Why you should pursue a UX design degree
I did my Master’s in Information Design from NID B. It helped me immensely and here is why I’d recommend it.
The following are excerpts of my personal learnings and experiences which may or may not hold true for anyone.
Before we begin, I want to set context for where I came from and where I wanted to go back when I decided to pursue design education in 2017
Where I came from:
School: PCM + Computer Science
Bachelor’s of Technology: Computer Science Engineering
Work: Full Stack Development
Where I wanted to go:
Information and User Experience Design.
Why I chose design education over self learning design:
I wanted to start from scratch and I was ready to work hard. Design education enabled me to know what ‘scratch’ was. I was ready to dedicate all my time and effort to anything and everything design, but — to know what to know- I chose to attend a design school.
I didn’t belong to a conventional design background, my ecosystem wasn’t design averse, my peers were all engineers. I was looking for a way for someone to tell me anything, anything at all and this is why I chose a design school.
Where did I pursue my Masters?
NID B, Information Design
Why you should pursue a design education:
The good and very good of it. Here is why I recommend it:
What I wanted out of my design education:
What I got out of my design education:
3. Peer learning
4. Life lessons
My expectation: I was looking for the bear minimum. I was looking for a book or a person or a course guideline or a definition of design. Anything was better than my then knowledge of design. I was ready to research and be consumed, all I needed was the keyword to latch on to.
The reality: Pretty close to my expectation. The was no handholding, no well curated pathways to success, no sure shot books. There were just some classes and some people and a library. And that was all I really needed. Everything else, I was ready to do.
My expectation: I didn’t have any expectations.
The reality: My course guide, Mr. Chakradhar Saswade turned my life around. His guidance in the last 3 semesters of my design education gave me enough courage, zeal and truth to be a humble and beautifully disruptive designer. He knew what he didn’t know and knew people who did and this alone stays to be my top reasons for admiration for him.
- Peer learning
My expectations: None
The reality: I owe most of my learning to peers at that institute. It was a mix of such truly brilliant people that all opinions were breathtaking, all skills where perfect and all work was a masterpiece.
- Life Lessons
My expectations: Compared to how it actually was, I never anticipated my life would change so much after this degree
The reality: I learnt so much more than just design. I learnt patience, I learned to acknowledge when I need help, I learnt to ask for help, I learnt to think beyond the assignment, I broke my engineering helmet in all the right places to replace pieces of it with my design hat. I learnt to recognise gas lighting, I learnt to be at peace with my own truth. It was an amazing growing up for me. To each their own and this to me, is my own. Design education made me prepared for so much for than handeling data or designing user experience, it prepared me for life.
My expectations: I was hoping to be exposed to the right literature, people, communities and resources for design
The reality: I got everything I expected and a lot more and then some. Design is a heavily community driven discipline and it reflects in the tight knit circles and the beautiful design community that has developed around the world.
My expectations: I wanted a job at the end of this degree.
The reality: I landed several opportunities and kept the one I really found valued me the way I valued them.
Anecdote: I hadn’t heard of Adobe illustrator till I joined NID and a peer showed me what a pen tool is during a 2 minute discussion — it absolutely changed my life. It really did, you can see for yourself here:
The bad of it. I do still recommend design education, but here are a few things I want to call out:
Necessary call outs from my time at design school:
- It may get extremely competitive
This doesn’t hold true for everyone, but does for some .Depending on your discipline, your guide, your peers and you — there may be a fair chance of you feeling immense academic pressure. I am not sure if there is a single root cause for it, but I have seen enough evidence of people crumbling under conditions stated above.
- Mental health issues rooted in academic pressure
Again, not everyone may go through something like this, but people do. It takes a toll on your health, your mental well being, your relationships as well as your self esteem.
- Jobs aren’t guaranteed
Like in every institute, the institute works their best to get each student placed but you need to do your share to make it happen.
- You may find some of it repetitive if you have a bachelor’s in design
Please lay emphasis on the ‘some’, ‘may’ and ‘if’ in the above statement.
This article seeks to help those who want to make a pros and cons list to pursue a design education — my effort is to help with the pros.
A grateful design graduate