Interview with John Buckley, DESIGNATION Alum and Founder of MyUXResume

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John Buckley is an alum of Diamond cohort. A native Irishman, John came to DESIGNATION intent on starting a UX career. Soon after graduating, he built MyUXResume and landed a role as a UX Designer at Frontend, Ireland’s premier UX agency.


Hey John! So right off the bat, what’s MyUXResume all about?
MyUXResume is a tool which allows UXers to rate themselves across 14 attributes that are found within the UX process (and commonly requested in job specs). Once a user rates themselves it then spits out a JPEG of their skillsets on a standardized graphic. The idea is that UXers can communicate where their strengths lie, and that hiring managers can quickly get a sense of who this candidate is at a glance.

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How did you first get the idea for MyUXResume?
The idea came to me while I was sitting in a cafe reading Leah Buley’s The User Experience Team of One, in which she acknowledges the vast number of industries from which people can transition into UX. This struck a chord with my own experience; coming from a business and marketing background I was constantly having recruiters read ‘John Buckley – UX’ and assuming I was the ideal candidate for their largely UI and Dev positions, irrespective of the fact that my resume was pretty clear that I had no experience in these fields.

What tools/resources did you use to build it?
Well, in terms of the logo, scorecards, and imagery on the website I designed those using Adobe Illustrator. The website I built using WordPress and, seeing as I am not a Dev, sought out a PHP Developer to write the code which facilitates the rating system and generates the appropriate, personalized, scorecards.

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How many users have you seen so far?
About 100 people have generated their personalized scorecard and hundreds more have visited the site and checked out the concept. I am blown away by how far this thing has gone, UXers on every single continent have generated their scorecards which is amazing! It has also sparked a bunch of great conversations with some heavy hitters in the industry, including Leah Buley. It has really struck a chord with the industry and I have been approached by both agencies and recruiters about developing it out, something I seriously didn’t fathom when initially putting it together.

“I have been approached by both agencies and recruiters about developing it out, something I seriously didn’t fathom when initially putting it together.”

What professional opportunities has it opened up for you?
Professionally it has been great, the project has opened doors the world over in terms of networking and getting to chat to some of the biggest names in UX about it. More to the point though, it has also sparked an interest in me with hiring managers and I received a number of job offers on the back of MyUXResume, including my current role at Ireland’s top UX agency, Frontend, which I am extremely excited about.

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Switching gears, what made you decide to fly halfway around the world to come to DESIGNATION?
Previously, I worked in a startup where I got to engage with users and the tech team things like user flows, as well as the website’s taxonomy, etc. Coming from a marketing background I saw this as ‘product improvement’ and later went on to advise other startups in Dublin. I knew I would be more valuable if I had a better insight into the tech world and the fact that DESIGNATION focused on the basics of coding along with Design Thinking seemed perfect to me.

There was nothing similar showing up in Ireland, and certainly nothing anywhere near the level that DESIGNATION were operating on. I also have family in Chicago, so I bit the bullet, reached out and the rest is history. On the first day of the program in Chicago I still needed to Google what UX and UI stood for! To take me from there to where I am now as an advocate for UX in such a short period of time is testament to how far you can come through the bootcamp experience.

What was the experience in the program like? What were some of your favorite parts of your time here?
My three months at DESIGNATION were such a revelation to me. Being in a bootcamp, surrounded by such passion, enthusiasm and excitement all day was intense and so utterly rewarding. Everyone at DESIGNATION is going through this roller coaster – it’s tough, and the hours are long, and the work is challenging, but you go through it together, and you work it out together, and you cheer each other on, and very quickly, you realize that this quirky bunch of aspiring designers have become your new family.

You problem solve together, eat together, work together, socialize and pass out together, and together you begin planning the footsteps that will see you develop your pathway to the rest of your life. The entire experience was wonderful for me, perhaps more-so because I was not only experiencing a new working environment, learning about something I was passionate about with a cohort full of cheerleaders, but also I was exploring a new city (and a very different climate!).

I think my favorite part of my experience was the atmosphere, passion and energy in the office, we were broken down and rebuilt together and the connections and camaraderie that comes with that is very special; I miss that very much. To be honest, part of what I like about my new role at Frontend is that it feels a lot like DESIGNATION; the passion and atmosphere is quite similar (although the hours, thankfully are not!) A lot changed for me at, and because of, DESIGNATION; my experience there was certainly a defining moment in my professional career as I found UX and realized that it combines the perfect mix of problem solving and creativity for me.

“Everyone at DESIGNATION is going through this roller coaster – the hours are long and the work is challenging, but you cheer each other on, and realize that this quirky bunch of aspiring designers have become your new family. “

What’s the UX scene in Ireland like? What are your future career plans?
The UX scene in Ireland is quite different to that in Chicago, in terms of development its probably a few years behind Chicago. A lot of UX roles being advertised are actually either UI or Dev. At the moment there are only a handful of companies that have great UX teams, but it is growing. Most of the roles that have been coming on stream the past few months have been senior in-house roles so that’s positive to see. Chicago has a very active Meetup scene though, I miss that – here there seems to be a shyness about UX agencies going to each others events. From the outside, it seems to be a bit of a strange dynamic, but hopefully those walls will come down as the industry evolves here. Luckily, Frontend are one of the agencies driving the scene here and are very eager for me to get involved in the UX scene in Dublin which is great.

What advice would you give to someone just getting interested in the UI/UX industry?
UX is definitely easier to transition into if you have a UI or Dev background, otherwise it can be tough. One of the best pieces of advice I received at DESIGNATION was to stop highlighting my various strengths (marketing, project management, etc) and commit to one. Commit to one that I am passionate about and want to work in and just go make it happen. Scrapping my ‘rounded’ candidacy and pushing myself as a UXer was a tough call, but ultimately the right one, I committed to UX and then spent the next few months demonstrating to anyone who would listen that I was committed to UX (and worth a punt).

I’d also suggest you learn as much as you can (to do the job, you’re going to need to learn a lot), connect with senior UX advocates and agency bosses to highlight your interest and get their feedback, work on side-projects and reach out to get inputs (and hopefully differentiate yourself). Build as many connections as you can. Transitioning into UX is tough, I surely wouldn’t have been able to do it without the guidance I received in, and after, my time at DESIGNATION.

For me I learned the process from scratch, highlighted my commitment by relocating and spending 3 months studying and practicing UX, met some of the most passionate and motivated people I have ever met, came out with experience and a portfolio to showcase that experience, as well as an incredibly strong network. All the building blocks for finding a job were provided by DESIGNATION and it was a case of taking those and being proactive to source the right role for me back home. It can be a big ask, but if you take the passion injected into you at DESIGNATION and role with that as you pave your path; nothing will stop you from making it happen for you.

“A lot changed for me at, and because of, DESIGNATION; my experience there was certainly a defining moment in my professional career.”

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