Having a career as a User Experience Designer(or UxD for short) is not an easy one. Its very much like an S & M relationship. In order to do a good job, you have to really care and be passionate about what you do. But when you put so much of yourself into your work, you get bitch-slapped left and right by the obstacles that stand in your way from technology which hasn’t caught up with your vision yet or the people who stand in your way because you can’t understand each other. So there goes the up and downs of being a UxD. And the tightrope we all walk on to still remain passionate but not be burnt out.

The last 2 years of my career was this defining period in my life as I was figuring out what should the next step for me be. My energy was running low having spent 3 years pushing myself endlessly for my work and I was losing focus about what I wanted in my career and in my life. It started a phase whereby I wasn’t entirely happy with where I was but I didnt know what to do about it either. It sucked real badly.

It took some trial and error, some mistakes, much courage and much explorations before I now feel more sure about what I want and how to go about achieving it. This journey has been like many design challenges, you start out with the fuzzy and unknown and it takes much divergence and then convergence before you reach the solution. Its tough dealing with the uncertaintly, but if I’ve learnt one thing in the last few years its that there is nothing to fear about uncertainty. Embrace the uncertaintly and forge ahead! As uncertain as things may seem at the start, it also means that the end may be better then you ever could predict.

So some advice I have for you, if you’re considering a career in UxD :

1. Be passionate about what you’re doing. Because if you’re not, there are much easier careers out there.

2. Take breaks from your work. Travel or have other hobbies. You would really need these to keep your passion going.

3. Network. Conversations with similarly passionate people help you keep the fire alive and it also opens you to what’s happening in your industry and when you start having doubts about your career, you can go to them.

4. Find a mentor. There may not be established mentoring system in many organisations for UxD since this is such a new field of study, but it is very important to have someone you could look up to as well as talk to about your career path. If its not avaliable in your organization, seek one outside of your organization.

5. Enjoy the journey. The tough patches may be hard to bear, but tough patches add to the richness of your life experiences and its only with these that you get to enjoy the sweetness of the smooth road ahead.

Some resources you can go to :

An Infographics on Ux Career

A Getting Started guide by Whitney Hess
What it takes to be a UxD
Free ebooks on User Experience