This discussion was born out of two proposed topics. Khai Seng wanted to know, as a person looking to hire, where all the seniors (UX designers, not citizens, though if there was an overlap he said he?d still be interested). In response, and partly for the benefit of the many students and fresh UX graduates in attendance, I wanted to know how I could go from a fresh graduate and junior UX hire to the kind of senior UX designer that Khai Seng would hire.
So how does one progress from a UX junior to a senior? What does the term junior or senior even mean and what do they looked like? What do companies and recruiters see in a senior UX recruit that they do not see in a mid- or junior-tier candidate?
Here?s some of the discussion and learning points:
1. How do we classify ourselves – what ,we feel, matters about ourselves
Our time spent having hands-on experience with UX
The roles we have experienced within UX field
The relevant education in UX or UX-related fields
2. How do others classify us – what matters to companies and recruiters, and separating junior- and mid-tier designers/researchers from seniors
The qualities that differentiate a senior designer/researcher:
How well they contextualise information
How they facilitate and collaborate with others
How they manage teams
Their business sense
Their specialisation, skillsets and fit
Being mindful of what they?re good at and training and focusing their skillsets towards that aspect of their careers
The qualities that slow progress to seniority
Inability to be flexible from what is taught in the classroom, or deviate from rigid standard practice
The lack of understanding and practice of UX fundamentals
3. How we progress – what can we do to get from junior to senior?
Draw from prior experience – UX designers can draw from all prior experience to bolster their practice
Find the right company to grow and develop your skills and find your specialisation
Seek a UX mentor to teach you and nurture your skills
Make mistakes – always remember the key designer?s principle, ?Fail Faster?. If possible, find the right place that allows you to make mistakes
Practice the craft of UX – persevering and continually hone your fundamental skills. The craft has purpose.
As a junior designer, the key takeaway for me was what Khai Seng said about the craft of UX: ?the craft of UX is thinking, and the way to train thinking is doing.? In the end, what sets the ideal UX senior from the rest is not just time and effort spent in the industry, but ones with the appropriate time and the correct amount of effort – the truly practiced practitioners.
?I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.?