Aela community help you with this aspect?
Diogo: I think it did, but you also need to know who you are referring to in case it's not someone from your circle. When I heard about UX/UI design opportunities, I would tell the course mentors, and they would refer some people to me. Then I would talk to them until I decided who I thought was the best fit.
As I know the mentors of the Master Interface Design (MID), I'm aware of the methodology and the enthusiasm of the students. I think there is nothing better than making our community go around.
The Aela community is very strong, and I think that together we will go further. I really believe in the Master Interface Design study method, the mentors, and in us, so whenever I need to, I will come back here.
I have recommended many people from Aela for positions in companies where I worked, and most of them got the job.
Luka: I'm a strong believer that referral helps to get jobs. Building a network gives a giant boost, so much so that I got the position I'm in through Diogo's recommendation.
All the hiring processes I was in, either got suspended or canceled, fortunately, Diogo called me, and I got the UX/UI Design position at Indra.
I think that just by being recommended, the recruiter looked at my portfolio with different eyes, and we ended up getting along well when we met. I think it makes it a lot easier.
Can you tell us a bit about your first days as a UX/UI designer?
Diogo: My laptop took a while to arrive, so I developed practically an entire system with pen and paper.
The first day is scarier, but the second day is calmer, and you begin to get on track. I think I had a good base; I was well-prepared when I started, so it was more like first-day anxiety.
Joyce: The first day was really scary, but as I was returning to a place where I had already worked, it was also enjoyable. I started with small steps, with a few changes to a wireframe right off the bat.
Understanding the processes is what made me the most nervous because each place has its own way and software. I have a PC at home, so I never had the opportunity to test Sketch, and here everything is based on it. I had some difficulties, but I received a lot of help and support, which made the experience smoother.
Luka: My laptop also delayed about 45 days to arrive. I arrived at a time of inception, so I attended several workshops that required only pen and paper, which helped me understand the processes and how everything worked.
I wasn't so nervous when I started because I had some colleagues from the Master Interface Design course there, like Diogo and Gabriel. So they knew exactly the situation I was in (pivoting from one area to another and starting a new job) and welcomed me.
Daniel: I also had an adjustment period where I had to study and read a lot to know more about the processes and customers. I think that was the scariest thing for me – understanding all the new terminology and acronyms and how the process worked.
But I was very well guided, so I can't say I had any problems. The problem is always adapting, understanding where you are going, and knowing how to position yourself within the process.
Victor: For me, the most complicated thing, coming from an agency, was the change of processes. There we had a waterfall process, one thing after another. When I switched to my new job, I started hearing a lot of acronyms and new methodologies.
I think that was the most frightening thing for me – understanding the terms and how the process worked. It took me a while to get used to it.
To wrap up our chat, what advice would you give those who want to pivot to UX/UI Design?
Joyce: It's very important to always be up-to-date about what's going on in the field. Don't get caught up in trends; read everything you can – there is a lot of accessible content and communities that share success cases for study – attend events (networking is essential) and take the Master Interface Design course.
Victor: Study hard, build your portfolio, make connections, and show that you are interested – post on LinkedIn, go to events, participate in UX Design communities – because the more immersed you are, the easier it is to get your first opportunity in the field.
Luka: I'll give you a tip that helped me become less anxious. When you start studying, you will see that there are many methodologies. It's nice to have a look and see what it is, but stay calm and don't expect to understand everything at once. As you gain experience, it will become easier to understand it all.
Daniel: From what I see, there are a lot of openings in UX/UI Design. The best tip I can give you is to take one step at a time, with no rush, because there are a lot of opportunities, and you won't be left behind.
There's room for everyone. Keep doing Aela's exercises and other processes you want and networking. Eventually, it will work out.
Diogo: You have to study a lot, dedicate yourself to it, and really want it. If you want to change careers, you can do it. Meeting other people to exchange experiences is also fundamental.
Many times, the process of changing careers can be complicated and scary. However, it becomes much easier if you are part of a community that supports and encourages you.