When you are trying to look for an opportunity as a UX designer, whether it be an internship or a job, it is important to provide the employer with a portfolio full of your previous work so that they are able to gain insight into your style, strengths and weaknesses, and overall skill set. Having a strong portfolio not only makes you a stronger candidate among other potential hires, it also helps companies determine whether you are the right fit for them. So, how exactly can you start building your portfolio?
It can be difficult to create a portfolio if you are in the early stages of your UX journey, but there are still plenty of ways that you can gain some experience and create work to show off. One way to do so is to apply to internships. Because these are lower-level jobs, companies have less requirements, making it easier for you to get hired. Internships are beneficial because they can help you gain experience and make mistakes and learn from them with low stakes. The work that you do while you are an intern can be part of your portfolio.
Another easy way to practice UX is by reaching out to local small businesses, startups, or nonprofits. These organizations typically don’t have the resources or money to hire professionals, but still need help from UX designers. By volunteering to work for these opportunities, you are not only helping out your community and a cause that you are passionate about, you are also improving your skills as a designer and gaining experiences that you can share on your portfolio.
One obvious way to expand your knowledge is to take a course on design, whether it be at your university, local college, or even an online bootcamp(DesignLab, UX Academy, Designation.io, and more). Taking a course on design can help you learn about and practice the design process so that you become more comfortable with it, while also working on projects that you can include in your portfolio.
Lastly, you can showcase personal projects as well. You can design your own website or blog, redesign a popular product or service, or even come up with your own fake company. This is an easy way to highlight your creativity and make yourself stand out among other potential candidates and portfolios.
No matter what projects or experiences you decide to share on your portfolio it is important to showcase your entire design process for each project. Recruiters want to see exactly what types of problems you have tackled and exactly how you used your design to solve them. Some of the integral steps that are important to showcase include: the problem, other collaborators you worked with, design tools that you used, how you solved the problem, wireframes, sketches, scenarios and personas, and the final prototype.
Ultimately, there are many different ways that you can start working on your UX portfolio. No matter which path you choose, your design work, including your skills, improvements, and relevant experiences will be an integral part of your path to accomplishing your UX goals.