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I'm a student trying to get into the UX field. I know one of the best ways to learn something is to get experience doing it. So, I've been looking for internships but almost every one asks for a portfolio. But, the only reason I don't have one is because I don't really have any design work to show.

How can I make a design portfolio when I don't have any work? Do I just make up my own projects?

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You don't need to have a job to make a website. Make at least one website to prove yourself, then get paid. –  Chipperyman Feb 1 at 3:35

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Most design students are able to develop a portfolio of projects they worked on while they are in school.

Since I'm guessing you aren't a design student, I suggest that you take a course on UX/Interaction Design or Human Computer Interaction (HCI) - especially one that requires you to develop an interactive project and/or create a prototype.

This way, you can benefit from learning more about the UX design process AND have something to show for it at the end. Completing courses is also a sure way to signal your passion and knowledge for a subject.

Perhaps your school offers courses in this area? If not, there are lots of educational opportunities online. I took a great (and FREE!) Stanford U HCI course through http://Coursera.org.

Also, have you taken any courses which required you to do presentations?

I ask because being able to effectively present work and ideas is crucial to the success of a UX person. Not just in a visual design sense, but also how the narrative of a presentation is conveyed to maximize audience impact and comprehension.

So perhaps you can think about whether some of the work you have already done for school could become a portfolio piece in which you describe the research and storytelling process.

Remember, for a UX portfolio, it's not just about showing the results of a finished product - it's also about describing the process too.

Good luck!

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Thanks a lot for advice! No, I'm not a design student. I'm majoring in Informatics with a cognate/specialization in Human-Centered Computing. But, for my major, I do have to take some HCI classes so maybe that will help. Unfortunately, I have to get through all the core classes before I can take those though...As for presentation courses, I have taken courses where I have to present something. Nothing like a public speaking class if that's what you mean. –  Taylor Feb 1 at 15:39
    
No worries, I was a student myself recently, so I can relate :) That sounds like a really cool program! And I think it will give you lots of stuff to put into a portfolio - especially flow diagrams and info mapping. If you need ways to get started, then think of a problem that relates to what you're learning, like how you'd redesign the school library's mobile experience. Or maybe create a an experience map that describes a student's journey at your school. Perhaps looking up some UX design artifacts might help give you some inspiration :) –  violet_purrpelle Feb 1 at 23:50
    
Alright, awesome. Thanks! :) –  Taylor Feb 2 at 0:31

Start making things

You're not going to get paid until you can show you have some talent. The only way to do that is to make up commissions for yourself.

The upside is that your fictional client can be a really awesome one. What's your dream project? Congratulations, you just won the bid! Now give yourself some realistic goals and boundaries and get to work. Put some pressure on yourself but enjoy the freedom of a fake client too.

It's in the area of realism that a mentor is really valuable. Find someone you admire and talk with them about the project. Do they think anyone will care? Are your metrics of success relevant? Meet at regular intervals like you would with a client and make sure you're not getting off track.

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Okay, thanks for the advice! :) –  Taylor Feb 2 at 0:33

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