Should you enroll in a UX Bootcamp?

Eric Abrom
Eric Abrom

UX Design Leader and Mentor

What's up, Unicorns! I've been training, and it's been making me think. First things first: what am I training for? I'm going to my first ever jiu-jitsu competition, exciting stuff! I've been hitting the gym, drilling specific jiu-jitsu techniques, and trying to drop a little weight to make my weight class. I also need to work on my cardio; care to join me? You know you should be exercising, so hop on it soon if you haven't been!

Do you remember Quibi?

Let’s talk about a little disaster called Quibi. They were suffering from the jump, right? The short-form entertainment concept, the celebrities, and high budgets… it just wasn’t enough to stay alive.


It looks like they spent a lot of money on building their platform, producing their own original content, and paying for talent, but there seems to be a missing piece of the puzzle. In my opinion, that missing piece is familiar content.


Think about any successful streaming platform, such as Netflix. They make tons of new content, but they always have familiar, classic shows and movies that make users happy to stick around. Many people watch new content, but something is comforting about having the option to access more familiar things too.


Quibi brought in familiar faces, but that’s not the same as familiar content. Not at all.


Another big mistake: they brought in people known for long-form content and had them make short-form content. People like you and me are used to making short videos, not these celebrities! 


So if Quibi was trying to change user behavior, this was a big fail. Long-form content is ingrained in our minds as consumers, and nowadays, being able to switch between devices is standard. Why would people pay for shorter-form content that can only be viewed on their phone in portrait mode?


Unfortunately, Quibi really dropped the ball on that one. They blamed it on the pandemic and people not commuting to work. That’s not a good look for a platform that apparently made these choices without thinking things through. It takes more than 10-minute content to change user behavior. Enough about that; let’s talk about UX Bootcamps!


UX Bootcamps

Remember how I said I’ve been thinking about training? Here’s why: I hear from many people with the same few questions, but here’s one that kind of rubs me the wrong way. It’s usually something like this:


“Eric, is there a Bootcamp/course/program/book that will teach me UX for free?” “Eric, how can I get UX training for free?”


This makes me wonder why people think that educating themselves will happen for free? The people who ask me this usually already have some other form of education. Was that free?


I know that people hear me say I didn’t finish my UX Bootcamp, and that’s true. But not finishing is not the same thing as not investing. I spent the money on those resources, and then I didn’t need to keep using them at a certain point. I still had skin in the game. And I eventually increased my salary by $100K because I was willing to put in the work in combination with what I was learning.


Let me put it this way: anything worth it is worth investing in.


Regarding UX Bootcamps, I believe they’re worth it if you can use them to get a job. Especially if you don’t have a design background, a Bootcamp could be a great place to get started.


Make sure you do your research and take your own learning style into account. Do you need a lot of structure, or are you a self-starter who will take the initiative with only loose sets of instructions? Some courses are entirely self-paced; is that a good fit for you? Or do you need a program set up more like a classroom with more accountability?


Some options to check out include Springboard, which relies heavily on your motivation, and you also get a mentor like myself to help you in your journey. (Get $1000 off your UX Design course at Springboard with code: UglyUnicornsSB1000)


Or, for more structure, look at Georgia Techs’ Bootcamp. It’s not a simple program: it costs about $10,000. But you’ll get all the structure you need, individual attention, and real people to study and interact with. It’s basically like a mini UX team, with conflict resolutions and decisions to be made.


Many people cringe about spending $5-10K on a Bootcamp. I get it; I really do.


But if you use that investment to work towards getting a better job with a better salary, now is it worth it? And that’s why I don’t like when people focus on getting free resources because that just doesn’t give you as much opportunity in the long term. Investing in yourself is necessary for almost any real growth.


Take my YouTube channel and podcast as examples. I had to invest in the equipment; microphones don’t grow on trees! I invest my time and share my knowledge as best I can. I do it for fun, but it sure isn’t free. That’s not a complaint; that’s just reality.


When you approach investments as a positive thing, you will reap the benefits much more than if you just take what you can get for free. Yes, there’s a lot you can learn for free! But your mindset is essential, so just be careful that you’re still coming at this from a positive angle.


What About Certification?

I don’t actually believe that certifications are what will make or break your UX career. I don’t have one, and I’m doing fine! Most companies care about your ability to learn, are you coachable, and your skills. More so than any piece of paper you can show them.


That’s why I’m a big advocate of building your portfolio quickly and applying for jobs before you finish your UX Bootcamp. When the right opportunity presents itself, you don’t want to have your nose buried in a class with no chance of noticing it!


Start NOW with building your portfolio and case study presentations. Make sure they not only look good but tell a clear story. If you need someone to look at your work, I can help you!  


You don’t need to know everything right away. You don’t even necessarily need to be a UX Unicorn. You just need to show up and prove that you are ready to be an excellent teammate.


I hope this encourages you to move forward with a bit more confidence! You can get a UX job without a UX Bootcamp. You can start a UX Bootcamp and move on whenever you’re ready. And you can invest in a program that makes sense for you and apply for jobs as you go.


All I’m saying is that you have options! Keep a positive attitude, and like I always say: don’t just be a unicorn, be an Ugly Unicorn.


PS. Oh hey, one more DO… hit me up here to learn more about how you can become an Ugly Unicorn. You know you want to.


Ugly Unicorns website.

PSS. Get $1000 off your UX Design course at Springboard with code: UglyUnicornsSB1000.

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