I was fresh out of a UX/UI Design bootcamp with little experience. Prior to this, I had planned on entering law school but decided against it as I felt that my calling at this time was for something entirely different.
Long story short, transitioning into User Experience was hard.
I was unprepared for the sheer amount of hours and dedication that it took to become even somewhat proficient at a certain profession. I discovered a new found respect for people who are domain experts in whatever field they are in.
After going through my first interviews with Teach for America for an actual role as a UX Designer, I received some great advice from the director — Paul Chernik. Even after I was rejected in the last round, he followed up with me and we had a Skype sessions where I discovered what my weak points were in the interview process and how to best approach my next ones.
This experience got me thinking and onto an idea.
How many other designers out there are struggling with the designer interview process? How were they tackling the whiteboard challenge or design exercises? I had gone to some Meetup groups to practice the whiteboard challenge with but so many people were a no-show and it was hard making the time to make the trek out there.
UX Slack channels and forums were great but there was such so much information overload from people posting different topics at once even with the divided channels. Most importantly, they felt too exclusive and it took me a while to even get an invite to one particular one. The job prep channels were also oddly barren.
It seemed like either everyone was putting up and image of being successful in the job search process when after many interviews with designers with 0–2 years of experience demonstrated that this wasn’t the case.
What if there was an online platform in which users could practice random challenges that would show up in a real whiteboard challenge, have it timed and then share those results directly with designers all over the world? What if it could be done directly on your browser on all manners of devices and tablets? Designers could then also upload photos or videos relevant to the job search, get critiques on how they present their work, get answers to design problems and sharpen their user experience logic?
I decided to jump on the idea on whim after my interview with Teach for America and met a front-end developer while visiting family in South Korea in February. He introduced me to another acquaintance of his who could handle databases and back-end languages.
From there on the journey began.
We spent nearly every second waking moment together, sat together on mapping the UX and flow of the product, and brainstormed ideas. I designed and handed over the specs to my team and we adjusted REM sizes, iterated and pivoted when usability test proved otherwise.
It was challenging but never had I felt so close to two people before and came to understand everything about each other and our fields. They learned how to work with a designer intimately and developed an eye for typography. (Programmers seem to really like the Roboto font) I learned how to install SSL certificates, deploy code on Heroku, came to understand working with their stacks, and became adept at finding bugs.
I caught more bugs than I did Pokemon as a kid.
The important thing to note here was that my developer friends were fresh out of a bootcamp and an undergraduate program themselves. The biggest obstacle in the process was overcoming imposter syndrome, having an open mind and realizing that if you didn’t know something — Google was there to help.
Here are some photos of our journey:
Overall, it has been a great journey and I had the chance to meet with and pitch to VC’s in South Korea @ Bonangels, Sparklabs, Seoul Business Agency, KPMG, etc. I told them my visions for how the product would develop in the future and some expressed interest.
If there is anyone out there on the brink of starting on their own idea, have some savings to carry them over for a few months and is willing to challenge themselves, I would say go for it.
You will be surprised at how much you can overcome.
If you have any questions feel free to connect me on Linkedin @ https://www.linkedin.com/in/danieljaekyunglee or shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Webapp that helps UX designers practice the whiteboard challenge on our paint tool and prepare for UX/ product design jobs. More @ uxcurate.io