The journey of becoming a User Research Trainee: Expectation vs. Reality

It’s been 4 months since I started working as a user research trainee at Ad Hoc Global. It has been the best work experience so far in my career. Even though the job I do is remote, my fellows here make my journey smooth.



2 years ago | 4 min read

Photo by Matt Howard on Unsplash

Taking the plunge of switching my career from engineering to research had never crossed my mind before. I actually didn’t have any idea what it was. I was first introduced to it after I met someone from an online platform who taught me the basics of UI/UX a few months ago. Because of my curiosity, I decided to start online courses and did self-taught UX study (UX Writing, UX Research, and UI/UX Design), applied for a job related to UX, got interviewed and then was accepted as a remote User Research trainee by a company in London. I already posted my story about how I got into UX a couple of months ago here.

So, this is now. It’s been 4 months since I started working as a user research trainee at Ad Hoc Global. It has been the best work experience so far in my career. Even though the job I do is remote, my fellows here make my journey smooth. I actually haven’t met them in person, but I have experienced how genuinely helpful, patient, friendly, and also smart they are answering the questions (which could be considered silly) I address them.

Being a newbie nugget is not comfortable the first time

Yes, you have to adapt from how you usually do things to what you have to do. It filled me with a little mental anxiety at the beginning. I was feeling all sorts of emotions and thoughts like: What if they thought that they gave an opportunity to the wrong person? How about if this trainee worker doesn’t meet their expectations? and so on. I was so afraid of making mistakes, feeling like I’m a parasite for my manager, and she would be better off if I was not here.

However, those feelings have been pushed away by the way my manager treated me. She was so open about how I truly felt. One thing I remember is, she always asks me whether I’m happy or not with the everyday tasks I have been set at the end of the daily meeting. Later, she also gave me spaces on the work style that I was really comfortable with. She taught me everything I didn’t know, even if it’s just a small piece of cake.

As the days went by, I really enjoyed doing this remote work. This was really interesting because I had to handle a worldwide research project, make a questionnaire (which was not using my first language), spread it through online platforms, conduct deep-dive interviews with people who have different time zones, transcribe the recordings, and analyse them through one App called Miro.

I also faced some challenges. Some happened when I was stuck looking for respondents for my project. It was kind of tough for me to look for respondents from different continents. I was looking for a way to manage it until someone I met on FaceBook told me that it’s easier to do a survey exchange, where they would fill ours in return if they met the qualifications.

After getting many respondents, some of them wanted to speak more about their experiences and this was all okay until I got someone from the USA willing to do that. My country and the USA has a time difference of 13 hours. While it is the morning for them, it would be in the evening for me. What a challenge!

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

The first step in knowledge is to listen, then to be quiet and attentive,
then to preserve it, then to put it into practice and then to
spread it.”
-Sufyan ibn Uyaynah

Besides doing the trainee work as a user researcher, I got a chance to do some social media design work as well. To be honest, I didn’t feel burdened even though it’s so much different from the UXR roles. This role helped me to gain knowledge about UX. For me, the best way of learning is to read while making something. It would stick in my mind. Furthermore, the graphics I made daily were posted on every social media of this company — meaning that people from all over the world would read the graphics I made. I’m beyond happy that I can share the knowledge I got with other people, and I hope that newbies out there would be helpful with the graphics I made.

When it comes to making the designs, I also made a mistake. As I’m still a beginner with these UX things, there was one occasion when I made the wording too general for a social media graphic. It caused quite a stir between the professionals. I was so afraid that my manager would scold me. Instead, she and my director told me that everything’s fine, making mistakes is common for every person. From that case, I learned that I need to be more careful with the words I would like to write on the graphics. Not only for the easiest way to read them, but also containing the whole story about the topic we would like to explain.

Traineeship leads me to catch my career as a UX researcher

It’s been a short traineeship actually, but I have learned a lot of things and gained valuable experience during this time. I wasn’t able to know everything. They taught me patiently. I can’t thank them enough. It’s much more important to me than the salary I got.

I’m thankful to my manager, Narisra, for finding me the best way to teach me. I would also like to thank Andrea as my director for giving me the opportunity to join this trainee work.

Even this is only the traineeship, I am so excited to develop my career as a UX researcher. I have gained the necessary skillsets to be the UX researcher that I would not get from the online course I attended. Again, working remotely with foreigners is really fascinating career experience I have ever had. Thank you to the people involved!


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