The Pros and Cons of Bootcamps for UX Designers
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If you’re a new UX designer wanting to improve your skillset, or someone from another industry looking to break into UX, one strategy is to enrol in a boot camp-style training program.
According to This Bootcamp Model report, “coding bootcamps” as a whole grew by 64% from 2015 to 2016, generating $49.3MM in tuition fee revenue, with a total of 4,058 graduates across Australia. UX/UI bootcamps are the most popular boot camp type, accounting for 50% of the graduates, and typically focus on teaching skills such as prototyping, user research, wireframing, interaction design and testing.
You may be wondering if enrolling in a bootcamp will be worth the investment of time and money. Will it actually help you land a new position or advance your career? What do employers think about a designer who’s completed a bootcamp?
Let’s help you answer these questions and make your decision on whether a bootcamp is the right step for you. Read on to learn about trending UX bootcamps, what authorities in the industry have to say about the pros and cons, and the final verdict we arrived at on this training method.
Trending UX Bootcamps
What are the most popular UX bootcamps currently? A few leaders in the niche are General Assembly, Bloc, Springboard, DesignLab, and Designation. General Assembly, for one, offers short design courses online as well as a 10-week full-time UX design course in-person. It has 15 campuses across four continents.
Bloc offers a Designer Track Program that trains participants to become full stack designers. It is an immersive program which can be taken at a full-time (16 weeks) or part-time pace (32 weeks).
Another option, Springboard, offers online courses led by mentors who are industry experts.
These are just a few examples. Each bootcamp has its own program and advantages but overall the goal of each is to educate UX designers and expand their skillsets. Now let’s look at the pros and cons of these programs.
Pros of UX Designer Bootcamps
Mark Seabridge, Head of UX & Design for Tribal Worldwide, shared some insights on a few different bootcamps and how they worked for his team members. He identified the following advantages.
- Attendees of General Assembly get the opportunity to work with lecturers who currently work in the industry, which may not be possible with traditional full-time courses. This enables them to offer industry insights and career advice, and they are often very well connected.
- Bootcamp training can provide an opportunity for growth and development for both the individual and a business.
- Mark values bootcamp attendance when hiring someone new for a junior design position, in addition to passion, enthusiasm, and some real world work experience, even if it’s not in a directly related field.
We also asked Director of Digital for Clemenger BBDO Melbourne Ben Kidney about his opinion on Bootcamps. Here were some of the advantages he identified.
- Grad/entry level candidates in UX/DEV/TECH who have come through bootcamps typically are very ambitious and career-oriented. He’s found that they often want to advance quickly.
- He says attending bootcamps shows an investment in a candidate’s or team member’s career, as, from his experience, they typically come from an external sector and have elected to make a change. Kidney gave an example of a developer on his team who originally came from a hospitality background. He came to work for Kidney as a junior developer after going through a bootcamp. He showed incredible potential, has a great attitude, and now is one of the best performers on the team.
- Additionally, he said these courses are a great introduction to the industry and can open doors that wouldn’t have been opened through traditional University degrees (at grad level).
- He added that bootcamps can be used within agencies to help employees develop and possibly move between departments or roles.
Cons of UX Designer Bootcamps
Now let’s look at some of the challenges identified by Seabridge.
- The courses can be challenging if you have no real-world experience in the field.
You have to be in the right mindset in order to get a return on investment from the courses.
Attendees have to engage and interact with both lecturers and fellow students
The courses are often fast-paced, it can be challenging to keep up.
They don’t dive deep into any particular area and will require additional study
Lastly, he noted that Bootcamp completion alone isn’t enough and might put you in over your head when you get a position with a startup or established company. Typically, you’ll need support as you integrate with a company and real-world experience to gain more wisdom and credibility in the field.
Additionally, Kidney pointed out this disadvantage.
“Bootcamp graduates can have the expectation that they can automatically go into working on AI/VR projects; work that is not aligned to their level of experience. It takes years to build the tools in the UX/Tech arsenal to be able to work on those key projects. The people who work on those projects often have come from the traditional work environment which is the lifeblood of an agency. That outlook can become a career limitation.”
So should you enrol in UX bootcamps? From the input provided by these two industry professionals, it definitely won’t hurt. The general consensus is that bootcamps can provide helpful training and knowledge which helps attendees advance their careers. You can introduce yourself to a new area of work or strengthen the skills you already have.
However, you will only get out what you put in. If you just go through it without paying much attention or applying yourself, it can be a waste. Additionally, while helpful, the bootcamp isn’t an end-all be-all that will qualify you to get any UX designer position or prepare you to work on advanced projects. They’re comparable to how military bootcamp are only preparation for the real military duties. You can gain helpful skills which you build on through real-world experience to become a well-rounded UX developer.
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