Interaction Design Foundation:
As many of us start the new year, we look at things in our lives that we’d like to change to make our lives better. Whether it’s to take the plunge to be healthier or make changes to our lifestyle to help the planet or steps to take in our education to change careers, all of these New Year’s resolutions start with good intentions. Some of our resolutions end up making lasting changes in our lives and others we end up dropping and not being able to get ourselves to have them last past the month of January. I’d like to focus on the resolution that we often make at least once in our lifetimes and that is to change careers.
Now, career change could be a New Year’s resolution, or it could happen at the most unexpected time in your life where your current job is just not challenging anymore. Let’s face it, we all love a good challenge and when our jobs become boring, complacent and humdrum, we start looking for a way out. I am in such a situation currently myself. My current job, which I’ve been doing for a little over 18 years, is something that I am good at but checking paperwork day in and day out with no variation of doing something novel and new has started to wear me down and had started to take it’s toll on my health. I have, with great perseverance, gotten my health back on track but the job. I thought to myself, what else is out there that I can do? What is out there where I can make use of the degrees that I have? My current job has no bearing on the college degrees I’ve completed. The field I am in has nothing to do with anthropology or graphic design in my current station in life, so what else is out there? I started to look around at job openings on Indeed, Zip Recruiter and Glassdoor. UX/ UI design kept coming up in my search queries.
I began to look into this deeper and at the suggestion of a family member search for the top ten programs in UX/ UI design on the web. My results from the web came across 37 such programs online and we narrowed them down to the top 10, then top 7 and then top 5, which were:
Interaction Design Foundation
Now, I’d already taken a web design course on Treehouse as well as a developer course along with the basics of UI Design, but they are expensive and taking their courses didn’t really help me get anywhere or grow my overall knowledge. Career Foundry was a potential as well as the Flatiron School of Design in New York and I was weighing my options with both of them until Interaction Design Foundation came up with a higher overall value in the data analysis we did. Truth be told, I had ruled out Flatiron because it required me to attend classes in person and for somebody that works roughly 40-50 hours a week, that’s not possible and commuting to the city is a good 1.5 hours of time wasted for me, and that is just one way, which means round trip, I’ve lost 3 hours of my life on a daily basis. I’m looking to increase the value of my skills and productivity, not suck it dry from commuting. Plus, I wasn’t ready to fork over thousands of dollars to them to take a course and then lose money by cutting back on my work hours.
With the Flatiron School losing my vote, I turned my attention to Career Foundry and the Interaction Design Foundation. Both schools are online and provide certificates to students upon completion of their courses, but I found the self-pace course selections at the Interaction Design Foundation (IDF) to be especially helpful, not to mention the price. How can you beat their offering of all of their courses for a flat yearly membership fee of a little over $150. Compare that to $6555 with Career Foundry and $17,000 with the Flatiron School and there is no contest. Plus, the IDF has courses where you can learn what exactly is UX and UI design. How these two fields are completely different from one another and their importance in their own right. It is here that, as I was taking the earlier courses (Design Thinking: The Beginner’s Guide, Become a UX Designer from Scratch and User Research – Methods and Best Practices) that I saw UX as the critical link that joins both of my degrees in Anthropology and Graphic Design into one. As a UX researcher, I can conduct qualitative surveys to gain insight into the behaviors that the user of a given product or service exhibits and why they exhibit those behaviors. I can then take that data and translate it into a working model using design software tools.
IDF presented me with a challenge and I had been waiting for something that would challenge me and give me the opportunity to use my past knowledge in a constructive way. I jumped at the opportunity and became a member and then started gobbling through their course listings (screenshot below). Where it would have taken me over two years on a university/ college paced course program, I was super charged and sped through their course offerings and am now down to my last three courses in less than one year. I loved the video courses especially because I ended up watching the videos while I would go to work out in my basement. Their written content pushed me forward to make sure that I kept up pace with their video content. If I finished one lesson plan in written content in one day, then the next day I finished the video content of another lesson plan. It was as if I was a full-time student again and taking four courses online at a time, while not having to change anything with my working hours.
I believe that once I’ve finished these last three courses on my list, I’ll be ready for their boot camp. That’s right, the IDF has now started a boot camp where they charge you $990 and pair you up with a UX or UI designer in that field to help you build your portfolio so that the career change can finally happen (see screen shot below). That will be my next step, signing up for their boot camp, after I finish these courses because, although, I have the mind of a UX researcher and designer where I am always looking at problems to see what solutions I can come up with, I need to have my portfolio showcase this as well.
I just want to end by saying to all of you looking to change careers, go for it. It takes time, it takes patience but the end results, I feel, will all be worth it. I am counting on that positivity and hope that all of my patience will pay off in the end and that I will finally find my dream job where both Anthropology and Graphic Design have an ever-present and equal role to play in my daily work routine.