The value of junior designers
Over the last three years, I’ve spent a good chunk of time mentoring bootcamp graduates and self-taught designers who are looking to land their first role in UX and/or UI.
Throughout our sessions, there’s a lot of back and forth, where I’ll provide design feedback, ask about design decisions, run mock interviews, and walk mentees through what they can expect in their first design role.
Recently, we’ve also started dissecting job ads, where we’ll pick apart the requirements of junior roles, look at how we can relate that back to their past experience and portfolio projects, and tailor cover letters to specific roles or organisations.
Nine times out of ten, when looking at these job ads, my mentees have expressed a lack of confidence in the value that they can bring to a team with limited experience as a designer.
One of the first things they say to me is:
“All the junior roles I’ve found want someone with 3+ years of experience… I don’t know how I can get the experience without getting a junior role first“
This isn’t a new problem in tech roles, and is something that I experienced when I started my first design role thirteen years ago (👵)! If you’re in the same boat, have a quick flick through the list below, which I regularly share with my mentees –
7 ways that you can add value to a company, as a junior designer:
- Offering a fresh perspective
As a junior designer, your limited (or lack of) experience can bring a new perspective to the team; you’ll likely be able to view problems with a different lens, bringing new ideas to the table
- Being adaptable and willing to learn
New designers are often highly flexible and adaptable, hoping to gain as much exposure to different projects and design methodologies as possible. Having this type of flexibility and enthusiasm allows you to contribute to a variety of different projects, and understand exactly which areas of design you’re truly passionate about, and may want to specialise in in future
- Possessing a positive attitude
Your enthusiasm and motivation as a junior is infectious, and is often the energy that stablished design teams need to shake things up and improve productivity. Design isn’t a career that people tend to succeed in unless they’re truly passionate, and often, seeing someone begin that journey can reignite the fire inside even the most seasoned designers.
- Diversifying teams
Whether you’re a career switcher, or straight out of University, your life experiences and ways of thinking will bring diversity to your team — your unique insights and experiences can contribute directly to more creative and effective solutions
- Providing learning opportunities
As a junior designer, you’re likely to be mentored by a more senior team-member. By bringing juniors onboard, senior designers have the opportunity to share their knowledge, and develop mentorship and leadership skills.
- Enabling companies to develop future talent
Everyone starts somewhere; by hiring junior designers, organisations have the ability to invest time and resources in your career from the ground up, providing a strong pipeline for future leadership.
- Keeping teams current
It can be easy for more seasoned designers to develop biases, and get stuck in old habits. By hiring new and emerging designers, teams are able to gain more exposure to new design trends, technologies, processes and insights.
Although hiring a junior designer can be considered more of an investment — requiring a lot of planning, hands-on-time and resources — there is a huge amount of value in providing emerging talent with an opportunity to grow and contribute to your team.