How to Choose the Best UX Design Bootcamp for You

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Hi, I'm Chris and I'm super glad you're here. 7 years ago I taught my self-web design and freelancing. Now, I do my best to teach others what I've learned so they don't have to struggle as much as I did.

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UX design bootcamps are all the rage these days.

People are opting out of the traditional college education route and instead choosing bite size programs that focus entirely on the skill they’re wanting to get hired for.

Personally, I think that’s awesome. But, not everyone agrees with me.

In fact, there’s a bunch of people that don’t agree with me.

Some would go so far to say they’d never hire someone from a UX design bootcamp.

The Problem with UX Design Bootcamps

To be fair, there are some things about UX design bootcamps that worry me a little bit.

After all, this is for-profit education. So, they market themselves pretty hard.

They promise things like a guaranteed job and they make it sound like they are the answer to your career troubles.

But, the truth is UX design bootcamps can be a great thing IF YOU CHOOSE THE BEST UX DESIGN BOOTCAMP FOR YOU.

The key is knowing what to look for and how to find out if a ux design bootcamp matches your specific needs.

How to Choose the Best UX Design Bootcamp

There are a lot of things to consider before you pick which UX design bootcamp you enroll in.

There’s things like:

  • Cost
  • The amount of time it takes
  • The instructors they have
  • What areas they focus on
  • Whether or not they provide financial assistance
  • Their student success rate

The list goes on and on.

Thankfully, our guest this week, Nechari Riley, has been through the process and come out of the other side successfully. AND, she’s telling us what she did to make sure she chose the best UX design bootcamp for her.

You’ll Learn

  • How to choose the right bootcamp
  • How to know if bootcamps are right for you
  • How to have the motivation to learning UX design through a bootcamp
  • Why going through a bootcamp alone isn’t enough to have a flourishing career as a ux designer
  • How to grow as a ux designer by staying curious
  • Why knowing who’s running the bootcamp is important and if you can get along with them
  • The right questions to ask before choosing a bootcamp
  • How the instructor you get is important for your success in your bootcamp
  • How to get the information you need to know if a bootcamp is right for you
  • How to know if you should go to a traditional university for learning UX design
  • Why building a portfolio is just as important as the education you get
  • How to get work after you’re done with a bootcamp
  • Why networking is still super important
  • How companies really look at UX bootcamps


Chris: [00:00:00] Nechari, thank you so much for being on the self-made web designer podcast. I'm super excited to chat with you today.
Nechari: [00:00:08] Yes. I'm excited to chat to this is, as I told you before my first podcast. So I'm excited to, um, just have a conversation.
Chris: [00:00:19] Absolutely. Absolutely. So, so for everybody listening, why don't you give us a brief rundown of who you are, what you do today and how you got from where you were to today. To now.

Nechari: [00:00:31] This is always the toughest part, because who I am starts from, you know, where I am in some senses.

So, um, I am currently a senior design researcher, um, I have been a design researcher for, um, a few years now. And before that I was a freelance UX designer slash UX researcher. Moving into a focus on user research.
Chris: [00:01:03] Awesome. Awesome. So what did that path look like for you? You were freelancing for a few years, and then you decided you wanted to go full-time career or was there, I know there's a bootcamp in your history, but what was that process?

Nechari: [00:01:17] So I never live a straight path or a straight life, very winding roads to get where I want to go, because I believe in a life that is fully tested and lived. So my journey into like, User experience actually starts with public health. So my specific background, my technical background is as a spacial epidemiologist.

Um, I am not coming at this from, um, like traditional, um, user experience. And that's part of when we get into that part of the conversation about, uh, bootcamps, um, part of my motivation for doing one. Um, so. Why spatial epidemia epidemiology. And how did I get here, uh, to user experience research? Well, there are a lot of similarities.

Um, so I was a, um, health advisor and I was a researcher under many different public health initiatives, um, and one particular initiative. Um, I was working in living and working in Zambia. So in Sub-Saharan Africa on a maternal health project, saving mothers, giving life. Uh, so the purpose of that project was to reduce infant and maternal mortality with it, you know, by 50% in a year's time.

But what we could do on that project was just like dream big to win big as we were told. Um, and so some of the things that I decided to do on that project were very. Aligns with where I saw public health going. So I'm like, okay, public health, like research can die in a report. It can die in, um, your findings cranking out numbers.
And then having them sit in a report was the most depressing thing to me. Yeah. So, you know, like I always thought, okay, what are some fun ways that we can make this data come to life? So, um, you know, the short story for that is I was able to develop using the data to develop well, identify particular points and develop a toll free hotline for maternal health services or, um, download code.

I looked like I was really into tech at that time, but didn't know exactly where I saw it fitting into my life, but I'm, I'm pretty good. Like I'm a form of philosophy student, so I'm pretty good with logic. So downloaded the code. Translated that into paper prototypes that we then piloted out in the Eastern province of the country.
And it was time for me to go back into public health, but I didn't know. Um, What to do with all the information, all the cool things that I was doing. So public health was what I knew. I did not know user experience did not have any idea, user inexperience in minds together. Um, so I came back with an understanding that I would find some way of combining my love of like tech and science.

Um, like, you know, Health science. Uh, and so I came back to finish my masters, but this time with a specialization in geographic information science, because I was like, at least this would allow me to code, do some fun tricks and also use the information at the time. Like when I was in Zambia, I used to bug a lot of the engineers.

So they taught me. Uh, spatial mapping. So they taught me the system and I was like, I I'm obsessed. Who knew I would love maps so much and statistics behind maps. Um, and so I started. Well, I started on a new concentration within geographic information science in public health with a subspecialty in like maternal sexual health, reproductive health. Um, and I was working at the time and I was doing all these infographics, like for public health. I was so frustrated with public health. I was like, let me think of creative ways to express myself within like, My public health classes, I was taking graphic design courses in my public health course.

People were just like, I don't know where you're going with this, but you're going like, do your thing. You know, like I really don't understand. I was like, I'm trying to communicate health in a different way than we're used to and infographics at that time or coding, you know, websites, people would ask me to do particular projects that involve tech at my company.

Um, and I would go to all these coding events. And New York, uh, I'm based in New York. So I go to all of the, like, you know, the tech ecosystem here is very, um, like you can find a meetup on any day, most times during the day, especially in the evening. So I would go to different events. I'd go to hackathons.

Like I was, I don't know where I got the energy from to do work full-time grad school. And go to all of these in it. But then one of my coworkers pointed me to user experience and I was like, I don't know what to do with this information. Pause. This is so cool. Let me learn it over time. Um, so this was around 2014 because I was in the middle of my master's and I was just like, I don't know if you've ever like, experienced that journey, but like, somebody tells me something that I think is cool and want to explore.

I'm just like, well, The masters is getting done. My second go around. I have to do this basses, especially for like my family, um, and to disciplining them that I wasn't a doctor. So I was just like, you know, come on, give them the masters at least. So, um, and I also wanted to just learn more so after I graduated, um, this was 2017.

I was part, so I'm in my masters. Um, I had grown. Like I knew that I was going to leave, but leave my company. Um, but I didn't know when, and that also made me very nervous because it was a golden handcuffs situation at my work. You know, the way that this society is set up is your healthcare. Your other benefits are tied in with your employer.

Um, and. I was just like, you know, when you hit your stride in many ways, do you, do you want to risk that? Um, but I knew I had to. And so I was just like, okay, what's the quick, you know, if I plan this, what's the quickest turnaround for me to, um, Become who I see myself becoming. So once I started learning more about user experience design and like the interactions, also just speaking with people and seeing their ideas come to life.
Not just my all, you know, not just what the research says, not just what, um, my team says, but like people's voices coming to life through the products. Um, that's when I looked into the immersive course that I took, um, so that particular course was at general assembly. I looked at so many different courses.

I know we could talk about. How I vetted those. Um, but I did that because my coworker took that course. Um, and so that was what was familiar to me. Um, also I kind of had a sweet deal in terms of like getting a hookup on a discount, always helpful. Yeah. And my also connected with the way my, the, I went to the, uh, what is it called?
The open, open, uh, course night at what are, I'm blanking out on the actual name now. Um, but I was really impressed with my teachers specifically. Um, at that time I had read so many reviews. I am a very, very, very, very, very deliberate person. So, um, I heard all sorts of reviews and mixed reviews about how people perceive bootcamps and things like that.

Um, and then I was just like, you know, if I strategize. I can do this, um, in a way that makes sense for my previous experience and moving into where I saw myself going user research, um, and using design within research specifically. And so I did the bootcamp. Finished the bootcamp, um, started, uh, working with a client, um, during that time, which came out of a referral from one of my buddies who was in the bootcamp as well.
Um, and then started working with. When I was freelancing, I was working with smaller organizations because that, for me, like I knew a lot of I'm a busy body. So I knew a lot of like nonprofits. I know a lot of social impact organizations and, uh, I worked with those on different creative projects. Um, and I saw myself as a user experience designer research at the time.

I mean, really. When you say user experience designed to people, they get it a little bit more than user research in terms of like value for their business. And then I was like, I'm going to sneak in some user research. Yeah. You know, well informed decisions. What are those?

And, um, so I did the freelancing for about a year. Before I landed. Um, my, uh, I would say a dedicated position for user research specifically. Um, so I've been in user research since then.

Chris: [00:11:24] Well, such a, such a cool and interesting story. And the thing that I love about most of the people that I talked to on the podcast is that there's really no direct line from like, I'm going to be a user experience.

And I knew that I was going to do that in junior high. And then here I am today, you know, like even Jessica goddess, who's been a guest on my podcast who actually connected us. She started in journalism and then made her way into user experience. So. It's really fascinating, like the background from, from health.

And I think it gives you like a really unique perspective. So let's talk a little bit about. That kind of the decision making aspect, because I get, I get questions about boot camps all the time, and there's such a mixed bag of some people love it. Some people are like, don't do them, they're scam. Um, but, but you went for it.
What, what was it that ultimately helps you to make that decision?

Nechari: [00:12:22] Um, I think the, uh, the, well, there's not one key thing. That helped me make that decision. Um, because I mean, in my life there wasn't one key thing, but, um, I think the things that helped me make that decision that also aligned with my purpose was in, um, just.

Like the, okay. So the first thing with my work, I'm going to get really real and I have no NDA behind this, but I mean, I just didn't really see, I saw my career at the organization. I was with ending. Like, I mean, it wasn't really a career. It was a job. So, um, I had been in public health at that time for 10 years.

I never really see myself out of it. I keep up with it. I have a whole bunch of people. My friends are in public health. Like I never, and the other thing is public health has shaped me so much that there is no, there's absolutely no way for me to leave public health. Um, and so the thing that I see user experience as being able to amplify the skills that are already learned.

So I had already, I was already doing interviews. Um, I was already, you know, um, expense or launching surveys. Um, and so I was already a mixed methods research or just in another discipline. So for me, you know, like, For me, the switch wasn't that major. It was another way of thinking about solving a problem or a set of problems.

You know, I feel like we all have, you know, say what you will about people's existences on, on this on earth. But I feel like we all have our purposes. And I feel like there, there, there's this piece of the puzzle that we're all tinkering with. There's this major puzzle that we can't see and we have to find, or, you know, we're looking for ways for us to, um, work with our piece of the puzzle.

Um, that we were born with. And so I I'm essentially trying to solve my piece of the puzzle. How can I actually meet people where they are and help them, um, help identify the things that they are interested in engaging with, and that actually solve problems that they have identified, not just, you know, Me and a team of removed researchers that could identify those issues and solve the most pressing problems and, and, uh, different areas in different communities.

Um, I, um, True to my gritty New York spirit. I like to solve. I like to get in the dirt. I like, I'm an avid gardener. I've like putting my hands in the dirt. I like cultivating. I like growing things and I feel that way about research. I feel that way about, um, Cultivating different experiences that really change people that really resonate with them that make them want to change themselves, um, less so than, you know, the product changing them.

It's that? It's what the discipline calls human centered design and what I call people powered.

Chris: [00:15:43] Um, yeah. Yeah, that's great. I love how philosophical we're getting and it's gotta be from your, your, your background.

Nechari: [00:15:52] I was like, I was a philosophy major.

Chris: [00:16:00] We, we, we talk about that a lot on this podcast about like this, this hunger and the deeper purpose behind what it is that you're doing with, with a career.

And, and, you know, that was a huge motivation for. Me getting started into web design and UX design is as well, um, from a little bit of a different angle, but, you know, it's, it's the kind of thing, especially if you're going through a bootcamp or if you're learning on your own, you have to have that piece that motivates you to keep going, because it's like.

Like you said it, you, you had some of the pieces of the puzzle for this already, and that helps you make that decision. And I, I think that liens liens lends itself to understanding that if you go through a bootcamp or you don't, you're, you're going to have to put the puzzle together on your own. As well as gather as much information from the boot camp as well.

And that's been a lot of the feedback that I've heard from people who have been to boot camps or people who even have it that said, you're not, you're not going to get everything that you need read from this bootcamp. Like you're not going to be able to go, Hey, I was in a bootcamp. And so I'm a hundred percent ready for any type of UX job that you've got an answer.

So that sounds like that was exactly your experience as well.

Nechari: [00:17:16] Yeah. I mean, you'd also be surprised how many people Galot on it and I'm like lot on yourself and, you know, it's just like, why do you go to, why do some people go to higher education? Like why do some people go to college or grad school? Um, if you go there without, you know, a purpose.

It'll be a very tough road. You can finish it, but like, you know, what is your actual purpose and, and going, I mean, outside of the joy of education, but you, you have to think about, um, even if it's not directly tied to the financial incentive of getting a job or directly tied to you, you know, the material.

Thing where you can say, Hey, you know, I'm moving into becoming the UX designer or UX researcher, like. What are the things that you want to learn? What are the problems you want to solve? And how do you, how does this particular course, or this particular education gets you where, you know, get you started on that.
I'm a lifelong learner. So I always tell people like you never stop learning.

Chris: [00:18:38] And, and ultimately I think it sounds like the advice that you're giving people is if you're going to be successful, There, there has to be more reason than, than just finances for becoming a UX designer and going through boot camps and coming out the other side, ready to have that fulfilling career.

Nechari: [00:18:58] Absolutely. Because the other thing is, you know, it's, um, it's more than that because I always tell people, can you see yourself doing this for eight hours out of a day or longer? Like, I mean, let's be real longer than eight hours out of a day. Um, there's something in it's it's beyond, it's not even really passionate.
It is passion, but it's a combination of things it's like, Staying curious, first being curious and staying curious, because the, the way for you to get better is for you to have this thirst for knowledge that, you know, leads you to continue learning about the discipline. It's it's something where like, I didn't get better as a public health researcher until I would sit.

Like, especially when I was, I was on a pilot project for maternal health. I was like, what do I know about maternal health? But I, I just asked my boss at the time, I was like, give me your book. She was an OB GYN. I was like, give me all the books. You can let me sit down and read this. And I absolutely.

Fascinated with it and, and absorbed all of the information in order for me to like, we were launching a survey. So I was like, this survey has to come correct. Because like, if it doesn't guess who's who, you know, it's not even really the system because within like you have your research. And it's like, okay, at what step did this fail?

I didn't want to keep talking about like, steps that failed. So I'm just like, okay, how can I prepare it? How can I absorb so much information that we launched a survey that actually answers the question on the first try? So given that example, I take. And it might just be me being type a, which kind of never really left.

Um, but I take that as a thread into my own life. I'm um, I can never settle for, uh, what I already know. I, I always ask myself, I'm like, okay, now that I know this information, what more do I need to know? And it's like this continuous process. It sounds exhausting. And it is, but it's, for me, I'm just like, it's a joy where I get to like learn more.

Um, and that's something that really helped me out when I was in that, in the bootcamp as
well. And it sounds like you've got a, a perspective for, for the long game when it comes to your education. And, and I think a lot of times with boot camps, especially the way that they're marketed is like six months.

And you can have a full-time career in a, in a happy tech startup or whatever. But, you know, I, I feel like that's kind of selling people short because if, if you're going to be successful for. Uh, you know, the long haul you have to be prepared for the long you've got, you've gotta be prepared to put in the hours that nobody's seeing it to having years and years of study before you finally make a breakthrough for constantly adding to skills and constantly refining skills.

And that's more than a six months boot camp and you're ready for the world to make. The hundreds and thousands and millions of dollars.

Right. Right. I mean, it's more than that. It's identify the noise and cut it out. So like when you were saying marketing, like all the marketing materials that never factored in my equation, because I already knew what it was like, you already know what these are.

Like if you're a for, even if you're a non-profit organization, like a nonprofit university, you'll still see my. You'll see, like these diversity images and come change the world. It's like, okay, whatever. I was the first person to like, look at the catalog and I'm like, okay, let me look at all the classes.

See what for me to identify majors, seeing which, you know, what are the classes that resonated with me the most? That's the major that I'm going to do. Um, you know, what's the course outline, you know, what are the additional requirements electives that I need? You know, how can this put me on a particular path?

Cause the other thing is like at the time, like for undergrad, like I was premed at the same time, so I had to slot everything in, make sure I had time for activities. And I was also, um, Workaholic at a very young age. So I'm like, yeah. How many jobs can I also fit in at the same time? Um, so, you know, taking that into my, uh, bootcamp experience, it was the same thing.

I was like, Forget all this noise, all this stuff. Doesn't matter to me. I looked at, I requested every single course outline from every boot camp in my area and also online. Um, it's amazing how, how much has changed even in the past two years. So even at the time there weren't as many, and there were also some that are just that.

Aren't here anymore, you know? Um, so I've been to so many, um, events. Um, the, so my local, you know, general, general assembly is everywhere. Uh, so my local general assembly in New York was extremely active in the, in the tech community. Like they would always host events and things like that. So I was like, Oh, okay.

Y'all are actually nice people who I don't. Feel, you know, get on my nerves. Um, and then when I went to an open house, I was like, this person knows their stuff. So I'm putting both do I like you? That's important.

Especially when you're under a time constraint, education setting. You might deal with stress and how you deal with that.

Stress is important. And the people around you when you are stressed out are very, very important. Um, you know, are you in a supportive environment, that sort of thing. Um, and then for the instructor, I've had different instructors in my life. Is this instructor compatible with my learning style? Do I like that instructor? Are they answering my questions in a competent way. Not everybody can say that. Um, do they have a background and experience in what they are teaching or is this a hobby for them? Is this just side money? Um, you know, and it's not to say that people who do it on the side, aren't dedicated. I understand that.

Um, so there that's just me, you know, inserting that, however, Those were the main categories of things that I was looking for. And I've completely disregarded that whole, you know, I know a lot of it, I just grinded the whole financial, um, aspect because yet again, I knew my primary questions that I needed to solve through the career change.

Um, and because of the particular things that I wanted to explore, I was just like, okay, like, No matter what I do. If I aim myself for success, instead of measuring it on what a particular, because the thing is, the salary is also just vary so much. You can go on like any of these salary comparison things.

Like what if I, you know, like eventually with my goal working in social impact work, typically. Helping society doesn't pay as much as like a big tech company, you know, like there, there are some exceptions, but, um, so what are you going to do then when, when your salary varies on that, and you're, you were looking at the average because what they show you for that marketing material or averages.

Um, and also those are averages. Those are reported averages, right? So they have unreported averages. Um, and so that's the thing that people don't necessarily think about when they're looking at the, the marketing materials, instead of just focusing on like, what are, you know, comparing the syllabus, who has a stronger syllabus, who are you?

Who are the instructors? What is their industry experience? Uh, what are the hours, how many assignments are you doing? Um, Are these assignments, you know, what's an example of an assignment. What are the deliverables? What can I eventually show to? Um, can I eventually develop in order to show that I'm moving towards my goals?

Not even like, you know, we can talk about like case studies and portfolios or whatever, but like, what do I feel? What will I feel most proud of? After this is all said and done because yeah. You could have a portfolio and be like, yeah. So I did this project and it was like, my third, you are obviously not so enthusiastic about this.
Like all the portfolios. I mean, all of the case studies in my portfolio or something like I can. I, I talked too much. Like my case studies are actually probably too long, but I don't care because they'll say things that I was just like, I'm going to tell you. Oh yeah. You know, so yeah.

Chris: [00:28:26] So talk a little bit about like researching some of the instructors and things like that, because the websites that I've been to, even with general assembly, like you kind of have to dig for that information a little bit.

So how did, did you, did you meet your instructors before. You you were in the bootcamp or was it like you, you got an instructor and then you said, Hey, I don't like this person. Or I, I do like this person, like, what did that look like?

Nechari: [00:28:54] So for the first, uh, to answer your last question first, I, yeah, I did select the instructor because I went to that class and I was like, when's the next time, you know, this person is teaching.

And I was like, Oh, okay. So now's the time. Gave a few weeks notice at my job by y'all also going to go by yo anyway, came back and stuff, the camp, because I was just like, I don't know. You know, you just, sometimes you just never know and you have to, um, I was in a place, uh, at that time, um, financially, and also with my work coming to a close that, um, I decided, like I already knew I was leaving.

I just was waiting for the right time. It was the perfect time. Then, especially once I found my instructor and how I found my instructor was, um, by going to the in-person, um, like I was going to different events at, uh, the bootcamp. Um, because they had a list online. And, you know, when you were just talking about like digging into, like, you know, some of these things are hard to find, well, I am a Digger.

Like I, I will find a way I will dig for the information. So typically other than like, Once you get to the, the specific course and you go further down the page. That's when they try to like sell you on it like that. A lot of these, a lot of products are like that. Like, they give you a little taste, like they'll put a little image, a little graphic, some texts, like however many sentences, um, that really don't tell you much of anything.

Show you a sample of instructors show you. Sample of outcomes don't care about any of that go all the way down, then, you know, request more information. All right. I'll put my information and see what you give me back. And I actually requested that syllabus multiple times because I would forget it. Or sometimes I was like, maybe I could hack this syllabus.
You know, like I've done it with coding bootcamps before, like I've never gone to, well, I've gone to courses like a pay for courses, but like I've never. Uh, gone to a coding bootcamp because the other thing is like one of the big differences is, um, there's a lot more information, educational information for coding than there is like UX.

Um, it's getting better, but you know, uh, you're not going to find the UX version of free code camp. I mean, close to it, but it's more visual design focused. Um, Yeah. And I did that for like a number of other bootcamps as well. So I think at the time, what else there was like this New York coding Academy.

They had something going on. They recently shut down and why you had a program, but you know, universities have the tack on a whole bunch of fees. So you have to take those in mind. Um, and I'm trying to think. How many other, but I just, sometimes I would just like reach out to info at whatever. And I'm like, Hey, can I get your syllabus?

And they're like, yeah, we'd like to sell you things I'm like that. Yay.

So that's, that's typically how I would find the syllabus. And I would, I actually, um, uh, old habits die hard. I'm so sorry for the trees, but I would print them out. And then I would highlight the differences on each, in order. Like I'm a visual person, so that's how I did it. And yeah. So that's part of how I can compare it and bounce, like found the program.

Chris: [00:32:50] That's great. And it, and it makes sense that you have found success because you were so diligent even, even before you said yes. And I'm always surprised when people jump into a bootcamp and they've, they've really not even done half of the work. Um, you know, cause this is a big investment, you know, like we're talking tens of thousands of dollars in a lot of cases and it's, some of them are much cheaper, but, um, You know, it's, uh, it's, it's not a big investment financially.

It's a big investment with your time and your energy, which is just as important. So talk, you mentioned looking at, you know, different universities versus bootcamp. What, what was the deciding factor between doing a bootcamp or maybe going back to a university and getting some more education in a more traditional field?

Nechari: [00:33:36] Oh, this is where I'm going to probably make a lot of people sad, but I don't like for my education. As much as you know, I say that now, and then you'll probably gonna be questioning me later. Like, why are you in a PhD program? And it's like, sorry, I'm addicted to learning. Um, So I didn't, because I found the other programs surprisingly a little bit more superficial than I wanted. I kind of wanted more, um, I wanted a broad range of learnings that were even.

Even within the syllabus. Like I think what helped me decide was my instructor was really into user research, like always advocating for it and every part of our process and not just like superficially advocating, it's like, all right. So we're going to discuss this particular research topic and how you're going to incorporate it into user experience design.

And I was like, I choose you, you know? Um, so with the other programs, I thought that they were more, I mean, all of this is very general and introductory there's, you're not going to get everything in like, you know, three months or six months. Um, but it came down to, um, time. And also, so what I was learning.

So for me, I thought a good compromise would be a short course that packs a lot in, I was like, okay, so I'm not going to have three months of sleep. Fine. You know, like I've done that before. I've had three years of no sleep before, so a once, three months, um, and. So I was just like, okay, well, I, it was like really banking on the instructor though, like for real, um, outside of that and the receptivity in terms of like the questions that I asked and I'm like, uh, the other thing that huge thing about it, which I've also mentioned is, um, going back into the university setting, I was like, okay.

Um, okay. Do I want, if I'm going back to a university setting, am I getting another master's?

You know, I thought that the price of the course, um, with the, the, it was a short, yeah, it was an immersive course, but it was also quite short. The one that I was looking at, uh, for the amount of costs, and I know the reason why, like they had to put it that way because the university tax on a million different things.

And I was just like, well, Yeah, that's a no from me. So if I wasn't going to do another master's degree, then let me just do the short course, which is more like a certificate that I can just build upon the skills. I don't really, I don't care if I get a certificate or not. I just needed those particular skills that I could build upon.

Chris: [00:36:57] And that's good too, because I think, you know, a lot of people before they step into any kind of tech career, whether it's development or UX design or whatever, they think that a piece of paper has a weight to it with an employer, but you get in the world and you're like, okay, this doesn't matter at all.

You know, even, even when it comes to, I mean, some people, some, some companies like you having a degree, but most of the people that I've talked to, they're like, I don't want to see your degree. I want to see the projects that you have.

Nechari: [00:37:29] I mean, that's, that's absolutely true. I mean, First can anybody understand my degrees?

I'm always had to explain them. It's like, how did you get there? I mean, you have your unicorns that are like, I totally get you. And I was like, I love you forever. Um, but I often dealt with people who were, who I had to just explain. So many lies. So I was so used to explaining, um, that that's a part of the reason why I was just like, you know, filter out the noise.

A certificate to me is noise. You know, how many certificates I have, like, but what's the thing that carries with me the most, the skills that I learned. It's not that it's not, you know what, it's a piece of paper, so I need to have that knowledge, um, of what I'm doing. And it's also about that product. Can you speak about it?

Um, are you just regurgitating what you learned? That sounds awkward when you're speaking to somebody and it's like, um, I referenced this recently, but it's kind of like, I don't know if you've ever seen that movie with Luke Wilson. Idiocracy. Where he's like, why are you watering the lawn with Gatorade?

And it's like, cause it's got electrolytes in it because they're not really thinking about why they're doing it. Like don't, don't be that person. Yeah. Were you just like regurgitating? Like what you've heard as a benefit? Like, think about what, like what's the. Why? Why did you do it? Like why did you spend so much time working on this project?

What did you learn from that? Why are all your projects the same? Why are they all different? Do you have a theme going on or do you have, like, what what is the purpose of what you're doing,

Chris: [00:39:16] Being intentional about the portfolio that you're building,

Nechari: [00:39:20] Do everything with intention. That's what the launch says.

Chris: [00:39:23] Well, let's transition a little bit away from the bootcamp into your, your first step, first steps into the career world. Um, so what did, what did freelancing for that first year look like for you? Is it all word of mouth referrals that you got from the projects that you were getting? Or what, what did that look like?

Nechari: [00:39:43] Yeah, it was on my connections. I'm going to be very real with you. Um, so the, my first. So we were on our last project and I was working with a particular team. Um, and one of my teammates received an opportunity to work with the company that we were working with for the last project. Um, like our final project.

But she wasn't able to take that particular job. She got another job. So she was like, yeah. Um, are you open to working with him? I was like, Oh yeah. You know, too. So that's actually how I started. I started maybe. Three weeks or so after, um, the boot camp ended. Um, and so I was working on that project for a few months and then, um, so that got me started.
And then what helped me going was. They don't know this. They don't need to know this. They're probably who knows. But, um, the benefit of people working in co-working spaces while you're onsite is like you network with so many people, but you all, yeah. I mean, the thing is it's beyond networking. Like you just meet so many cool people and people want to show you what they're working on.

There are a lot of startups who work in like coworking spaces, um, or like I would just go to a particular events. Like the, the design, the UX design events were specifically for the joy of UX, but the general tech events, like I would meet people that like, yeah, we have this startup and we have these like, questions we want to solve.
How can we get you involved? I'm like, let's chat about it. Um, And so they would show me like their, their demos or different things that they were, um, interested in talking with. And sometimes I was just like some, sometimes I would just like, um, advise them about particular things. If I just saw it as a one-off instead of an engagement, like, um, you are assessing people just like they're assessing you.

Why? Because you don't want to take on a project that you just you're like, you. You're not meeting their needs. You have to also think about that, um, because you don't want to do more harm than good.

Chris: [00:41:57] So it sounded like there were plenty of opportunities out there for you from the relationships that you were building from the relationships that you had in the bootcamp.

Um, and then you were just kind of filtering what worked best for you and what would be a best fit for the companies that were looking to have help. Um, did you find that. That was a lot of people's experience from the bootcamper or from the class that you did together, that they didn't have a real tough time finding work after the boot camp was over.

Nechari: [00:42:25] Hmm. I think it was mixed. Um, while I was freelancing, it wasn't like I was freelancing because I was trying to find like a full-time job. So I was also, I mean, the reason I know freelancing works for some and I've freelanced before, but for me, it's really exhausting. I don't want to chase people. I'm going to chase her.

I'm like, you know, can you stand still?

So at this moment, can we have a long term alike? Goal or relationship? Um, you know, like I, I still work with particular, you know, projects now, um, I would say is more an advisor, uh, or just like more one-off things, but, uh, freelancing because of the nature of. Um, sometimes people feeling like there's like this never ending engagement, or then they don't really understand UX design.

They want you to become a webmaster and I'm like, this is not gonna happen. Um, so for my counterparts, um, who were also in that, I think, you know, um, results were mixed. Like the majority of my intake, um, or like the, my, uh, cohort did receive positions within maybe, but the fourth or fifth month, some of them even had.

I, you know, positions right out of the, the class, because they would go to, they would either go, go to the on-site career fair or like they would connect with people at different meetups that they would go to. Like, my class was super busy. Like we were always on like, you know, if the measurement was 10, we were always on 15, there was no one that did not have a goal in mind, even, even for those who were just like, You know, I'm not finding what I'm looking for.

Um, and so like they, some people relocated, but you know, that process was maybe a few more.
Yeah. So it sounds like as, as much as they say a job is guaranteed after a bootcamp, there's. You still have a lot of work to do.

Yeah. You know, I don't know who said that first. Uh, I don't know who said jobs were guaranteed.

They are absolutely not guaranteed because the other thing is just kind of like when your jobs, like job searching as a, full-time looking for a job as a full-time job. So that's what you're doing. I mean, you have career services there, but I mean like, because, so here's the other thing, which my coworker also said was not important, but to me it is, I was the oldest person in my cohort at the time.

Well, Second oldest. Um, and so that lends itself to like you doing a resume a million times interviewing a million times. Like my prep is essentially me having a conversation because I've done so many interviews. So the person that was doing my career services, I was just like, you know, we would brainstorm, but essentially the work was mine to do.

So while I can have them review things, you know, for me, I was just like, okay, whatever they like, this is nice. Like you can, I guess, check the errors, but really it's up to me finding my, my. The next opportunity. Um, and that involves making a plan, you know, you're, you're testing it out. You're like, Oh, did I, what types of positions am I looking for?

You know, what am I willing to accept to like, Think about you changing a career or you starting in a new career, what are your expectations? So, um, while the user experience positions that are out, there are a random bag of mess in terms of qualifications. Um, You know, we see this across different industries anyway, so there is nothing special about it, but, you know, it's kind of like, I've never seen a baby quail, um, and I've never really seen too many junior positions.

Um, especially not now. Um, so while you're trying to think of the non-senior positions to apply to, you know, sometimes in your experience, you might want to apply it to them. Shoot your shot. If you meet the majority of the qualifications anyway. Um, but you're not gonna apply for like VP. Wow. Some might, but depending on your experience, everybody came in with like different experience.

Some people were already like visual designers, graphic designers, some people were engineers already. Some people had already had significant experience. And that's what, you know, like this particular course helped them.

So it's your previous experience matching it up and finding those particular positions.

But if you're coming in like blank slate, right. Go for the positions that match your skills and experience. Um, so focusing on like more entry-level positions, I do not include internships as entry-level positions on like many people, because I think internships are internships. Um, so you know, like positions that say junior or positions that say nothing, and then you find out later, Oh, actually we wanted somebody with 15 years of experience and it's like, You're weird.

Okay. Um, you know, so it's like you experiment thing and seeing what works, what doesn't tweaking it, um, until you eventually, like, you just have to keep trying, just like when you're applying for another,

Chris: [00:48:20] You've hit on a lot of, kind of the tension with people who are. Looking to hire UX designers and people who are looking to be hired as UX designers is there's junior level positions with three plus years of experience, which it's like, well, that's not really like, I mean, yeah, it's, it's, it's not five class.

It's not seven plus years, but it's still not junior, you know? So, um, and I think there's this. This real, like UX is kind of working itself out, right? Like it's, it's still a young field in comparison to health and medicine. It's still a young field in comparison to blacksmithing, which has been around for.

Centuries and centuries. And so like, we we've just started calling ourselves different things, you know, like, um, and so when I look at, um, different job postings, it's like, you don't really need a UX designer. You, you need like a marketing designer, like. That's really what you're looking for, or you don't need a UX designer as much as you need a product designer or as much as you need a researcher.

So there's a lot of work to be done when it comes to figuring out like number one is what they're asking for, what they actually want. And number two, Do my skills line up with what they're actually asking for. And then maybe we can work out the job title later on.

Nechari: [00:49:45] And I mean, you also have like, I'm I, I'm not going to sugar coat it.

You also have the perception that bootcamps would be. So, you know, a lot of people talk about, um, the over-saturation like first. Let's be real. Like I was actually trying to find the article to send you, um, or at least mentioned it, but there was a research, there was some research survey that was done on like the state of UX, maybe about now about a year or two ago, uh, where the majority of people are actually self-taught.

So somebody is lying. And, um, I'm just saying, so, you know, I also understand the limitations of research where that was just one report, but guess what? They don't have anything else to base it off of. So there we are. Um, but even with that, because of those particular perceptions, You have some people that, especially if they have gone through, um, more formal training, like a massive bachelor's master's degree, or, you know, something else, uh, university oriented, they might feel some type of way about somebody thinking that they would be getting, um, a particular position where they have worked so hard, um, in terms of length of study and depth of study, uh, which is very.

Uh, because I never had that sentiment when I was in public health. Anyway, that being said, it's a, that's why I always say emphasize your continuous learning, because when you are showing that, you know, like, come on, you know, this is just the, you know, not to, not to completely disregard your experience because you build it.

Like, I still speak to my, my cohort. And we can ask each other anything, you know, we still make, uh, aspirational plans, I'll say, because, you know, we can't go anywhere. Right. But aspirational plans to meet up in the future and hang out. Like we actually genuinely like each other. Um, so. I'm not trying to dismiss bootcamps, but I also know the reality.

I read a lot. Um, and I hear, you know, the, one of the things I always tell people to avoid is design Twitter. Um, because it gets really weird, um, with people who have like, experiences that aren't their own, but they feel like expressing them. Um, so it's like, I would never hire a bootcamper it's like, well, good for you, Johnny.

Um, you did that. And so you're just like, Okay. Well, you know, if you're facing that, I mean, other than avoiding the organizations they work with completely, I mean, you can't really avoid every single organization people are in, but, um, working to develop your skills past the point where people obviously see, Hey, this is not a fluke of like, you know, Working within a it's the bootcamp or, you know, like what are the unique things that are a part of you?

So you might see one particular project that, um, Was a passion project from my, my bootcamp experience, but you'll also see the other things that I did along the way that are unique to my other particular research and design experiences. Um, so finding ways that you stand out, you know, like looking at different case studies, I have some people have called me weird, but I collect people's case studies.

Like I bookmark them. So then I can see, you know, I'm like, okay, what worked well for this? What, you know, like what would I change? Ooh, this is like, this is really unique. Um, some of those things, I would never apply to my own, but I think it's something when someone feels like they can. Step out and just be unique and feel like, feel confident in being themselves and, and shaping their own identity within user experience design, where people are always trying to tell you to fit into the mold in order for you to advance.

Um, so they, uh, that's something that. I, I apply within, um, particular positions. I also try to meet my people and by my people, people who understand, like my lived experience, my wide range of interests and how I won't let go of them. Uh, what I bring to the table, you do not want to work with one dimensional people.

Like, you know how people talk about, you know, well now maybe not. Cause they're like diversity matters, but you know, like, Or fake statements that are out now. Um, but you know how people talk about, like, we just want to see now in terms of fit, like, well, guess what, like do you, can I, do I match with you and your, your, um, your philosophy for user experience?

Do you develop products that I am proud to talk about? Do you, well, I do work and feel like I can, you know, you know, and DA's aside that I, I feel proud of like when I go home and when I rest my head on my pillow, I'm not worried that I am like developing a product that drops drones on countries or, you know, debilitates entire nations or things like that, you know?

Some people don't care, you know, they just want to work on cool things. Um, I am someone that, um, Believes in the philosophy of design justice, um, you don't create harm. Uh, you don't, it's like the whole, nothing about us without us. So how do you make inclusive products? So I want to align with organizations that believe in my personal values.

Forget, like, you know, forget your like funnel your application funnel. I don't, I don't really care about that nor have I ever received a job through an application portal?

Chris: [00:55:34] Yeah. Maybe there's something to that. Yeah, no, that's great. And I think it's such good. It's such good insight to understand that the deep, the deeper things behind your actions and the purpose to it, because that essentially is what will help you stay in the game when you don't feel like staying in the game, you know, because with, with anything that is.

You know, well worth something at all, it's going to be challenging and you're going to have seasons where you feel like giving up altogether. So the fact that you have this really great sense of this is this is what I'm about, and this is what I'm going for. I is admirable and I think it's, it's something that, that everybody can learn from.

So Nechari thank you so much for being on the self-made web designer podcast. I feel like we could just keep talking about this.

Nechari: [00:56:27] No, and I'm just like, Part two or just emails or whatever.

Chris: [00:56:33] We'll do it. We'll do it again. We'll we'll get you back on and we'll keep talking about it. But if anybody wants to connect with you outside of the podcast, where would they go?

Nechari: [00:56:42] Oh, um, it's a little dormant right now because it's a lot, but Twitter. Um, where I say the most random things either about. TV pop culture, my lived experience, or sometimes user research, um,, which is N as in Nancy, E C H a R I S M. Um, you can also just look on my website if you're curious, or you're just like bored, which is nature.

Nechari N as in Nancy, E C H A R

Group of people studying UX || How to Choose the Right UX Design Bootcamp for You


Hi, I'm Chris and I'm super glad you're here. 7 years ago I taught my self-web design and freelancing. Now, I do my best to teach others what I've learned so they don't have to struggle as much as I did.

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