Here’s a fun treat I’ve never done before. In this episode I shine the spotlight on listeners Jordan Burke + Joel Ryerson who recently landed their first job in UX! Hear them tell their inspiring stories of their journey getting here while gaining some valuable insights on how you can too! I was blown away at the depth, insight, authenticity and value they both added with their motivational and entertaining stories of struggle and ultimately triumph!
Jason Ogle: All right. Defenders. Today I have Jordan Burke with me and Jordan is a new UX’er, and that’s one of the reasons that I wanted to have her on to really describe her journey and how she got here. and I know she has a lot to share. And so, I’m excited to jump in. I just want to touch on how we met.
We met on LinkedIn, and Jordan found the podcast and you landed your first job recently in UX, YAY, and so, yes, so we’re celebrating that.
And I know the Defenders listening are really curious. They’d love learn more about you, but also, and especially about how you got here, how you got your foot in the door. It’s hard and it’s very draining and every way, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually it can be that way.
So, Jordan, I want to pass it over to you. I want to let you introduce yourself and fill in the blanks to the Defenders listening before we jump in.
Jordan Burke: Absolutely, absolutely. So yes, we met on LinkedIn and I was in the middle of a year long bootcamp and it was. It was an assignment to reach out to someone in the field.
And like I was telling you, you know, I tried to self-sabotage myself because I was hoping that you would be so busy that you would not respond to my message. And he did, and you were super generous. And, you know, I was worried about things like, am I supposed to like buy him coffee or lunch or something, you know, like, I don’t know how this works.
And, it was just an awesome conversation. At that time, obviously, like I said, I was in bootcamp. And been kind of a whirlwind. It’s been a whirlwind. I went from working mostly customer service jobs to now feeling like I have an actual career and I’m making a difference.
So, I’m super excited to be here with you today just because, like I said, it’s definitely a full circle moment. I never expected that I’d be sitting here as a guest, you know, listening. The same podcast that I started with when I was first discovering what UX even was just, oh, User Defenders, this sounds great. Like, I love this! So, yeah, yeah, very, very happy to be here.
Jason Ogle: That’s so cool. So UX, this is a really fascinating field. It’s interesting. And I really believe like you asked 10 UX’ers what UX means, I think you may get 10 different answers perhaps. And I mean, it’s just a very complex field.
There’s a lot of different tiers and arms to this thing. Right. I’m really curious, like why, why UX and what excited you about this field enough to want to go all in and land your first job here?
Jordan Burke: Absolutely. So that’s kind of a very simple response. That could be a long story, but I’ll make it short.
I was working in customer service. Like I said, I was a claims representative for a very large insurance company. And we had internal software programs. We were using to process claims, and one of them was just so antiquated and old and it looked ugly. It felt horrible to use. It was just like I’m sitting at my desk and I’m thinking who made this?
Like, who made this? And why, why did they do, why did they do this? And I’m just thinking, you know, I had a background in graphic design and I’m like, I could make this look better. I can make this feel better. I could make it actually do the things that we need it to do to process these claims. What is that?
What’s that job? Can I work here and do that instead? And so I spent my lunch break that day kind of researching and discovering what you know, user experience was. Like you said, it’s a very, very broad term and means so many different things to so many different people. And as my definition of that has changed and evolved.
I think that’s kind of what has helped me figure out what I like, what I don’t like and what I think the path to my niche is going to be. Because like you said, I’m very, very new, I’m very humbled and understanding and respecting the vet in this field, you know? So, so yeah, that’s, that’s kind of how that started.
I was trying to solve my own problem. I was trying to solve the problem of dealing with a program or a technology that I hated that was, you know, for the internal user experience of that company was really horrible for all of us. And yeah, I just, I saw it as a way to maybe be able to apply my graphic design skills, which I was mostly using for like logos and flyers and like simple web design projects.
I saw it as a way to be able to apply that to something that I felt would actually make a difference and, to actually solve problems and improve processes and all these things I hadn’t considered before. So, I wasn’t the girl that thought I would go into tech. My husband is a computer science major and he’s getting ready to graduate.
And he used to try to explain things to me like what a GUI was and different programs he had created. He made like a little asteroid blaster game. He was trying to explain the science behind that to me. And it was like in one ear out the other. So, I definitely didn’t think that tech could be for me, but when I discovered user experience and that I felt like it was accessible and there was a place for me in it that just opened all the doors, so…
Jason Ogle: That’s so cool. I love that you scratched your own itch and there’s a lot of, I mean, you’re looking at this software and you’re like, this sucks! Really I’m the user here. And that’s the other point? There’s a lot of downplaying of, you’re not the user, you’re not the user. Okay. Yeah, I know. You’re not always the user.
Sometimes you are. Why not be the user, even if you’re not the user, why not try to, I mean, isn’t this field a lot about empathy and putting yourself as best you can in your user’s shoes, try to use the software that they’re using and try to use it from their perspective, of course, do your research because ultimately they are the end user, but I just, I feel like there’s a lot of downplaying of designers not being users.
And I just feel like that’s the perfect example. You were using the software and you realize it could be so much better. And why not you? Why not you to help make this better? Maybe it’s not that particular software, but now you’re making software better for other people and maybe yourself too.
So I just really liked that. I think that’s really awesome. And your graphic design background. there’s a lot of seemingly disparate fields that, that kind of cross over into UX, but there’s also a lot of visual designers that, that kind of make that natural evolution into designing software because.
I mean, let’s be honest. Print is, is not as thriving of a medium as it once was. I mean, that’s just the truth. Printing is still important. We still need it, it’s not as imperative because of all of the digital devices we’re surrounded with. And it’s certainly, there’s a lot of, I won’t get into a tangent about the earth and about resources and all that, but I just think it’s really cool.
I also came from a visual design background and into software. So, anyway, all that to say, I think that’s a really cool origin story. And I, I love this story that your husband’s more of a computer scientist, so you have like the form and function right there.
One happy family. It’s a beautiful marriage, literally and figuratively. So I think that’s amazing. How long had you been searching before you landed your first job?
Jordan Burke: So, that was a very rapid process. And I went through a lot of, kind of emotional changes during that.
I graduated from my bootcamp in January of this year and I was hired officially in March. And so obviously that’s not a very long period of time. I think that for me I took advantage of, of the ISA format to, to learn UX. And it was very, very beneficial for me at the time as someone who didn’t want to accumulate more student loans and just really wasn’t in a position to do that.
So having a school or a, an entity behind you, that’s incentivized to help you find a job right off the bat. I mean, that, that I feel like gave me an advantage because my school doesn’t get paid unless I get paid. So they have that incentive to help me find a job. But, I think for me, what made me kind of pull back from the process that a lot of other of my peers went through was that I felt like I was trying to conform myself to each job description and each job like, become what, whatever it is that they want in that moment, so that you can just get a job. And I tried to do that a couple of times, and it was like, this is so against everything that feels right and good about number one being in this field and who I am.
I can’t do it like this. I can’t do it like this. You know, if that means that, Microsoft or Google is going to be out for me then you know, I just have to accept that. And so, it was all kind of serendipitous how I landed this role. I was on all of the job recruitment sites from the moment that I started bootcamp, I signed up for those things at the same time.
I wanted to be seeing what the job descriptions were requiring as I was learning so that if I needed to adjust what I was learning to find a role, then I would be able to do that and stay up to date because obviously we know kind of the four year model, by the time a lot of four year students graduate, some of the technologies they’ve learned are no longer relevant.
So boot camp is a little bit more rapid pace. A little bit more up to date a lot of times. And yeah, I just I had all of those, all of those tools and resources pouring in with the job, the job opportunities. And I found my job on ZipRecruiter literally almost missed the, almost missed the notification.
And, went through the interview process, probably like a lot of other people and ended up getting the role and it was not typical of most tech interviews or just tech processes. I don’t think so.
Because I’m working for a startup, first of all, so that’s already a different kind of beast just because you’re dealing with people that are very new to bringing their idea to life sometimes very new to technology.
And that was clear based on going into the interview and then actually working in the role. So kind of I’m in a position where I get to define what user experience is for my company now. And that’s not necessarily something that I expected to be doing in my very first role. But that’s kind of why working for a startup is pretty cool because I get to be that generalist and kind of flex all the muscles and wear all the hats, which I definitely am doing.
So, yeah. Yeah, it was a very quick turnaround for me. And you know, I didn’t go through a lot of the traditional things. Like, you know, I didn’t have like a whiteboarding interview or, a technical interview. It was very straightforward as far as talking to the founders and the developer and meeting with them, interviewing with them and they made their decision.
So, it was definitely for me, it was for me.
Jason Ogle: Yeah. I think that’s really cool. Especially first startup because generally. In my experience, it seems like a startup. They just want to hit the ground running. Like there’s a lot of lofty goals and not a lot of time to accomplish those goals in.
So, I would say that generally, a lot of startups, they just want to go with somebody who’s got a lot of experience. Who’s been doing this who can just hit the ground running and maybe even be thrown in the fire a little bit. So I just think it’s really cool that this startup was like, yeah, we know you’re new, but w you’re there’s something about you that we think you can get in here and do this job? Like, I think that’s pretty awesome.
Jordan Burke: That’s exactly how it went. You know, and preparing for the interview. I was very nervous. I was just, definitely feeling the imposter syndrome, definitely feeling like, you know, I don’t know if I’m cut out for this. Like you said, just thinking that all those other people that are so much more experienced than me, feeling like I was taking away something from someone else.
And for me personally, I had to get to a point where I was able to drown those things out. And kind of get back to why did you come into this field? What does it mean to you to make a difference in this field and to work in this field and, and what ultimately is going to make you feel successful, and like you’re contributing in a positive way. Are you creating things that are accessible and equitable and helpful and useful and enjoyable to use?
And I was able to speak to those things in my interview. I was very nervous going into it, but it was probably the easiest interview I’ve ever had in my entire life. Apparently, the interviews were always supposed to run for a half an hour and mine ran like an hour and a half, because they just wanted to keep talking, and we were just having great conversation. So, like I said, it’s a very unique experience that I don’t think it’s going to be replicated many times for a lot of other people.
What I can say would probably be replicated for other people is that I approached it with authenticity and just being who I am. I let them know, you know, like I’m a bootcamp grad, like I had just finished school. You know, I expressed, you know, this is my background. This is my background in graphic design.
This is what I’m capable of doing. This is what I believe my values aligned with the company’s values. With the founder’s values. Got along great with the developer, we felt like we would have a good collaborating relationship. And, so those are the aspects that I think would definitely be repeated for other people.
As far as finding this random, awesome job on ZipRecruiter. I don’t think to do that.
Yeah, for sure. So, definitely I think that being authentic and being honest about where I was at, what I was capable of, but also being like scrappy and willing to dig in and do the work, you know, work to my benefit.
Jason Ogle: Ah, I love that Defenders. I hope you are listening right there. If not rewind, it hit the 15 second button three times.
Because what Jordan just shared about being authentic about being who you really are. In your interviews. we all have BS meters. Every one of us we’ve been designed. We have BS meters, and I can tell you being on the other side of the table, many times interviewing folks, I can honestly tell within like the first minute, and I can honestly tell if this person is just being authentically themselves or if they’re trying to be somebody else in order to try and impress in order to try to gain favor.
It’s like, there’s so much right there to that point that I think is so valuable. And look, it wasn’t about her skillset where she was at in the moment, because she’s just getting started. This is her first job. But look at how that paid off for her. It was her being herself and it was her expressing her growth mindset.
Being honest, right? Here’s who I am take, take it or leave it. Here’s what I know so far, and guess what? Here’s my passion and my hunger, my desire to learn everything possible and do the best possible job that I can. Those are awesome attributes. I would have hired you right there too.
I would have hired you on the spot. Because honestly, it’s so much better to have somebody with those attributes coming into your interview. You can train skills, you can’t train growth mindset. You can’t train a great attitude. You can’t train a humble spirit, but a confidence spirit too. You can’t, and that’s a wonderful balance. So, I’m just so excited for you. I think this is so awesome.
Jordan Burke: Thank you so much. I work with a really supportive team. And, one of my founders has said that, she was like, I didn’t hire you because you knew everything I hired you because I knew that you would do whatever you needed to do to get the job done.
And that you’d do it well, and you’d do it with integrity and that you’re not afraid to ask questions and, you know, and admit that you don’t know things or that you need more time to figure it out. And so, it’s, like I said, it’s a very, very, very unique situation. And I feel extremely, like you said, humbled and blessed that I was in the right place at the right time doing the right things, to find myself in a position to have that opportunity because, it was all the right pieces working together for me.
And I think that, that can work for other people as well. Like, you can design that experience for yourself it’s just about kind of the decisions that you make and you know how you put yourself out there, what’s your willing to do? Are you willing to, to message Jason on LinkedIn and see if he’ll respond and give you an hour of his time?
Like, you know, I’ve found that there are so many people waiting for someone to ask them a question like they want to help you. And we’re all kind of just so scared, and we want to present ourselves as these know it alls that have all the answers, and we want to be the smartest person in the room and we want to impress everyone.
And it’s just like, okay, how much time and energy am I going to spend, pretending to be something that I’m not when I could be living fully in who I am and be enjoying my life. Like, you know, so
Jason Ogle: Amen. I love it. So yeah, I mean, I just love that takeaway Defenders. I really want you to kind of really let that marinate. Be yourself. I mean, it’s so cliche, everyone else has taken. Right. But it’s like, honestly, just be yourself because it takes so much energy and it’s so tiring and it’s so deflating to try to be somebody else, and then to just not get the results you’re looking for. Right.
Jordan Burke: Or be caught in the lie, be caught in the lie, I feel like is the worst thing, you know, that’s like, that’s my worst fear is to pretend that I know something and then somebody asks me about it. And I’m like well,
Jason Ogle: Let me try to remember what I told you.
Jordan Burke: Yeah. Why do that? Why do that? And this field is changing. Like you said, just because so many people define this as so many different things, it’s changing so rapidly that you might as well just find your spot and make your own way, you know, make your own path.
Jason Ogle: I love it. What were some of your biggest challenges along the way? Like if you can name even just one or two of your major challenges that you still remember getting here?
Jordan Burke: Definitely top two: My health and feeling unqualified, so imposter syndrome. And I know that sounds like, you know, everybody says that, but like, for me personally, I have Lupus and so, it’s very unpredictable.
And it’s, it’s, it’s not the kind of disease or disorder that lends itself well to working in a very structured typical 9 to 5 environment because, you know, if I have a Lupus flare, I might be down for a week. And so, the pandemic definitely opened up a lot of different opportunities for me to be able to participate in new ways, just because everybody went digital.
So, finishing school, going into that job search process and interviewing like, it was easier because of having that option. It was also really unfortunate that we had to have a pandemic for these things to come about, you know, kind of these accessibility issues to come about and be brought to the light that people who have disabilities have been, you know, kind of screaming about for years.
But, my health was an unpredictable factor, and then just feeling like, you know, do I belong here, and can I do this? Can I really make a career out of this? Is it going to be suited for me? Am I going to be able to support my family so that financial security piece as well, like, I want to do something I’m passionate about, but I have two children and I have a husband and I need to be able to contribute to her for like, we need money to survive. It’s the nature of our capitalist society. That whether you want to participate in that or not, you need it to survive. So, I wanted to feel like I was actually earning my way and that I was qualified to do so. And then just trying to manage the different health things that would come up.
I mean, at one point over the last year they thought I had cancer. I was getting biopsies done. I was, I was at one point doing a presentation from a hospital bed. It was like our capstone project. And my team was, we were all just super nervous and I’m like, I have nurses coming in and out. And I’m just like, just one more slide, the presentation is almost done, just one more, just wait a minute, you know? And but I think you mentioned mindset before, and I think that that was the biggest shift for me. Drifting out of for both the health issues and the imposter syndrome, trying to shift out of kind of a victim mindset you know, I’m a black woman from Baltimore. I have a family history that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to predicting a successful career and life for me.
And so it’s something I had to choose. You know, I had to decide like, this is what I want for myself. This is what I want for my family. And it’s not to discount you know, some of the systemic things that might be working against me, but a lot of that power is in my hands to decide, you know, how am I going to deal with the issues that have been presented to solve the problems that I want to solve. And the problem that I was trying to solve was I need a career that I’m passionate about that’s meaningful to me, that allows me to support my family. These are the issues I have. I have a chronic illness that I’m going to have forever.
I feel unqualified a lot of times. How do I overcome those things? Like, what are you going to choose, Jordan? So, yeah, I say those were the two biggest hurdles and just like I said, changing my mindset was huge in deciding that whether somebody was going to help hand or give it to me or not that I was going to go out there and get it, so…
Jason Ogle: You’re an inspiration, Jordan.
Jordan Burke: I don’t really feel like one, but thank you.
Jason Ogle: And I just, I love talking to folks like you and that I’m inspired already. We’re not even done yet. I was inspired about five minutes ago and talking about being yourself this is, this is so good.
So you, you mentioned mindset and as you know, I’m a huge advocate of growth mindset and honestly, Defenders, I haven’t mentioned it in a while, but if you haven’t read Dr. Carol Dweck’s Mindset book, she really was the one that came up with this, putting a title on it and did a ton of research around this subject. It’s so good. That book literally changed my life. It changed my entire outlook. So highly recommend that. I’ll be sure to put a link in the show notes to that as well.
But Jordan, I’m curious along with mindset w what, what helped you along the way? Like, what are some other things that really helped you to get here?
Jordan Burke: Oh, my gosh, man, my peers, like, you know, the people that I was in boots on the ground in classes that we were trying to figure out. I mean, part of the reason I chose the boot camp I chose was because unlike a lot of the other ones that were doing user experience, they also included, the front end coding aspect.
Does everyone still have a computer? Like, have we not destroyed them? You know? And so relying on those people that, you know, I’m going through it with, and we didn’t have. You know, this kind of crabs in a barrel mindset, like tech is huge. There’s so many jobs that people can’t fill because there’s not enough people to fill them.
We don’t have to put each other down to get to where we’re all collectively trying to go. It’s not like there’s this one job that we all are trying to vie for. So, you know, relying on each other and supporting one another in various ways, I mean, we supported one another mentally, financially sometimes, you know, and just in so many ways.
So relying on those people, the staff at my school people like you that are already working in this field and are, are willing to share. I had so many resources Twitter, Twitter, there were so many people I found on Twitter. Being exposed to what Black Tech Twitter was. You know, it was amazing to, to find myself in a community of people that like I said before, it just wasn’t a field that I thought I could go into.
So, so to find out and be exposed that there’s so many people like me that are already doing this, like, wow, you know, we belong here. That felt great. That community finding other communities on Slack, going to workshops. I have so many courses between like Udemy and Skillshare and listening to podcasts and things I found on LinkedIn and like TEDx and all these different places I was consuming from every possible way and, platform or medium that you could consume from.
So, those were the things that really helped me, but like I said, just kind of, the people that I was working with on a daily basis being there for them and allowing them to be there for me, I’m a loner, but you cannot do this alone, you know, and understanding that it helped me to change, not just the way that I looked at what user experience was, but it helped me to just become a better designer, a better engineer, just because it’s like you can’t design human experience and exclude yourself from human experience.
That is not how it works. You don’t have anything to speak to if you’re not participating in the world. And so as much as you want to remove yourself, you by yourself, you know, you need people, you know, you need others, you need other sources of knowledge and, you have to be open to communicating and sharing. So, yeah.
Jason Ogle: So good. there’s several things in there. I’m I like what you just said. You can’t design for the human experience without fully immersing yourself in it. I love that. that is so profound. And that’s one reason Defenders, why I’m not as worried about robots taking our jobs.
Jordan Burke: That’s the big thing, right? They’re coming, they’re coming,
Jason Ogle: They’re coming for our jobs. They may do some of it. I mean, right now you can there’s software where you can draw a wire frame and then take a picture of it and it’ll create a digital version of it. Like there’s software that does that right now.
That’s fine. But guess what? You still had to draw that you still have, and that’s still had to be based on research human research. And so I think that’s one of the things, another thing I really like about this field is there’s no substitute for humans doing this work because who else who better than another human, who understands the human experience, who understands the challenges of being human.
Right. And, you know, you mentioned, being black too. I mean, there’s, there’s a lot of inherits. I can’t understand that. I can understand that personally, but there’s a lot of inherent challenges just along those lines. So, and I appreciate you speaking to that too.
Jordan Burke: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s an important cause.
Cause like I said, I’m a big part of the reason why, you know, as a kid, I didn’t say, oh, I want to grow up and be a user experience designer is because that wasn’t necessarily something I was exposed to, you know? I was heavily involved in like, the different programs for science and engineering and art and in elementary and middle school and through grade school.
But like, you know, I didn’t have people coming to my school and, and doing demonstrations that kind of exposed us to things. You know, virtual reality or programming and making basic programs or designing things digitally or whatever. You know, I came into graphic design kind of on my own and mostly initially kind of doing the print thing.
But like you said, that’s, that’s obsolete. So you have to evolve, you know, you have to be willing to grow and change and to look outside of what you thought maybe was possible for yourself. So, I definitely have to speak to my identity and who I am because I might’ve been here a lot quicker and maybe a different vehicle or different paths if I had some of the opportunities or had been exposed to technology in the way that other identity groups have throughout their lives.
So, that’s also something that I definitely want to change. Yeah. I want more people like me to think, “Hey, I could do that”, you know, especially my women, you know, it’s just, I want us to feel like that’s accessible to be, I could be there, you know, that’s super important. And I feel like makes all of this pointless if I don’t make that part of my, my mission or my goal and my values as being a designer and engineer in this field.
Jason Ogle: Based on what you’ve seen, and I know this is really new still, but have you seen any improvements, have you seen improvements in that area though, of, accessibility from your perspective, what do you see?
Jordan Burke: Definitely. Definitely. I think that there are so many more people stepping up.
I mean, even just the face of some of the conferences and workshops that I’ve gone to over this past two years there are a lot more for you know, underrepresented communities or cultures. I literally was just participating in trying to, to get into a fellowship that was specifically designed, trying to find founders who are.
Part of those underrepresented communities, like trying to put money into these people’s hands for tech, startups and ideas that, you know, people, anybody can, can have a great idea. It’s just a matter of, you know, can you get exposed to the resources and the people or the technology that you need to bring it to life?
So, I think that there are a lot of people working in that area to make sure that those opportunities come to people who have historically not had those opportunities. And that to me is amazing. There’s so many different things like Black Girls Who Code and there’s other programs trying to bring these things to, you know, children at an earlier age, just like I was just saying, wanting to be exposed maybe at an, at an earlier time in my life.
You know, my daughter’s involved in some of these things like programming and coding and computers and tech and all of that kind of stuff is integrated into her curriculum and I’m finding like that’s that’s happening a lot, you know? And, and, and a lot of different ways. So that is encouraging to me.
And obviously there are still a lot of roadblocks and a lot of work to be done, but just having people that care about it and are making it their mission to say that I’m just not, I’m not just going to work in tech, but I’m going to work in tech and I’m going to bring technological opportunities and education to other people, you know, who may be, are not normally exposed to them because they belong here.
We all do so. I definitely see that improvement and it’s so encouraging. It makes me so excited and I want to be a part of it.
Jason Ogle: That’s so inspiring. And I love that. I love that perspective. And I, I wanted to genuinely hear from your perspective of what, what you’re seeing because it’s there’s, there is still a lot more work to be done, but I’m thankful for the work that has been done.
And I’m thankful that there are folks on a mission to, to help make this more of a more normalized thing. And I think it’s just really inspiring and I love that our kids, our young people are getting exposed at a much earlier age across all different barriers. And I think it’s really, really important because there is you belong here.
If this is something you want to do, Defender, you belong here, just like Jordan said, and, and the only true obstacle is yourself really at this point, the only real, because you can do again, go back to mindset whenever you really genuinely want to do, you can do it. You can it’s it’s not going to be easy.
It’s going to require some discipline, some hard work and some pain, but it will pay off the reward is there.
Jordan Burke: Yep. Exactly, exactly pain, especially when you’re coding just brain pain,
Jason Ogle: But thankfully you have a live-in mentor.
Jordan Burke: I do and you know, and it’s so funny. One of my friends commented about that and I was like, ah, I said, you know, we’re kind of in competition now.
We want to see who can like learn more languages and do more stuff, you know? And so I told him oh my husband, the thing that I used to say before, I really knew anything about tech was I would do something by myself without his help on my computer. And I would say, oh my gosh, I’m so Dev now, you know, I’m so Dev.
So that’s like our little inside joke now. And whenever we do something and it’s like, Simple error restart your computer. You know, just little technology issues are like, wow, you’re so Dev now. Like, you know,
Jason Ogle: Put that on a T-shirt
Jordan Burke: Yes, yes, absolutely. Absolutely.
Jason Ogle: I want to comment on one thing that you just shared is about you belong here.
And this is an analogy. I know that Defenders, this is a fun fact. Jordan’s a neighbor. She, she probably lives within like five miles of me. So I think that’s really awesome too. So I just want to speak to the coffee analogy because Starbucks, fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, we’ve been kind of conditioned to think of Starbucks. We think of that naked mermaid, maybe not naked. It used to be naked by the way, fun fact in the seventies, they had to change that. But it’s true. There’s a bunch of Defenders Googling right now, now show me the original Starbucks siren.
Jordan Burke: If they go crazy about the cups now, they really would have gone crazy about the cops back then. I mean,
Jason Ogle: It’s true, but, but all that to say, there’s coffee that is so much better than Starbucks. And I will tell you that I, I used to work at Starbucks. I appreciate Starbucks for what they’ve done for coffee culture in America. But there’s coffee. That’s so much better and fresher.
But here’s the thing, a new coffee shop, maybe a local, whatever, may be worried like, “Oh no, there’s Starbucks like everywhere”, right? And what are my chances of getting a customer base? Like you don’t need the customer based Starbucks has, you just need a thousand true fans. Right? You just need a strong customer base.
That returns to you. My point is, is that there’s room for you here? This isn’t a contest. We need more designers. We need more diversity. We need more hungry, passionate designers, like Jordan, diving in, going, “Here I am, send me. How can I serve? How can I make a difference in this world using my skills and make life better for my users.”
And I really, I love that a lot. And, and here’s, here’s my point. Jordan with the local reference. I love the Dutch Brothers is cropping up, and they’re strategically planting themselves right next to Starbucks. Every time I’m every there was one right near my church, and every time we drive by, I just get such a kick out of it.
You look at the drive through lines of Starbucks and Dutch Bros. There is absolutely no comparison. Okay. So, that’s me getting a little competitive. Okay. My point is people are going to buy Starbucks and a lot more people are going to buy Dutch Brothers at least in this town.
Jordan Burke: The lines will be wrapped around a little hut, you know, like literally like into the Starbucks parking lot.
Jason Ogle: There’s room for you here. My point is, and our point is there’s room for you here. If this is something you truly want to do and, count the cost. This is part of a Land a Job in UX series that User Defenders that I’m doing on the show. So, but I am going to talk about this. I have a monologue part of this, and I’m going to talk to you about counting the cost of doing this too.
I can sometimes maybe over sensationalize this sometimes without showing the other side. I think it’s important to be balanced here because honestly this is hard work too. This is not easy work. It’s fun. It’s rewarding, but it’s difficult.
I will speak to the other side of this just to count the cost as well, but if you want to do this and if you consider the costs and you want to do this, you can do this. That’s my point.
Jordan Burke: Yep. I, and I, I have to say like I a hundred percent agree because you know, there, there is kind of a darker underbelly, like, you know, a lot of people, a lot of students that I started with didn’t finish their bootcamp. I know that I’m speaking from a place of privilege, even in who I am and my identity, I’m speaking from a place of privilege because I was able to sit down with my husband and say, I want to take a year off of working and go to school to study user experience, design and engineering.
Like, and my family collectively had to make the sacrifice. And it was a 2020 was a hard year for everybody, but it was, it was an especially difficult year for us in so many ways because of the fact that I was not working and that I was studying this and trying to make a career pivot, you know, in the midst of a lot of other different things.
And as like the Dutch Brothers reference, it’s like, you know, if you’re authentic and true to yourself, you’re you have an audience, you know, you have, and if you, the spirit of service, because you said that too, and I think that some people come into this and it’s not about service. It’s about what can I do to, for me and my, and I, you know, and it’s like, I feel like no matter how many definitions of user experience or human computer interaction or customer experience or, you know, employee experience is, there’s so many now.
But, no matter which definition, or who you’re talking to service is somewhere in there. We’re serving people. We’re serving different purposes, we’re providing services or products, and so if you want to serve and you’re truly coming at it from a place of wanting to serve, which means that you’re listening to the people you’re trying to service and provide for, and you’re keeping them at the forefront and focusing on what they truly need and what they want.
And sometimes anticipating things that they need or want that they don’t realize they need or want because you have that insight. But, you know, ultimately coming back to that service, you know, and being humble about that, I feel like anybody can do this, if you have a heart of service, and you’re willing to, to be that empathetic person that is willing to put yourself in other people’s shoes to care about what they’re going through, even though you can’t understand their experience maybe, you know, you can do this.
There’s a role for you. There’s so many roles in User Experience. And that’s why when we see these job descriptions that says, you know, we want a UX Designer or UX, whatever they call it. And then you see what they’re actually asking for. You’re just like, okay, that’s seven different jobs right there, but I’m going to interview anyway, but that’s seven different jobs.
I just want you to understand that. So, you know, definitely, definitely. I just had to jump in on there.
Jason Ogle: You really do have to, I mean, this is a metaphor, the superhero is a metaphor, but honestly, like when you is what you just said, like they’re looking for a superhero,
Jordan Burke: The myth is real. They really want unicorns. I mean, you look at these and I mean, it’s constantly on Twitter, like, you know, we’re constantly joking about it. Like, oh, you know, you want a Junior Developer role with five years of experience, but you need to know 25 antiquated languages, and have hundred years of experience and like, wait a minute, this doesn’t even make any sense.
Jason Ogle: Exactly. Recruiters, can we stop that, please? Please,
Jordan Burke: Please like should be over a long time, like we’re wasting so much time there’s talent and the exact person that you’re looking for, you’re missing them because you’re, convoluting what you, what you actually want, what you actually need. So, yes,
Jason Ogle: Less Disney fairy tales. And here’s the thing too. Going back to the authenticity, you expect recruiters, I’m speaking to you. You expect the people on the other side of the table you’re interviewing to be authentic, you be authentic too. Please. Okay? Thank you.
That’s it, that’s the tweet. I’m having so much fun.
So I guess as we start wrapping up, unfortunately, because I, I want to keep going, but it is a beautiful Saturday and I owe you one hour and it’s going over because I had some technical difficulties and I thought it was Jordan’s fault.
Jordan Burke: Then I’m yelling at my husband
Jason Ogle: She’s getting onto her husband, which you please apologize to him for me on my behalf, because he looked a little worried. I saw him in the camera. He had like a worried look on his face. Yeah. That’s my fault.
So Jordan, as again, as we wrap here, but I’m wondering what, what are you loving most about your newfound career in UX?
Jordan Burke: Oh man. Oh, that’s a loaded question. There’s so many things that I love about this number one, just like I said, feeling like I found a field that was accessible to me that plays to my strengths and my again, I can live in my values.
The things that are important to me in my everyday work. And I know that you know, for a long time, for me, I didn’t feel that way. You know, I had a job because I needed a job and I needed a check and I didn’t really care about what I was necessarily doing. I mean, I cared about my customers, but um, you know, it wasn’t like, wow, like this is the legacy I’m going to leave behind, you know, I’m really making a difference here.
And I think that that is that’s the biggest thing for me. I feel like, especially in American culture, we are kind of programmed to think that we must work, work, work, work, work until we die, and then we don’t experience life, you know? And I’ve had uh, a very interesting, somewhat difficult life.
And getting to a place where I can kind of have the culmination of all my life experience and bring that to what I do every day, who I am and to get to authentically be me with the people that I work with. It’s, I mean, like it’s a dream, it’s a dream and my life changed so rapidly.
Like it feels like, it was just yesterday that I was leaving. I was a counter manager for a really big c osmetics company, and I remember when I decided I was going to quit that job to go to school, to do this. And I was terrified. And I had told my coworkers, I was like, you just wait, I’m gonna to come back in here and I’m going to have an amazing job.
And, you know, it was kind of like, okay Jordan, you know, but um, I’m doing it, I’m living it. And I, I feel, I don’t know. I just, I feel so amazing and blessed and lucky and all of those things, just because it’s like, I know that I put in a lot of hard work, but I also know that you know, hard work meets preparation and that’s where you find luck.
So, I I’ve had a bit of that too. And yeah, I think that’s the biggest thing. Just getting to be my authentic self every day. I That was huge for me. I don’t have to straighten my hair or, you know, I don’t have to not wear my graphic tees that are from fandoms that people don’t care about.
You know, I can do that at work every day and be my authentic self and they love that about so yeah, I just, I love that and I want that for everybody. I think we should all, if we have to work, we should be able to work at something that we can be passionate about and that we can be of service to one another so that we can all enjoy living our lives, you know, so.
Jason Ogle: Wow, so good. So I just want to ask you, really my last question for you is just along the lines of putting yourself in the Defender’s shoes, because you were just there recently, those, so this is that’s one of the reasons I was like, I got to talk to Jordan, I got to have her on because, you don’t have the curse of knowledge yet. Like that’s, that’s what we call the curse of knowledge. And, and you’ve, I know you’ve experienced this, I’ve experienced this Defenders, I’m sure you have too, when you’re trying to learn something new and you’re learning it from somebody who’s been doing it for decades, and they explain it to you, like you should just know because they know. That’s not how it is. That’s why you don’t have that curse of knowledge yet.
And again, look at how much value you’ve delivered already. And so, I genuinely want to know, and I know the Defenders do, too, if you have any words of encouragement. You know, and the midst you know, they’re where you were, you know, months ago, just pounding the pavement, getting on ZipRecruiter, getting on all these other websites.
And sometimes it feels like a spray and pray, you know? Yup. Yeah. Literally, literally, I’m just going to cast off, throw all these seeds out and just hope that one of them gets watered and one of them gets some sunshine, right?
So, what would you say to those Defenders listening that are in a similar position that you were again, just really trying really hard to break in and maybe feeling really discouraged, maybe feeling like they’re not good enough, maybe feeling like they don’t know who they are. Like, can you speak to those folks?
Jordan Burke: So definitely, and to, to your point of people explaining things and in ways that are. Far more advanced than they need to be. I’m a huge fan of the office. And there’s an episode where Michael Scott is like, explain it to me like I’m five, you know? And so that’s kind of what I explain it like I’m five, okay? And if you can explain it like you’re five, then anybody can understand it. But I get it. I get it completely. I mean, I came to this from a place working, doing jobs that had absolutely nothing to do with this. So I would say number one, you need to decide what you want, and you need to decide what you want or what your goal is in, in tech or in UX or whatever it is that you’re trying to get into in this field, in this space, you need to define that for yourself before you go out and try to listen to what everybody else is telling you, you think you should be doing. If you don’t know what you actually want, you can be swayed into so many different directions. And again, this field is so broad that you’ll find yourself just kind of on the spiral of trying to learn every new thing that you possibly can.
So be clear about what your goal is, and don’t make money and financial success or reward your source in this. Again, this goes back to service. So I think that those things are a benefit. Those things are going to come regardless. Be clear about what you want. Stay focused on that. Be authentic in who you are.
And I feel like it doesn’t matter if you filled out 50 job applications or five. That opportunity that is uniquely for you. It’s not for anyone else. And, and I don’t mean to try to like get spiritual, but like, I’ve been telling so many of my friends this lately that and I, and I’m seeing it happen for them.
It’s like, you know, they’re trying, those same peers that I was talking about being in class with, you know, I may have gotten a job sooner or later than they have, but seeing them come into their opportunities, and the thing that they say is, you know, I had to go through everything that I went through to get to this opportunity that was specifically for me.
And it’s because they were authentic in who they were, they were clear about what they wanted. They didn’t let that be swayed by the shiny new thing syndrome. And just being clear on the fact that I want this and I’m not gonna let anybody stop me from getting it. That goes back into the whole mindset thing.
And we know Jason’s big on mindset and it sounds so cliche. I hate it, but. It really is like, you have to change how you think about getting these opportunities or being in this space, because if you don’t believe that you belong here, if you don’t believe you’re capable of it, if you’re constantly kind of like, oh, well, I’ll go do this.
Or they said, I should study this or I’ll do that, or I’ll do that. Then you’re never going to get anywhere. And it’s really going to feel like you’re on that hamster wheel. So, you know, when I decided I’m going to stop listening to everybody else, define and get clear about why I’m here and what I’m setting out to do, the values and the culture of a company that I’m looking for.
That’s when my opportunity came and it was just for me. So, please, please, please, please, don’t give up. I was literally listening to this podcast, like, I don’t know what these people are talking about, and that was a year and a half ago. You know, I had no concept. I was no new and now it’s just like, obviously I’m telling everybody that I know to listen to it, but I mean, I understand, and I can engage in the conversation now.
And I didn’t because I didn’t give up. So, so please don’t, please don’t. It’s so hard and it feels like, application after application, after application or, you know, interview after interview, after interview, I’m not finding it. I’m not, what’s wrong with me. You know, that there’s nothing wrong with you.
You know, you just have not synced up with that unique opportunity that is specifically for you, that role that is for you, that is out there. So, yeah. Please, please, please. Don’t give up, please. Don’t give up, believe in yourself. Stay true and focused on what it is that you want and what, what you’re setting out to do.
Jason Ogle: So inspiring. So Jordan, you’re amazing. You are an inspiration. I want to know, cause I’m sure the Defenders want to connect and keep up with you. So could you, whatever channel or whatever means that they can of follow your journey? I would love it if you could share that with us.
Jordan Burke: Sure, sure. So it’s funny in the last episode you were talking about trying to quit social media and that was something that I have actively been trying to do just because you know, you talk, you’ve discussed in that episode about the level of focus you’re able to achieve when you do that.
But I also think it’s a tool that can be used very valuably. Right now you can find me on Twitter and that’s at, PlzSndVector that’s for my graphic design base and that’s spelled P L Z S N D as in David Vector. And then I’m also on LinkedIn at Jordan Burke, and those are the best ways to reach me right now.
I’m working on a personal blog site/portfolio. This is a place to kind of share what I’m doing. You know, things I’m interested in resources that I have found on design and different people. But, those are the two places you can find me right now. Try to limit myself from every other social media platform just because for my own anxiety and mental health.
It’s, it’s just, it’s a good thing to back up off of that, but yeah.
Jason Ogle: Good on ya. It’s I’m with you. It’s, it’s a tug of war. I, it can be such a time suck, but it also can be such a tool, a great tool. So I’m really on the fence on the fence on it, but it is. Yeah, I think that’s great. So I’ll be sure to link that in the show notes as Defenders as well.
So you don’t have to remember that, but I appreciate Jordan mentioning that, and I know you’re gonna want to connect and I know you’re gonna want to keep up because she’s on the rise and just keep an eye out. That’s all I’m saying. I appreciate you so much. Likewise, likewise. So thank you so much for being here.
Thank you for sharing your journey, your story. There’s so much more to you. I feel like we should do another origin story sometime. I really do. Like, there’s just, there’s a lot of depth to you there. And so, yeah, we’ll, keep that on the back burner, so to speak. But yeah, absolutely neighbor and let’s you know, Hey, Hey, we got In-And-Out Burger, yay!
There’s Defenders are like, I don’t care about that, well, it’s my connection I have with Jordan, cause we’re neighbors. That’s important stuff, c’mon!
Jordan Burke: In-N-Out and Dutch Bros!
Jason Ogle: For the win! All right, Jordan. Well, thanks again so much, my friend, and honestly like this has been so rich, so deep, so inspiring. Thank you again. Let’s stay in touch and last but not least as always, fight on my friend.
Jordan Burke: I love it when he says that!
Jason Ogle: Hey Defenders. Today, I have Joel Ryerson with me. Joel is a listener of the show. He’s a supporter of the show. He’s a friend of mine. We’ve gotten to know each other really well over the past year plus year and a half. Joel has been on a journey to land his first job in UX. And that’s really a big part of why we’re having this discussion today is I really believe that Joel’s story is going to help you. Defender’s listening that you’re in a similar situation as Joel was. He just landed his first job in UX not long ago.
And he’s got a lot to share. He’s got a lot of value to add and a lot of inspiration, Joel is a passionate guy. I love that about him. He’s. Full of empathy. And, and I also love that about them too. so I’m just going to go ahead and let Joel introduce himself because I, I kind of went dead away with the formalities because we are friends.
I didn’t ask him for a bio or anything. So I’m just going to let Joel introduce himself to you and tell you a little bit about him. Like, Joel, take it away, my friend, and welcome officially to user defenders podcast. I’m super excited to have you on the show today.
Joel Ryerson: Yeah. Awesome. Thanks so much.
Thanks for the glowing introduction.
Yeah. So, yeah, you, you pretty much covered everything. I I’ve been doing this career search for quite a while now. And finally a couple of years ago, decided I wanted to pursue design and it’s been kind of a whirlwind since then, and I’m really excited to share my story and, share what worked for me, what didn’t work for me.
And, hopefully inspire other people to find their roles and their purpose in their day to day design jobs.
Jason Ogle: Awesome. That’s cool. So you mentioned that you started this journey a year or two years ago, your interest in design really materialized for you.
And I’m curious, why, what is it about UX that kind of excited you enough to just go all in and get to that place where you’re like, that’s it there’s no turning back. I’m going to get my first job. I’m going to get my foot in the door. So I really want to know, like, what is it about UX and design in general?
Joel Ryerson: Yeah. so. All kind of started right around when I graduated college, growing up all my life, I never really had a direction and knew exactly what I wanted to do. I picked my major was in communication studies, so super generic, and I was just trying to get a degree and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.
The more I started to explore design, the more I fell in love with it, and the more I wanted to keep learning and growing, and it was it was kind of a really, really exciting thing. Cause I felt like I’d finally found something that resonated with me as a person internally.
I wasn’t really happy with where I was in my career, work-life when I found design and I kept, exploring a little bit further, I realized it was kind of the perfect blend of problem solving creativity, empathy, and just like, they all kind of met in perfect balance with each other. And that’s kind of what I was searching for.
And it’s awesome because you get to kind of use both sides of your brain. It’s like the emotional, empathetic part, and also the creative, artistic side, but also the problem-solving analytical side. It’s all multifaceted and it’s just exciting because it’s constantly changing.
It’s constantly growing and I have a growth mindset, like I just wanna like continue to adapt and grow and learn and understand what makes people do the things they do and the design, and not even just design like design, it can be applied to pretty much everything in life.
And, it’s really just about understanding people and understanding how we can solve those problems. Even outside of like an app can be really pretty much anything in the world. I feel like I figured out, life. I guess I feel like I figured out the blueprint for kinda like, how do we connect better?
How do we understand each other better? How can we treat each other more, with kindness and respect, and equality, just no judgment and everyone, sharing their knowledge with each other. And I don’t know. It’s just it’s really exciting to be a part of like a community that’s so willing to share and excited to get feedback and take feedback.
Maybe they don’t want to hear it, but also apply it in a positive way. Just overall it’s just like a really positive industry.
Jason Ogle: That’s awesome, man. I love that. That’s inspiring. No time in history, have we been able to connect with one another to share information and knowledge and inspiration with one another and make people’s lives better, than in this age with technology, with the internet, with all the knowledge we’ve gained as humans to help each other.
And that’s incredible. it’s incredibly humbling and sometimes it can be incredibly overwhelming, but I think that’s both the intimidation and the exhilaration of this work. So we were talking about how it, I think it’s two years or so in the, making you getting your foot in the door, is that about right?
Joel Ryerson: Yeah. So when I decided I, I kind of toyed around with wanting to switch careers and went through those life changes and just kind of tried to stay afloat for a couple of years and know still in the back of my mind.
And then when I kinda, got a little more comfortable with where I was I just decided like, I’m just gonna go, go all in. I’m tired of being in sales. It’s stressful. Like you wake up every day being stressed out about hitting your quota and then it resets every single month. It’s like, you’re never comfortable and it’s okay to be uncomfortable and it helps to motivate, but not in a way to where you’re just dreading you have this sick feeling in your stomach to where, you ‘re just not happy in your, in your role.
When I decided to go all in, I just, searched everywhere. I could to try to get as much knowledge as I could in design, and I looked for all the books I could all the resources on the internet podcasts pretty much everything.
And I stumbled upon your podcasts early on. And that was a huge part of my education because you have so many awesome episodes with so many useful resources and different opinions and different ideas about design.
Jason Ogle: A lot of the Defenders listening, they’re in a similar situation. I can almost feel your heart Defender listening that you’ve been pounding the pavement. You’ve been submitting resume after resume and getting quote unquote rejections, which I like to reframe as redirections over and over again.
It is deflating. I know I was there not long ago after having been employed for seven years, I was there at the beginning of 2020 before the world started to implode. And it was hard, it’s emotionally exhaustive to keep getting told, no. Oftentimes you never get to hear why.
You never get to hear. And if you ask, it’s rare, maybe one out of four times, somebody on the other side, a recruiter, head hunter, whatever. They’ll actually take the time to tell you why, because Defenders, I know you have a growth mindset like Joel does. I know that’s why you listen to the show you want to grow.
You want to get better. And so of course asking, May I ask, why may I ask what it is, why you passed so that I can learn from this? I will, every time I will ask that question and again, and I know one out of maybe every four times you’ll get in. I know there’s some legal, maybe some legal reasons why they may not tell you, offer that information on the outset, but man, it helps.
So recruiters, if you’re listening, if you are at liberty to share that information with those hopefuls on the other side, please tell them and, and you may not want to offer that on the outset. You may want to wait until they ask, but if they ask, please tell them why, so they can learn and grow from it.
Joel Ryerson: I would say well, having, having that growth mindset and I kind of explain it as like a hunger for just, wanting, wanting to learn more and not feeling like you ever know everything.
And always kind of feeling like there’s, there’s something else that I need to learn either about myself or about my role or I try to take any experience in my life and try and learn from it. Even if it’s a negative experience. And starting out, I just tried to ingest as much content as I could from all different media sources. it’s having that hunger to continue learning, and I don’t know how to explain it, the passion just kind of drove me and it was just kind of this natural motivation drive. And then, as you continue to grow and learn it, it just kind of, snowballs into even bigger hunger and excitement and curiosity for what else is out there.
Jason Ogle: Yeah. Did you get a lot of rejections along the way? Quote unquote.
Joel Ryerson: Definitely, got a lot of rejection from doing interviews and applying for jobs and it can definitely, if you let it. When you face rejection either when you’re applying for a job or during an interview, it can definitely hurt, but you have to kinda pivot and have a mindset of learning from it and, what can I do to be better? And kinda like you said, like asking why, if you have the opportunity, but also maybe asking why, internally about yourself and maybe there’s nothing, maybe you didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe they found someone with more experience or maybe it’s not about you at all. And just the, excitement is, there’s other opportunities out there. And there’s not just that one job. It’s like, that, that one doesn’t work out, that it wasn’t meant to be in there.
There’s other stuff that you can, you can find out there and you just gotta be proactive and continue to kind of, push to find that, that role. Have you watched a Ted Lasso?
Jason Ogle: I have not.
Joel Ryerson: It’s really good. You should actually watch it.
It’s like, it’s really, really inspiring and very uplifting, positive show and yeah, it’s kind of like, it kinda reminds me of certain aspects of design about he just understands people and understands how to manage people and treat everyone kind of as individuals and to really understand what makes them tick and what motivates them.
He’s a college football coach who gets hired as a “football”, European soccer coach in London. And yeah, it’s a funny premise but one of the players messes up in practice. He’s really hard on himself. And then Ted comes up to me. He says,
“What’s the happiest animal in the world?”
The player, puzzled, says he has no idea.
“Goldfish,” Lasso replies. “You know why the goldfish is the happiest animal on earth?”
Again, the player has no clue.
“Got a 10 second memory,” answers Lasso.
Then he says one more thing before sending the player back on the pitch.
“Be a goldfish.”
That was inspiring. It’s like, if, if you face adversity, if you face rejection, be a goldfish, it’s just forget about it, learn from it and then move on and then try to find the next thing.
So, yeah, I’m gonna be a goldfish.
Jason Ogle: I like that, man. That’s good advice. So I know, Joel, I know you were talking about some of the things that helped you along the way, where just having that growth mindset, really a hunger to learn, buying books, listening to podcasts User Defenders being one. And I’m grateful for that to know that the show helped you.
Is there anything else that really, really helped you along the way?
Joel Ryerson: Yeah, I think just being open to connecting with as many people as possible community, yeah, it kind of, goes along with the hunger it’s just try to connect with as many people as possible learn from them, even if it’s not something that you don’t really resonate with, try to find a common connection and see what makes them successful. I always try to learn from from anyone that I meet and basically not say no to like an opportunity to connect with someone and just kind of see what happens with no expectation, just authentically, just connect with people and see where it goes.
And you’re bound to learn something new.
Jason Ogle: Connect with others within the field you’re looking to land in. Right. And just try to form those relationships and be willing to ask for help. Don’t be too proud to ask for help because especially in this field, like you said earlier, Joel, I have met some of the most kind, humble, passionate, smart people I’ve ever known in my life in this field because of design because of UX, because the very nature of this work is service.
That is at the heart of this work. We are serving others and often laying ourselves down in the midst of making others better and helping others get better. That’s why the superhero metaphor works so well, I think with this show, because that’s what superheros do every single day.
Joel Ryerson: Yeah. It really is. And yeah, having, I would say being humble, not ever thinking you have everything figured out and doing your best to build that empathy muscle, I think you said in your most recent episode about empathy is not agreeing, you don’t have to agree with them but you can understand where they’re coming from and be in their shoes.
And I think a lot of people forget that. I think people think you have to agree with them. You have to feel exactly what they’re feeling, but kind of getting that mindset, consistently, and then trying to get inspiration from everything in the world.
Your podcast was like, seriously, kind of the main source of my education.
It helped me branch out to learn about all these designers that you interviewed, but also they talk about, all of the books that they’ve read. So every time you, or the person you’re interviewing is mentioned a book, I would write down the list. So I have a giant list of all the books and I just thought every time I just buy the book and now I have a huge stack of books, I still need to read, but I’m going to get there.
I’ll get there eventually. But, honestly though, it’s kind of like, sports, they call them coaching trees, like Bill Walsh back in the eighties, he has like a crazy coaching tree because all of his assistant coaches ended up becoming head coaches. And because they learned probably from.
What made him successful and it’s kind of the same way, like your podcasts, like helped me branch out to understand the bigger world of design. And it’s kind of just still having that, that mindset of how can we understand more and more, how can we get bigger and bigger and branch out? And yeah, your podcast was a huge influence on that.
So like authenticlly is honestly that that was a it’s pretty awesome, so.
Jason Ogle: That means a lot. Joel, thank you, sincerely.
Joel Ryerson: Yeah. Yeah. I think, one of the things that made your podcasts so inspirational and exciting for me when I was learning in from the beginning, the energy, like your, of your episodes in your podcast is very welcoming. It’s not intimidating for someone who is just learning it’s coming in kind of humbly and like a servant and it’s not, it’s not scary.
It’s you start to think like, oh, I can do this. This is cool. Just because of your mentality and how you talk about it, it’s not, I’m the best, and I’m going to show you how this is done. And it’s, it’s more so, like, we don’t know everything. Like I’m not going to know everything. And you’re no different than me.
I’m not, not anything special. It’s just I love this. And I, I love connecting with people and empathy and being authentic, and that kinda just drives you. And so when you’re starting out to a career change, it can be scary. And you’re pretty sensitive at that point, you can be kind of flimsy.
If someone intimidates you and then you have a bad experience with someone. But with your podcasts, that it was the exact opposite and kind of gave me hope that I could actually do this thing. So, yeah.
Jason Ogle: I love it. Thanks, man. When you got that call or that email, right? Hey, we want to bring you on. All right. What was that like, getting that response, what did that feel like?
Joel Ryerson: It was it was kind of mind blowing. It was, I felt like the first time in my life, I had got to somewhere where I actually wanted to be and I, I went for it and I achieved it.
It was it was kind of this moment of, I just stopped and kind of reflected and, okay, cool. This is, this is what it feels like. This is awesome. then my mind was like, well, you’re not done here. So it’s like, this is just the beginning,
Jason Ogle: True designer right there.
Joel Ryerson: Yeah. It’s a never, it never stops.
Yeah. Yeah. But in a way where you’re grateful for the current moment, but you’re constantly thinking about, I’m not going to settle here. I’m not gonna just assume that I’ve made it or, wherever you are. So yeah.
Jason Ogle: Did you go and celebrate somehow when you, when you got it, did you take a moment? Like, even with that, I love that, you’re like, okay, this is great. And you’re excited and maybe you shut it here, maybe a little bit, a little dusty in the room, as I always say. And that’d be entirely understandable. I think I cried the first time I got my foot in the door in 1999 or not a long time ago.
So did you do anything to celebrate that win?
Joel Ryerson: Yeah, I can’t remember it. It was December or something. Oh, I wish it was December this past year. So couldn’t really do much
Jason Ogle: Pandemic. Couldn’t go outdoors yet,
Joel Ryerson: Really now. So I think, I think it was like yeah, we probably got like DoorDash or something.
The, I think we could do everything’s closed. You can’t go outside. So yeah. Got some kind of exciting food.
Jason Ogle: Good, good. That’s that’s good, man. And Defenders, that’s a good lesson there. I want to, I want to draw out from what we were just talking about. I know we’re all. We’re all. Definitely. We have that achiever mindset and that’s awesome.
Keep that, keep going. Keep trying to get better. Keep trying to better those around you, but please. And this is me talking to myself too take enough time to just sit in that win and celebrate it. Even the little ones, especially the little wins. Don’t let that pass by. Because that goes into your story bank.
We talked about in Shaheena’s episode, you log these stories. These are great stories. This is your defense response for imposter syndrome. When that ugly voice rears its head. So take the time to celebrate those wins.
Joel Ryerson: Yeah, absolutely. You deserve a moment to celebrate, pat yourself on the back and, take that time to reflect on yourself for a second. If it feels uncomfortable to focus on yourself but you’re allowed to, sometimes you can enjoy that moment.
Jason Ogle: Exactly.
Yes. Couldn’t agree more. So Joel, in your newfound career and us. I’m really curious, what are you loving the most? And then what are you loving the least about it? I’m really curious about that.
Joel Ryerson: Yeah. What am I loving the most? I mean, I pretty much love everything. It’s, it’s pretty awesome that I get paid to do this now.
I think that was, that was the most exciting thing. When I realized I got a job at first and everything I studied for, I get to do the same exact thing, except get to do real work and get paid for it. And I think naturally it, a visual part of design comes pretty naturally for me more the initial research and understanding the problem that, that takes a little more brain work.
And that part is probably something I want to continue to try to hone. Like I get to be in Figma every single day and work on these design problems. It’s kind of like a pinch me moment every day where I get paid for this stuff. And it’s awesome. when you find that thing that, you feel that connection with who you are as a person and also your professional life.
It’s pretty cool. I can’t really explain it. Other than it’s just this kind of this calm contentment and I feel like I found like an alignment. It’s like when there’s like a an eclipse, like the sun and the moon kind of meet at the same time, you feel like you’re who you are internally as a person who, you are innately and then you find this role that you feel like matches who you are and you, it kind of just comes naturally to you.
That, that feeling is, is out of this world.
Jason Ogle: I love that metaphor, man. It’s really poetic. That moved me a little bit.
Joel Ryerson: Really just came up with that.
Jason Ogle: That’s really good, man.
Joel Ryerson: Yeah. So that part’s really exciting. What I least like? I don’t know if there’s anything that I least like I’d say it can be challenging as a newer designer to I’m trying to get more confident in articulating my design decisions when I’m presenting to stakeholders and it can be challenging to kind of push back because you feel like you’re new here and you don’t really want to step on people’s toes.
You don’t really know how the hierarchy works and it can be uncomfortable to kind of have that professional conflict, I guess. Kinda like your last episode. It’s, it’s very important. Like that part is that part takes more work to try to get used to it. And it’s gonna take some time, years of practice and being comfortable with being uncomfortable.
And, and that part is definitely, yeah. I wouldn’t say I dislike. It’s just challenging. Yeah, but the challenge it’s exciting at the same time. Cause it’s, it’s a challenge and something that you want to get better at and grow. And then I guess I will say big picture wise, the thing I like least or would say is a little bit confusing as a newer designer is, design as we know today is still a pretty, a young industry. And so there’s constantly things changing. And I feel like to me, the most confusing thing is that the titles there’s not really like a consistent, what kind of designer are you? It just depends on which company you’re at. And I think again, it’s confusing to know what you want. And, a UX designer could mean 10 different roles at 10 different companies. It’s just a, you don’t really know what kind of skill set that person has if they say they’re a UX designer. Unless you actually, ask them specific questions and get to see their role.
So I guess it’s exciting also at the same time, cause we have an opportunity to, to kind of form that and as, as the industry matures so it’s an exciting also feel kind of lost sometimes.
One does not always equal one.
Jason Ogle: The whole titles thing. That’s a really, that’s a good point. I mean, it’s true. I think because the field is so young still at least the current form of it.
I mean, when you look at UX in general, this stems back 40 years, really as far as the digital, the computing side of things, if you go even further, you can go back really far in history and look at user experience as a concept it’s always existed. There’s always been people trying to help other people have a better experience of whatever they’re offering them.
So, you can get really, really micro with this if you want to. But the reality is software development in general. All right. Even, let’s just say, even with agile, that’s really more recent, I’d say too. There’s there’s just a lot of evolution still happening here with this field.
And I think it’s good. I think we should always be trying to make things better. That’s why we’re designers. And if we can make design better as designers, I think we should also be trying to do that as well as an in addition to building great software, we should also always be asking, how can we make design better?
How can we design design better right. The field of it. So I think that’s interesting. You ask 10 different UX designers. What UX means. I promise you you’re going to get 10 different answers, do a research study and you’ll find that that is a valid statement.
So, Joel, this has been so great. I do have one last question for you. And I think this is, this is one of my favorite questions for the listeners, because we’re all again, wanting to hear from folks who have gotten there, who have struggled to get there and like yourself and who broke in.
I’m always interested in knowing about encouragements and you, especially being a newer designer, just getting your first foot in the door. And knowing even more recently, what that feels like. And again, being the empath you are I am really curious what sort of advice and encouragements that you can offer our fellow Defenders listening that are in a similar position as you, and they’re just a really trying to break in and trying really hard and maybe even losing hope actually, what would you say to those listeners, those Defenders?
Joel Ryerson: I’d say, as you’re trying to find your first role, just understand that you are going to face rejection and maybe ahead of time, think how you’re going to deal with that and try to spin it in a positive way and try to learn from it.
It’s okay to be imperfect and it’s okay to mess up. That’s part of the process and continue to look for that, that angle that, that works for you, and treating your job search kind of like a design project. It’s if one angle doesn’t work, try another angle and don’t give up because you’re going to find that role at some point and definitely rely on your network and like that’s, that’s how actually I found my, my first role was my, my manager was someone I went to high school with and I had posted my portfolio on LinkedIn and he saw it and contacted me and, the rest is history and just, you never know where that role is going to come from where the opportunity is gonna come from.
So, be open to wherever that may come from, be receptive, be yeah, like don’t say no to potential opportunity. Just always try to connect and find common ground with people and you never know where that may go. Cause really it’s about connecting with people and it’s about understanding people.
That’s the core of design. That’s what I was going to say.
Jason Ogle: Love it. That’s great.
Joel Ryerson: So like design, we have all this technology, initially you think of all the tools and everything and the UI and that’s kind of like what people think design is, but really, we all understand design is more about empathy and understanding of people and problem solving.
So the tools and all the technology is just kind of the way we are able to use that design expertise. Design is can transcend, different technologies and tools. And that’s just our, our current tool set, in 2021 who knows what it’s gonna look like in 10 years, maybe something totally different.
And like you were saying, way back in human history, it’s just problem solving. It’s how can we make a more pleasant experience, more enjoyable experience and really get to the core of who we are as people.
Jason Ogle: You reminded me of this quote. I just read this recently in Scott Berkin’s new book, How Design Makes the World.
It was a quote from Douglas Martin, and I don’t know who that is, but I’m curious now, obviously, a designer he said to your point about design, Joel I really liked this quote he’s the Douglas Martin said, “The question about whether design is necessary or affordable is beside the point. Design is inevitable. The alternative to good design is bad design, not no design at all.”
True. Right? Everything is designed everything. I think that’s, Scott’s point. I have a feeling that one of the reasons he wrote this book is because he wants us all to realize that design is everywhere and we ought to always strive to make things better.
Always strive to appreciate design the craft.
Joel Ryerson: Yeah. Yep. Yeah. I appreciate the process and trust the process and
Jason Ogle: Yeah, exactly. And the process for sure, because design doesn’t magically happen. It’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and that’s a lot of time and it’s a lot of labor and it’s a labor of love.
Joel Ryerson: Yeah. It takes a lot of mental energy to, get to the point where you even understand the problem and understand, who you’re building that. solution for it’s a lot of the not so glamorous stuff that is not on Dribbble and, everything online that you see it all the fancy UI interactions and…
Jason Ogle: A solution in search for a problem.
Joel Ryerson: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s yeah, it’s kinda like you’re watching a movie, like when you see all the amazing special effects and you don’t really think about all the hard work that went into getting to that point, writing the story, doing all the production and just how many people are involved when you see all the credits at the end.
And you’re just kind of amazed that it’s like millions of people who made that movie, it’s kind of the same processes. It’s what’s under the hood is what really is, what design is all about. That is true design. And the outside is just kind of the end result of it.
Jason Ogle: Yeah. I love that perspective. That’s good stuff, man.
So as we wrap here, Joel, I have a feeling that there may be some folks that want to re and maybe ask some questions or just connect with you. Like when you’re talking about networking, how important it is and defenders, I don’t, I can’t stress that enough. Dig the well before you’re thirsty. Keep making connections, especially in this field, keep connecting with folks and you can ask somebody, you can ask designers questions and we want to help, we’ll let you know if, if we can’t, but I think for the most part, we’re always going to want to help you and always try, to answer questions and try to what we can.
I mean, that’s the spirit of this field and that’s why I love it so much. So if you’re okay with it would you be willing to tell us the best way to connect and to keep up with you, Joel?
Joel Ryerson: Yeah, absolutely. Well, you can reach me on LinkedIn. You can reach me on the User Defenders: Community Twitter, my portfolio, if you want to check that out.
Yeah. Should I give my contact information?
Jason Ogle: Perfect. And Defenders, I’ll have all of this linked up in the show notes as well.
So, Joel, this has been awesome, brother. I appreciate you. This has been fun too, and inspiring. So, thanks for taking the time to really tell your story about how you got here, how you landed your first foot in the door and in this exciting, challenging, and ever evolving field, as I always say man, this is good stuff. And There’s some defenders listening that have gained inspiration and value and are going to use what you shared to get their first foot in the door.
So thank you for that brother. And last but not least, I just want to say as always fight on my friend.
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