Emotional maturity and thinking deeply: How studying an online MA has helped this UX Design student to thrive
04 March 2022
UX Design student Josh Brough has recently secured a job at Cornwall fashion and lifestyle brand Seasalt, and credits the course for teaching him to think more deeply and critically about his work.
After finding himself stuck in a professional rut, and with his first daughter on the way, Birmingham-based Josh Brough decided to take control of his career progression by becoming a student on MA User Experience Design (Online). And he hasn’t looked back. His confidence and capabilities as a designer have soared, and he has recently secured a new job as a UX Designer at Cornwall fashion and lifestyle brand Seasalt.
Josh’s curiosity about user experience design was first piqued when he was working in a technical support role for a tech company several years ago. Peering across the desk at the developers and designers, he knew almost instantly that he wanted to get involved. “I realised that it was incredibly rewarding being surrounded by highly skilled people solving challenging problems, and so I decided that was the thing I wanted to try next,” he says.
The fact that the course was online made it more manageable for Josh to pursue a subject he wanted to study around his life commitments. And while online students spend most of their study time working remotely, the opportunity to come down to Falmouth for several face-to-face events was a factor that swayed Josh, as well as the prospect of being part of the Games Academy.
“I’d heard about the Games Academy at Falmouth and thought it looked very cool. Aside from the stuff I do professionally, I do like video games, so I’ve been able to hone my practice and the principles of UX design in a unique way. And it has worked out so well – I’ve been part of some interesting projects because of the connection to game development and design”.
From responses on forum posts and academic discussions, to hanging out together playing games on Discord, Josh has found the cohort engagement to be particularly strong. “There is a huge sense of digital community between students and tutors in the Games Academy, and from the start of my studies it has felt like it has grown organically”.
In any field it’s important to be a reflective person, but particularly in UX design, having that ability to critically reflect and to make informed design decisions, and to think about things at a deep level. It has totally revolutionised the way that I work.
It was through that Discord forum that Josh first found out about the role at Seasalt. “One of the tutors put an email out to the whole cohort, highlighting the opportunity, and I missed the email! But somebody else on my course got in touch with me directly to say the role sounded right up my street and that I should go for it. So, I put the application in, and the rest is history”.
Josh is incredibly excited to get stuck into the role, joining the brand at a particularly stimulating moment. “Working on the ecommerce side, I’ll be joining another UX Designer to form a new team, and that was one of the most exciting things to me about the role. Thinking back to the days when I was looking over the desk at the designers working together, I’ve now got the opportunity to be part of building that team, which is going to be cool”.
Then there’s the design aspects of the role, which Josh is equally enthused about. “I’m really looking forward to solving different design problems, and it’s an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often, working with such a well-established company to adapt to the socio-economic changes brought about by the pandemic and increasingly digitised audiences”.
There is a huge sense of digital community between students and tutors in the Games Academy, and from the start of my studies it has felt like it has grown organically.
On reflection, Josh credits the course for helping him to think more deeply and critically about his work, and for strengthening his emotional maturity – which he believes helped him to secure the role at Seasalt. “Something that gets introduced to students right at the start of the course is the concept of critical reflection. In any field it’s important to be a reflective person, but particularly in UX design, having that ability to critically reflect and to make informed design decisions, and to think about things at a deep level. It has totally revolutionised the way that I work”.
And what advice would Josh give to people thinking about joining the course? “The easy answer to that is to just join the course and start learning! But something a bit more profound than that might be to challenge your perspectives.
“Throughout your design process, seek different perspectives – as painful as it can be to call into question something you’ve made that you’re proud of. Grab onto those experiences with both hands, hear people out when they have opinions to share about your designs.
“In time, you will acquire the ability to challenge your own perspectives and walk miles in other shoes, which does wonders for your practice. It’s something I firmly believe has got me to the position I’m in now, about to start a cool new job”.