How to get your first UX/UI Design job.

So you want to become a UX/UI — Product Designer but are unsure of where to start. You’ve probably reached out to some designers on social media asking them what you need to do to make this dream happen, am I right?

I’m going to give you a formula that worked for me. It’s nothing super profound or fancy. In fact, it’s pretty simple and well, it just might work for you as well.

Let me give you a bit of a back story first. I’ve been around design pretty much my whole life. When I was in 8th grade my family purchased our first computer. It was an iMac. I didn’t know much about computers up until this point and to be honest, I still don’t know a ton. That’s beside the point though. My parents knew I was creative and an artist, so they hired a man by the name of Nate who tutored students and adults on how to use Mac computers. Nate was super cool to me. He was a Graphic Designer, a Web Designer, he was a Video Editor. He knew it all.

I would meet with Nate 3–4 days a week for an hour sometimes longer and he would show me how to use Photoshop, Dreamweaver, iMovie, Garageband, all creative software.

I would go on to spend most of my time from 8th grade to my Senior year of high school in front of the computer designing in photoshop and creating websites using Dreamweaver.

The question you may be asking now is probably this… Did this help you become a Product Designer at a Fortune 500 company?

The answer is, I don’t think so.

Although I spent years practicing design, I didn’t understand the fundamentals or proper design principles.

In 2017 I moved to Las Vegas. This is when I started taking design more seriously. I would practice designing mobile apps and websites using Sketch. I’ll be completely honest, they weren’t that great. In 2019 I decided I don’t really have a portfolio of any great work, but I’ll apply to jobs anyways. My wife found a local startup that had posted that they were looking for a UX/UI Designer on Craigslist. I applied and they wrote back to me within a couple of hours. They had asked if I was available for an interview the next day. Now I didn’t have much experience interviewing for this type of role before, actually none to be transparent. So I watched some Youtube videos on how to nail a UX interview. (Youtube always comes in clutch for stuff like this.) The next day I went for my interview and showed them my work and they hired me the same day.

After about a year I applied for another startup and landed a Product Design role there. Now it’s 2021 and I work for a fortune 500 company as a User Interface Designer, making really great money.

My formula for getting your start in this field is this simple.

  1. Watch some free courses online or read some books about design theory and principles.
  2. Choose a design tool like Figma, Sketch, or Adobe XD and watch videos on how to use the software.
  3. Design any and everything. If you want to be a mobile app designer, then design a lot of mobile screens. If you want to focus on more web apps then design web apps.
  4. Create a Linkedin, Twitter, Dribbble, Behance, Instagram and share your learnings, and work.
  5. Apply to jobs even if you don’t feel you are ready. Don’t worry about having a portfolio yet you can use Dribbble or Behance.
  6. Watch some videos on how to interview.

Pretty simple? Huh?

I didn’t wait until I felt I was ready or until I was perfect to apply to jobs. I just stepped out and put myself in a position where I would succeed. You will learn more by working in the field in real-world situations than you will on your own.



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Jacob Olenick

Jacob Olenick


Lead Senior Product Designer @ Wells Fargo | Husband ☕️ 🧋