Background of Our Experimental Apprenticeship Program
In August 2020, I was tired of crappy UX research SaaS systems, and decided that I should build my own. My second thought was: what if this project were mostly done by apprentices with unlimited coaching from me? My third thought was: how can I turn that into a model others can follow?
Colloquio was born. It’s a CX/UX research SaaS that will save the day. I’m hoping it will go live in summer 2021. Yes, you will be able to use it.
Solving job problems through apprenticeships
Problem 1: Most free and paid UX internships and apprenticeships I have seen require previous work experience (often a year, sometimes more), a uni degree in a UX-related topic like HCI, or college coursework towards a degree. It seems like companies want slightly experienced CX/UX practitioners to call them interns/apprentices so they can pay them less than a junior job (or pay them nothing).
Problem 2: Most bootcamps, programs, and even uni programs aren’t making people job ready. You will learn something! But if you do not have enough knowledge or skill for a first job, these can be a partial or complete waste of time and money.
Problem 3: There are tens of thousands of people out there looking for their first junior CX/UX job. Since so many aren’t job-ready, companies adjusted for that by requiring that juniors already have 1+ years of experience. That’s the paradox: how do you get your first job when you can’t get your first job?
Problem 4: There are unfortunate voices out there saying that we should just give newbies “production designer” jobs, where they assist seniors and take grunt work off their plates.
- “Drowning in grunt work I wish I could give an assistant” isn’t a common problem for seniors and higher.
- Very few up-and-coming CX/UX practitioners want to do production or grunt work. They want to do real work.
- If we give newbies production or grunt work, what will they put in their portfolio? “The senior made these tablet wireframes in portrait mode, and I made these derivatives in landscape.” ??? That doesn’t level anybody up and help them get their next job.
- Production work is often an order-taker job. We need this, please just do it. CX/UX are problem-finding, problem-solving, and far from order taking. Why would we tell newbies to just take orders from seniors as a supposed stepping stone to being a critical thinker, deductive reasoner, Low Ego Action Hero?
There are many talented and high-potential people out there who haven’t started or done a uni degree, have no work experience, don’t want to do production work, and are being ignored. The question is how do we find those people?
Where Do We Start?
Reach out if you need help, but hopefully this page will give you the basics for a model. You mostly need:
- A Lead CX/UX Researcher and/or Architect – who can run the program and oversee the apprentices as part of their job.
- Standards – who will get in and who is likely to be offered a junior job during or after the apprenticeship. Your qualified and talented Lead should be able to determine who is a good fit.
- Real projects – don’t give apprentices fake projects, stakeholder ego projects, or the typical internship “hey just come up with something you can improve.” But you won’t want to give them mission-critical projects without extra oversight. They are still learning.
- Time – You need a Lead who can devote roughly 35% of their allocation to this program. They’ll start with formalizing and documenting how your company will execute on the program. They will review and select candidates. They will teach classes or choose whose video courses the apprentices must go through.