As the Program Director at DESIGNATION, I personally interview every single UX and UI design applicant for our program. And by far the single most common question I get asked is, “Does it matter that I don’t have any prior design experience?”
It’s an understandable question. Participating in a bootcamp is a big decision, both financially and in terms of time, so they want to make sure the path they’re setting out on is realistic, and that their goal of becoming a UX or UI designer is within reach.
What I always tell them is that the vast majority of our participants have no prior design background whatsoever. Literally none.
And the best part is, that might actually be an advantage.
Here’s what a recent DESIGNATION graduate had to say:
“I think it actually helps to come into DESIGNATION without design experience! You’re likely to be more open about all the things that the program’s going to teach. And when you start applying the skill sets and seeing what works or doesn’t work, you’ll be able to create a process that works best for you.” -Daniel Lee, Jr. UX/UI Designer at BL3NDlabs.
It’s an interesting point, and one I honestly hadn’t really considered before he shared it. But in thinking about it, it actually makes a lot of sense.
That’s because design is the search for solutions. And that search can take you in a ton of different directions, learning about skills, industries and technologies you previously didn’t even know existed. One day you’re doing field research observing the way hospital nurses interaction with their patients, and the next you’re going down a rabbit hole to learn everything you can about virtual reality.
On the one hand, nothing can train you for that. You just have to be a naturally curious person who’s open to learning everything they can.
But on the other hand, in some ways, everything trains you for that. All life experiences are applicable in a design environment, and there’s such a broad and complex set of professional skills you can bring to the table that have enormous value.
At the end of the day, being a great designer is about so much more than the right projects, the right portfolio pieces, or even the right kind of prior experience.
It’s about curiosity. Not to mention passion, commitment, empathy and creativity.