It took a year to complete the Springboard’s UX/UI bootcamp while working full-time for most of the course. It was exactly what I was looking for - a comprehensive curriculum that was career-focused, self-paced and community-supported. What you dedicated to the course was what you got out of it. Even for a seasoned design professional, I found the methodologies provided practical for both my current work and beyond.
What we’ll cover:
- Keeping up-to-date with design and strategy
- Confidence to apply immediately within my work
- Career advice and job searching tips
- Final thoughts
- Let’s summarise
You might be asking yourself if the Springboard UX/UI bootcamp (aka course) is for you. Well, I can’t answer that question. Do know the students range from design newbie to professional like myself looking to expand their design skills. The former came from an impressive mix of backgrounds from microbiology to teaching, project management to law. In the end, we are all just students struggling along in a new topic.
Even after over ten years within design and strategy, I knew there would be a whole lot of learning within this course. Much of my professional skills were learned on the job and tailored to that company or industry. This was the same with my knowledge around job searching. Being able to take time and do exploratory learning meant I could fill in gaps around design, strategy and career.
There are many ways you can go about learning a new skill. This includes on your own, online, for free, workshops, bootcamps or even at work. There’s a huge benefit to taking courses at work, as an example. However, the benefit to something like a bootcamps is that you are not at work. Learning can be more inefficient, it’s okay to be wrong and you can disconnect from your day-to-day environment. I enjoyed feeling like a student again and admitting that I might not know.
Keeping up-to-date with design and strategy
Much like a developer, once you start learning one type of design, it’s easy to learn another. ‘Full stack designers’ are not as common as full stack developers, but many times there are transferable skills between design disciplines. I have a background in industrial and footwear design, as well as brand and experience strategy. My foundation was strong, but there were many design and strategic concepts to learn during this bootcamp.
As a strategist, you are always looking for and testing out strategy diagrams and templates. These are valuable for organising information and providing insight. I was surprised to find the number of approaches with UX/UI, from affinity maps to user stories, that could already improve my brand strategy toolbox. The best part was that I could try different tools per student project and build up new methodologies.
The elements of a design are similar across disciplines. You need a direction, visual approach, colour palette and content. Even though I am familiar with the theories around each of these, I had to put those aside and humble my professional voice. Take colour palettes as an example. Within physical products or environments, you can use varying material to create depth. That’s just not the case with digital. I was surprised at the number of variations required around just one colour.
Confidence to apply immediately within my work
One of the best parts of Springboard’s course was the mentor. My mentor was amazing, realistic and funny. Every week I learned new things from my mentor, not only as a UX/UI designer, but as a design professional in general. She provided valuable advice around project narratives, collaboration and valuable tools. The best part was we could go in-depth into particular topics, whether course related or beyond.
During my course, I was not only learning UX/UI, but leading a project for a digital platform at work. This was a bit of a paradox. At night I was a student, and during the day applying my knowledge professionally. To add to the challenge, the project was on a tight timeline and we had to consider whether to include user testing or not. Some of the key issues we were studying in UX/UI project management within Springboard, I had to already confront at work.
Career advice and job searching tips
My first job lasted nine years. This meant I did not need to look for work, concern myself with networks or seriously maintain a portfolio or CV. Sure, I had everything at hand, but only because it was good to have versus need to have. After working with a career coach and on career modules during my Springboard course, I looked back at my most recent CVs with dread.
The latter is not a bad thing. If you look back at previous work in this way, it means you’ve grown (speaking of great mentors, this was one of her lasting insights). However, I never took the time in my decade-long career to really learn how to properly search for and apply for jobs, or advance my career. I knew it was a skill to hone, but never took the time. Furthermore, I thought I knew what to do.
Well, I didn’t. The career portion of Springboard was valuable, even to a seasoned designer/strategist. I learned how to map and leverage networks, build and maintain contacts, build a rich CV and present myself in a compelling way. I could have done this on my own, but having the feedback, tools and career coaches made it feel more doable.
There are a lot of ways out there to learn and I’ve tried most of them. As a seasoned design professional, I was very pleased with the Springboard UX/UI bootcamp. Not only did I advance my career in UX/UI, but learned skills applicable to my current profession. The community involved - including peers, mentors and career coach - taught me just as much as the course material. It’s one of the main reasons I joined, and the most valuable aspect of the program.
- I am a seasoned design professional who completed Springboard’s UX/UI course
- It was valuable to feel like a student again and fill in my knowledge gaps
- My design foundation was strong, but there were concepts to learn along the way
- The community, mentors and career coaches were very valuable and helpful
- My job search and career building techniques improved throughout this course