Sheena combined her love of design with problem solving, and after plenty of work experience, she bagged a job as a UX designer. Here's why she loves the role, and the advice she has for anyone wanting to follow in her footsteps.
Name: Sheena Patel
Company: This Place
Industry: IT and design
What is your job? Junior UX designer
How long have you been doing this job? Seven months
Product design and manufacture, University of Nottingham
1. What was your very first job?
This is actually my first proper job, and even though I’ve only been here for a few months I already feel like I have learnt loads.
2. What did you want to do when you were at school?
I genuinely had no idea what I wanted to do when I was at school, so I just kept doing the subjects I loved: design and technology, art and maths. A lot of people these days are in the same boat, so I’d say just trust your gut and go with the subjects that interest you and that you’re passionate about. That way, you’re likely to end up in the industry that will make you feel the same way.
3. How did you find out about the industry?
It was mainly through university, however I also had a keen interest in design, so I did lots of online reading. Not only do you get to learn and find out more along the way, but newsletters, online media and social pages offer a great behind-the-scenes peek into what that industry is like.
4. How did you get there?
Throughout school, I loved art and design and technology, so I pretty much got involved with anything creative. I did work experience at a fashion magazine and a graphic design agency for toy packaging, and both sparked my interest in pursuing design.
Want to know where design and technology could lead you? Check out our Design and Technology Subject Guide
I also loved maths and problem solving, so I decided to go down the product design route at university instead of graphic design. The course was intense, and it involved a lot of all-nighters to get the work done to a high standard. I think this is what put me off pursuing industrial design as a career. I took an HCI module in the final year, which first introduced me to the world of human-computer interaction.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do after graduating, so I took a year out after uni to travel and also to understand what job I actually wanted to do. After more research into the industry and learning about all the different jobs that were available, I narrowed my search down to user experience (UX).
I’m not going to lie: I had very little experience specifically in UX so it made finding a job in this area quite difficult. I made sure after each interview I received feedback, especially on my portfolio, so could learn and do better next time. Each time I improved myself for the next interview, and I finally received the job offer I wanted (my current role at This Place).
5. What is a typical day like?
Every day starts with a daily standup and a quick check-in with the team to understand tasks and challenges for the day ahead. Then it’s down to the grind: I could be doing some competitive research, setting up user tests, creating user flows and wireframes for an app or a website, or even creating animations and prototypes. Depending on the project, a typical day could differ from week to week.
6. What’s the best thing about your job?
One of the best things about working at This Place, from the professional growth perspective, is the amount of variety I get. It’s nice to be able to work on different projects, picking up lots of new skills along the way.
7. What is the most challenging thing about your job?
It can be challenging to be creative with deadlines in mind. We may come up with great ideas but they can be difficult to implement with the resource and time constraints, so sometimes we have to adapt the designs accordingly to meet these requirements.
8. What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
When I was applying for jobs, the feedback I got given was that I did not have enough experience. But how do you gain experience if no one will give you a job? It’s a common issue for recent graduates who are yet to land their first job, and I think work experience is key.
A lot of design agencies will offer work experience. This Place, for example, has taken on a number of students in the past and given them an insight into the industry. Nothing can be as valuable as being immersed in that environment and working with established professionals, so look out for internships during school summers and university summers or even consider picking a sandwich course that offers a year in industry.
9. What things do you wish you’d known before starting your career?
I wish I was aware of how valuable any relevant work experience is. I think the whole job application process would have been so much easier having been exposed to the industry.
10. Where would you like to be in 5 years?
I would like to have gained as much experience as possible in the next five years, and to have been exposed to a wide variety of products, clients and industries as well as having a list of projects under my belt that I can be proud of.
Main image via Pexels