Code Trip Nation is a TV series sponsored by Microsoft. College students are sponsored to travel across the country and meet with leading technologists. During the BB-8 launch, Sphero was one of those pit stops, and I was one of the people who were interviewed for the show.
What would you say are the biggest differences between in-class projects and real work experience?
Currently working as a mid-level UX designer who helps in hiring new designers, I can say there are a lot of differences:
-Deadlines seem less quantified (“If I don’t finish this by the deadline, my grade will suffer” vs “If I don’t finish this by the deadline, my project can get cancelled”)
-Team members don’t always pull equal weight
-People tend to veer towards what they are comfortable with. In the real world, you will work on projects that you aren’t comfortable with, and they are essentially mandatory
-In the workplace, you will deal with a lot of variables: hostile co-workers, mean managers that can make design progress impossible, or very demanding clients. You won’t have clarity on all of the details…you will mostly have to fish them or hunt them down or have a great manager on your side. In academia, all of the requirements are handed to you and all you have to focus on is execution. The professor does everything except for the project for you.
-Grading is way too easy in academia. What is considered acceptable by academic standards can fall extremely short in the real world.
-Presenting in-person to a client, manager, or stakeholder is extremely different than presenting to classmates and/or professors.
Class projects are a great way to find your voice as a UX practitioner, but to become one, I believe you need some real world practice.