Case study

UI/UX designer — Sam

After graduating with a digital media degree from the university of Brighton, Sam entered a junior UX design role

How did you get your job?

I was headhunted via LinkedIn. I can't stress enough how important it is to have a LinkedIn profile. That in addition to having a good, strong portfolio showcasing your skills, are the two things that have got me to where I am today.

What's a typical working day like?

I work an 8-hour day. My hours can be flexible as long as I'm at work by 9:30am, as my team has 'standup' at that time (work in an agile methodology).

The standup is where all the people in the team meet for around 20 minutes. We discuss what we did yesterday, whether we had any blockers, what can be achieved to release these blockers and then what we will be doing today. With our project manager we allocate severity of tasks. The client is also present at these daily meetings to make sure we are doing what they want. At this meeting we also discuss future meetings, objectives within the week, what we have in our demo (agile environment) and other daily routines.

My manager then delegates work to me or I use a program called JIRA, which is a system development program management system, where you track 'tickets' for tasks that need to be completed.

In the afternoon I carry on with the work allocated to me from the morning or go to meetings. I usually have one or two meetings a day to discuss the product I'm designing with the client, a developer, the project manager and the business analyst.

I usually finish around 5:30pm

What do you enjoy about your job?

The work is challenging, yet enjoyable. You're solving user problems by making their lives easier in the use of a product. It's like solving a puzzle.

I work in a great location and the people I work with are similar to me too; there's a lot of banter, which can make a bad day better.

What are the challenges?

As I'm straight out of university, there's a lot to learn. My manager is teaching me a lot about UX. However, all the UI work is my own, with very little management oversight, which can be challenging in a new role. Luckily the clients love my designs.

How has your role developed?

I am extremely fortunate to be in a contractual role at my age. I don't think I will ever take a permanent role. My role has developed into a more UX-focused role than I would have perhaps liked at the start of my job. However, I know that I can come off this project at any time and follow a UI role, if I wish.

I want to work my way up the design ladder. I've just been promoted to designer (from junior), so the next step is to be middle weight, then senior, then lead, and then hopefully, one day, art director.

What advice can you give to others?

User experience is all about learning on the job. Grab as many projects as you can and note which faults on sites annoy you. If you can think of a way that something can be better, then you're becoming a UX designer. A UX designer is about being a problem solver. Solve the problem and you've solved the design.

Get your LinkedIn profile and design portfolio to a decent standard as soon as possible. They're both incredibly important in this day and age. In your portfolio put your sketches, wireframes, user journeys, use cases, prototypes, anything that will showcase your skills.

Don't give up. I applied to over 45 agencies and companies before I got my placement job. It's unsettling when you get nothing back, or go to interviews and don't get invited back, but don't stop applying. The more companies you apply to, the better your chances of getting a job.

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