Your UX Career Path: In-house, agency, both or neither?

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Information about Your UX Career Path: In-house, agency, both or neither?
Career

Published on March 13, 2014

Author: fellswoop

Source: slideshare.net

Description

With User Experience designers in such high demand, those entering the field today have more choices than ever before. There’s no single right way to embark on your journey, but many before you have uncovered a path to success, so why not learn from them? Matt Dente has shared insights from surveys and interviews with UX professionals in this presentation. If you’re planning your first step in a career, or considering your next move, this presentation will provide insights that will help you make the right choices for your own path.

Hello

Your UX Career Path: 
 In-house, agency, 
 both or neither?

What’s your next move?

In-house, agency, 
 both or neither? ! This is a superficial question.

The deeper question: ! What leads to UX 
 career satisfaction?

Research

Approach • Surveyed 96 UX Pros • Interviewed 11 UX Pros • Joined discussions online • Discussed with colleagues

What is your role? User Experience Designer Interaction Designer Information Architect User Researcher User Interface Designer Experience Designer 0 12.5 25 37.5 50

What is the highest level of 
 education you have completed? High School Some College Bachelor's Master's Graduate 0 15 30 45 60

Where do you work today? Design Firm or Agency In-house at a Large Company Freelancer or Consultant 0 12.5 25 37.5 50

How many years of experience 
 do you have in this role? Less than 2 3 to 5 5 to 7 7 to 10 10 to 15 15 or more 0 7 14 21 28

Key Findings

1. UX Pros that have worked in a variety of places are perceived to be more successful by their peers

The most successful user experience professionals I know have worked: In-house only Agency only Freelance only In-house + Agency In-house + Agency + Freelance 0 10 20 30 40 *Not even close to statistically significant

2. People working in 
 UX feel happy 
 and successful

I love what I do. Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree or Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree 0 12.5 25 37.5 50

Based on my own definition of success, 
 I feel I am successful in my career today. Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree or Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree 0 15 30 45 60

I am happy with my current 
 overall compensation. Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree or Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree 0 15 30 45 60

I am happy with the level 
 of autonomy I have in my job. Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree or Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree 0 10 20 30 40

My current job enables me to get 
 better at skills that matter to me. Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree or Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree 0 12.5 25 37.5 50

My current job enables me to do what I like to do in the service of something larger than myself. Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree or Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree 0 12.5 25 37.5 50

Autonomy + Mastery + Purpose

–Dan Pink “Pay people enough so that they’re not thinking about money and they’re thinking about the work. Once you do that, it turns out there are three factors that the science shows lead to better performance, not to mention personal satisfaction: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.” http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/05/09/daniel-pink-drive-rsa-motivation/

Career Path 
 Options

Just a Few • In-house at a Large Company or Org • In-house at a Start-up • Agency or Design Firm • Freelance or Consulting

In-house 
 at a Large Company

Pros • Resources (financial and otherwise) • Long-term involvement in projects • Stability and predictability • The ability to take ownership • Career path options (CXO?)

- Khoi Vinh “I think being "in-house" is the best job a designer can have at this point in time. It allows you to really get a product right, which is, more than any other factor, what's necessary to succeed in digital media.”

Cons • You may be led towards specialization • You may work on the same project 
 for years • Expect politics

In-house 
 at a Start-up

Pros • Dynamic and exciting • Close knit team of dedicated people • Exposure to different roles and responsibilities • Special financial opportunities 
 (if you’re lucky)

Cons • You may be the only UX pro on the team • When things get bad, they can get personal • You have a greater chance of 
 getting laid off • Longer hours may be the norm

Agencies & 
 Design Firms

Pros • Exposure to a variety of project types • Opportunities to network • At smaller shops you can be a generalist • Client service is rewarding

Cons • Less influence and involvement 
 on products • It can be very deadline driven • You’ll encounter bad clients 
 from time to time • There could be bench time • Your performance is tied to billable time

Freelancing

Pros • Be your own boss • You can potentially make more money • Learn about business (on training wheels) • Work from home, Mexico, or anywhere

Cons • You need to market and find clients • Downtime can be financially stressful • Fewer opportunities to collaborate 
 and learn • You may get lonely • Early in your career this could 
 stunt growth

Things to Consider

11 interviews ! 21 Suggestions

1. 
 Discover what makes you happiest and pursue it

I love what I do. Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree or Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree 0 12.5 25 37.5 50

2. Define success 
 for yourself

Based on my own definition of success, 
 I feel I am successful in my career today. Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree or Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree 0 15 30 45 60

3. Work in a field or 
 industry that aligns 
 with your values

4. Request informational interviews

5. Evaluate the culture 
 of an employer by looking at the founders

6. Determine how hard you want to work

7. Early in your career, find 
 a job that enables you to work with as many talented people as you can

8. Early on, don’t stay in 
 one place too long

9. Take risks when 
 you’re starting out

10. Avoid specialization, 
 be a generalist

but…

11. Don’t try to be an 
 expert in everything

T I N T E R E S T/ E X P E R I E N C E SPECIALIZATION

12. 
 Compliment 
 your core skills

Consider • Enhancing your writing / speaking skills • Study graphic design and typography • Code a little • Learn about project management • Learn about business & finance • Learn about the sales process

13. Network, go to events, reach out on social media, talk about what you do everywhere you go

14. Accept that it’s ok 
 “not to know” and reach out to an expert

Tell them
 “I don’t know, 
 but I will find out”

15. Be aware of internal politics and realize you 
 are not immune

16. Understand your employer’s (and client’s) financial health

17. Always have your portfolio or resume ready

18. Determine if you’re interested in a management track,
 if you are, plan ahead

19. Don’t get stuck thinking you need to pay your dues too long–when you feel ready, go for it

20. Analyze your setbacks 
 and learn from them

One more option

–William Blake “I must create a system or be 
 enslaved by another man’s.”

21. Start a business

Better yet, design a business

Can I help you? ! matt@fellswoop.com 206-369-1919

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