How to make your past skills relevant when moving into UX design

Many designers come to us thinking they are starting over to enter UX, but you can make your past skills relevant when moving into UX design

UX in ATX hosted a discussion on how to make your past skills relevant when moving into UX design. The topics include how to make your past skills relevant, imposter syndrome, and keeping a beginners mindset.

Watch the UX in ATX meetup recording

There is no defined track on how to get into UX or that you need a certain background to enter the field.

UX designers come from various background such as:

  • food and beverage service
  • customer service
  • fashion design
  • graphic design
  • industrial design
  • journalism
  • media production
  • music production
  • teaching
  • psychology
  • development
  • construction
  • research

The important thing to remember is that all of your past skills are relevant when moving into UX design. UX designers come from a wide range of fields and it’s that diversity in skill that make you competitive. Despite your background, there is a place for you in the UX world. Identify both hard and soft skills that you developed through out your career. Then, figure out where those skills fit into the UX realm.

To learn more about how to get into UX, check out the post ‘How to get your First, second, or third job in UX’.

Imposter syndrome
illustration of individual with a data chart and a folder of notes

If you have read our blog articles or attended the meetup session, you’ve definitely heard us talk about imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is when:

  • you doubt your skills and talents
  • contribute your successes to luck
  • fear around being exposed as a fraud
  • a sense of doubt around your accomplishments
  • believing you are inadequate
  • or that you’re not as competent as others

It’s important to remember that it is natural to experience imposter syndrome. Most people will experience some degree of imposter syndrome when moving into UX, or any new field. Even Senior UX Designers in the field have imposter syndrome. It’s just part of being human. Help to overcome imposter syndrome by rewriting your self talk.

“I can do this. I am good enough.”

Learn more about ‘Overcoming Imposter Syndrome’ from this article by the Harvard Business Review.

Strengthening your skills to overcome imposter syndrome

As you learn UX, you will identify areas of UX where you feel more comfortable. For example, if you are a graphic designer coming into UX, it may be easier to pick up visual design and UI concepts due to your background. Yet, maybe the research side is quite difficult. Imposter syndrome may creep in here and convince you that you’re not good enough, but in reality, you have an opportunity to grow. Depending on your background, areas of UX may come easier, while others will be harder. Focus on the areas that you struggle with, and use imposter syndrome to push you to create new skills surrounding the areas you are uncomfortable with. Never lose sight of beginners mindset and always be pushing to grow your skill set.

The importance of beginners mindset

Illustration of individual running with laptop computer and notes

Through out Cindy’s years of experience working in the digital technology space, she has observed three, reoccurring phases in a career. While these phases may not be indicative for every person, they are definitely common trends.

  1. The Junior Designer
    The junior designer has the beginner mindset. These are designers that are anxious to know more. They are trying to learn and are constantly soaking up information. They try, experiment, and fail. While failing never feels good, it is essential for career growth. This is the beginners mindset.
  2. The Mid-Level Designer
    This can be the scariest part of your career and is when you can really hurt yourself as a designer. Often time, mid-level designers think they know a lot, even more than they actually do. Thinking you know everything prevents you from learning new skills and can hold you back from achieving more growth. Mid-level designers can lose that beginners mindset if they don’t check themselves.
  3. The Senior Designer
    Senior designers have learned a lot, but also realize that there still is a lot to learn. They have all the experience, yet regain that beginner’s mindset.The grit, determination, and comfort with taking risks that are prevalence for career growth. Which is why the beginners mindset is so important and is a beneficial place to be.

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