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How I Became a Self-Taught UX Designer in Hong Kong with No Experience
My journey from a Transport Design Student to Product Design at Crypto.com
Hi Guys! My name is Jeffrey and I am a product designer based in Hong Kong working at Crypto.com. I just wanna share my journey of becoming a UX/Product Designer so that I can hopefully give you guys some inspiration.
I graduated with a Transport Design Degree
I am a car enthusiast and had dreamed of becoming a car designer since I was a teenager. I decided to study for a transport design degree in the UK after graduating from high school.
Thanks to my enthusiasm, I graduated from the university with a First Class Honour. At that point, I still didn’t know much about the tech industry or UI/UX. All I had was some knowledge of design, Photoshop & Illustrator, sketching & rendering as well as 3D modelling skill for car design. I’d also undertaken a 3-month internship experience for a concept car builder as a hard modeller.
Still miss the good old uni days — view my Final Year Project here
My first job
After graduation, I sent a lot of emails out to different companies looking for a job or an internship in the UK. I had a hard time hunting for a job as I was an international student and my visa didn’t allow me to work locally. The big companies that could sponsor a work visa were either too competitive or not hiring any designers.
Two months later, I emailed a design & build company that also did yacht concept design in London and asked if they were hiring. (This company had previously asked me if I was interested in their internship but I had already accepted another internship offer). I ended up getting my first job after a few emails and an interview.
It wasn’t really my dream job but I thought that at least it was related to what I had studied and I would be getting paid for working for the first time in my life.
The turning point
Not long after I started my first job, I realised the pay wasn’t enough for me to sustain a living in London. I was also doing mostly 3D modelling for residential interiors rather than yacht design.
I started finding ways to make extra income to sustain my living. I watched a lot of videos on YouTube about making money online and decided to make money by designing and building Wordpress site on Upwork.
As I was learning more about website building and other design skills, I noticed there was a new discipline called UI/UX Design. I started digging deeper into the topic and considering switching careers because it seemed to have better pay, and to be more impactful than what I was doing. I figured I could still find a job when I go went to Hong Kong. Most importantly, I thought it would soon become the future and that could always go back to the automotive industry since they were also hiring a lot of UI/UX Designers.
Preparation for a career change for the first time
To prepare myself, I started reading UX case studies on Medium to understand the steps to approaching a project. I taught myself to use Sketch to start designing wireframes and hi-fi, and how to build prototypes. I started putting together my first UI portfolio including prior Wordpress design and build experience, as well as some self-started projects.
The motivation was strong as I was desperate to escape my life struggling in London.
Looking back now at my first portfolio, I would give myself the following advice:
Be more specific on whether you want to be in the UI or UX field
Understand who is your audience for the portfolio
Identify the problem
Explain why do you make certain design decisions
Provide more context to the reader
Getting my first job as a UI/UX designer in Hong Kong
I came back to Hong Kong after eight months working in London and was hired by a local affiliate marketing company as a UI/UX Designer.
In my first job, I didn’t get much opportunity to learn about REAL UX because the company didn’t have the resources to do so. Looking back now, I was more like a digital designer because I also had to make flyers, business cards and decks.
I learned how to use Sketch efficiently and worked with developers to transform my design into an actual website/app.
Exposure to real UX for the first time in my Second Job
A year and eight months later, I quitted my first UI/UX job in Hong Kong without another job offer, focusing on career planning and revamping my portfolio to get a second job.
I ended up landing on a medium-sized Startup with around 150 employees in S.E.A offering a multi-currency wallet targeting travellers.
I was very lucky to meet my design lead who was extremely patient, teaching me and explaining concepts like Agile, as well as how to set up user research and draft questions, how to defend my ideas by explaining my design rationale, stakeholder management and a lot more.
Fast-forward two years, and I had become a well-equipped UX/Product Designer who was capable of identifying problems backed by research and providing a well thought-out solution.
I decided to quit my job following the news that the company was cutting a third of its HK workforce and moving critical roles to SG.
Despite the sad ending at this company, I had a wonderful time working with great people and with an Impeccable Workflow + Efficiency. I definitely learned a lot in my 2 years at this company
Landing my job at Crypto.com
Before I had decided to resign, I had already decided I wanted to move to a big company within FinTech arena. Crypto.com was the second job I applied for.
With my direction set, I focused entirely on how to improve on my portfolio. I updated my projects, making sure I told the full story by sharing what the problem was, how I found out about it, what the solution was and the rationale behind it. I was much more efficient this time revamping my portfolio as I already knew what to do and how to present a project from scratch.
I landed this job in Nov 2021 and just passed my probation! Hooray!
Sign up with my referral code: vetxjafbkn and get $25 USD in CRO when you stakes for a Ruby card or above.
Here’s what I learned along the way
Don’t limit yourself. Try as much as you can while you are still young
You can pretty much learn anything you want as long as you persist
Be bold and make a change if you feel something is wrong in your life
Don’t worry about your work is not perfect — others are not as good as you think they are
It’s okay to have failed — You will always learn something every time you fail
Understanding who your audience is and telling a story, are two of the most important skills you need after you graduate from school
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