Two years after completing her transition from Big 4 accountant to UX designer, GA alumni Anindita Saha is fully immersed in the wide world of UX and the Hong Kong tech and startup community.
As with most passion projects, it started with a seemingly impossible task. In Anindita’s case, she was to take on an internal project to digitize a company process and design the software to support it. At the time, Anindita was an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers but this project inspired her. “I loved designing something that could bring so much value to other people’s lives. I enjoyed every moment of it, but I didn’t realize this was a formal occupation.”
She recalled discovering the process of UX through trial and error. Beginning with rudimentary sketches and basic prototypes, she soon realized that interviewing partners and intended users was key to making the software useful. “I was given the scope to construct the process. I learned a great deal by figuring it out on my own, but looking back I can see how I could have done it even better!”
Discovering the field of UX through General Assembly.
Anindita couldn’t shake the experience, so she sought out information and projects that could lead her to it again: “I didn’t have the vocabulary to define what I did, for example ‘user flows’ or ‘user research,’ never mind ‘User Experience Design,’ but I knew what those tasks were. So I kept looking for things that described what I had done.” And that’s when she found General Assembly.
When she joined the User Experience Design course, GA was not even a year old in Hong Kong. Led by her instructor, who was an experienced UX director at one of the top agencies in the city, she was able to learn both the terminology and skills to embark on her UX journey.
“What I learned in the course was not just the techniques and methods for doing the job, but also how to think like a user experience designer,” Anindita details. “Our instructor really taught us how to excel and build a career as a UX practitioner — and what it takes to become successful.”
Becoming a UX professional.
With the support of her instructor and on completion of the course, she dove straight into her job search, looking for a position as a junior UX designer in Hong Kong. “All I had was my newly assembled portfolio from the course, she recalls. “I just reached out to contacts and applied to roles that had UX in its description.”
After several interviews, she met with the founders of a fast-growing startup in Hong Kong. Impressed by her ability to combine a UX skillset and keen business sense to make informed design decisions, they brought her on as the company’s sole UX designer. “From day one, I was thrown into a startup environment,” she describes. “It was sink or swim.”
Working at a startup.
One of the challenges of working at a startup was the constant re-prioritization of tasks as a response to the changing market environment. A key lesson she recounts: “You’ve got to be agile and flexible in a startup environment. Quick wins are not only extremely valuable to the company but also in proving your value.”
In mid-2014, Anindita switched to Chengbao, a larger technology company, where she was one of the only full-time UX specialists. “We had an established product but we were completely rethinking the UX behind it. For me this was a great challenge because I had to think about every element and interaction at a micro level, as well as think through the higher level user journey.”
After two years of working as a UX practitioner at technology companies, Anindita is still hungry to take on more challenging projects. “There’s always room for improvement, and amazing new things teams can build together. But what’s paramount is understanding the users and ensuring we deliver the value they want from the product or service.”
Having found her calling, Anindita regularly shares her self-defined career path with GA students and how to overcome the obstacles. “I don’t have the typical path into UX. There were hurdles to get through, but I wake up everyday wanting to do this. I have no doubt that I was built to do UX and I’m so grateful that I’ve found my passion.”
Melanie Albert oversee alumni programing & communications for General Assembly. Her favorite part of the job is hearing alumni success stories!