Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

Should you do a General Assembly UX course?

Yes. But also maybe no. Let me explain.

In 2013 I found out about this thing called UX. Apparently I was already doing it a bit in my job and as I found out more I realised I had finally found the thing I had been looking for for so long - a job that I could be passionate about.

By then I had been working in various admin roles for over 10 years. I was really good at my job but bored.

My manager sent me to the Adaptive Path UX Intensive conference in 2014 which blew my mind, so I then spent all my spare time learning as much as I could about UX from books and blogs and meet ups (like Ladies that UX and UXPA).

All well and good (and super interesting) but changes at work meant that I couldn’t really follow this up there and I didn’t have the experience that all the jobs required. What to do?

In 2015 things at work came to a head and I knew I had to do something!

"Do not expect to have a social life of any kind while studying, it really is an immersive."

I found out about General Assembly via Ladies that UX and having done a mind map of all my options I decided to go and speak to them.

I was interested in the UXDI (User Experience Design Immersive) course which ran for 10 weeks full time. The part time course looked interesting but was aimed more at people who are already in a role that need UX skills. The full time course is aimed more at helping people switch career.

So after much thought and long discussions with my husband I quit my job and signed up for UXDI starting at the end of August.

This was a huge risk for me. I was an expert in my old job and the pay was good but here I was giving it up to study for the next 10 weeks and then … well who knew what would happen. GA will help you as much as possible to find a job, but its really up to you to do the work.

I really enjoyed UXDI. It was hard work (do not expect to have a social life of any kind while studying, it really is an immersive), but I learnt so much and everyone was really nice. GA really is a community and I know I will be keeping in touch with my class mates.

And I was really lucky that 5 weeks after finishing with GA I was starting my new job as a junior UX designer.

So did GA get me the job? Yes and no. Without the GA training I would not have had the chance to put all the theory I had been learning in my free time into practice; the projects we worked on over the 10 weeks gave me something to build my portfolio on; and the job searching advice was invaluable. Plus they have a really good reputation as a leading UX trainer, covering everything you could think of and are ready to adapt the course at any point depending on feedback from the industry.

But I think there were some other factors to:

  1. I came from a job in a digital team which meant I had some understanding which some of my class mates lacked. I had worked with visual designers and developers and knew that what GA had taught us does not always happen in the real world.
  2. I have over 10 years work experience which although not in UX still counts for something compared with the majority of my class mates whose average age was 26, (I notice that most of my class mates in my age bracket or older all got jobs quickly too) and
  3. I have real passion for this subject. I had been studying the subject by myself for so long that to do it for real was totally amazing, while some of my class mates were having their first taste of UX on UXDI, personally I think that would have put me off for life!

So should you study with General Assembly? If you are truly interested in the subject then yes go for it, but be ready to work hard. It was a great experience and I would do it again. But make sure you really want to put the time and money in and if you are more interested in research maybe look at a HCI course instead.

Good luck and do not forget to have fun too!

(I get emailed by a lot of people asking how the course really was - if you want to find out more, check out the weekly blog posts I wrote while actually attending the course.)

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