Art project by my five-year-old son

At this point, I’ve had a handful of advanced or final stage job interviews for UX research roles. Being on the job market can be stressful, but I’ve found an upside. All the work — preparing case studies, articulating your value proposition, sharpening your interview skills — is itself an invaluable professional development opportunity. It’s a bit like a bootcamp in self-promotion, with the job offer representing your “certificate of completion”. …

The most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what’s in between.

— Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

Milo approaches the tollbooth in his bedroom, in Jules Feiffer’s illustration from The Phantom Tollbooth. Illustration: Jules Feiffer

Making the career pivot to user research has been a journey. But like Milo’s journey in The Phantom Tollbooth, the destination turned out to be a metaphysical one: a change in perspective rather than of location. So it has been also in my transition to user research, as I see now.

For the last ten years, I worked as a classroom teacher, social science researcher and research coordinator. Since entering the job market several months ago, I’ve…

A career changer’s pitch to would-be employers

Photo by John Schaidler on Unsplash

A potential employer asked me last week in a job interview for a UX researcher role, “Why UX research?”

I was kicking myself for not having answered this already. I had just given an hour-long presentation on my background and UXR case studies, selling my unconventional work experience as my greatest asset. Reflecting on the interview later that day, I realized my mistake: I had failed to articulate my “why”.

As a career changer, you may have less UX-specific work experience, so it’s crucial to have a succinct pitch that articulates not only your qualifications but your motivations. …

“He’s put design research as a skillset, but I don’t think he knows much about design research”.

This comment came in a recent usability testing session of my UX portfolio with a top-tier UX professional and mentor from ADPList. This was tough feedback, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. As a project, usability testing improved my portfolio and expanded my professional network. But more importantly, it afforded me valuable experience ‘thinking like a UX researcher’.


It all started with a well-defined problem to be solved: my lack of success on the job market as an emerging UX…

Thank you, Micah, for the portfolio guidance. I'm realizing I've got a lot of work to do, but I have a much better sense of what that should be. Cheers!

The north central Florida area is an increasing destination for Hispanic immigrants, but online health literacy efforts face distinct challenges — e.g., the language barrier, low digital and basic literacy, and mobile-dependent usage patterns — in this sparsely populated rural area. This project is my prototype for a bilingual, mobile-first website that is driven by user research and accessibility considerations.


The Rural Women’s Health Organization (RWHP) has provided health literacy education to Hispanic immigrants and families in rural north-central Florida for over twenty years. …

Thanks for this article! I'm looking to analyze my portfolio website, but also to bone up for professional reasons on google analytics. As an aspiring UX Researcher, I think this could benefit my job search. Cheers!

Great article, Alice! I am a former classroom teacher and trying to crystallize for my own narrative the clear connections between education and user-centered design. Thanks for the food for thought.

The University of Florida offers over 500 degree and certificate programs across its many colleges and departments. But it’s surprisingly difficult to find basic information about these programs. This project is my proposed redesign of UF’s website to make it easier for prospective students and their families to discover UF’s academic programs.


I was really surprised. While their academic program offerings are staggeringly extensive (500+ degree and certificate programs across 16 colleges and 87 schools and departments) — and prestigious (UF is currently ranked as the sixth-best public university, according to US News and World Report), it’s really difficult to…

Thanks, Jennifer. I am just stepping into the job market as a UX designer, and I really appreciate the perspective on how this title has changed over the years - and how to narrow your search. I'll only be unsuccessful (or ultimately unhappy) if I'm continually knocking, unknowingly, on the doors of visual/graphic design jobs. Especially when I'm thinking more user research... thanks again.

Drew Long

Freshly minted User Researcher and Designer finding my footing after a career in K-12 education

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