This month UXtweak got the chance to have a chat with inspiring Aneta Kmiecik, Senior UX Designer, mentor and UX content creator on Instagram!🤩
Aneta shared her amazing story of getting into UX design from a different background, shared the struggles she faced when looking and applying for jobs abroad and gave tons of tips for those who are looking for a foreign UX job.
👉Below you’ll find:
- Aneta’s advice on researching, applying and negotiating an offer at a foreign company,
- a list of UX job boards she recommends,
- best practices for networking
- and a lot about her own experience in that area!
A true must-read not only for those who are just starting their UX career but also senior UX professionals, and just everyone who is trying to find a job abroad🔍
Hi Aneta, tell us a bit about yourself!
Before becoming a UX Designer, I worked as an architect in Poland and Japan. I graduated from the faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning and I also completed a master degree in Graphic Design.
Recently, I have started my new job as a Senior UX Designer in Knowit where I will be helping various organizations in Norway build more user-centric products. Previously I worked on designing B2B products in the Health, Safety and Environment industry.
After hours I try to help aspiring designers and designers navigate their UX careers through mentoring them and providing UX content on my Instagram page ux.aneta and Linkedin. When I am not doing UX, I like to work on my personal projects, paint acrylic paintings, read books or travel.
Can you tell us a bit more about your current role? What are the main things you’re working on daily?
I’ve recently started my new job as a Senior UX Designer in Knowit in Norway. Therefore, these days I am mostly trying to get to know the organization, my new colleagues and potential clients.
In addition to this, I am getting used to my new official language at work, Norwegian. This is my first job where I am using this language 100%.
Does your background in Architecture and Graphic Design help you in your current career path? If so, in what ways?
Architecture and Graphic Design are definitely not the same professions as UX Design, however, both degrees helped me create a solid design mindset. I also learned a lot about working within constrains and balancing different needs. In UX Design we deal with users and business and so do architects – they try to balance needs of clients and business.
Being a UX Designer means working with various constraints: technical, time, budget and the same is true for architects – they deal with law requirements, budget, time, construction rules and more. In addition to these, Architecture gave me patience for long term projects whereas Graphic Design gave me visual skills. I have definitely benefited a lot from both design degrees.
Finding a UX job abroad
Aneta’s HO setup.
You specifically mentioned that you wanted to talk about the topic of finding a UX job abroad, can you tell us a bit more about your own experience in that area?
I think this is the topic that is not so enough discussed. I know that there are many designers who aim to find a job abroad because I talk with those people on a daily basis on my Instagram page ux.aneta and Linkedin. They either want to find a remote role or literally move to a new country. For me it was the second option.
I am from Poland but I worked in Japan and since 2020 I have been working on a Norwegian market. My journey with working abroad started when I was a Junior UX Designer. This added some difficulties to the job searching process because I was still missing a lot of skills and experiences that usually senior people have. In addition, I was struggling with finding connections in Norway because there were not so many active online UX Designers from Norway. I also didn’t know anyone from this market.
When it comes to the application itself, I approached it in a typical way. The difference was that I had to prepare my resume and portfolio not in my native language, Polish, but in English and Norwegian. The recruitment processes happened mostly remotely but for final interviews I had to come on site to Oslo. Some of them I took in Norwegian and that was definitely the most stressful part. I didn’t speak fluent Norwegian so I prepared scripts for every interview I had in this language. English obviously was not a big problem, though I was definitely lacking confidence with speaking because of my accent.
I ended up getting a job without any reference and almost fully in English. However, I failed at the negotiation step. My initial salary was lower because of my Norwegian language skills. At least that was what they told me.
What are the main things to consider when looking for a job abroad as a UX professional?
I would say that the first thing that we should think about is to understand “the why” behind our idea of moving abroad or finding a remote position. We can treat this exercise as a small UX project and start from research.
Topics worth evaluating when thinking about finding a job abroad as a UX Designer are:
- personal reasons
- new lifestyle
- cultural fit
- cost of living vs salaries
- language requirements
- size and maturity of a UX market
- career opportunities
- design communities
- your connections with a country
- visa and sponsorship
- difficulties with finding a flat
- tickets price to your home country etc.
Some of the reasons why we might think about moving abroad might be:
- to experience working and living in a different country
- to grow professionally and find new career opportunities
- to work for our dream organisation
- to live in a warm country
- to earn more money etc.
What are some of the most important things UX professionals need to be aware of before starting to look for a foreign job? Something you wish you’d known earlier before starting your first foreign job search?
Many tech companies have multinational teams and offer remote work opportunities. It’s really important to evaluate what you want and why because moving abroad maybe is not your dream. You might prefer to find a remote job opportunity and work from your home country. On the other hand, you could aim for joining a company abroad to experience a foreign culture, chats in a foreign language with your office team mates and local corporate events.
My first foreign job I had in Japan and it was the time when I was still an architect. Things that I didn’t think about before finding a job on this market was for instance a work-life balance or a hierarchical corporate structure. With my job search in Norway I experienced additional challenges because I was still a Junior UX Designer.
Besides typical difficulties connected with moving to a new country, I didn’t think a lot about a UX maturity on the market, how the tech scene looks like here in general and how to negotiate my offer better as a foreigner. I wish I’d invested more time in networking and learning about communication styles in different cultures. This would have helped me provide more appropriate feedback and better understand the decision making processes.
Could you recommend to our readers your favorite resources for finding foreign UX job opportunities, maybe job boards or networking groups?
Globally, we know that there are many job offers for every market on Linkedin, Otta, Wellfound, Remotive, We Work Remotely and many other UX job boards. There are also various design communities out there like Design Buddies. Sometimes even universities offer some job boards or internships opportunities. Plus whenever you finish a UX course, there will be often a community on Slack with designers from various backgrounds. This is often a great resource for networking and asking about job search methods in a concrete country.
However, every market can also have some local communities and job markets that we might not be aware of as foreigners. It is worth doing research and checking if there is another place with job offers dedicated for a specific market. In Norway, it is UX Norge, a community on Slack where you can meet designers working here, find local job offers and directly connect with a hiring manager. It is mostly in Norwegian but we all know how to use Google Translate! 🙂
Besides concrete places online, I would definitely recommend taking advantage of your network. Who knows, maybe some of your old friends or colleagues work on a market where you aim to find a job. Start from there and then continue with platforms.
Ideally, if you currently have a job, you might also be able to relocate to a new market with your current employer. If you organisation has offices in various countries, don’t hesitate to ask if you are wiling to move abroad.
What are the unique opportunities a job abroad gives you that you would not get if you’d stayed home?
First and foremost personal development opportunites. You might learn a lot about yourself, not only as a UX Designer but mosty importantly as a person. You can discover your new strenghts, skills, preferences and in general get to know yourself better. It can result in a new way of thinking and values.
Secondly, career growth opportunities – from learning about various communication styles, different corporate structures to brushing up on your foreign language. I wouldn’t be able to use Norwegian at work if it wasn’t for the opportunities I got here in Oslo. Additionally, working with people from various backgrounds can bring us new perspectives and it is particularly important in UX design.
Last but not least, new opportunities for networking. Many things happen on site, behind the scenes or next to a coffee machine. This is not the same as a remote networking. You can meet people in person, chat, and that can lead to new career/business/collaboration opportunities.
And of course, we shouldn’t forget that a job abroad always looks good in a resume.
How would you recommend approaching the process of market research before applying for a job in a certain country?
First, I would recommend to do an online research – you can start with Google, chatGPT and Linkedin job offers to get the gist of how the market looks like. I would particularly suggest to scan various potential job offers to learn more about most common requirements. You can also research profiles of UX Designers working on this market. This can give you some brief assumptions of UX maturity on this market.
Secondly, take advantage of your connections. If you know someone working in this country, this can become the most helpful resource. Maybe you know someone from school or a course that you recently took. This person can share with you information about the market, work culture, share stories and introduce you to local communities.
Don’t forget about general networking with strangers. Just do it as a human, don’t make it about yourself but focus on this person. You can find UX Designers working on various markets on Linkedin but also in design communities.
Join remote events that are broadcasted from this country. This will give you a reason for connecting with some people on Linkedin. If you have the possibility to go there on site, that ‘s even better.
Do you have any tips for learning about the local working culture and language of the people you’ll be designing for and working with?
I think the best what you can do to learn about a working culture in a foreign country is to actually experience it. Maybe you already have the opportunity to briefly try it out by joining a remote team, applying for an internship or interviewing a friend who works there. If not, some people start by getting a random job in their dream country before switching to their profession. Travelling there to get to know the local culture can also be beneficial but it won’t give you a work exposure.
When it comes to languages, we can learn a lot remotely, especially in the beginning. There are plenty of free materials online for various languages that you can use. I can also recommend finding a tutor on Italki platform. This way you will be able to practice your speaking skills as well as learn a lot about the culture from a native. I benefited a lot from this platform.
Though, bear in mind that interviewing users in a foreign language is definitely different than chatting with a teacher.
What are your tips for negotiating an offer with a foreign company?
Do you research – learn about communication styles and negotiation methods. The rest shouldn’t be so different than negotiating an offer in your home country. The key for getting the most valuable offer is to show what value a business will get from you.
We could say that this is like showing ROI – why they should hire you and why you are a more valuable candidate than others, for instance native speakers and local UX Designers. You need to do a sales pitch. The better you do it, the easier it will be to negotiate an offer.
Women in UX
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the UX/tech industry?
We bring a different perspective to discussions where the majority are men.
This is because there are not so many women in technology. According to this report, only 24% of computing jobs are held by women. Technology is also a great industry for self-development, something that many women love the most.
Being a woman in technology can also mean becoming a role model for others, e.g. your female colleagues or women who dream about becoming UX Designers but they experience an imposter syndrome. I meet many aspiring female designers on my Instagram page ux.aneta and Linkedin.
What is your message to other people in the UX industry?
Don’t focus on your career path but rather focus on a career portfolio. You don’t need to climb a corporate ladder if you don’t want to. Although working in a corporate can provide you with a lot of learnings and experiences, ultimately you can pursue a different role.
Being a UX Designer gives you the most powerful tool, the design mindset that can help you design you life the way you want to.
If you’re interested to read more of inspiring interviews with women from UX industry, check out our other Women in UX talks!