Apprenticeship Now!
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Apprenticeship Now!

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Now that our field has matured, and there are programs across the country that are offering degrees in design, it is much more difficult for recent graduates and people who want to transition into the ...

Now that our field has matured, and there are programs across the country that are offering degrees in design, it is much more difficult for recent graduates and people who want to transition into the field to get their foot in the door.

Not only are job listings for junior designers far and few between, but our profession has no apprenticeship model to help junior designers grow into senior designers.


UX design is a craft and we are doing our entire profession a disservice by not taking the time to hire, mentor, and bring up the next generation of designers.

The UX profession needs apprenticeship now!

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  • Hi, my name is Alla Zollers and I am here to passionately advocate for apprenticeship in the UX profession. I care deeply about the next generation of designers that are coming into our profession, and want to make sure that they get the support and knowledge that they need to become our leaders. \n
  • I would like to start out by congratulating all of us. We made it! In case you didn’t get the memo, our profession is mainstream and business are not only seeing the value of design, but also investing in design in their organization. \n
  • In fact, in an article in Inc magazine, user experience was named as the second hardest job to fill in 2012 after software engineers. This means that there are more job opportunities than ever before, and a high-demand for designers. \n
  • The reality of the situation is that the majority of the new openings are for senior designers with 3 or more years of experience. So how are junior designers, who might have less than a year of experience, supposed to become senior designers?\n
  • Our profession has a barrier to entry. In fact there is a gap in the 0-3 year range, where people with 0-3 years of experience are not able to hired. It’s a catch-22, where you need 3 years of experience to get the job and you need the job in order to get the experience. There are many talented people graduating from design programs or wanting to make a career shift into UX, but do not have the years of experience. \n
  • It breaks my heart, but I have been personally told by junior designers and current senior designers that the only way they can get started in the field is by lying about their years of experience to get a position. Then they did their best to sink or swim and learn what they could on the job. It is our responsibility as a profession to provide avenues for new designers to get the experience they need to become senior designers. \n
  • What is the impact on us a profession if we don’t help aspiring designers? Aside from not being able to meet the demands of the market, we will also continue having the same conversations at these events and conferences because junior people will be re-learning all the knowledge that we already possess. \n
  • We truly risk progress, innovation and honestly, our hard won reputation. Is it worth the cost?\n
  • So I am here to advocate for apprenticeship. I mean the old school, master-apprentice model. The only difference being that in modern times you won’t get junior designers when they are teenagers. \n
  • What would the structure of an apprenticeship look like? It is a full-time staff position with ever increasing responsibility over time. The apprentice shadows the master, or senior designer, works on actual projects, and gets feedback on the work. The master trains, mentors and coaches the apprentice.\n
  • An apprenticeship is different than an internship, which is typically only available to currently enrolled students for a short period of time, typically 2-3 months. It is not an option for folks that have graduated and are in that experience gap, or for people that want to transition careers.\n
  • Mentorship is also different, although mentoring is often involved in an apprenticeship, mentoring alone is not structured enough to help a junior designer fully experience and understand how to handle all the situations that we as designers face everyday. \n
  • I advocate for apprenticeship because I believe that UX design is a craft. As we all know there is much more to design than putting boxes on the screen. UX design is about the head, the voice, the heart, and the hands.\n
  • As designers we understand the needs of our customers and the real problem that we solving. We are able to know the questions to ask, communicate our thoughts, translate between teams in a clear and effective way.\n
  • We empathize with our customers in our hearts, and advocate for them within our organizations. Finally, we bring all everything together and balance the needs in a design. \n\n
  • This is not something that can be taught in school because most of what I just described is tacit knowledge that can only be learned from experience and guidance - from apprenticeship. \n
  • Now I have already anticipated all of your excuses for not wanting to have apprenticeship in your organization - the biggest one being time. I know all of you are probably thinking, well that sound great Alla but I just have so much work to do I don’t have time to have an apprentice. \n
  • So let me answer that back with a few questions of my own. Do you have time do the job of multiple people? \n
  • Do you have time to spend months interviewing candidates as the demand rises? Do you have time to redo poor work because a person was never trained properly? \n
  • Let’s all move the conversation and our profession forward together. No more excuses, “Apprenticeship Now” Thank you!\n

Apprenticeship Now! Apprenticeship Now! Presentation Transcript

  • Apprenticeship Now! Alla Zollers @a zol le rsHi, my name is Alla Zollers and I am here to passionately advocate for apprenticeship in the UX profession. I care deeply about the next generation of designers that are coming into ourprofession, and want to make sure that they get the support and knowledge that they need to become our leaders.
  • UX is MainstreamI would like to start out by congratulating all of us. We made it! In case you didnʼt get the memo, our profession is mainstream and business are not only seeing the value of design, but alsoinvesting in design in their organization.
  • #2 Hardest Job to FillIn fact, in an article in Inc magazine, user experience was named as the second hardest job to fill in 2012 after software engineers. This means that there are more job opportunities thanever before, and a high-demand for designers.
  • High Market DemandThe reality of the situation is that the majority of the new openings are for senior designers with 3 or more years of experience. So how are junior designers, who might have less than a yearof experience, supposed to become senior designers?
  • Barrier to EntryOur profession has a barrier to entry. In fact there is a gap in the 0-3 year range, where people with 0-3 years of experience are not able to hired. Itʼs a catch-22, where you need 3 years ofexperience to get the job and you need the job in order to get the experience. There are many talented people graduating from design programs or wanting to make a career shift into UX,but do not have the years of experience.
  • Foot in the DoorIt breaks my heart, but I have been personally told by junior designers and current senior designers that the only way they can get started in the field is by lying about their years ofexperience to get a position. Then they did their best to sink or swim and learn what they could on the job. It is our responsibility as a profession to provide avenues for new designers to getthe experience they need to become senior designers.
  • What is the impact?What is the impact on us a profession if we donʼt help aspiring designers? Aside from not being able to meet the demands of the market, we will also continue having the same conversationsat these events and conferences because junior people will be re-learning all the knowledge that we already possess.
  • What is the impact?We truly risk progress, innovation and honestly, our hard won reputation. Is it worth the cost?
  • ApprenticeshipSo I am here to advocate for apprenticeship. I mean the old school, master-apprentice model. The only difference being that in modern times you wonʼt get junior designers when they areteenagers.
  • ApprenticeshipWhat would the structure of an apprenticeship look like? It is a full-time staff position with ever increasing responsibility over time. The apprentice shadows the master, or senior designer,works on actual projects, and gets feedback on the work. The master trains, mentors and coaches the apprentice.
  • Not Internships Dilbert Comic 3/18/1996An apprenticeship is different than an internship, which is typically only available to currently enrolled students for a short period of time, typically 2-3 months. It is not an option for folks thathave graduated and are in that experience gap, or for people that want to transition careers. N
  • Not MentoringMentorship is also different, although mentoring is often involved in an apprenticeship, mentoring alone is not structured enough to help a junior designer fully experience and understandhow to handle all the situations that we as designers face everyday.
  • UX is a CraftI advocate for apprenticeship because I believe that UX design is a craft. As we all know there is much more to design than putting boxes on the screen. UX design is about the head, thevoice, the heart, and the hands.
  • Think Like a DesignerAs designers we understand the needs of our customers and the real problem that we solving. We are able to know the questions to ask, communicate our thoughts, translate betweenteams in a clear and effective way.
  • Think Like a DesignerWe empathize with our customers in our hearts, and advocate for them within our organizations. Finally, we bring all everything together and balance the needs in a design.
  • Tacit KnowledgeThis is not something that can be taught in school because most of what I just described is tacit knowledge that can only be learned from experience and guidance - from apprenticeship.
  • Favorite ExcuseNow I have already anticipated all of your excuses for not wanting to have apprenticeship in your organization - the biggest one being time. I know all of you are probably thinking, well thatsound great Alla but I just have so much work to do I donʼt have time to have an apprentice.
  • Do you have time ...So let me answer that back with a few questions of my own. Do you have time do the job of multiple people?
  • Do you have time ...Do you have time to spend months interviewing candidates as the demand rises? Do you have time to redo poor work because a person was never trained properly?
  • Apprenticeship Now! Thank You @a zol le rsLetʼs all move the conversation and our profession forward together. No more excuses, “Apprenticeship Now” Thank you!