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InVision ambassador ambassador
Maria Stanat Maria Stanat

How To Leave A Bad Workplace?

Hello everyone, 

I hope someone can give me advice on this because I really need someone who's been doing this longer than I have.

I got hired straight out of uni for an UX role. I was so happy and too inexperienced to see the warning signs... I've been the only UX designer at the company for almost two years now because I thought things would change and establishing UX takes time, but things are getting worse and worse. I should have quit far sooner.

My work life is hell. Every attempt to establish UX got squashed by people who don't believe in "fancy new job titles" and the "bullshit that comes with it". They view me as a graphic designer that gets paid a tiny bit more than the print team. Last week was the icing on the cake as I got told to skip research and creating personas because it takes too long and I should focus on more important work (slapping UI onto a nonexistent prototype...) by my boss. They've been pushing me towards doing graphic design for their marketing team in print, too. I'm everything but a print designer. I have no clue about all that print stuff, like layouting entire magazines and creating files a print office can work with and all that...  and frankly, I tried but I hate doing the print stuff and I want out asap! 

 

Given how "nice" my colleagues are, every project I worked on had a good UX concept that got completely ignored by the dev team in the end. They did whatever they wanted to do. Sure, the end products work, but don't have good UX. I can't put any of those projects into my portfolio if I want to get hired. The other things that were developed by a team outside the company included my UX concepts but those projects are and will remain under NDA. I can't use them as portfolio pieces either.

 

Back in the days I had my student portfolio but after two years I have no professional work I can show. How can I put a portfolio together this way? Can I still just do a project of my choice and use it in my portfolio? Won't employers ask why I didn't include anything professionally that's finished?

 

I'm also scared I won't meet the standards and expectations of companies who already have existing UX teams. I have two years of work experience on paper, but I had no one who would correct me if I was wrong about something. Everything I know about UX is from uni and the things I was able to figure out on my own. I don't want to leave UX, I love it. All I want is a professional setting where I can work like a normal UX designer.

If I leave this company I know I'll be asked why (standard procedure) and I don't know what to tell them because the truth is a mess and they'll most likely hold everything against me and say it was all my fault. Is there any way I can let them know everything is messy and unprofessional without sugarcoating too much? Given how some people behave towards me (and the boss doesn't care at all) I doubt anything will change, but I'd like to clearly communicate one final time that this is not how UX works and they shouldn't hire another UX designer if they aren't willing to include the UX work in their projects. I'm not sure if telling them is a good idea, I'd rather go for "I have a better offer" but then nothing will change for the next designer. 

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Michéle (Mikele) De Sousa
InVision ambassador Michéle (Mikele) De Sousa , ambassador Edited
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Hi Maria

Firstly, thank you so much for reaching out to the community with this question. Its questions like these that get me so passionate about being an ambassador on this amazing community in order to assist as best I can.
Thank you!

 

I have to say that I am really sorry to hear about your current situation. It is not great when you had expectations and they are not met however in saying that, you should not beat or more importantly judge yourself about this. Life is a journey and we all have our experiences to live. This is one for you and you alone as you have something(s) to learn for your next best thing. I can relate to you as my first job was not the best either. I worked for a small Telecommunicates business as a Developer to write billing and network software for main Telecoms around in and around Africa. Luckly my life took an awesome turn when I was headhunted as a UX Designer for a major Financial Services Corporate. Unfortunately I was also badly used and abused in my first gig but in the end, I grew from that experience and if I can give you your first piece of advice in this post is that you are always going to have hard times in life.
Why are they important? It tests your resolve as it is not how you take the punches but rather how you take the punches, get up and keep moving forward. You determine how your life pans out.

 

So to start, unfortunately, when it comes to situations like this there is no easy way but to just be honest with yourself and others. If you want to have the conversations in your company have honest ones with your line manager or boss. For the future, having conversations and regular check-ins are so important in any environment as you need a platform to just talk. However, if you feel this is futile then I would suggest being honest with yourself and reflect in order to bed down, what is it you want to do with your life.

 

In terms of your time there I would like to ask, what was it that made you want to take the job? Was it the company? The prospects of what you were going to do?

To be honest seems they had no idea of the role they marketed for as from your description they clearly do not understand UX Design and the process thereof. Hence, why it is so difficult to discuss things with your developers. Respectful work culture and trust for each other's craft in a workspace is the foundation of doing great things.

 

On your next point.
When you took the job what were your roles and responsibilities? Reason for this is for you to be empowered. Honestly and this is the most difficult thing to do is to say No. If the thing(s) they are asking you to do is not part of your day-to-day and something you are not comfortable or interest in doing for your own growth you are well within your right to say NO. Yes as humans we innately like to please. There are many reasons for that but initially, we want to be recognised however, sometimes that can be taken out of context and misused as to the intent and you start getting abused. So, using the facts in a conversation is the best thing for you.

 

In terms of your portfolio work and case studies. I can not tell you how we are one of the same. All my work that has been done and still doing for the past decade are all under NDA's. It is tough but something I have learnt is that it doesn't matter. Doing side projects, something for the community or even a concept that you can use as a case studies can also go a long way. It's more about the way you do your work and not the work you do. The process out-ways the outcome every time.

 

To assist further, here is a link to a post on this community that has some useful resources:

How to create a UX Portfolio from scratch - https://support.invisionapp.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/360034456311-How-to-create-a-UX-portfolio-from-scratch

 

Here are some articles you can read from InVision Inside Design:

How to build a portfolio when you're new to design - https://www.invisionapp.com/inside-design/how-to-build-a-portfolio-when-youre-new-to-design/

Creating a design portfolio - 

https://www.invisionapp.com/inside-design/creating-a-design-portfolio/

 

With regard to you worrying about the standards and expectations of the next gig. I can tell you honestly, that you shouldn't worry. Fear is a paralyzer, doing is what is important. So my next piece of advice is for you to paint a mental picture of, what is it you want in your next gig? Write it down. This can be anything from being part of an established UX team, good company values that align to yours etc. Even putting down the companies you would like to work for will help. Then do the same thing but with the question being, what you think you need to do to get there? Use the first part as your Vision Statement and then start putting action to the things that will get you there. What I love to hear is that you have found your passion. To your words "I don't want to leave UX, I love it" and with that, you can honestly do great things. Having a passion for something just motivates you more. So do it!

 

And lastly, when you do have that final conversation when you leave. Just be honest. If there is one thing in this world we should do for ourselves is just be honest. So when that conversation happens, be honest and give the facts. There is nothing wrong with that and what the company does with that information is not your problem. Unfortunately, we can only control what we can control and nothing else but that shouldn't stop you if you feel its the right thing to do.

 

You are still very young and have so many opportunities. Don't allow this situation to define you. You are able to do great things, you must just believe it in yourself.

Please let's carry on with this convo and if you are not comfortable carrying on via this forum to go into the detail, please do reach out to me directly and I will be more than happy to assist you.

Wishing you the best of luck and please let me know if this was useful or not.

Stay Awesome!

 

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Maria Stanat
InVision ambassador Maria Stanat , ambassador
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Hi Michéle

 

Thank you so much for your answer, I feel a lot happier - and relieved – after reading your reply! It’s one of the things I like about UX so much, the community in and around this field is usually pretty great! :)

 

> In terms of your time there I would like to ask, what was it that made you want to take the job? Was it the company? The prospects of what you were going to do?

 

What drew me to the company was their will to expand into a field they didn’t have much experience with and everyone at the company was nice. The job interview was relaxed and we talked about the company’s expectations and my expectations and it was a match. I was allowed to get to know the team for three days before making my final decision and I said yes on day two.

 

In the interview they promised me

another UX designer would join soon so I wouldn’t be handling bigger projects alone → never happened

a budget to build a UX lab for testing → I had picked out the hardware and software, talked about advantages and disadvantages with my boss to keep him informed about what our setup would be like. The only thing missing was permission to order everything. Permission was never granted. I asked quite a few times and after a few months of “we’ll discuss this next week/not today/perhaps next month”  I gave up.

a budget and time for further education, attending conferences → never happened, I did ask for permission to attend a few UX meet ups and got "now is probably not the best time". It never was the best time.

 

interesting projects → happened, but...

 

Unfortunately none of those things were ever made part of my contract, so they are well within their rights to just ignore any requests. I know better now and if a company ever offers me an education budget I’ll for sure insist on putting it on paper.

 

>When you took the job what were your roles and responsibilities? Reason for this is for you to be empowered. Honestly and this is the most difficult thing to do is to say No.

 

When I started I was told to get to know the team, establish a routine for me, do some work on the company’s website and build a UX testing environment until the next new project would start in a few weeks. From there on it was a lot of concept work, research, creating wireframes, nothing that would have made me second guess anything with the exception of the missing permission to order hardware for the UX lab.

 

And believe me, I did say no. Multiple times. As a result I got reprimanded for being a “no-person” and for being negative. It was the 101 of “shut up and just do as you are told, just be a yes-person, no matter what”. I also talked it through with my manager, she was very understanding while we talked but in the end everything got worse, hence the print work. The only person even higher up is the big boss and he just doesn’t care.

 

 

>In terms of your portfolio work and case studies. I can not tell you how we are one of the same. All my work that has been done and still doing for the past decade are all under NDA’s. It is tough but something I have learnt is that it doesn’t matter. Doing side projects, something for the community or even a concept that you can use as a case studies can also go a long way. It’s more about the way you do your work and not the work you do. The process out-ways the outcome every time.

 

This advice is gold, thank you so much! I wasn’t sure if it is okay to put non-commercial work into my portfolio when I’m no longer a beginner, so knowing it’s common to do this even with some experience is a huge relief!  I already know what I want to work on for my portfolio and I’m looking forward to working on it! :)

 

Thank you again for your reply, you’ve managed to take away a lot of my anxiety about leaving this job and I hope I'll find a nice UX team soon. 

 

 

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Michéle (Mikele) De Sousa
InVision ambassador Michéle (Mikele) De Sousa , ambassador
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Hi Maria

Thank you so much for the feedback and so glad you found what I wrote meaningful. It makes me so happy knowing you are now well on your way to something greater. I have no doubt about that. 

Have a great day and thanks so much again for reaching out. We are here if you ever need anything.

Stay Awesome! 

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