Mar 19, 2015

My Tryst With UX – an Interview with our mentor Jorge Baltazar

Share:

With registrations for the newest batch of our UX Design Workshop drawing to a close, I thought I’d ask one of our star mentors – Jorge, about his journey in the field so far. Today, more and more people are making the transition into UX Design from diverse backgrounds like psychology, architecture, graphic design, and more.  If you are thinking of getting into UX, and need some insight  – read on!

“Landing your first UX job is challenging. Without proper mentorship, you’re completely making leaps of faith. My biggest learnings came from trial and error.”

 

Name: Jorge Baltazar
Location: San Francisco, CA
Title: UX Designer
Company: Hotwire – one of the world’s biggest discount travel websites
College Major: Geography & Landscape Architecture
Years as a UX Designer: 4

1. How did you get into UX design and land your first job?

Like a lot of people before me, I just accidentally became an UX designer. I coded my first website in my undergrads. I then started coding for friends and local businesses. While doing so I used a lot of what I learned in landscape architecture to influence my work. I realized that there wasn’t a whole lot of difference between designing for physical and digital spaces. I then started focussing on the usability of the sites I coded and from there started focusing solely on usability.

2. What have been some unexpected challenges you faced while on the job-hunt?

Landing your first ux job is challenging. Without proper mentorship, you’re completely making leaps of faith. My biggest learnings came from trial and error. I realized early that hiring managers are looking for the complete package.

I realized early on that every gig is a learning experience. Knowing what you’re good at and most importantly what you’re bad at will save your ass. Never be afraid to tackle something. Ultimately it’s that level of tenacity that will determine your success.

3. What does a typical career path/advancement for a UX designer look like?

There are an infinite number of roads to a career in UX. The traditional route is getting a degree in human-computer interaction or anything similar. More than likely most people come from unrelated backgrounds such as architecture, graphic design, anthropology, and psychology.

Personally, I studied geography and landscape architecture. It wasn’t until I learned front end development that I discovered UX. Since then, I haven’t looked back.

4. What about the ‘lifestyle’ and pay aspects? What kind of life should a UX designer expect to lead and what is the earning potential?

The lifestyle and pay is great. Actually, it was recently named one of the best careers for work-life balance. A junior designer is expected to earn between $50-$70k per year. Senior designers earn well into the six figures.

In terms of lifestyle, there are different types of UX lifestyle, all depending on where you work. Agencies and start-ups will most likely be more demanding. In-house work can be pretty stable. Freelance work is lucrative but very volatile.

5. How has the UX design landscape evolved? How do you see the future of the field?

The UX field has been evolving and growing rapidly. Companies are starting to value design more. More than ever, designers are at the big kids’ table when making big decisions. With this refocus on design, design teams are growing and new specialists are emerging. The future looks great for ux designers.

With more companies investing in design, there will definitely be a need for designers. In terms of the field, companies are focusing more on customer experience. With that said more of User experience design will be beyond the digital space such as physical products and service design.

6. What lessons have you learned that you wish you knew when just starting out?

I’ll give you an abridged version. This can be its own book. I wish I had learned earlier the importance of self-promotion. Your credibility and exposure is something people often don’t talk about. In addition, I wish I knew the right questions to ask early on when taking on a new client or job. There are a lot of bad clients and design managers, finding the bad ones early will save you a lot of time and grief.

7. What are your biggest words of wisdom for newcomers to the field?

Be nice and be curious. Design is a collaborative effort. You want to be the person that people want to work with. Being curious is just a part of being a designer. This means being an avid reader and playing with everything (video games, apps, etc).

If you want a chance to be mentored by a UX expert like Jorge, work on real-world design projects, and start building your design portfolio – enroll for the next cohort of our Online Workshop on UX Design today!

UX Guide (blogpost) CTA