Challenges

Reading time: 5 min.
Author: Konstantin

Getting into the professional field of creative technology can be challenging, and especially when you are just starting. It is hard to locate an industry that feels like it suits your interests and skills and pays a salary. Moreover, only a small fraction of the high-powered hybrid jobs nowadays is entry-level. To get over it, a worker can learn new skills through several years of practice and self-development. But if there are no entry-level jobs, then it gets tough to get this experience. At the same time, we are adding new technology every year and rarely removing any of the old ones. Companies might expect you to keep up with every little change and move in the tech stack.[1][2]

Design Technologists are often in a gray zone - they are frequently switching between technologies and do not have the in-depth knowledge that specialists usually have in a specific discipline. They are not getting a thorough understanding of software development, as their colleagues, software architects, for example, do. It is even more challenging to get competent in the design field, where designers were learning the skills throughout their life. As a result, design specialists might not have the skills or expertise for which companies are quite often searching.[5]

The education system is not going to help, data and skills in curricula often do not intersect between study programs, and traditional higher education is not as fast-changing as the technology stack. Moreover, quite often, nobody encourages workers to get additional training at their working place; they are usually left on their own to decide what and how to learn. On the other hand, companies underestimate the need for improving skills and think that workers can take a few classes on coding and then name them developers. The same concerns design - it is not just about taking online courses; you need to train this skill. Workers thus need to understand where their field is going to and the pathways they can follow.[2][4]

Given the above, it is clear that it might be impossible to master all of the skills, and thus you need to find personal direction for your talents and improve what is crucial for you. You have to keep some general knowledge about everything, but you also need to focus on skills that are going to help career-wise. Companies require an extensive set of skills from different fields for Design Technologists (design, user experience, data analysis and interpretation, business understanding). As a result, they are rapidly increasing in value, and thus the salary can be higher than of a specialist like Software Developer, UX designer or UX researcher.[1][2]

The industry is a lot more mature and stable these days. Still, the working experience of a creative tech varies in different companies; there is a contrast between a one-product company and a web agency, an established company, and a startup. Many companies are searching for so-called unicorns, assuming that you are going to do multiple roles divided proportionally between each other. It usually means that company leaders either don't understand the benefits of a multidisciplinary specialist or they are just trying to pay less. Doing all those tasks as a job is a massive amount of work, and one full-time person probably is not going to cover all of it.[1][3]

There are also personal challenges for Design Technologists. Workers of this sphere usually are coming from a front-end development background, and start directly to work with UX and design. As developers, they tend to overlook user needs for the sake of technical integrity and code beauty. This attitude has to be changed, and solutions should be done first for the user and just after that for the team. There is always a danger that something suitable for a team might not be on the same level of interest for the end-user, and thus the team might sacrifice some useful features during the product creation.[6]

Another personal challenge for Design Technologists is health. All the difficulties mentioned above can affect mood, ability to work and lead to different side effects. One of them is, for example, imposter syndrome; due to it, people think they are not as competent as other people think they are. And thus, they do not apply to the jobs and the projects they desire and deserve, and that leads to unnecessary anxiety.[7]

One of the ways to avoid that is to be able to accept criticism, be ready to hear, learn from it; otherwise, battles at work can easily hurt. It is part of the game - to work well with a team. Advancing career also means that you will be with larger organizations, and you can hit a limit of the size of the project at some point, if not working well with the current colleagues. This is especially important because Design Technologists very often join directly, not a startup, but a big company, with multiple teams, design and creative directors, head of UX research, developers, designers, and project managers.[1][8]