Seeking UX / Product Design career entry advice

Hey Elpha's!

I'm looking for advice from someone with experience transitioning into UX/ Product Design career, who doesn't have a degree in a related field. If you are someone who made a transition after a bootcamp or certificate program, please let me know what were things that worked for you to transition into UX!

I've worked in ecommerce tech for the last 3 years, with a heavy focus on customer support, customer success and now commercial acceleration & revenue growth. I'd really like to take my career into product design & UX design, but I'm struggling finding a correct path. I'm currently taking a Google UX Design Certification. Would you recommend investing into a boot camp to further my knowledge or should I jump into looking for projects to complete?

What would be your best recommendation for building a portfolio? Did you work on real life projects or make them up?

It seems that most UX / Product Design jobs require experience and are more senior roles overall, how did you get your foot in the door as a junior?

Does anyone have experience transitioning into UX with their current employer? I already know our company product so well that a part of me feels like this may be a great option, but I wonder what internal moves like this look like for others out there. I work in a totally different department right now, is that weird to do?

Thanks for your guidance Elpha's! ❤️😊

sydneyshea's profile thumbnail
Hi Ekaterina! The good news (or bad news? Haha) is that there's no "right" path to get into product design. I lead design at my company so I see a lot of portfolios and linkedins and I think the ones that have a degree in design are by far in the minority. People transition from many different fields - I see a lot of customer success like yourself, psychology or other science fields, architecture (like myself!), basically anything you can think of. So no worries about standing out there. As a hiring manager, it's all about your portfolio. I care very little about school (for more senior roles, I don't even look at it to be honest). The realer the project the better, since working within constraints and collaborating is a huge part of the job. I would rather see one or two really good, thoughtfully communicated case studies than more thrown together ones.What I'm looking for when I review a portfolio is evidence of your thought process and problem-solving skills, so making that as easy as possible on me is very appreciated. Think about what you want the hiring manager to come away with after reviewing your portfolio for 60 seconds and look back over it with that lens - is it supporting your "thesis statement"? If not, edit.Why are you interested in switching from CS into design? You can think about how that background could make you a stronger designer, and then use that to strengthen your case. It's not just about your work but also about how you'd fit into our organization's culture, especially as a junior candidate. Showing some of that personality and what motivates you is really helpful.For your questions around internal transfers, I don't think that's weird at all, and your current place of work could be a great resource for you (if your manager and company culture supports it). Short of doing a full transfer you could ask to shadow a current PD there for example and see what they're doing in their day to day and if it fits into what you want to do. Or ask if you could take on a small project in addition to your current work, if you have the bandwidth.Good luck with the transition! If you have any other questions, happy to help :)
ekaterinachuvashova's profile thumbnail
Thank you so very much for such a thoughtful response! I appreciate you taking the time to give me this guidance :) these are incredible tips!
ariellee's profile thumbnail
My advice would be to:1. Canvas your skills and really ask yourself which specific skills you believe you could bring to UX. For example:" I have strong storytelling skills, a knack for visuals, and am a strong communicator with customers ans stakeholders " Correlate and understand how you would bring that to UX. What things must you develop proficiency in just to enter.2. Learn as much as you can. Strengthen the areas your weak in and focus your portfolio on your strengths. Yes take the Google class but also think about parallel skills that will make you a strong candidate.If you think there are alot of folks trying to do coding bootcamps as a non-technical tech space there a Bookoop folks you will be competing with to enter into UX! I come from an art background where it is similar the jobs are slim and the competition high. What it breaks down to is you being proficient in all the things they expect you to be proficient in and extraordinary in a way that separates you. 3. Document your journey and take on creating case studies and classes that truly seperate you. The future designer is t shaped and is involved with data and has skills beyond visual design. Creating content about your Learnings on LinkedIn or YouTube can help recruiters and hiring managers find you.4. Make friends and give back. You need to join communities where you have access and meet people who work at studios you want to be at. Go to hiring events and pitch yourself. You need to also be building your case studies. Work with startups and at hackathons to work on things that have measurable impact. This is crucial when you are building your case studies.GOOD LUCK 👍
ekaterinachuvashova's profile thumbnail
This is incredible advice, thank you so much for taking the time to reply to me! I appreciate it :)
OctaviaRomano's profile thumbnail
I’m a musician and now product designer as well. I’ll be happy to discuss my journey and answer questions if I can, feel free to DM me :)
ekaterinachuvashova's profile thumbnail
Thank you so much! I will definitely be taking you up on that! That’s incredible that you switched from music to a PD career 👏
eshakhanna's profile thumbnail
Hey Ekaterina! Your journey so far sounds very similar to mine. I also don't have a formal design degree (I did psych for my undergrad) and was in customer support before transitioning to PD. What helped me the most was finding mentors at work and expressing my interest in learning about User Experience. Eventually, I started to volunteer for small design projects even though I was in a completely different department i.e customer support so finding the right people who were willing to help me in my career growth was crucial! To prove that I could provide value from a design perspective, I also took a part-time course on UI/UX fundamentals. Reading relevant articles/videos, engaging with a local design community was also very helpful. Being in customer success certainly gives you an edge because you are so familiar with product pain points and have empathy for customers. Use that to your advantage! Happy to chat further, feel free to DM :)
meghangallagher's profile thumbnail
Hey Esha! I'm also coming from a customer support background and trying to transition. Thanks for this feedback - I've been looking to do some volunteer/pro-bono projects too!
eshakhanna's profile thumbnail
That's amazing Meghan! I know some Slack channels that offer volunteering opportunities. These two come to mind - https://www.designgigsforgood.org/ , https://payitfwd.design/ if you haven't checked them out already!
meghangallagher's profile thumbnail
Awesome! Thanks Esha- heard of design gigs for good but I’ll be sure to check out the other one
SarahKistner's profile thumbnail
I would definitely try to make the transition internally! I see a lot of people struggle to find jobs in UX at the junior level, so if you are able to gain skills at your current employer that is definitely one of the best routes! I’m not sure if you’re interested in UX Research, but it may be worth looking into since you mentioned your background in customer support.