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Are UX design bootcamps worthwhile?

I am thinking of taking the UX class at Tradecraft or General Assembly. Does anyone know of them or has experience with them? Your feedback is much appreciated.

14 Replies

Dan Maccarone
5
0
Dan Maccarone Advisor
Co-Founder/CEO at Charming Robot
Marina- I'd be careful about these longer UX classes. Depends on what you want to get out of them. I wrote the original curriculum for GA's UX intensive course and while I am sure it has changed since we wrote it, I know that the goal of the program changed from educating people about UX from a high-level to much more of a training program that churns out jr. level people. I've not had great experience with people who came out of that program and find it hard to accept that that is nearly enough time to learn any craft whether it be ux, design, development, etc. But if your goals are a general understanding of how it could fit into your current job or how you can better understand the world of UX and collaborate in your day-to-day environment, that could be good too. Happy to get more into this if you'd like, but definitely know what you want to get out of it first. It's a lot of money to spend to be honest.
Daniel Drew Turner
1
0
Interaction Designer, Xerox PARC
That's an interesting peek behind the curtain, Other Dan -- thanks. And that's really interesting to hear as a graduate of a two-year graduate program in UX, in that it dovetails with both my own impressions and the pushback that's forming against GA in the UX community.

It does seem to be a quick overview, giving students an overview of the various and broad things that go into what's often called "UX", but it's kind of irritating how GA has become a bit of a mill: "Pay a lot for this brief course and we'll place you into positions at major companies". I see GA graduates immediately go into mid- to senior-level UX jobs at places like Google -- they have the buzzwords, and know how to do Process X or Methodology Y exactly as they've been taught, but there's simply no time in GA to teach the "why" behind any of these processes, or explain sociology or vision studies or how to connect things aside from exactly as been taught at GA.

Marina, what do you want to get out of all this? If you, like many GA students, are in, say, marketing, and hear there are lots of cool and well playing jobs in UX (not quite true), then GA does work well as a placement service, though that, I think, in the large damages UX as a profession and as having a pro-user impact.

If you want to know because you are concerned about making products better, or you have an intellectual curiosity, there are things you can do for free. Listen to the UIE Sparks podcast, in which really awesome people talk on UX topics and what they've done; start reading Boxes and Arrows or A List Apart web sites; if user research interests you, listen to Steve Portigal's Dollars to Donuts podcast; follow a lot of people I follow on Twitter and ask them questions. Read Erika Hall's "Just Enough Research" and Steve Blank's "Four Steps to the Epiphany" and Bill Buxton's "Sketching User Interfaces"; find local Code for America brigades and go to a meeting; find public-good hackathons and join a team and observe.
Dan Maccarone
1
0
Dan Maccarone Advisor
Co-Founder/CEO at Charming Robot
Daniel- It's actually great to hear another UX person say what you're saying about the GA course. Because I see the same thing happen - people getting placed in these positions at big companies or as the ONLY UX resource at a startup, where the new company is putting its faith in someone who's barely scratched the surface of experience design. One of the reasons I didn't teach a second session of the immersive class was that they told us we couldn't fail people and we had to "certify" them that they were now UX professionals, whatever the hell that even means. Not that my name means anything, but I still don't want it attached to a piece of paper telling a company that someone is qualified for a job they clearly aren't. This is probably a topic for another thread, but if there truly is a movement to push back against places like GA about this type of training and job placement, please let me know where it is because I will be happy to do whatever I can to help. If I can be slightly self-serving, can I also throw in as a resource for understanding all sides of the product process, my own podcast: Story in a Bottle , where I talk to UXers, but also founders, VCs, marketers, etc about their experiences creating and growing products. It's more of a well-rounded approach than UX specific (though the episode with Matt Lee who has lead research for XBox, Amazon, Zappos and now Booking.com is very UX geek out). Thanks! d
Daniel Drew Turner
0
0
Interaction Designer, Xerox PARC
(I just want to be clear: every single person I've interacted with who works at or taught at or took classes at GA seemed to me to be perfectly lovely, smart, capable, and well meaning. That's not the issue.)
Dan Maccarone
0
0
Dan Maccarone Advisor
Co-Founder/CEO at Charming Robot
Daniel- I agree. And to add to the clarity, I really LOVE the stuff GA does for corporations. And it's not the instructors' faults that the company strategy for churning out "professionals" is the problem.
Luca Candela
0
0
Luca Candela Advisor
UX & Product
for @Dan - I agree completely with your assessment, I arrived to the same conclusion by myself and I'm actually way more negative about GA because of that. As of right now, it's a puppy mill for mediocre designers, and the results are vastly based on personal talent, I don't see GA making any difference in skill set. It's a huge rip off and I'm going to actively discourage anybody to participate in their UX program.
Daniel Drew Turner
1
0
Interaction Designer, Xerox PARC
We should all upvote these comments and see if it floats to the top of FD's list... .
Matt Kennedy
1
0
Matt Kennedy Advisor
Digital Agency Founder, Entrepeneur
Marina - I took the GA 12 week evening course. There were some people in the class who were interested in getting jobs in UX and others who were interested in learning about UX from a more intellectual and/or entrepreneurial direction. I was in the latter group. I thought our instructor (Skot Karuth) did a great job representing both sides by seeking and being receptive to feedback from the class. In general, I think things skewed toward the high road and less towards specific trade school instruction. Perhaps that is a characteristic of the shorter classes. I really enjoyed the class and felt that I got more out of it than I paid for - but I was not expecting a quid pro quo job offer out of it. I will defer to the other commenters on how the GA program works as a job generator. I tend to agree with them in general that you should seek "higher" education from a school and training from a job if you can - rather than the other way around.
Marina Mikeladze
0
0
Marina Mikeladze Entrepreneur
UX/UI Designer / Character Animator
Hey Guys,
Thanks for all the input. I did some research and saw something that got my attention and wanted to ask if you have either seen this or experienced it yourself?

Is there an age discrimination factor in the tech industry? Specifically, from the big internet companies such as google, FB, Yelp, Yahoo? I read from some articles that it is quite common and that the median age for San Francisco tech companies is 31.

Any thoughts?

Thank you
David Fridley
1
0
David Fridley Entrepreneur
Founder at Synaccord
You should consider this online class:https://www.coursera.org/course/hcidesign I took it and recommend it and its FREE unless you go for a certificate.
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