Oct 8, 2021

What I Get Asked Most About My UX Apprenticeship Experience

Sami Alur
Sami is an Associate UX Consultant for UXReactor with experience in research and interaction design.

Whenever I mention that my career at UXReactor as an Associate UX Consultant started with a UX Apprenticeship, people are intrigued by what the Apprenticeship entailed and what my experience was like.

I was also unfamiliar with the term “UX Apprentice” at first and had the same questions that I get asked today. But within six short yet stimulating months, I quickly learned how an Apprenticeship at UXReactor would become the most transformative experience of my career, and I would like to share that experience with others who might also be curious about the Apprenticeship.

What was your background before joining UXReactor, and why did you enjoy the program?

I studied industrial design in college which is where I first discovered User Experience and became immediately entranced by it. Upon graduation, I wanted to pursue UX design as a career, but unfortunately, there was no “how-to” manual on how to make the transition. UXReactor’s Apprenticeship program was perfect for someone like me who was starting UX from scratch but had foundational design training.

In the construct of an Apprenticeship, I was able to be mentored in UXReactor’s PragmaticUX™ (aka the PUX Process) curriculum while also having the opportunity to work with a team to contribute and apply my skills and learnings on real projects.

What I also discovered and loved about UXReactor is that we are an organization filled with individuals from various disciplines and backgrounds, and that’s what makes us unique. Despite our different origins, we are all like-minded individuals with differing perspectives who are determined to transform the industry with powerful and deliberate design.

What did your day-to-day look like at UXReactor as an Apprentice?

Most of the curriculum learning sessions took place in the earlier months of the Apprenticeship. I would start and end my day with lessons and had the rest of the day to independently work on practice assignments or conduct research. Through this curriculum, I learned about UXReactor’s PUX Process and the different mindsets required to be an effective consultant. Supplementally, there were mentoring sessions with the Leads who run the program, 1:1s with my co-Apprentice Lianne, and a curriculum capstone project.

After the curriculum was completed, I was placed on a research-focused project to understand the current workflows and needs of customer service representatives, despite my initial lack of experience in user research. However, the curriculum had exposed me to the Research Mindset and other UX Research best practices which I then was able to apply under the mentorship of the project’s Research Lead.

I eventually started contributing to projects as an interaction designer to help our partners reduce the high amount of cognitive load and manual labor experienced by their users. I took on more responsibilities within projects where I was able to leverage and expand my initial learnings. By this point of my Apprenticeship, my day-to-day was the same as any other contributing member of a design unit. I was taking part in daily stand-ups, design reviews, and independently owning parts of the projects.

Looking back I really enjoyed how my role was dynamic over the course of the Apprenticeship, from starting off in research by moderating studies to transitioning to interaction design and ideating through concept sketches which I turned into wireframe prototypes. Now, I have the honor of being fully involved and contributing to multiple projects.

What did you learn as an Apprentice at UXReactor?

I believe UXReactor’s curriculum for the Apprenticeship is a unique learning experience. There are many opportunities to collaborate closely with others in the company to develop certain design and soft skills. From being coached on the right mindsets to how to solve complex problems, an Apprentice is given the foundations to become the strongest design consultant they can be.

UXReactor also facilitates growth amongst its Apprentices fantastically. We were challenged to try new experiences as a consultant and take ownership of design activities. However, the Apprenticeship was well-paced in a way where we were adequately equipped to handle any situation that might occur over the course of a project.

As someone who was new to the field of UX, I appreciated that my mentors, Jamie, Sarah, and Satyam at UXReactor supported me but also challenged me as a designer to get comfortable being in roles I initially wasn’t comfortable in. UXReactor as an organization is certainly invested in the growth of their Apprentices, and it is apparent that they not only want to transform you as an individual and a designer but also help you create transformational experiences for others.

What advice would you offer to anyone interested in becoming a UXReactor Apprentice?

When I first joined UXReactor, I was unsure about whether I would succeed as an Apprentice. Freshly out of college with a lack of experience, I was certainly unsure about whether I would know enough to be able to make significant contributions to design projects.

However, it was okay that I didn’t know “enough” about UX before joining UXReactor because it actually gave me the opportunity to learn and try many things with a fresh perspective which was a valuable experience.

One of the most important sayings that we embody here at UXReactor is that you can go far with the “right attitude and aptitude.” This fueled me throughout my Apprenticeship because I knew I had the basic aptitude to understand key concepts to do interaction design and design research based on my prior experiences. And with a positive and determined attitude to continue learning and pushing myself through any obstacles, I was able to take advantage of all that UXReactor has to offer.

Being at UXReactor has been very challenging and rewarding and if you think that you seem to embody this principle, then this is the place for you!

In your opinion, what are the top qualities you need to be a successful Apprentice at UXReactor?

At a company like UXReactor, where we’re constantly pushing the boundaries of our industry and our designs, I think there are several qualities that have helped Apprentices like myself be successful.

In my opinion, curiosity and resilience are the two most critical pair of qualities to have as an Apprentice at UXReactor.

  1. Curiosity: There is so much to learn here, especially while working on different projects and domains, so the genuine desire to learn more about what you’re working on or the problem you are trying to solve can really accelerate your growth.
  2. Resilience: The Apprenticeship gets tough at times, but being open to failure and taking challenges head-on will help you learn more in the end. I struggled to initially understand the research mindsets and PragmaticUX™ process, but I believe my desire to learn and a can-do attitude helped me learn the necessary skills to be where I am currently today as an Associate UX Consultant.

I also firmly believe that being open-minded and self-aware as an Apprentice goes an incredibly long way at UXReactor. Because we aim to deliver exceptional and deliberate designs, feedback is always constant. This expedited my growth as an Apprentice and even as a designer because I understood I was learning and growing. With this attitude, I was able to try new responsibilities as a consultant and implement the feedback I was given to grow quickly in my role.

In conclusion: Even after completing my apprenticeship, I’m always learning and improving

My co-apprentice and I have this running joke that even though we are no longer apprentices, we still feel as though we are. This is because we are constantly growing and improving.

At UXReactor, you will never run out of things to discover, and as we learn and master new things and skills, we pass that knowledge on to those who come after us. Every one of us started as an Apprentice here, and it continues to be a cycle of growing and sharing knowledge so that we can all effectively help our partners transform their products’ experiences and provide value to their customers.

I couldn’t have imagined that this opportunity would broaden my perspective in the way it did and I will now forever carry these learnings with me throughout my career.

About the Author
Sami is an Associate UX Consultant for UXReactor with experience in research and interaction design.

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