Day# 137: Interview with Diana Cepsyte, UXD new to the field

Day# 137: Interview with Diana Cepsyte, UXD new to the field

I came across Diana a while ago in one of the UI/UX groups on social media that I joined, she was looking for an internship and I wished her luck on her journey and we soon connected. I recently saw Diana post that she is still looking and has now at least got some freelance work she is working on. Often when we study something we are shown the more positive green pastures side of an industry, this is marketing and colleges and institutions are above all else trying to get students. Finding a job once the course is completed will probably not be as easy as the institution makes it out to be and I think for ease of mind people should always speak to others in the industry to get a better grasp on the industry. I noticed Diana do this very thing when she indicated on the group that she had been looking for a job for just going on 3 weeks and was worried about finding a position. When I look I would say my process is now close to 2 months and maybe perhaps longer. It is certainly easier when you are not worried because you already have a job but I know the feeling of being desperate for an opportunity can be daunting and frustrating when nothing seems to appear, despite your best efforts. That being said I wanted to just run through a few quick points to consider when on the job market to make sure you are considering all the variables. 

  • Is the area well suited for UX, are there lots of companies where you stay that have UX positions
  • Are there lots of positions for your level of experience, this does tie in with the above question. However it should be noted when you hear of positions if they are are generally multifaceted UX/Ui positions and you are looking for a more specific UX research specialist role that you don’t become frustrated.
  • Is your CV and portfolio the best possible representation of your skill set
  • Are you well prepped in the interview scenario for technical questions that the interviewer may ask

 

I think as UX professionals we should always keep looking and our abilities to iterate and question products should be utilized for our own CV’s and portfolios. If you don’t get a job for example try see if you can chat to that recruiter and get their feedback on what could make your portfolio better for the next application, even though you may have worked on your portfolio and given it a lot of time it does not mean it can’t be given more time. I think of my portfolio as a consistent growing project that evolves and changes the same way I do with time. If you notice three bad interviews with one portfolio, work on wording, change layouts and reorder projects, I noticed a huge difference when I changed the order of my projects and the wording in my portfolio. Anyway below is the chat that I had with Diana, looking forward to helping her on her UX journey!

 


  • Can you explain why you like the UX industry

 

I think that UX is fascinating. I actually learned about it a few years ago when I was creating and designing my own app – NexTo.  I didn’t know much about UX design until that point, but I was basically doing my own research, doing user interviews and usability testing, market analysis, sketching and designing stuff.  I really loved doing it. I loved talking to people and hearing their stories, hearing their pain points, and then trying to help them through the work I was doing. What my app does is it basically connects people right away to do stuff with – it’s like Uber where you click a button, it send a signal, and a driver shows up to get you from some nearby area.  Except that for my app it’s another person, like a neighbor or whatever, that has time at that moment to maybe go shopping with you, or go to a movie with you, or just get a coffee. I love to play chess, and I just wanted to play the game with another human on a Friday night, not my computer screen or my phone. But you know, if I walked around my neighborhood, knocking on people’s doors, asking them if anyone wants to play chess with me right there and then, they’d think I was crazy…  And I would probably be wasting my time anyways.

 


  • I see that you studied at GA, did you enjoy the course and did you feel the course prepared you for the working world

 

I did enjoy it a lot, yes.  I think that it really gave me a good grasp on things UX.  We did several projects, and I think that I really learned the User Experience process, how to do it from A to Z.  There is a huge amount that you have to know when it comes to UX design, I think, and we got through everything we needed to get through.  However, I think that you really learn the most by just working, by doing real life projects and working with real people, and you just got to be a self-learner.  One thing is that I really do wish that GA had helped us to transition into the real world more, like easier. I’ve heard that they used to have a mentor program, but we didn’t have it.  I wish that maybe we could have shadowed someone, had an opportunity to, and I really wish that GA could have given us some type of internship opportunities. But, I think that really is up to the school in probably building those relationships with other companies.  I’ve heard that Designation does things like that, and more. I think I’m now wondering about that.

 


  • What type of role are you looking for

 

I’m looking for anything UX.  I am doing a few freelance projects right now, which is great.  I love to be able to actually work and practice my art. I heard someone say that if you don’t do something for a long time, that it’s just much harder to come back to later.  So, when I got my first freelance project, I was ecstatic. I already did the discovery phase (or the kickoff meeting) with both of my current clients, and am slowly working towards re-designing their websites.  It’s just so incredible to be able to practice my learning in the real world, and to have a valid reason to talk to people, to do interviews with them, to listen to their stories, cause I love doing it. So, to answer your question, I just want to keep growing and doing UX-related things, whatever they may be.

 


  • Explain your experience with the UX interview process thus far, the interviews you have been on, call backs etc

 

Well, I’ve actually had quite a lot of interviews so far, I’d say somewhere around 20 or so.  I’ve been applying a lot, but then I’ve also been just networking, having coffee dates with people, chatting, going to events.  We were told that this is what we have to do. I had one potential hire with a company where they did 3 interviews with me. The third one was a face to face invite to the company interview that lasted around an hour and a half, and then I had to do a design test.  I felt that it went well, but in the end they went with another hire. I was a bit bummed out about it, since it’s a lot of time and energy, on both ends, and it really seemed like a potential prospect. But in the end all you can do is just take some time to breathe, talk to some family and friends, and just keep moving forward, keep applying, networking, all that good stuff.

 

My comment: If this happens again, and emphasis on the IF, please try ask the recruiter why they didn’t end up picking you to progress further or for the position in general. Make sure to word the communication correctly, you don’t want to appear argumentative. I have actually received a lot of crucial feedback this way, it also takes reading between the lines a little because the person on the line may cop out and say they did not make the final decision (which may be true) but try push more. For example “If you can help me understand why I wasn’t appropriate for the role it would really help me with my career in bettering myself for the next round of interviews. Saying that I have also had companies who just never respond but every now and again you will get a individual who gets back to you. 

Out of interest I have had feedback like my portfolio didn’t show exactly what they wanted to see, I didn’t do exactly what they wanted to see in the test they gave me and  the more common answer I get now, that I was asking for more than other applicants. I then work on what I can, at this point in my career I am really not willing to take a pay cut so I ensure that my craft is at its best that eventually when I see the right opportunity that I will be able to take advantage of it. 


  • What are some of the popular questions that you get asked and what are your answers for these questions

 

The one question you always get is ‘So, tell me about yourself, which I just give the brief description of some of my life’s major events and accomplishments, such as that I have a Masters in Education, that I was a teacher in China for a few years, that I have created and designed an app that showcased in the app store for a time, and how all of that led me to studying at General Assembly and eventually becoming a UX designer.  I think that as I talk about all of these events, many of the questions that the hiring manager has tends to get answered, at least that is what has happened a few times.

 

The other question that I’ve gotten several times is to talk about the company and why I have chosen to apply there, so I just tell them why since I’ve done the research on the company and I know about them and what my reasoning was in wanting to work there.  I think that my education background plays a lot into these responses, since UX is very much about educating people, about educating the client and the user, and of course just making life easier and more accessible for everyone.

 


  • If you could list some reasons for not getting the previous jobs what would they be, these reasons can be related to the various companies or yourself if you feel so.

 

I’m not really sure to be honest.  I think that every job and every experience that I’ve had in my life has taught me something and has given me some kind of skills that I carried on with me to my other jobs and experiences.  Some of the jobs that I’ve had are not obviously UX related, such as working in a movie theater and concessions, or working as an Uber driver. However, I’m fairly certain that I still learned a lot at those jobs, such as simple people skills, talking to customers, listening, trying to make them happy.  And like in any job, you have to be reliable and consistent and just show up. So, even if you’re doing a job that might seem totally mundane, I think that you can learn something from anything. It’s all about how you look at thing. And even if you know that you made a mistake doing something, whatever it is, I think that key there is knowing that perhaps you shouldn’t have done that and trying to understand what you could have done differently, better.

 


  • Have you aligned your social media platforms to that of your new industry?

 

I’ve tried to.  I’m still fairly new, professionally, in UX.  I think that GA has really helped me to transition into seeing myself as a UX designer and today I feel fairly confident at taking jobs where I know that I help my clients.  So, for example with LinkedIn, it is totally UX – focused. I didn’t realized how powerful LinkedIn was until my coursework at General Assembly. I feel that the career readiness that my school has provided me, all the education about professional expression, has almost equaled to that of my UX learning.  As far as other social media platforms, I’ve done a few things on Twitter and Instagram, but I rarely use them, though I probably should get more into it. What I definitely do want to utilize more of is my Medium account. As well as being a UX designer, I would also consider myself a writer, and going further in my ux-er career, I most definitely want to write articles that are User Experienced focused and could possibly help grow the increasing community of designers world-wide.

My comments: So true Diana! I have managed to connect and follow such inspirational people in the UX industry on LinkedIn, it is really an amazing platform and I am so glad to have gotten it. It is a way more productive outlet of social media given the other options we have. 


After looking at your portfolio, I have the following feedback

  • Something to keep in mind is that recruiters will skim over your site in seconds, when I have helped with the hiring process before I can agree that I skimmed so fast over peoples CV’s and portfolios that I only read key words, with that in mind keeping copy to the point yet still informative is key. It is a difficult task when we are so close to our own projects and want to explain in detail especially since we would like to think that prospective employers will take the time to read through everything in detail but often they won’t
  • As a side note I will add a * for less important to change and ** for content that I think should be accessed more closely
  • ** I am a bit worried about the flow of this portfolio, at a first glance I want to see how talented you are (which you are!) That quote perhaps needs a font change because the quote is actually very relevant to UX; however I thought it was a life quote and skimmed over it not reading it at all. I only get to the content I want to see on whether I want to hire you on the fourth page, I am worried that recruiters may not click so far and scan all the way to the bottom

  • **This section could be just the titles of each project perhaps and not paragraphs below, just worried prospective employers may not read it and will need to see immediately where clicking will take them

 

  • * Is it possible to have these highlight when you you hover over them? Not sure if you using a template and know how to do this. I indicated it below as well, but I would love to see more of what you do best specifically

  • * From a design perspective the call to action of lets talk is not standing out as much as it should, I know this is your colour palette for your site. So it may just be something for you to consider holistically which would take more time and effort etc. Not as big a needed change as the others I think though…

  • **I understand that you are trying to use an analogy of chess here however I feel the analogy may be too long, I think if you want to keep the analogy relate it to the game and have a list of key attributes of how chess relates to UX. The easiest way for people to process information that does not seem to intimidating is bullet points.. Something to consider perhaps?

 

  • With this section I actually first thought I would be able to click through and view more on what you do best, is there a way that you can link it to specific sections in your actual work on the next section? As a side note the red route of this portfolio for me would be come to site- find your best work work and contact you.

 


In relation to your work section everything is laid out very well and in detail, I can see that you have the processes, and methods in place to be able to work in the UX field with success. Do you know David Travis? He did a course on UX and reviewed student portfolios to give some insight into how recruiters and prospective employers look at UX work, have a look and let me know what you think about his review process for portfolios here.  I also wanted to add two articles discussing portfolios which I came across recently, this article is from a hiring managers perspective on the process of hiring with reviewing over portfolios. The author discusses how it can be difficult to find what you need to see often, this article on the other hand makes me cringe slightly because I have done a fair few of these portfolio mistakes in the past.

To round off everything Thank you to Diana for taking the time to answer some questions, Diana is a very talented up and coming Uxer and I urge prospective employers to always be more understanding towards applicants who are starting out in the industry. If anything as Uxers we have the ability to continually better ourselves which we take from our professional abilities and I have no doubt that Dianna is going to be very successful in her career. Look out for our next collaboration where Diana interviews me on my history and experiences in the UX field, happy researching until next time!

Bye for now

2 Replies to “Day# 137: Interview with Diana Cepsyte, UXD new to the field”

  1. Some advice I’ve received to is to consultant at some point in your career. I personally haven’t but have friends who have and they highly recommend it. UX is in demand, especially in large companies but getting in is the biggest problem. This is potentially where a consulting firm such as freethinking, dvt, IQ business or even Deloitte could be options. Great exposure, short projects and incredible learning opportunities.

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