How I went from unemployed to a self-made UXR @ Google & Disney with no UX education.

Jason’s Experince
Jason’s Experience

UX Researchers are one of the most in-demand and thought-after jobs for students & UX enthusiasts in 2023. However, there continues to be a popular myth that you have to be a master’s or PhD student from a competitive university studying HCI to even have a shot at the top FAANG companies.

So for today’s article, I had the chance to chat with Jason, to bust that myth wide open.

Jason is the founder of the UXR department at UXGO, and is currently a UX Researcher part of a Web 3 video game company called Mythical Games.

NFT mythical games

Before that, Jason was deeply involved in the media and entertainment industry. The two companies he previously led UX research at were Disney+ and Google TV.

With that sort of track record, you might find it impossible to believe just 3–4 years ago, Jason was someone who studied communication at the University of Washington. (A major voted by many US students back in 2020 to be the most useless degree)

Not to mention, Jason graduated into a recession, the covid-19 recession. At the time, although passionate about UX, Jason had no UX experience or education and struggled to find employment.

That is why in this article Jason will help us answer these four questions below and share advice on how to be a successful self-made UX researcher.

1. How did you break into the industry with no experience or education?
2. How did you learn UXR on your own?
3. How did you deal with the struggles of rejection?
4. What are the qualities someone needs to be a self-made UXR?

Meet Jason
Meet Jason

So Jason, in what feels like a stressful recessionary environment nowadays, similar to what you went through back in 2019–2020, please share your story and advice with our readers. How were you able to turn the tables around and overcome what seemed like impossible odds?

Advice one: Admitting the struggle to become self-made.
The starting point of my career was definitely a struggle, especially for someone without a higher degree like Master’s or PhD. On top of that, I did not major in an HCI program at my school. During my junior year, I discovered UXR by taking an intro UXR course at the University of Washington. I immediately found it to be a field I wanted to pursue.

So rather than paying hefty amounts such as 10k for a boot camp, I took the initiative and I reached out to my professor to work on side projects outside of class.

So a big piece of advice from me is, If you want to succeed in the UX world, don’t focus on learning the “theory”. UX is not coding, as much as those boot camps try to make you think it is, it’s not. You can not learn what everyone else is learning and become a UXR. The theories they try to teach you, you could learn from a hands-on project led by a great mentor in a few months. That is why If you are someone who needs help, try to get high-quality 1:1 mentorship in whatever way you can, even if it’s paid. That is something worth spending money on and investing in. Not theoretical knowledge or any certificates, because companies do not care about those at all, so why should you?

Getting industry Experience
Getting industry Experience

Jason, many folks might think, “what, pay others to let me work?” That is absurd. However, according to you that is another big reason why many self-made UX enthusiasts don’t succeed. Nothing comes easy so is it true you need to be willing to put in the work without asking for a $bag up front?

Exactly, I can’t agree more. My self-led project eventually led me to a start-up internship during my senior year summer.

Guess what? It was unpaid of course.

Did it feel good at the time? No it did not.

However, Looking back? I will say it was one of the best decisions that I made in college. In those three months of internship, I learned how to grow a business using research in a limited resource environment.

So if you are not sure where to start in your self-made career, reach out to me on LinkedIn, or reach out to a qualified industry mentor who would be willing to invest a few months of time to coach you hands-on with a case study. Then utilize all the technical and theoretical skills you learned from that project to help yourself get more practice with an unpaid intern or contractor role.

I founded UXR mentorship @ UXGO to help those breaing into UXR
I founded UXR mentorship @ UXGO to help those breaking into UXR

Something I bet many stduents can relate to is how you shared with us there were many months of greusoeme waiting and that sense of stress from radio silence after applciations how did you deal with this?

Advice three: trust the process and be patient for the right opportunity.
That stressful feeling is unavoidable I would say. So if you want to be a successful self-made UX Researcher, you need to be willing to consistently improve yourself without validation.

Consistency is key. Working on yourself, finding new mentors, networking, paying for coffee chats. There are many ways to improve yourself effectively.

Once again avoid cookie-cutter approaches like boot camps, my advice is if you plan to pay 10–15k, you might as well apply to a masters. This way you get much more networking and mentorship opportunities. Being able to learn from industry experts one on one is the most important way to keep your focus during a stressful time since folks like me know what you are going through, where it feels like all you are getting are rejections left and right.

It took me many months until I really had any opportunities, I was even unemployed at certain points. However, because I took that time to work with great mentors to consistently improve my portfolios & case studies, eventually when my opportunity came, I was ready.


My opportunity came in from Disney +. The consistency of self-improvement plus all the stories from my side projects and start-up work eventually helped me land the role as one of the first Associate UX Researchers at Disney+.

Too many self-made enthusiasts out there complain opportunity never arrives. The truth? They are just not ready for it when it does arrive, so they never even notice it.

Work hard & be confident
Work hard & be confident

Very motivational Jason! So for our 4th topic, could you share some advice on what qualities does someone need to have to be a UXR, or what majors should they study in college?

Advice four: Don’t talk yourself down because of your education.

That is why for my fourth piece of advice, I want you all to know UXR is a truly unique industry. We need people from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences to help us really understand our end users. The three keywords that come to mind when I think of a great researcher is someone that can build empathy, is analytical, and has self-confidence.

You might have heard of the first two words over and over so I will focus on why I chose self-confidence. Self-confidence is very important when sharing your work to stakeholders. You will learn that a huge part of your job as a researcher when you join the industry is advocating your insights. Helping stakeholders trust you will require data, but also self-confidence when presenting.

In reality, graduating with an HCI degree is the most beneficial, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from trying to break into the UXR industry because it didn’t stop me. Throughout my career, I have seen researchers come from English, Anthropology, Business, and Communication majors. I have seen and worked with researchers that didn’t come from a traditional background become managers and directors in big tech companies.

Feel free to connect with me, or Jason here on Linkedin. We are always happy to chat & help you find your voice in the world of UX.

Read the full article here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

How likely is it that the next visitor will find your app easy to use? A humanistic approach on usability.

How likely is it that the next visitor will find your app easy to use? A humanistic approach on usability.

“How easy is it to use?

Layout in App Design…in 10 minutes.

Layout in App Design…in 10 minutes.

Table of Contents Hide The basics of layout for UX and product designers

You May Also Like