Sharing industry knowledge with local students to inspire future UX researchers

16th June 2022
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Last week Head of Product and User Experience at Mina, Laurie Nicholas, took part in an industry panel at the University of Sheffield’s School of Information to share his expert knowledge with future candidates about employability in the UX field.

Alongside panellists, Emma Buckee, Lead Product Designer at Sky Betting and Gaming; Victoria Garcia Greene, Senior User Researcher at MadeTech and Cam Spillman, Managing Director and Co-founder at Paper, Laurie answered student-submitted questions about the application process and the skills UX employers look for in potential candidates.  

The panellists advised that candidates should always put their best foot forward and ensure they come across as genuine as possible throughout their applications. Showcasing curiosity about a company and taking the time to research before applying proves a greater interest in a role; setting apart serious candidates from those not entirely invested in adding value to a business.

Laurie highlighted that ‘people hire people, not applications’ so this process should be viewed as an opportunity to get personalities across to an employer. Applications can be more than just a simple CV, as the panellists explained they had received everything from website mock-ups to Spotify playlists.

Laurie added that having a creative flair is highly encouraged for UX candidates, as thinking outside the box will cement their ability to problem solve and push the boundaries of an employer's expectations. 

Students also asked about the kind of skills employers value in a potential candidate.

Laurie explained: “Soft and hard skills are important to showcase, regardless of your area of study, however, critical thinking is key in a UX position.

"Doing your research about the processes a business uses prior to an interview will give you an edge. Learn to question the way businesses do things and suggest alternatives to prove how you could add value.”

The students wanted to understand the type of work culture they would find in the UX field, and how they would be expected to present themselves in these environments. 

The panellists agreed that culture can vary from business to business, so researching beforehand would provide plenty of insight. Alternatively, asking about work culture during an interview could give candidates the time to truly consider whether that company is the right fit for them.

Some businesses still follow a traditional work culture; suits, strict hours and exclusive office working, which for some applicants could be the right environment to promote productivity, however, the panellists pointed out that Mina’s culture offers a modernist approach for their own team.

Laurie detailed: “Mina has an incredibly laid-back style of work ethos, trust being the main factor in that. As I’ve already said, employers want people, not just applications, so for Mina, we look for someone who can not only add knowledge and skills but someone who can add to our team on a personal level.

"Placing trust in an employee to get the job done makes the whole work environment a much healthier place for everyone to thrive in.”

Laurie finished the session by explaining that the students should value themselves highly, as companies are aiming to make a profit off of hiring them, therefore, they should recognise that they are going to be an asset. 

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