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I'm out of school for the summer then I start community college, I do not want to waste time. Is there anything I can do to gain knowledge and experience? I doubt I can score an internship without any knowledge or experience so..

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9 Answers 9

Contribute to open source projects. That's mostly how I gained knowledge and experience (and even scored a Web UX job straight from college with an AB Psychology degree, which many employers would consider to be unrelated)

http://live.gnome.org/UsabilityProject

https://launchpad.net/ayatana

I would also suggest participating here in UXExchange, IxDA, and other related communities.

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There are lots of ways to volunteer online outside of open source projects, with non-profits who need their user experience improved. I'd suggest trying places like techsoup.org, the UN's onlinevolunteering.org, charityfocus.org, etc. I do a lot of volunteer work and it's great experience considering lower end hardware and disabled users. –  Susan R Jul 8 '10 at 13:15
    
Here is another good link for people who want to get experience in UX with open source software: openusability.org –  Raffael Luthiger Jul 12 '10 at 21:41

What I think is useful is probably not going to help you get a job !

However... what I'd suggest doing is get some practice teaching software. This would preferably be to people who need a lot of help (say the over 65s if you can find a retired person's club).

That way you build up a bank of experience on "why people don't understand what's on screen".

How a design works is always obvious to the people who build it. What you've got to do is to be able to step out of that mindset and 'get into your users heads', to understand why they don't understand it.

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You are absolutely right about the teaching to older users >> ux wisdom idea! –  estephan500 Jun 19 '11 at 5:50

I think it's pretty easy to decide what to do.

Read, find a mentoring program (the IxDA has a mentoring program), when you feel confident enough try to work for free projects or volunteering.

But first you need to devolop a knowledge of base, in this site you can find various thread on this subject:

UX & Usability resources for web?

What book would you recommend as a decent 'intro to UX' aimed at non-practitioners?

Advanced books on UX

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In addition to the excellent responses already posted:

Get yourself a portfolio together, comprised of varying content from design to evaluation, illustrating your skills and experience (wireframing, higher fidelity prototyping, information architecture, persona development etc). Then use that portfolio to demonstrate your potential in landing an internship (or better).

Employers almost universally want evidence, and a portfolio is probably the best way forward for you.

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Do as much research as possible and practice. You will learn a lot more doing than just reading alone.

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1  
Exactly. There more you actually DO the more you will learn. There is no better advice than this. Go learn a few main concepts, then try them out. –  Matt Rockwell Apr 29 '11 at 14:53

Some great suggestions here. I'm in a similar boat to you in that I'm trying to break into the UX field too (from a traditional programming background) and there's a lot to learn, so as you say, let's not waste time.

You should try:

  • Reading up as much as you can (as per the suggested links on this page)

  • Looking up and subscribing to the best UX blogs to help you keep up to date and / or sign up to sites like delicious to see what everyone else is reading and bookmarking about UX

  • Contributing to open source projects and to UX Exchange (as suggested already)

  • Building up a portfolio (as suggested already) but get it on the web. It's pretty easy to start a blog using sites like wordpress. I've just started www.scaryevilcomputer.com and it's still early days but blogging about a topic shows a lot of passion

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Read the book About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design. It is a fantastic introduction to goal oriented interface design.

(yeah, that's an affiliate link but it's not mine. It's what you get if you go to cooper.com and click on the book link).

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1) Have a look at this summary of ux:

What Is User Experience Design? Overview, Tools And Resources

2) Do some essential reading

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UXBooth put so many great stuff that you will get you in a good shape in no time (of course time is an illusion)

For Books: http://www.uxbooth.com/view/resources/books/

Beginners stuff:

Complete Beginners Guide to Interaction Design http://www.uxbooth.com/blog/complete-beginners-guide-to-interaction-design/

Complete Beginners Guide to Information Architecture http://www.uxbooth.com/blog/complete-beginners-guide-to-information-architecture/

Complete Beginners Guide to Content Strategy http://www.uxbooth.com/blog/complete-beginners-guide-to-content-strategy/

Just start with those links, and then roads will unfold itself and you will then able to decide what's your strength and weakness, polish it your way and you are good to go my friend.

Ciao

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