Diving into UX design from an Economics background

Taking a leap of faith amidst the pandemic

Ten months ago, I graduated right before the pandemic happened with a degree in Economics. I was lucky enough to land a job in Marketing, but soon realised that the job was not a fit for me. I have always wanted to pursue something in the creative space, yet I was afraid to apply for design roles as I did not have any design-related degree or apprenticeship.

That constant self-doubt stuck with me for a long period of time until I came across a design sharing organised by TechForShe in June 2020. My apprehension was alleviated after listening to the success stories of UX designers who have transitioned from various fields like Marketing or Business. I was inspired by how they’ve turned their expertise in non-design backgrounds into transferable skills that could value-add to the design industry. (Thank you Tanya, Ajmal, Mav and TechForShe team for the sharing.)

To the surprise of everyone around me, I then chose to leave my job in the midst of the pandemic. Some have told me to wait for the pandemic to be over, but I thought to myself, “If I kept giving myself excuses, I’ll never be confident enough to apply for the design job that I love.” Hence I decided to enrol in a full-time UX design immersive (UXDI) course at General Assembly to learn more about the UX field and to put design into practice.

Fast forward three months, the class of UXDI23 is finally graduating today! With the gradual easing of Covid-19 measures, our class had the opportunity to benefit from a mix of in-campus and Zoom virtual lessons. Here are some of my key learnings from the course:

The GA Experience

  1. Gaining confidence in pitching my design ideas. Through the course, I had the opportunity to work on 3 student projects and 1 pro-bono client project. Each project kickstarted with in-depth research before scoping down the problem and identifying our personas. Next came the ideation phase, where we let our creative juices flow. After coming up with prototypes, we tested our ideas through rounds of usability tests. (The usability problems that surfaced during those tests never failed to surprise me.) Each project then culminated in a final presentation where we had the opportunity to showcase our works to the rest of the course mates.
  2. Finding myself a community of like-minded UX designers. Design is ever-changing and finding yourself a community is perhaps the best way to stay on top of the industry. It has been a humbling experience to learn from many other talented and passionate aspiring UX designers throughout the course. Our instructor Pieter has always encouraged us to “pick each other’s brains”, which definitely allowed us to learn from the good ideas and strengths of one another. I’m excited to see how each of us will grow into full-fledged UX designers in various industries down the road.
  3. Benefiting from structured learning and expert sharing. Before enrolling into GA, I considered taking the self-learning approach. However, I was somewhat lost amongst all the internet resources and did not know where to start. The structured lesson plan and interesting design topics definitely saved myself some time hunting through the internet resources. Apart from that, the constant feedback and sharing from industry experts were helpful in guiding me to improve my design approach.
To see more of my works, please visit my website haleytan.com

Final thoughts and appreciation

To end off, I would like to thank the instructional team in GA - Pieter, Isabell and Valesca for their guidance throughout the course. Thank you to my entire class of aspiring UX designers for making this course fun and enriching, especially my project team mates whom I have learnt a great deal from whilst working with them. Thank you also to our career coach, Stefanie for organising many insightful sharing from industry experts. Finally, thank you Kevin from Bank of Singapore, Elizabeth from EDB and Dhananjay from Zinier for sharing your industry experience and knowledge. Your presence and sharing have definitely spurred us on as designers new to the UX industry.

This is just the start of my design journey and I’m excited to see where it will lead me. Learning never stops and I hope to take what I’ve learnt from the course to the real world and continue expanding my UX design knowledge on the job. If you’ve read so far, thank you and please feel free to connect with me over LinkedIn/coffee!

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Haley Tan Siew Hui

Haley Tan Siew Hui

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