People are changing careers into the user experience (UX) industry at a rapid pace. Many have chosen to enrol into a UX course or a boot camp to give them a basic understanding of the theories they need. These courses are often short and intense and don’t guarantee success in the workplace. 

Here is what we have learnt from mentoring 100’s of new UX Designers over the last 6 years.

Theory over practice

UX courses are great for foundational learning but lack the practical experience of how you adapt to challenges in the workplace. Time, budget and resources can be a constraint. Designers need to be able to adapt to these constraints and still deliver good work.

Linear UX process

Projects often don’t progress linearly. From our experience in mentoring new designers, we find that they struggle to apply what they have learned on a course. This is because events happened in a different order to what they had learned. 

Some common problems they encounter are:

  • Stakeholders jumping straight into solutions
  • Communicating the value of user research
  • The value of UX not being understood in the organisation

The textbook UX process is not always adaptable. The answers to these challenges come from adaptability and experience which are not possible to learn on UX courses. 

Everyone is already a UX advocate

In a UX course or boot camp, you’re surrounded by people who understand the value of UX and are an advocate for users. So, you’re not likely to be challenged when sharing stories and insights about your users, explaining your designs or convincing others of the value of a user-centred approach in the organisation.

Soft skills take time to develop

Soft skills, like communication skills and stakeholder management, take time to develop. You learn to fine-tune your soft skills based on time and exposure to different challenges. You learn to adapt and develop what works well for you. 

But, in a short intense period on a course or boot camp, you’re more likely to focus on technical skills (like wireframing) than how you handle a stakeholder who challenges your work.

Short-term mentoring and support 

You may receive support and mentoring during the UX course. But, once the course ends the support and mentoring ends too. You’re then on your own trying to navigate the problems you experience in your organisation or on a project. All this without the support of a mentor who can help you long-term by providing advice, develop your approach, and share their expertise. 

Learn more: Plus: long term UX mentorship which isn’t tied to a course

Categories: Mentoring