If you’re considering a career in UX, you’re no doubt looking for the most effective way to learn all the necessary skills and build up your portfolio. An increasingly popular route into the design field is the UX bootcamp—but can such a program really set you up as an employable designer? There’s much debate about whether or not UX bootcamps are really worth it, so we decided to ask someone who can speak from personal experience. In this interview, former content specialist Ryan Wu talks about life before, during, and after his UX bootcamp.
What were you doing before you got into UX design?
I was working as a Content Specialist at Booking.com in Berlin, where I was responsible for curating property content which included editing, copywriting, and photography. Beyond my role, I also acted as a Partner Marketing Ambassador to host events, facilitate workshops to elevate partner experience and improve partner retention. The job gave me the opportunity to work with various stakeholders including marketing managers, product owners, account managers, and designers. As I learned about UX design and design thinking through working in cross-functional teams, I became really intrigued by the creative mindset and process.
So what made you go for a UX bootcamp?
Since I couldn’t afford to quit my job to study UX full time, I had to find an option that allowed me to work and study on the side. At that time, the UX bootcamp market wasn’t nearly as competitive as it is today. After doing a bit of research and talking to several bootcamp graduates, I eventually decided to go with CareerFoundry. This was based on three main factors. Firstly, I needed a bootcamp that offered a flexible learning structure to fit around my working schedule. I worked from 9 to 5 and travelled quite often for the job, so I needed a course where I could learn at my own pace (i.e. after work and during weekends). Secondly, I didn’t want to just learn online without any human interaction. CareerFoundry’s mentoring program offered weekly mentor calls for me to ask any questions or just talk through anything that was on my mind. This was yet another platform where I could reach out for help and feedback whenever I needed it.
What did you enjoy most about learning UX through a bootcamp?
I had a wonderful relationship with my mentor and tutor. It was comforting to know that I could always rely on them whenever I had a question—even on weekends when I spent most time learning. Aside from the course content, my mentor and tutor were my cheerleaders and motivated me to go the extra mile and get out of my comfort zone. You really need that when you’re learning online.
What challenges did you face along the way?
The main challenge was getting used to that particular way of learning. I was mostly alone at home when I was studying and often I would get stuck while trying to synthesize user research, or feel lost navigating my way around a new design software. I realized it’s important to know that while you may be physically alone studying UX, you are still surrounded by a community of students and mentors that are willing to help. They are really only a message or a call away! Adapting to this new learning style allowed me to really thrive throughout my UX bootcamp.
Do you feel that your UX bootcamp got you job-ready?
I would definitely say that my UX bootcamp gave me a solid foundation in UX, which is essential if you want to embark on your career as a designer. Despite what you might think about learning online, it gave me a real opportunity to get hands-on; by practicing various user research methods, for example, as well as different ways of prototyping and testing ideas. That kind of practical experience is crucial when it comes to getting your first job as a UX designer, and succeeding in that job! If you do opt for a bootcamp, it’s important to know that the learning doesn’t stop after you finish the bootcamp. The most exciting part is that you’ll keep on building your UX expertise as you advance in your career, regardless of your level.
How has your career changed since you completed the UX bootcamp?
I feel that the UX bootcamp gave me the confidence I needed to apply for jobs in the field, and after I graduated, I was extremely fortunate to be offered a job as a UX designer at a digital agency. I worked at the agency as a UX designer for just over a year and I’m now working as an Experience Design Consultant at McKinsey & Company, where I help drive client growth by delivering breakthrough products, customer experiences, and design-led innovation. In that respect, my career has changed a lot since I did the bootcamp; I’ve made a complete switch from content marketing to UX design!
What advice would you give to anyone considering a UX bootcamp?
There are plenty of UX bootcamps out there, so it’s important to do your research. Some may have similar set-ups while others may be vastly different in their curriculum. Make sure you have a good grasp of the course structure and learning experience before you commit to a particular school or bootcamp. I’d recommend starting with this guide to some of the best UX bootcamps on the market at the moment, and it’s also a good idea to talk to graduates from the bootcamp you’re considering. Ask them to share their course experience and see if these new insights align with your personal needs and learning style. While there are a lot of materials out there where self-teaching could also be an option, UX bootcamps offer a more structured way to learn. In most cases, you’ll have a personal mentor to help you along the way and the interaction with fellow students for feedback also rounds up the learning experience. Deciding to take a UX bootcamp was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and it’s actually turned out to be life-changing. I’m grateful for the connections I made there and the personal support I received—and that it ultimately resulted in a successful career change!
If you’d like to follow in Ryan’s footsteps and make your own career change into UX, check out this guide on how to become a UX designer. Already know you want to go for a UX bootcamp? Go straight to the CareerFoundry UX Design Program or try a free introductory short course.