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Self-Learning Design Due to Covid-19

Many professional designers are self-taught. Now, due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus, there is a renewed interest in informal learning methods and self-learning. With wfh and stay home gaining ground, aspiring designers have to fall back only on books, online courses, evening apprenticeship, weekend internships, short bootcamps and study camps.

Books: Students who have recently passed out may have returned to their course books. Otherwise the popular choices include:

  1. The Design of Everyday Things -Don Norman
  2. The Art of Innovation-Tom Kelly
  3. Designing Design – Kenya Hara
  4. About Face 3 -Alan Cooper & others
  5. Don’t Make Me Think -Steve Krug
  6.  Hooked – Nir Eyal
  7.  Information Architecture for the World Wide Web -Peter Morville & Louis Rosenfeld
  8.  Lean UX – Jeff Gothelf & Josh Seiden
  9. Sense and Respond -Jeff Gothelf & Josh Seiden
  10.  Sprint -Jake Knapp

Online Learning : Online searches for UX design course, UX design certification, how to become a UX architect, and how can I learn UX design have spiked since Covid-19 struck and India went into a lockdown. Though the lockdown has been lifted, people continue to work from home and we do notice people inquiring and signing up to our own ICUX-Flex course. There may be some fly-by-night operators offering low quality design certifications, so make sure you choose the right one.

Apprenticeship: Some enterprises offer apprenticeship positions to those who have a design qualification or a degree in a related field, or to someone from an allied sector. Not only do you get to learn on the job, shadow your design mentor/coach/chief, you may also benefit from short theoretical classes in such stints.

Internships: There are paid and unpaid internships for students who will benefit merely from absorbing the workplace atmosphere, the processes, skills demonstrated by those on the job. You may also be given smaller parts of a project and will hence get some valuable exposure.

Bootcamps: Short and intensive, boot camps give you an opportunity to do and learn. Applied learning in a creative field like design cannot be underestimated. Often, you may find a lifelong mentor here or even get your foot in the door into a starting level job. Though you may not work in a real world enterprise, the constant interaction and feedback from industry professionals is something no first job will provide.

Study camps: You can organize group studies with like-minded design career aspirants and learn from each other.

However, self-taught designers may be at a disadvantage over those graduating from universities.

Listen in to Vasudha Chandak, UX Recruiter & Consultant, at 0:18 in the accompanying video again. She says: “People who are graduating from design universities definitely do have an advantage.” Why?

  1. They are surrounded by like-minded peers. There is a lot of knowledge-sharing happening.
  2. There is in-depth learning of the craft.
  3. Companies come to the campus to hire.

However, it is not “easy” for the university passouts either. They have to compete against their own college mates, who have gone through the same curriculum, same learning rigour and probably have the same broad knowledge and skills for their first job in a campus interview!

“You are competing with the best of the best. Every one of your friends is a competitor…who is fighting for the same job,” points out Vasudha.

While those who are self-taught have to approach prospective employers themselves, remember the number of companies going to campus has also reduced due to Covid-19. The writing is on the wall. A career in design is not there for the asking despite the demand projections. You have to do something to stand out. It could be internships, it could be side projects. It could be learning more about the company beforehand. So that you can present some relevant solution when you are applying for a job.

Learn the Craft In-Depth
UX Recruiter & Consultant, Vasudha Chandak