How upskilling and perseverance got Azeem his ideal UX role.
What’s your career background?
My educational background is in psychology and then I worked as a business analyst with an agency called FDM. I worked on projects with organisations like Barclays and the Department for Work and Pensions.
Why did you decide to upskill in UX?
Working as a business analyst, I was collaborating a lot with developers and testers to improve systems. I would look at issues raised by customers and flag them with the wider team. I really enjoyed that part of my job – understanding customer complaints – but I felt like I was limited in what I could actually do to fix them. It was frustrating.
Then I discovered UX and I realised it was exactly what I’d been trying to do – listen to problems and help solve them!
Why did you choose to study with the UX Design Institute?
I chose the Professional Diploma because it’s online, it’s progressive and it gives you a deep insight into UX from the inside out; from user research all the way through to prototyping. It’s not like other courses that are charging you a lot for a few workshops.
It’s one of the only courses that gives you both the theory and the practical skills needed. I wanted to get the qualification to set me apart in the industry. I wanted to make sure I knew it inside out.
How was the support during your studies?
My course manager was amazing! There were a lot of times I had questions and I’d just direct them straight to her. When I was panicking about prototypes I could reach out and get help. It was just really useful to have the support there. It was just good to keep in touch and see the issues other people were dealing with too. The Slack channel made it easier to learn and to get other people’s input.
Can you describe how you got your first UX role?
I went through a lot of different hiring processes before I got a UX job.
It can be really demoralising hunting for jobs and I had to work a lot on how I pitched myself and how I presented my experience to focus on the UX elements.
My background in Business Analysis and my UX education helped me get the role at Horwich Farrelly, a law firm. Networking meant I had a good connection with the UX community which has also been helpful, particularly as I was the only UX person on my team.
I’ve recently landed a user researcher role at BJSS. I was approached about joining their team and then I went through three interviews before I was offered the job. I gained some really valuable experience at Horwich Farrelly but I’m so excited to work on a team with other UX people I can learn from. I think that’s really important for my development.
What’s been the biggest benefit of the course for you?
It’s really improved my skills and confidence. In my first UX job I relied heavily on what I learnt in the diploma. A lot of my strategy was based on my course notes. It really helped me to make the business case for UX, I discussed the cost of bad design like in the videos but I adapted the language to speak more directly to my stakeholders.
The course improved my critical thinking and ability to question ways of doing things and why certain features exist. It also improved my ability to consider different perspectives and be more empathetic.
Would you recommend the course?
Oh, definitely! For anybody who wants to get into UX and doesn’t have a qualification, I’d really recommend the diploma. You come out with your portfolio and that’s really valuable. It also gives you the vocabulary and confidence you need to communicate your decisions more effectively when dealing with stakeholders.
What advice would you give students?
Stick with it! It can be difficult to land that first UX role but once you do, it’s so worth it.
I had to persevere but once I started working in UX, the offers started coming. I’m so excited about my new job as I feel like it’s one step closer to becoming a senior UX professional.
Networking, volunteering and learning how to market yourself are all really important too. I had to learn how to frame my previous experience in terms of UX but once I did it became a lot easier. Talk about UX until you can sing about it!