Hello there! I’m Julien, a freshly graduated student from a design school starting-up my Ux Designer career !
It has now been 9 months since I started my Ux Designer adventure with Movify (my consultancy firm) and 6 months working for Proximus (my actual client), a leading Tel-co company in Belgium. During these firsts months as a Ux Designer, I discovered so many new things such as working processes, social interaction, meeting mechanics, etc… and I think it might be a great idea to share these discoveries as it might help a lot of young designer graduates to make their first steps into the working life!
This is it, First day at the Movify office! I can tell you I was very excited for this. I came to the office with excitement, nervousness and anxiety but determined to rock as a new Junior Ux Designer!
Discovering the life of a designer consultant
My first day started with a Movify history session where I learned about Movify’s journey, where they come from and where they aim to go.
Then, I had the pleasure to meet and get to know the team. Emmanuelle (Operations Coordinator), did the onboarding with me, walking me through all I had to know about the Macbook I will be given, timesheet, applications, administrative stuff etc…
Moreover, I had the pleasure to meet my buddy! Yann is a Senior Ux/Ui Designer and will be there to help/assist me with any kind of request I may have in the future. I also met Xavier, the head of design at Movify and Charles, my business manager who aims to get me the best client possible for my first job.
Well, as you may have understood, the first day of work is not really about working but rather about discovering the company you are going to work with. In my case as a Junior Movify consultant, Movify will give me the opportunity to kickstart my consultancy work as a UX designer by finding a client for me.
Consequently, the next weeks were mainly focused on preparing and doing interviews with possible future clients. This was extremely valuable for me as a junior designer because it helped me to improve my interview and oratory skills. Movify taught me how to answer specific questions, how to turn a weak answer into something good, etc…A new skill learned for life!
After going through more than 10 interviews from different companies in FinTech, Telco or even online gaming, I got hired by Proximus, a leading telco company in Belgium. Finding a client: done. I am now on my way to the Proximus office. Now the real work begin!
The first month is always intense. Not necessarily in terms of workload but learnings. When I came for the first time at the Proximus office, I had the chance to be onboarded by Charlotte, Ux designer on the leave who will be there to assure a good comprehension of the Proximus working process and a good integration within the Ux team.
During this day, I discovered and learned so many things, it is still hard to remember everything to this day. I learned about internal application usage, timesheets, Licence, company’s structure, Agile/Scrum methodology, Ux team members, Squad members, working method, and MUCH more!
As you can see, this can become overwhelming if you don’t know how to manage that amount of information in a very short time. Let me help you find some way to make things clear and easier in your new professional life.
Get a buddy
It might seems obvious for some of you, as providing a buddy is somewhat usual in some companies. But for some who do not have a buddy yet and are junior like me, get one, right now!
A buddy will help you in many ways. First, it will give you a safe space where you can ask the most basic and simple questions that comes to your mind.
We all know that sometimes we can be shy about asking questions that we might think stupid. (there is no stupid questions when you are a UX designer) A buddy will be there to create that safe space where you will feel at home, without fear to ask about anything.
Moreover, a buddy will be there to assist you in the understanding of something new like a program, a new methodology. He will also be there to help you find and define your way of working on a new project. Indeed, as a new UX Designer, you might feel stuck sometimes in terms of UX working mechanics by lack of knowledge, and that is completely ok! Your buddy is there to help you!
Get to know your working environment
Once you start working for a client, you will discover a whole new company Filled with various people, a specific structure, many teams, a working method etc… This can be very hard to manage as you might have to do that all at once. Here are some tips and tricks that might help you out as a fellow junior designer:
If you are working for the first time in a large company like me, you will probably have to meet a lot of people from the different teams you will be working with.
Personally, I am very bad at remembering people’s names and faces. To do so, I created a Figjam board on Figma. For every new person I met, I created a profile card with a profile picture I took from the meeting, a name, and short job description. Then classified them by squad, then tribe, then chapter, etc… This allowed me to have a good overview of the structure of the company very quickly.
Moreover, you will not necessary have the chance to directly meet someone you end up working with. In this case, if you think you are lacking informations from a squad or a person, do not hesitate to book a welcome/get to know each-other meeting with them. They will be more than happy to tell you who they are and what they are doing! Do not hesitate to ask.
Another thing that can be very intimidating when you start working for a large company it’s specific vocabulary. During my first month at Proximus (and still a bit today I must confess), I was facing something quite funny but also very intimidating: the company’s vocabulary.
During some of my first meetings, I had sometimes the feeling that I was hearing a new language! Terminology, nickname, abbreviation, etc…
I was lost. Very lost.
To keep track of meetings with words I did not understand, I had to do something that most young people hate to do: ask.
One again, the best remedy to this problem is to ask. You might feel stupid asking the question (even if it’s not stupid, although your ego thinks it is) but, believe me, you will feel even more stupid during the next meeting talking about the same subject with the same unknown words which still don’t mean anything to you.
Moreover, ask someone in your team or your buddy if the company has a document with any kind of informations related to the company itself, its structure, vocabulary, teams/squads names, etc… That might help you in your learning process.
Working Methodology: Agile
As you begin a new adventure in a company, you will have to stick to their working methodology. Most of the time, you will have to deal with Agile methodology. For those who do not know about it, the Agile methodology is a way to manage a project by breaking it up into several phases. It involves constant collaboration with stakeholders and continuous improvement at every stage. Once the work begins, teams cycle through a process of planning, executing, and evaluating.
As a young graduate, I’ve only experienced agile at school during one project. As a result, this methodology was relatively new to me and to most people working in the company as well, as they just decided to make a transition to the agile methodology during my first weeks.
In order to know more about agile methodology, I decided to learn by myself online with youtube videos and online courses. This has been very useful for me as I was able to fully understand the mechanics of this methodology.
That is something that I suggest to get to know the working methodology of your company if you are new to the working life. You can learn online on platforms such as Youtube, Udemy or Coursera.
The Meeting Culture
If you start to work in a large company like me, you might experience the “meeting culture” as I like to call it.
Like every other employee, you have a calendar, and this calendar is visible by anyone who wants to invite you to a meeting. As a result, every free slot you have in your calendar is a possible new meeting invite from someone, as they can see you are free during this timeframe.
Now, apply this meeting culture to a a large company and you end up with a calendar full on meetings with no more free time to work. This is the meeting culture. The fact that so many people work at the same place, at the same time creates a lot of meetings. And these meetings can take a lot of your time.
As a result, I have come up with some tips in order to get free time to work on projects.
The first tip was to create meetings…with myself. Yes, you heard it. If you book a meeting with yourself, people will see that you are busy on your calendar so they will not use that timeframe to invite you to a meeting. This is a must do if you want to work in a large company!
The second tip is something that I am not doing but I know some of my UX colleges do. You have to ask prior to the meeting to stakeholders two or three questions to see if your presence is really an needed value for the meeting.
If you want to have some time for yourself and your projects, I highly suggest to follow at least one of these tips!
Your first project
Alright, now that you are all set, you can start working on your first project! Personally, starting my first project at Proximus was quite a challenge for me. I am a young graduate with no professional experience in UX and now I’m UX designer within a value proposition team responsible to implement new products and features for the public. I don’t know about you, but to me, this sounds amazing and challenging, but also overwhelming. How am I supposed to work ? Where do I start? With who do I work with? How do I present my work? To who? When? What happens if it’s not good or not what was expected? What if… And now your going down the rabbit hole :)
Ok let’s take a deep breath.
Stakeholder & Project mapping
First of all, once I knew the briefing and what was expected from me, I went directly to my buddy and asked for tips. I explained him the project and I Was completely transparent about the fact that this is my very first project in a large company.
Then, we brainstormed together on how the process should be, the steps I should take, etc… We basically created a road map for me to clearly understand by what steps and stages I will have to go through.
This helped me a lot as I was able to have a better view on the outcome and expectations about this project.
Secondly, I identified each person and squad linked to my project. As I said earlier, because it is a large company, when you are doing a project, several squads will be involved as you will have to create something on a page that belongs to squad X and another modification on an app that belongs to squad Y.
As a result, by identifying the squad that might be linked to your project, you will save yourself some time in the future while working on the project as you will already know which person or squad is in charge of this page.
Now comes the fun part! You have now everything in hands to start rocking it at your first project! So, team up with your Service Designer if you have one, and start doing what you do best : Benchmarking, Customer journey, Wireframing,…
This part is the part where you can be the most creative! Do your job and do it good!
While doing your research or producing some wireframes, do not forget to keep in touch with your squad about your progression. Moreover, include them in the process if you can! They will love to know what’s going on in the UX process and they will be more than happy to participate if they can. So if you are looking for a facilitator or note takers for interviews, start by asking your team, don’t be shy!
When you are working on a project, you might want to know if what you are doing is doable or if you’re on the right track. At some point you might get stuck and in need of some feedback from UX colleagues.
I strongly recommend you to do so. At Proximus, we have two different boards: the COP (Community of Practice) where we can show our work to UX colleagues and get feedback and advice in a non formal way. This is very nice if you just want to talk about something that bugs you.
The second board we have is the UX Board which is a validation board. You will use this board as a validation for your project. The board is composed essentially of Senior UX designers who have a lot of experience within the company. This is a mandatory board for every designer if they want to go further in their project.
If you have these kind of boards at your company, use them as much as possible!
If you do not have these kind of boards, I highly suggest you to create one or ask your UX colleagues to have one at least once a week!
Once you have done your first Ux production phase, you can test your design(if your company has the time or the money to do it). Personally, Testing my design is my the favourite part of the UX Designer’s journey, this is the core of a Ux designer job. You have your design based on your research, analysis and marketing requests and now you can test it with people!
I highly suggest you to always do a testing if your company allows it. You will get amazing feedbacks and insights on your designs. Moreover, you will be able to use your testing results has an argument when it comes to validate or make a design decision.
On top of that, you will have a wonderful time prototyping your project in order to make it clickable for the user. You will have a direct contact with users, As a designer this is where all your work makes sense.
When it comes to testing, I suggest you to take time choosing the type of testing that you will do. Personally, I have a “testing coach” I can contact to help me choose the right testing for my project. If you don’t have a designated “testing coach” within your company, tell your UX colleagues about your project, do a meeting with them and ask what they think would be the best testing method in their opinion.
Your first review
There it is, you have completed your first project and it is time for you to have your first review from the client. It might be a bit overwhelming at first, but do not worry, it is easier that is seems.
First, you will have to prepare your review. Sometimes the company or client you work for will give you a template to follow. In my case, Movify gave me a template of projects reviews that I could use to present it to both the Ux Manager from Proximus (my client) and the Business Manager from Movify (my consultancy firm). If not, hear me out:
Make a presentation and divide it into sections:
In this section, you will present the main project you have been woking on recently. For each project, talk about the context, your role and the status of the project (what is going well, what has been a challenge so far, difficulties) For each project, add pictures or screenshot to add visual support to what you are saying.
In this section you will talk about what you have achieved during this period, what milestones you have reached.
Upcoming priorities & next steps
You will then talk about what are your upcoming priorities regarding your project progression and what are the next steps.
Feedbacks are what you can benefit from the most in a review. Indeed, feedbacks are not only about your company giving you feedback but also you providing good feedbacks from your team/colleagues to bring an additional value to your review. So get your team and ask them for feedbacks and then add them in your presentation.
And don’t forget to stay cool, It’s just a review, you will be fine !
Getting used to your company
Congratulations! It has now been six months that you have been working in the company and you are doing a very good job! You have successfully done your first project, you got a nice review and you are now on track to provide increasingly more valuable valuable UX design work!
After 6 months, you will be acclimated to your “new” work environment. Now, you know how the company works, you know how your team works and what they expect from you during a project, you are more confident as a UX designer now that you have done several projects within the company. We can see that you got used to your company! And that is a good thing (and something mandatory if you want to go further as a UX designer). Now that everything we talked about is achieved, you can now focus on other challenges or learnings in order to improve your working skills.
To do so, I highly suggest you to read UX design books. This will help you extend you UX knowledge outside the UX limitations of your actual company. It will bring an incredible added value to your work, so read my friend, read!
Books suggestions for a Junior UX designer :
Just Enough Resarch by Erika Hall
Don’t make me think! by Steve Krug
Start with why by Simon Sinek
The user experience team of one by Leah Buley
These books, added to what you learned during your first 6 months, will help you improve you UX designer skills!
Moreover, as designers, we have the chance to have tons and tons of design conferences, workshops, online courses, etc… available online or in real life.
Consequently, if you have a budget To spare for learning & development or if your company is not against it, go to design conferences! Get inspired by speakers and workshops that will give you knew knowledge which you can apply to your design work! Personally, I have the chance to have a yearly Learning & development budget from Movify that I can spend on everything that is design related such as books, online courses, conferences, workshops,… Thanks to that, I went to OFFF Barcelona !
Design conferences are an amazing way to get inspired, meet new UX people and so, extend your network.
Let’s talk about confidence
Well, after six months working for a company, I can tell you that my confidence has grown while still being on the front seat of a giant roller-coaster.
Indeed, being a UX designer requires some amount of confidence. You have to interact with a lot of people working with you, defend your work againsts stakeholders or UX boards or even conduct interviews with users.
In order to do all that, you will first have to jump into the unknown. Then you will have to jump again, and again,… And this unknown will soon become your Ux playground. You just have to have the guts to do it once, the rest will follow.
If you struggle jumping into the unknown for the first time, do not forget that you are not alone. As mentioned earlier, you can ask your UX colleagues or your buddy to help you. Ask for help, people will be glad to help!
Lacking confidence is totally normal as a young designer. You still have a lot to learn! Don’t let this lack of confidence stop you from learning and working.
Setting-up your next challenge
Now that you are acquainted with your work environment, have more confidence and improved your UX designer skills, it might be a good idea to extend your challenge by doing something outside the working process itself.
I’m talking about learning and sharing your knowledge with the world.
Why not try to do something UX related with your company? It can be the creation of a UX blog, a podcast, a meet-up, a presentation, a workshop with employees,… Something that can be shared with others.
If you have ideas, talk to your manager, he/she will be more than happy to see that you are full of energy and want to share your knowledge with the world!
Try to always find something that can stimulate you in some way. As a UX designer, you must get moving all the time in order to stay up to date with your environment and what is going on in the UX world. Movify encourages their consultants to embrace challenges, that is why I am writing this article to share my (relatively new) knowledge with you ! Movify also organises design and Dev related meet-ups or even a podcast called “FLUX”. If you are interested, go check it out!
While doing these challenges, you will not only do something new but you will share knowledge with people, create connections and improve new skills!
So what is your next challenge my fellow UX colleague?
Go with the flow. You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.
To summaries, as a new UX designer, you will go through a lot of different things such as onboarding, client interviews, methodology, environment, work methodology,… These things will happen quickly but not at the same time. Don’t be overwhelmed by all the information we give you. It is ok if you don’t remember everything by heart the first time. You are discovering a whole new world, it is ok to forget.
I have a motto when it comes to work: “Go with the flow”. I am not the best learner, I do not remember everything I am told but I try to not get too anxious about it. I just let it be and keep on working and learning, the rest will simply flow when the time comes.
I suggest you to do the same, flow my friend, it will save you from a lot of stress and unnecessary anxiety.