A UX Bootcamp Experience

Lot’s of people have chosen to participate in UX Bootcamp experiences in the past year, and I would like to share my experience, as I come to a close on the 180-day contract I signed with the school, which offered a tuition-waver if no job was offered.

a google spreadsheet showing the 237 people that I reached out to, the position, the job posting, method of contact, etc.
8 contacts, every week, for 180 days, or until a job offer is received.

I graduated from my UX Bootcamp in June. It was a 6-month, full-time immersion. It was supposed to be 3 months online and the other 3 in-person, however, as was the theme of 2020, we stayed remote. In the beginning, there were 30 students in my cohort, in the end, there were 9. Every 4–6 weeks we would move on to a new project and get a new team. In each of these phases, we went through the double diamond process of UX. We researched, interviewed stakeholders, conducted competitive analyses, and user interviews, created research artifacts, and designed lo-fi and mid-fi wireframes and prototypes. It was efficient and iterative. I can most definitely say that I learned a lot about the UX processes and what it is like to work collaboratively.

My experience post-graduation was challenging for a slew of reasons, but namely, I was unable to get a job and that was my main goal in choosing this program. It was also something that the school said was 98% likely, alongside an average starting salary of $75,000. However, I just visited the school's website, and they no longer are boasting these job placement numbers and salaries, in fact, they no longer offer the UX/UI program at all.

When I was in the process of committing to the school I chose, I chose to opt-in to the “tuition-waver” commitment. This meant that I would not pay anything upfront, and would only begin making payments once I got a job. The contract is valid for 180 days from the start of my “job search.” If I do not get a job in that time period, I, then have to apply for a tuition-waver, hope to get approved, and avoid acquiring a $17,500 debt with no job to pay it off. There were requirements to be approved for this waiver. Every week from the start of my job search, I had to update a google spreadsheet, documenting 8 people I had reached out to regarding a position, linking to a blog I wrote that week, as well as a design challenge I completed. I also had to meet with my “career coach” every other week for this 180-day period.

This is when things began to become problematic, in the sense that, it simply wasn’t working. This week I will be submitting my request for a tuition-waver in hopes of approval, as I have reached out to over 237 people, wrote 28 blogs, and completed 28 different designs. Every other week when I would meet with my career coach, she would check my “job-tracker”, comment that it looks good, offer some laments about the zero interviews I have been offered, and ask me what it was she could do for me. I never really knew the answer to that question and found myself wishing she did. I talked to a few of my fellow cohort graduates, and they have all had similar experiences.

I found myself becoming disenchanted about 2 months into my job search when I was not gaining any traction. I understood that the job market was taking a huge hit from the circumstances caused by a Global Pandemic, and hiring JR UX designers was not a common situation. Through my avid networking, I realized, there were also many other UX Bootcamp graduates in the same boat as me. Originally the school had boasted on their website (no-longer) about their “employee-partnerships” saying that companies came to them asking for their graduates. In the 6 months since I have graduated, I have received 3–6 emails from someone at the school with a job posting, and none of these did I hear back from. Some of them were jobs I had already come across in my own research. There were no employee partnerships to be found, and being a UX Bootcamp Graduate was not very appealing to growing and/or struggling companies.

About 3 months into the search, I found myself really missing the opportunity to keep practicing my new found skills by going through the UX process. Through networking and speaking with people that have been in the UX game for many years, I followed their guidance and began offering my new skills for free. Although, I vividly remember my last teacher at the school specifically saying that we should not have to volunteer and that we were fully capable of being professional UX Designers. I wondered about what he would say now.

That was another aspect of the school’s protocol that I found surprising. There was not one email, memo, or attempt of faculty to take into consideration the 2020 graduates and the circumstances we were trying to navigate. I never heard from any of my teachers again. Our program was most certainly not the same, being 100% remote and yet we were expected to pay the same price. We were absolutely not entering a welcoming job market, and none of this was acknowledged.

I volunteered as a UX Content Auditor, UX Researcher, and UX Designer. I even learned how to build websites and began volunteering these skills as well. I was hopeful that I would learn more about the UX Process by being in the practice. I actually learned a ton about working with clients, building communication contracts, and making User Experience Design understandable. Meanwhile, amidst working for free, I was still adhering to the contract I signed and doing all the “requirements” each week, even though after month 4, I really doubted the requirements potential of getting me a job. It definitely became more a chore and less of a good use of my time.

So this is my 28th blog post. Here is to you, dear _______ school. Here is the last mandatory thing I have to do for you to not be charged $17,500, with no source of income. I just want you to know a few things before I send in my letter, asking you to please recognize the inability of your program to fulfill its mission and to, therefore, pardon me the $17,500 tuition cost.

  1. There is not a bone in my body that did not want to get a job as soon as I graduated. You can ask my “career coach” or any teacher I had throughout the program. I am a hard worker and I do what I say I will do. I have done everything that the school has asked of me on the contract and I still have not received a job offer, let alone an interview.
  2. I am hurt by the school’s inability to acknowledge the exceptional circumstances of 2020 and how that has affected their graduates. A letter would have been nice. After all, there were plenty of letters at the beginning of the Pandemic letting us know the precautions and care that was being and would be implemented during our program.
  3. I will be impressed if you choose to challenge my request for a tuition waiver under any circumstance. I was top of my class, even though there were no grades, and everyone graduated, regardless of their ability to understand or pull their weight during the program. I came into this program determined to understand the concepts and get a job in the field. My determination has not waivered, it is my belief in the school’s values that has.
  4. You have failed. You had an opportunity to take accountability and to offer support and you did nothing. I don’t even know if this “you” is anyone in particular or everyone involved from teachers, to CEOs to career coaches. But whoever “you” may be, you did not follow through on your end of the bargain, as I, the student, have.

I do not find it ironic that the school no longer offers the UX/UI program. Clearly, they understand, now, that their promises of job placement are no longer accurate. What I would like to know, is why the students who were the last to join the program have heard nothing regarding the unpromising job market we were released into, upon graduation. Clearly, you knew…or at least, you know now.

I am going to continue to write this blog because writing has always been a tool of mine. I am going to continue to research the ever-evolving industry of User Experience and I will find a job where I can actualize my potential as a passionate, efficient, and aware UX Designer/Researcher/Strategist. I would have not had a problem paying for my education if I had gotten a job within the 6-month window.

To all folks considering a UX Bootcamp, I’d say do your own research. Be mindful of the current job market and how concentrated the UX industry is, especially with Bootcamp graduates. With that being said, I believe the industry is still being actualized and understood. There is so much potential in creating human-centered products and services as we continue to evolve technology and processes to match the needs of the people. The people need UX. UX is for the people. I hope to be able to find my seat on the bus soon, so I can take this passion for User Experience and use it to influence and impact my career.

I can say thank you to the school for teaching me the basics and for giving me that team environment to work in. I wish things could have panned out differently and that I could have got my job and you could have received your tuition. I also will thank you in advance for witnessing the commitment I adhered to, for seeing the efforts I made, and for evaluating my eligibility with human consideration.

Until next time, when I write because I want to not because I must…

User Experience Designer | Human-Centered | Service-oriented | https://lylosytrotta.com

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Lylo Sy Trotta

Lylo Sy Trotta

User Experience Designer | Human-Centered | Service-oriented | https://lylosytrotta.com

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