There And Back Again: A UX Apprentice's Tale Begins

By Leah Honsey

For me, becoming a UX Apprentice with The Nerdery was all about timing. I read Fred Beecher’s blog post in February regarding the need to close the gap between new designers entering the field, and the demand for experienced designers. What he said was all too familiar. I had just begun looking for opportunities in the field and wondering how I might get one of those jobs that required 3+ years of experience. My May graduation date was looming and I was worried about all the things that my classmates were worried about: finishing my portfolio, networking, finding the right job, paying student I read further my hopes grew, but then deflated as I was left with the feeling of, “now what?” At that time there wasn’t an Apprenticeship position to apply for. But I kept close tabs on the blog and eventually read that there would be positions soon.

There were a few places that I was interested in pursuing, one of which was The Nerdery. Unfortunately I had not reached out to anyone there and was thinking about talking to someone for an informational interview, when Madelon Wills, Nerd Hunter, contacted me through LinkedIn. I couldn’t even believe my luck. We chatted and she encouraged me to apply for both the Apprenticeship and a UX Designer position. What?! I was surprised that she would encourage me to apply for the UX Designer position as well. I really wanted to get to know The Nerdery though, and I really wanted that Apprenticeship, so I agreed. I know that sounds kind of funny to people, but I’m very methodical and didn’t want to be thrown into a position that I wasn’t ready for, or be put in a position in which I wouldn’t feel successful. At the same time, I think failure is an integral part of learning, but a permanent full time position doesn’t necessarily allow for failure, at least at companies I have worked for in the past. Thankfully The Nerdery had the good sense to not hire me for that full-time UX position and instead hired me for the Apprenticeship when the position was made available.

My first day at The Nerdery was exciting; I sat down with Fred Beecher who talked about how the program was something that he had been developing for several years. He walked me through this really impressive group of spreadsheets that he had built that would track the hours that I would spend practicing various UX methods. I came away with the sense that he was just as invested in my education as I was. It was a relief to realize that the program was going to be everything I hoped for and more. I was happy to report to my husband that though I wasn’t being paid much, the amount that I was expecting to learn would more than make up for this.

In the twelve short weeks I would be an Apprentice, I hoped to experience observing and working with a variety of UX methods. In particular, research and usability testing methods. On top of all this I would learn more about The Nerdery, and how I might fit into it’s culture.

To Be Continued...

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Published by Leah Honsey
User Experience Designer

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