I've been working for a year at my first 'real' UX contract at a giant financial institution. My manager liked me enough to extend my contract for another year, but I realized that this place isn't the right fit for me and I need to find a job somewhere else. Adding this company's work to a portfolio that would make me way more hirable than I've ever been before, but the problem is that I can't think of anything that I've done here that would make a good entry to my UX Portfolio.
You may be asking, how could someone work somewhere for over a year and have nothing to show? What is he, an idiot?
Well yes, I feel like an idiot, but please understand that for most of my time here I've been the only UX Designer on a team of 8 business people who don't have any idea of what my job is. I'm also new and I'm trying to prove my worth, so I say 'yes' to a lot of things that a Senior level employee would be able to brush off. My life here was consisted mostly of:
- Long meetings that go nowhere
- Starting projects that lose funding or executive backing
- Massive team restructuring
- Research for the sake of research
- Graphic design/mockups
- Jumping into the middle of someone else's projects
- Wrangling interns
- Beautifying older pages, AKA "Putting lipstick on a pig"
- UI design (without UX process behind it)
I may be pretty new at this, but even I can recognize that what passes for UX here is laughable. Many of the times that I've pushed for research, testing, wireframing, etc... I'm always met with "well, we need this by Wednesday, so just get me a comp ASAP. Okay? Thanks buddy!" UGH. There have been many frustrating times where an entire experience has been reduced to a banner ad because of time or money. Another frustration that I'm working through right now is that these executives keep having all kinds of 'cool' ideas for products that don't actually solve users' problems, but we have to do them. There have been a few times where I really felt like we were getting somewhere and doing the right thing, but every time, upper management had a change of heart.
Skip here if you want the question and not the narrative
I'm tired of having a 'Minimum Viable Portfolio'. I'm tired of piecing together a bunch of random stuff with duct tape and faking my way through an interview. I really want a portfolio that tells a story, showcases a process and that's actually enjoyable to look at.
How can I achieve this with a scattered body of work?
I do have hope for the upcoming months. My team just absorbed a few senior UX Designers who have decades of experience at this company and they can navigate the corporate landscape much better than I. One of them is going to step in as a mentor/manager and we've talked about making sure that I get specific UX work. My plan of action is to document everything that I do on a day-to-day basis, so hopefully, I can be able to tell a story going forward.