User Experience, commonly known as UX, has quickly become one of the most sought-after careers today. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering how our world has become increasingly digitized over the last decade. With hundreds of new apps, websites, and other digital interfaces coming out every day, the demand for UX Designers has never been greater.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in UX, the first step you should take should be to look for a school that specifically offers a UX Design course or specialization. However, simply enrolling in a 4-year course isn’t enough to guarantee success. Students with ambitions of becoming leaders in the world UX will want to develop their skills early by following these tips:

Immerse yourself in different UX Design philosophies

Learning from your college professors is important, but it’s also vital to expose yourself to many ways of thinking as you develop your skills. This will help you become more flexible and agile in your thought and design process. Go beyond your textbooks and classroom discussions. Start by reading great UX books like Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug or The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman. You may also turn to blogs from thought leaders like UX Booth or UX Magazine.

Test different designs through personal projects

After you’ve learned the basics of UX design from your professors, you definitely try to apply what you’ve learned to a personal project. Here are a few ideas:

  • Try redesigning a website that you dislike using. Optimize it for better usability.
  • Design a new interface for your favorite app. See if your new design works better.
  • Conduct an informal case study of a website you like. Analyze what makes it so good.

Tackling personal projects is one of the best ways to really help you get a grasp of the design philosophies that speak to you. This allows you to develop your own style while building up a portfolio you can show to hiring managers after you graduate.

Try joining UX design contests

There are a number of UX design contests hosted by UX associations that are open to students. Not only do these contests allow you to test your skills, but it also allows you to see where you stand compared to your peers. Furthermore, a contest is a good way to get your name out there as an aspiring professional. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for promising students to receive internship or even job offers based on contest entries.

Look for a mentor / go on regular internships

Having a mentor who can guide you is an incredible career advantage. One of the best places to look for a mentor is to join online groups for UX associations in the Philippines. Try to see if a member there would be willing to mentor you. Alternatively, you may join UX conferences and events to connect with well-established professionals.

If you are looking for more real-world experience, you may want to visit your school’s Office of Career Services to help you find internship opportunities. While an internship may be a part of your curriculum, ambitious students will want to gain as much work experience as possible. As such, going on multiple internships is a great idea. This will help you accrue more work experience while immersing yourself in a professional setting.