Student Success Story: Alexandra Nurse
Alexandra completed our 12-Week Product Design part-time course in September 2020. She has been working as a UX Designer at companies like Farfetch and Charles Tyrwhitt.
We caught up with her recently to see what she has been up to since completing her course, how the course helped her achieve her goals and her pearls of wisdom for any budding service designers.
Looking back before you joined the course at Experience Haus, can you tell us a little bit about what you were up to and what led you to consider a course in Product Design?
I have a background in product design, but more industrial design, so I studied that at university but I struggled trying to apply for jobs in physical product design. I did get a grad job at a company where they designed retail display units for make-up and cosmetic companies like Selfridges, Dior, Mac, places like that! I worked there for just over a year but then due to a lot of circumstances it just didn’t work out. I also realised the company just wasn’t for me! They were also going through a redundancy stage as well, so I decided to learn and after that I was working part-time as a casual worker at the Design Museum in retail. During that time, when the pandemic was just starting, I started researching into UX/UI design because whenever I was applying jobs searching for product designer, all I could see were UX Designer jobs, or it was say ‘product design’ but kept talking about wireframes and I didn’t know what wireframes were and didn’t know if I could do the job! So that was why I really decided to go into UX design.
How did you come across Experience Haus? What made you decide to pick our course?
During Covid I was doing a lot of research into courses and stuff. At first I was on Skillshare and doing lots of little courses for free just to make sure my understanding was there, but then I decided I wanted to do a proper course and I had seen your name pop up before. I started looking at courses but then my friend saw you come up on Instagram and sent it to me.
Doing it in-person was also an important thing for me. With the way I learn, I feel if I go physically somewhere there’s more understanding, whereas I feel it’s easier to switch off when you’re doing it online! I had done a lot of video learning already through YouTube and Skillshare so on this occasion I felt like I needed someone there explaining it. I also need that accountability to make sure I finish doing what I need to do! It’s one of those things that if someone’s watching you, you just feel you need to get everything done!
Thinking about your time on the course… What did you want to achieve from your Experience Haus course?
Definitely a portfolio piece. The fact that Experience Haus offered live briefs and you could work with a client was really good. My client was happy to meet with me twice a week so it felt more like a working relationship going through all my processes with them and showing what I had been working on. I felt that was a really good experience as it felt like I was working for them. I wanted that experience of working for someone but not like a freelancer so I found that really beneficial.
What did you enjoy most about the course?
Being able to come into the studio! To be able to come into the office and see people was great as I wasn’t seeing people that much.
What was your one big takeaway from the course?
The real life experience and having a full rounded understanding of UX and UI.
Turning now to your time post-course… Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to since the course finished? What sort of things were you working on that led you to securing your recent Junior UX Designer role?
After the course finished, I spent a long time trying to get my portfolio together and get everything I did on the course presented in a project format. I was also trying to do a lot of personal projects just so I had extra bits in my portfolio. I was asking lots of questions and I even asked my course instructor to look through my portfolio a few times so I could get feedback on it. Most of my time was spent getting that feedback and getting my portfolio done, and also writing a lot of cover letters and making sure my CV was good. I felt like I was changing my CV every week just to make sure it all made sense and was something I could use to apply for job. I did a lot of research for interviews as well.
I won’t lie, I didn’t apply for many jobs as I had set my eyes on the company I wanted to work for, so I pretty much only interview for them! I tailored my cover letter to be more about them and mentioned a lot of things they put in their job description to show those were things I focussed on. The role I applied for, however, wasn’t specifically tailored for Product. I’m in the marketing team so as it’s quite a varied role where I’d be working on lots of different things, I tailored a lot of my past projects to show how I used the user experience to get marketing experiences so people would buy the product. So in this instance, I focussed more on users rather than UI, which was what the company was looking for. I’ve been in the role for 3 weeks now so I’m sort of still finding my feet but there are a lot of projects that I can get involved in which I really like!
Do you have any advice, or nuggets of wisdom for any one trying to break into the industry – anything you wish you had known beforehand?
Be persistent and keep doing iterations on your portfolio, CV and cover letter. If there are places you want to work at, be persistent and just focus on them. As I said, I had my eyes set on the company I work for now so I tried to tailor as much as possible towards them.