My Journey Into UX Research

By Ana Bello-Elliott on February 13, 2024

Throughout my career, I've crossed paths with researchers from diverse backgrounds—tech, journalism, English, social sciences—and they all shared a common thread: a deep-seated interest in understanding human problems and effecting positive change.

Transitioning from cyber security to UX research might seem unexpected, but my fascination with Human-Computer Interaction began during my undergraduate years while studying Computer Science. While my journey initially took me down a different path, my time in cyber security was invaluable. I had the privilege of working alongside incredible colleagues and delving into intriguing projects, particularly in the cyber security space, which remains close to my heart.

In cyber security, my focus was not on social engineering, but it was the area I found most fascinating—an intricate puzzle to unravel. It shares a fundamental connection with UX research: the study of human behavior and motivations, albeit for different purposes.

It was during graduate school, and a pivotal course on Design Thinking, that my passion for human-computer interaction was reignited. Engaging with the design community through meetups, workshops, and social innovation festivals further fueled my interest. I even obtained a certification in Design Thinking through a dedicated meetup group.

Investing significant time and effort into UX and Design Thinking made it clear to me that a career change was in order. While not without its challenges, I was fortunate to cross paths with an exceptional leader within my organization who offered me a role in their innovation team.

For those considering a transition into UX research, I offer these three pieces of advice:

1. Build a Supportive Community: Surround yourself with individuals who share your aspirations and have achieved similar goals. Their support and insights can be invaluable. 🤝

2. Embrace Creative Upskilling: Formal education or expensive boot camps aren't the only routes to acquiring new skills. Explore alternative avenues like online courses, workshops, and mentorship programs. 📚

3. Showcase Your Skills: Seek opportunities to gain practical experience, whether through volunteering, proposing projects within your current organization, or taking on side projects. Building a portfolio of your work can be instrumental in demonstrating your capabilities. 💼

And always, be adaptable and open to change. The landscape of any field evolves, and unexpected opportunities may arise. Having a backup plan and being willing to pivot into adjacent roles or fields can be key to navigating your career journey.

Here's to embracing change and pursuing our passions! 🌟

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