3 Valuable Lessons Learnt as a Junior Professional

Cynthia Sipes - Invuse UX Researcher

Since joining Invuse as a Junior UX Researcher in 2022, Cynthia Sipes has been at the forefront of our efforts to help all our customers become the voice of their end users. With a passion for accessibility in digital media and games, Cynthia has worked on a number of User Experience projects including West Berkshire Council, The National Archives and The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Council

Cynthia is enthusiastic about upskilling and supporting others to discover the value of UX and accessibility and in this feature, she takes us through 3 valuable lessons she has learnt as a junior and how they have influenced her career journey so far.

1 - Take responsibility for yourself

When you get into a junior role, it feels like you have climbed a huge mountain just to see there is actually another bigger mountain that you still need to climb. It can feel frustrating if there isn’t a good structure in place for learning and development.

This shouldn’t hold you back though. You have to take responsibility for your own learning. I read this amazing article (I honestly can’t remember who wrote it or where I found it) but it was about this idea of taking responsibility for yourself and what that means.

My suggestion is to find a good UX skills matrix – I promise if you google it, you will find so many. Use that to evaluate yourself and to create a list of skills that you need to grow in. Start tackling each area. Create a list or spreadsheet or whatever you prefer and focus on it. Show your line manager – they will love it and it will help them to understand what you need to grow in as well. Work with them to create a career development plan.

Be focused about this. It can be so easy to just spend some time jumping from topic to topic. Create a schedule for yourself – or at least a syllabus of some sort that helps you know exactly what you are going to focus on and what you are going to move onto next.

2 - Say what you need

No matter the situation, it is a vital skill to learn how to communicate what you need to someone else. It is no different at work. The way you tell your boss might be different from how you would communicate with a partner, but it is just as important.

Everyone will approach this differently but just remember to be respectful of the person you are talking to. It’s ok to be honest but consider your words. Take some time to write down what you want to say. You might want to run it past a friend or partner to get their feedback too. Remember that your co-workers are not mind readers so be as clear as possible.

Be patient – change takes time and it might take a few times to make your case about what you need, or for it to take priority.

3 - Complacency kills motivation

Once you start getting comfortable in a role, you might notice that you start to feel complacent. This could be because you are no longer challenged or maybe you haven’t been focusing enough on learning and development. If it is the challenge you are not getting, talk to your line manager. Go back to the skills matrix that you set up and see where you have gotten more comfortable with a skill and see how you could apply that to client projects.

Is there something that excites you more than other things? Dive into it.

Is there something that scares you and you don’t feel confident in? Figure out how you can grow in that area.

It is a balance of feeling challenged and also feeling competent in order to grow confidence.

Conclusion

No job is going to be perfect and it is up to you as a junior to take responsibility for yourself and learn how to communicate your needs to your line manager. I am not saying that you should stay in a bad work environment or saying that learning and development should be just the junior’s responsibility. However, we are ultimately responsible for ourselves and sometimes we might find ourselves in a situation where it is up to us to carve out that learning time and take our development in our own hands.

If anything this will help us to move past this idea of being a ‘junior’ and just grow as professionals.

These are just a few things I learned as a junior.

So what are your thoughts? Do you agree or have a different perspective? What have you learned as a junior?

Follow Cynthia Sipes on LinkedIn.

Useful links and resources

There are so many amazing resources out there for those in UX. Some of my favourites are: 

Stephanie Walter's Blog

Here Stephanie shares her thoughts and advice, resources and tools on user centered design, user research and testing, product design, mobile strategy, usability and accessibility.

Mixed Methods Podcast

Mixed Methods is a community interested in the hows and whys of user experience research. Through interviews with industry experts and hands-on trial and error, we indulge and celebrate curiosity.

World of UX Podcast

World of UX is dedicated to presenting topics covering and addressing all things UX including methods, discipline trends, career advancement, challenges, education options and pitfalls, UX maturity levels management.