This is the Ironhack Student Podcast and we’re catching up in this show with the UX students’ first week.
Jimmy: Boom! We are recording. But before we start, just a little bit about Ironhack, in case you don’t know who we are. I’ll try to make it as brief as possible. Ironhack is essentially a school where we help people go from no idea to junior level developers or UX/UI designers. The way we do this is we kind of hold them hostage for eight to nine weeks and the only thing they’re allowed to do is learn. So this is the big difference between coming to a bootcamp versus studying online, on your own for at close to no cost, practically. So the difference is that here you’re dedicating your life, full-time, this is your job, for eight to nine weeks.
So we are pretty successful in turning people from no idea into that junior level professional that they want. We’ve helped, I think, over 600 people transition their careers into the tech world, whether it’s as developers or designers. So, yeah, that’s kind of what we do. So if anybody’s interested in changing careers, leveling up, maybe adding a new professional skill to their resume, and making some more money in the next job that you’re going to apply for. Then Ironhack could possibly be a solution for you, so give us a call or email us or write to us, or, you know, we’re on Twitter, we’re on all the social media. So you can find us. And if you’re interested reach out to us, we’re very helpful. So we’re not going to try and hard sell you anything. We want to provide information so you can make a decision. And then if you decide that we’re the right bootcamp for you, awesome. If not, then good luck.
So UX students’ first week is over, how are you guys doing?
Mohamed: Good. But I disagree with you on something that you said.
Mohamed: You said the only thing we’re allowed to do is learn, but we are allowed also to do mistakes.
Jimmy: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
Mohamed: It’s a way of learning but—
Jimmy: Absolutely, you’re not going to go from zero to the professional kind of vision that you have without.
Jimmy: I’m not sure if I should be cursing on the podcast, I’m not sure yet. But let’s say drop a big F bomb in there.
Jimmy: Up a little bit. So anyways, today I’m by Mohamed, Marta and Salvador. Why don’t—ah, no, Salvador switched out. This is Isaac, sorry, bro. So yeah, why don’t you each introduce yourselves, tell me a little bit about you, name, age, what you were doing before we jump into something else.
Marta: Should I start?
Jimmy: Yeah, go for it.
Marta: So I come from the sales world and actually my last two jobs were about it and I decided, ok, it’s time to make a change because I got a creative side and I said, hey, why not. Let’s get a little bit techy and try to become a UI/UX designer. And, by the way, I’m realizing that my sales background and also my design, graphic, creative background it’s going to be very useful for this course. And actually I’m enjoying that.
“I got a creative side and I said, hey, why not. Let’s get a little bit techy and try to become a UI/UX designer.” -Marta
Jimmy: Awesome. So from sales into tapping into the creative side that you have.
Marta: Exactly, I love challenges.
Jimmy: Very commendable.
Mohamed: I’m Mohamed, 23 years old from Egypt. I’m coming from the mechanical engineering industry and here we go, I’m in the designing world now.
Isaac: I’m Isaac, I’m 40 years old and I was selling instruments for 10 years and, you know, I wanted to change my life.
“I was selling instruments for 10 years and, you know, I wanted to change my life.” -Isaac
Isaac: And why not with this bootcamp, I think it could be very useful for me.
Jimmy: So I do have—I guess the first question is what was happening that caused you to be interested in UX/UI design? Like how did that discovery happen that UX existed and why did you ultimately decide to sign up for this?
Marta: For me it was the decision that I was, like Isaac, the sales world is very tiring, you always have to bring results, results, results. And unluckily the Spanish market is not very good because lately my last job lasted for six months and I said, wait a second, I would like to be my own boss. And if I want to do that in the world that we live right now I need some techie knowledge but I’m not ready to become a developer. And I said maybe UX designer since it’s a little bit more creative and as I said, allows you to study … and I am good at connecting with people. Could be a good solution and that’s why here I am. And also because I love challenges.
Mohamed: And for me as a mechanical engineer I hate it, so I was trying to learn online courses for designing but, you know, when you learn online, you are learning but you are like stuck in the way, you know. Don’t know which way to go, what are you going to do next? Like what are you learning now is going to help you or not. So that’s why I decided to come like for a bootcamp. So I guess it’s a good decision because I’m here, I’m learning the right way.
“When you learn online you don’t know if what are you learning now is going to help you or not.” -Mohamed
Jimmy: Right. What about you?
Isaac: Oh, about me?
Jimmy: What was that transition point to where you said, you know what, UX/UI design is interesting?
Isaac: Because I saw Ironhack in a book, I don’t remember exactly but—and then I go to the website and trying to understand what it is. And then when I saw what Ironhack is doing—
Jimmy: It’s alright.
Jimmy: So what was it about UX/UI design? Because after you found out about us, that’s fine. But before, did you start researching into UX/UI design? Like what it was?
Jimmy: So what was interesting about the process or the job that—you know, because this is a big decision and deciding to transition into working as a designer, you know, what was it about UX design?
Isaac: Because maybe it has different things. It’s … but at the same it’s technological and it’s new. You know what I mean?
Jimmy: Yeah, totally.
Isaac: I feel it’s very complex for my way to see live or my future works.
Jimmy: So were you guys already, you know, maybe doing some tutorials and learning about UX/UI on your own beforehand? And what were you doing?
Marta: Never. I never did that. I made some online courses but the same as Mohamed, I had the feeling that, ok, I’m learning a lot but how I’m going to put that on practice?
Jimmy: Yeah, I think that’s one of the things that I’ve heard a few times. It’s that when you’re off learning on your own, it’s like, ok, you’ll learn a tutorial. You’ll do the project, you’ll go through it but how you piece everything together is ultimately like this very confusing moment where, I’ve learned a whole bunch of separate things but how to piece it together. So about your first week, just give me a summary of kind of the things that you discovered and what you’ve been feeling during the first week.
Mohamed: I discovered that I can work like 12 hours a day [laughing] and I can survive, only in first week.
“I discovered that I can work like 12 hours a day and I can survive.” -Mohamed
Marta: That’s important. The other thing I learned is that it’s crucial for any kind of business, no matter if it’s big or small that you understand very, very well the customer that you have in front of you. You know his needs, his profile, his daily life, everything matters. Everything, even the smallest detail.
Jimmy: So what was this first week about? Like overview, like just a general overview, what was the first week about?
Mohamed: It was about user research, you understand your customer, your users. Like you have a good idea but nobody needs it, you know what I mean?
“The first week was about user research, understanding your customer, your users.” -Mohamed
Mohamed: So that’s how to make like to go user research, do surveys, do interviews to figure out if the users want your idea or not.
Mohamed: So that’s mainly the first week.
Isaac: Or maybe you think you have a very good idea and it’s not.
Jimmy: Ok, so how do you discover that it’s not? Like what did you practically do in class to discover whether or not it was a good or bad idea?
Mohamed: Just go to the users.
Jimmy: Ok. How?
Mohamed: Go outside—we went outside doing interviews, what they think, asking questions—
Isaac: Yeah, making surveys.
Mohamed: To validate your idea. Maybe it’s a very good idea, maybe it’s not, how we’re going to figure it out? Go ask your users.
Marta: Finding the right questions and, obviously, in case that you realize that your solution is not the one that the users are looking for, how can you adapt that to fulfill his needs?
Jimmy: So how would I begin to put a survey together to help me understand if this is a good or a bad idea? Like, what are some of the things that you learned that you could teach me?
Mohamed: It’s a long process [laugh].
Jimmy: Oh, it’s a long–? What’s involved?
Mohamed: Involved like brainstorming, like understand your idea at the beginning, do mind mapping, you know. And then after ok, make a draft of questions, ok, I need to know the age of the customer, what he likes. Like many, many things involved together, know what I mean? And then, ok, let’s go ask the users.
Marta: So like a potential target that’s important too.
Mohamed: Yeah, yeah.
Isaac: Yeah, and you learn how you clean your ideas, for example, because sometimes you have a lot of ideas and, oh yes, this is very good and I can put this. But then the teachers teach you how you can clean these ideas and put the good ideas in one way and—
Jimmy: So what was the value, do think, of this first week?
Mohamed: To validate your idea.
Jimmy: To validate your idea?
Mohamed: It’s about validation.
Mohamed: And sketch, I’ve done like some sketches for, like, if you want to do, like, a firsthand sketch for mobile app or website.
Jimmy: Because I see on the wall like a million pieces of paper and post-its and—you guys are lucky because you have, like, a long, long wall—
Jimmy: Lots of walls. So what are some of those pieces of paper, what did you put on them?
Mohamed: It’s about like the first mind mapping like because—like the first three days were just like the end of the third day it was just to come up with the questions to do the survey.
Mohamed: You know what I mean? So all these papers are about to come up with the right questions.
Jimmy: Ok, so it’s discovering what these right questions are that you need to ask. And what are some of the things that a person needs to be careful of with these questions?
Mohamed: There are many questions that you can ask anyone, but what is the right question to ask? That will help you to validate your idea, that’s the point.
“There are many questions that you can ask anyone, but what is the right question to ask to help you validate your idea? That’s the point.” -Mohamed
Jimmy: And how did you find out what the right question was?
Marta: First of all the finding the features of the product or the service that you want to launch. Then asking the customer, realizing if he likes it or not and why, especially why because you need some feedback. Deciding if you want to make open questions in—for example, in online surveys. Because you know they are not going to spend that much time in taking their time to answer to you. And when you are face to face you have to keep in mind not only about the … but also on the body language. So it’s kind of a delicate thing.
Jimmy: After that first week is over now, what are your feelings about the first week? Was it what you expected, was it more, was it less? How was it?
Mohamed: It was tiring.
Jimmy: Oh, tiring?
Mohamed: Of course.
Isaac: I discovered it will be hard—
Mohamed: But not that hard.
Isaac: But also it’s very happy to do it—
Jimmy: So you’re having a good time?
Isaac: It’s a strange mix because it’s very hard and it’s a lot of work and the deadline is all the time you have to do this in 30 minutes, in 10 minutes because you have not time. And it’s wow! But then at the end you feel very, very good because you can do it and the teachers help to do it.
“It’s a strange mix because it’s very hard and it’s a lot of work. But then at the end, you feel very, very good because you can do it.” -Issac
Jimmy: That’s a pretty cool way to put it, it’s very hard but you’re having a good time doing it.
Jimmy: I guess that’s when you like something.
Mohamed: Of course.
Jimmy: It’s like, there’s always challenges but if you don’t let those challenges bring you down and kind of just throw in the towel and quit, then I guess you enjoy it, right?
Jimmy: So what about your teachers? What can you tell me about them? What’s your impressions of them?
Marta: Very open minded and willing to listen to new ideas and whenever they see that you are a little bit lost about finding—I don’t know, for example, the right questions, they are always there to give you a helping hand.
Jimmy: And so with the teachers, what were some of the exercises that maybe you personally found the most challenging that they were able to kind of un-block thinking and lead you to better understanding?
Isaac: I don’t know how to explain it.
Jimmy: There was a huff and a puff.
Marta: Well, there was one thing. They told us that sometimes we need to obsess in finding a solution and they told us you should focus more on listening to the customer. And whenever you see that your mind is blocked, that you cannot find a solution go walk for five minutes and then come back and start thinking again. You will see things a little bit different. And that is very good advice.
“They told us that sometimes we need to obsess in finding a solution and to focus more on listening to the customer. And whenever your mind is blocked and you cannot find a solution to go walk for five minutes and then come back and start thinking again.” -Marta
Jimmy: So did you take that advice, did you do that?
Marta: Yeah, definitely.
Jimmy: And what was the result?
Marta: Great. It helped me to stop blocking and—well I also had another trick on my own that works. Whenever I couldn’t find a solution and didn’t feel like working because the weather was terrible last week, I just draw, prepare the logo for the project and then I say, ok, I’ve got an idea. And then I work it on that. It’s a way to—I think that what they mean, the teachers, was to find a way to disconnect just for a little while so that your mind can become clear again. And then you can work harder on the project you’re working on.
Jimmy: How did you manage to kind of put everything on pause to sign up to this? Because it’s something that is very intensive. So was it something that you had just clear in mind or did you—just the right time or how did that come about?
Mohamed: I was just like I decided to go for a bootcamp, and then I looked for the reviews and everything. Because it’s not an easy decision especially if there is no bootcamp in your country.
Isaac: So that’s why I read the reviews and everything, that’s why I decided to come to Ironhacking Barcelona.
Jimmy: And how did it happen for you?
Isaac: For me was the same process. The first time I was looking for what Ironhack and read a lot of reviews and all the reviews are good. And then I come here because I was working very, very near from here. And I came here a lot of times and speak with people in here and—
Jimmy: Right. You felt good about it?
Jimmy: Yeah? That’s good, that’s good. So coming up in this next week, do you know—because today is Monday and we’re going to catch up on Friday because you were giving presentation. Actually, before we go into that, what were your presentations about on Friday? Because at the end of the first week to have presentations, I’m curious to know what you were presenting?
Marta: We were presenting—well, the project was about an application called Blindr that it was a blind kind of blind dates, online blind dates for people who’s looking for getting to know new people. And I tell you, we had to do the whole process that it was, seeing if this kind of application would be welcome by potential users and which features should we change. Well, realizing how would it work in case that we launched that, if the customers would accept, what things we should add, et cetera.
Mohamed: It’s like implementing everything you learn in the whole week in one project individually.
Jimmy: Right. And did each one of you have to present your own thing or was it a group or–?
Mohamed: No, it was individual. And there is a group project.
Isaac: We have two projects, one project in group and then you—
Jimmy: What was the group project, was it this one? Or was it–?
Marta: The other one.
Isaac: It’s almost the same but it’s in other ways an application about salads and delivery—
Jimmy: Ok, that’s the survey that went out?
Mohamed: And for the individual group there is a survey also, but you do it alone.
Jimmy: Ok. Ok, ok, ok. So what are goals for after the bootcamp?
Marta: Become a freelancer. So offering my services to startups. Actually my goal would be to help them to realize if their products or services can be accepted in the market. That’s a good UX designer’s goal. And secondly since I have some knowledge in video and photography and also graphic design, offering those services too. So I think that will be kind of my own agency.
“My goal would be to startups to realize if their products or services can be accepted in the market. That’s a good UX designer’s goal.” -Marta
Mohamed: And for me I plan to look for jobs, but for now I plan to work hard in the bootcamp.
Jimmy: That’s a good goal.
Mohamed: Yeah, for now.
Isaac: Actually I don’t know what will be happening at the end. I expect to have any work or not. But I don’t know, I’m just—now I’m here and I’m trying to learn it and enjoy it and then, who knows?
Jimmy: What are some of the resources that you’ve discovered? Maybe one thing that you discovered over the past week that you find very—a useful tool for UX design?
Marta: Actually the tools that we used, for example, the one for designing surveys, there was an application called Evernote, for me that’s good. Because it doesn’t only allow you to share documents and notes but also record audio. And when you are on the street, for example, and you don’t have a recorder, it’s good that you can take your cell phone and record whatever you have in front of you.
Mohamed: I guess, for me, like UX is about user experience so to understand your user, that’s what we did last week. Like for user research to do surveys with the users to understand what they are thinking about what they want, what they really want.
Jimmy: Did you discover an online tool or resource that you would recommend to someone learning UX?
Mohamed: We used many tools for like everything we were doing.
Jimmy: What’s the first one that comes to mind?
Mohamed: Mind mapping because I’ve done it a lot so—
Jimmy: But is there an online tool for that?
Mohamed: Yeah, mindmap.com.
Mohamed: So that was—
Jimmy: And what about you?
Isaac: I’m just trying all the tools, I’m not sure—
Jimmy: Ok. Ok, fair enough. So let’s say somebody was thinking about a UX/UI bootcamp, what’s one piece of advice that you would give them after this first week is done? What is something that you discovered or learned from this first week’s experience that you could give as advice to someone considering the bootcamp?
Marta: If you are interested in learning fast and putting in practice what you learn, and you’re not afraid of hard work, that’s the place.
Mohamed: If you plan to work as hard as you can and just have little time to sleep, come to Ironhack.
“If you plan to work as hard as you can and just have little time to sleep, come to Ironhack.” -Mohamed
Isaac: If you need support you have it here. Yes, it’s hard, you have to work a lot but—
Mohamed: Like in the reviews everyone is saying it’s intense, you have to work hard. But after the first week, I didn’t expect that.
Jimmy: I don’t even know yet how to really explain that to people, because it’s—I don’t know. We could write it down a hundred times, it’s very, very, very, very, et cetera, et cetera, intense. And it’s going to require a lot of time and effort and little sleep and being here all day, blah, blah, blah. But still people don’t really understand what that means.
Jimmy: So I don’t know, I’m still trying to figure out how to explain that, but maybe a picture of the—I don’t know what but—
Mohamed: You have to come and spend time with us one day.
Jimmy: Yeah, I think definitely.
Mohamed: That’s the only way I guess.
Jimmy: And I’m pretty sure that people should do that, they should figure out a way to kind of mimic the experience. I hope that when they have the opportunity to listen to something like this they can get an idea of being a little bit closer into the program without actually having to sign up. And figure out if this is for them or not.
Marta: I wanted to say that in case that you want to prove what it actually feels like taking a bootcamp that hard, just come and ask us any Thursday afternoon. I can assure you that we are very, very stressed that day because every Friday there’s a presentation and we go crazy.
Jimmy: Yeah, so what’s coming up this week? Do you know?
Mohamed: It’s about prototyping but like everything wireframes. Like last week more about sketching and the … user, but now it’s about, ok, let’s work.
Mohamed: We should have a portfolio like GitHub or…
Marta: … or maybe having a blog. One of the teachers told us on Friday that it would be a good idea to create a blog on our own—
Marta: And publish there our how we are learning, what are we learning, some pictures, if we discover any way to learn faster.
Mohamed: So once we complete them we’ll send them.
Jimmy: Ok, so hopefully, I’ll see how I can link you guys up in the end of the show in the blog post. So, thanks a lot, good luck. And to anyone listening that’s interested in the bootcamp just go to ironhack.com, reach out to us. No commitment, we’ll give you as much information as we can. Thanks a lot, it’s been fun. See you.
Mohamed: Thanks, Jim.
Marta: See you.