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My one hundred jobs (or: Why I love my UX agency job)

Since my daughter Olivia started going to school about two years ago, she became more aware about what her parents do for a living. We both work in the digital field, in fact I‘ve spent a considerable amount of my work life in a UX agency job.

I’m quite enthusiastic about what I do. Sometimes I even talk about work related design problems at home, or about interesting insights I discovered about the field, I‘m currently dealing with.

My job as described by my daughter

Back when our team at dmcgroup were still working on the relaunch of self service cash machines for an Austrian bank, I made an amusing discovery at home:

One day, my daughter told me that they had talked about each pupil‘s parents‘ job that day at school. It turned out she had described my job as „cash machine engineer“ to her classmates 😄 .

A logical conclusion, considering that I‘d been talking about working „at the bank“ and had shared work-in-progress screen designs with her, as well as the occasional interesting fact about ATMs I had learned.

A pencil drawing by my daughter, showing a workplace producing fresh raspberry lemonade.
One of my daughter’s various job imaginations – Producing fresh raspberry lemonade, made of finest, organic ingredients only.

Lately, my stories at home might have changed again. Since I now have the opportunity to work for projects with the Austrian Federal railways, I’d not be surprised to be introduced as a railroad professional within my daughter‘s community. Indeed, I‘ve been talking frequently about ÖBB and the work of train conductors and railway workers.

This small family story made me realize again, what I really do love about my job: Being able to „change“ jobs every now and then and get to work with so many different people and fields. I love the variety and depth that working in a UX agency job provides.

Immersing in different fields to solve people‘s problems

I’m curious and eager to learn about new fields, get to know new people and their (work) life.

I love the fact, that with new projects at work, new worlds open up for me. Worlds, that I often previously had no connection with at all.

Looking back only as far as the last couple of years in my UX agency job, I have had the opportunity to collect various different insights in these industries and sectors:

  • Insurance
  • Banking
  • FinTech
  • Scientific publishing
  • Various e-commerce businesses
  • HR and recruiting
  • Air conditioning and climate technology
  • Automotive/IOT industry
  • Social science & Network analysis
  • Consulting
  • NGO/Fundraising
  • Stakeholder workshop facilitation
  • Public transport & railroad

I could possibly continue the list, if I digged a little deeper in my memories.

Some of my favorite moments recently:

  • I accompanied a team of one of the world’s leading manufacturers of temperature and humidity management technology in beautiful Hamburg to revamp how the company presents products and services online. For a short period of time, I almost became an expert in air conditioning products and technologies myself.
  • Together with a fantastic client team, we had the opportunity to co-create the future of cash machine interfaces for new touch screen ATM devices. We got to know every detail of the technology as well as of the banking background, supporting the client for over 3 years. Observing user tests with actual clients on the machines belonged to my favorite moments.
  • Currently ongoing: Building a custom software solution for a consulting agency to conduct stakeholder workshops, our team gets to implement new backend technologies and design the workshop experience in close alignment with the experts. In this project, I learn a lot about workshop formats, facilitation, social science and even can refresh my maths knowledge.
  • Also currently, I’m working for projects in the railroad sector and get to understand the jobs of train conductors and other railway professionals closely. It’s been incredible to join train conductors on an actual high speed train. I also enjoyed joining railroad workers out on the tracks, reviewing and coupling wagons. It helped me, to get to know these professions that I had known almost nothing about before.

These four examples give a nice impression of the variety that I love about my job.

Essentially, working in a UX agency job is about solving people‘s problems by trying to understand them.

With it comes the desire to deeply understand the background and work of those people, we are building our products for.

An impression of the variety of my UX agency job, showing various fields I've had the opportunity to work in recently. Images courtesy of ÖBB, TTTech, Erste Bank.

So, a big part of the UX profession is about immersing into different fields, talk to relevant users, subject matter experts, and business analysts. Even better than talking is to acquire direct insights by joining typical tasks of relevant user groups and „walk a day in their shoes“. For my current field of work within the railroad industry, it was crucial for me to being able to regularly join those, working out there on the railroad tracks. By just listening to and reading about it, I would have taken much longer to understand what their work is all about.

To create valuable digital solutions that solve people‘s problems, we depend on research and field work to immerse in the respective fields. It‘s a crucial part of our job – and it‘s also one, that I like the most.

For me, it‘s like entering a new, different world with every new project I start.

Working in a UX agency job means variety

There are different ways of working in UX: Being part of an in-house product design team or working in an agency as an external partner for clients.

Working in an in-house product design team has many advantages. You get to continuously work on a product (or on more than one connected products). Continuous testing, learning and iterating design is typical with successful digital product design teams, and considered best practice for in-house teams. You get to follow your product‘s story day by day, year by year.

Working in a UX agency job means to join forces with our client as an external partner. This has some additional advantages:

  • Bringing a fresh, external perspective to a problem by not being “embedded” into the client’s team and company
  • In fact, we are often called to projects were clients have become „stuck“
  • Acquiring various experiences and knowledge across disciplines and fields as an agency team is something that every new project and client can profit from
  • Often, we are much faster and agile than enterprise teams with set processes and hierarchies

To me personally, the main advantage for working on the agency side lies in the unique variety of fields and challenges. And since the typical enterprise project keeps us involved with the client for a year or longer, this variety doesn‘t mean to sacrifice professional depth.

As my daughter pointed out, I have the opportunity of working in the banking sector for some time and joining the railroad next.

I‘m already looking forward to my next jobs.

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