This past week Amy Liu and I co-facilitated a new meetup called UX Support Group here at We Work, Irving Place.

The premise of the group: you can go to other amazing meetups (like Design Driven or Ladies That UX) for brilliant speakers talking about interesting topics.

At UX Support Group, everyone participates. Every attendee contributes.

We all suggest topics, then collectively vote on which we'll discuss first. The facilitator ensures everyone takes turns asking questions or giving answers. So everyone walks away learning something but also having helped someone else learn something too!

It's all about empowerment: last Tuesday's session, we had a number of UX Designers participating who were early in their career. A question that really resonated with the group: How do we appropriately leverage past experience in seeking UX Design opportunities?

There's no easy answer. It takes work. What I love about UX Support Group is that we began the hard work straight away!

One designer shared an insight she'd heard on UXPod about the move toward case studies as the best way to present your portfolio of work. Another talked about how powerful is confidence when interviewing, or really in any conversation when someone is asking about what you do. Another encouraged others to translate or re-package past experiences (when you might have applied UX principles under another name) into language that those hiring UX Designers can understand.

Don't be intimidated. The work continues even after you start your first full-time UX design job:

Many design teams don't yet fully understand or aren't yet structured to allow for true user-centred design. That's no obstacle.

Participants in UX Support Group shared how necessary it is to make friends with developers, inside or outside your team. Pursue side projects in your free time. If your day-to-day is more traditional web design or is limited to the UI or if there's no budget for user research, do it anyway outside of work hours to supplement what you're creating and include it in your portfolio.

Never stop hustling.

Always, you can be attending hackathons. (In NYC there's one happening almost every weekend. There was one this past Saturday, for instance, focused on experiments in AR/VR.)

You can be meeting other designers, reading blogs, attending events (meetups or otherwise) so that you're continually learning. That positive energy will then flow into every area of your life and make you better at what you do!

This past week's UX Support Group was proof: Often the answer we need is just one seat over. Or it could be something inside us that's just waiting for a different way to articulate the question.

We all know more than we think we know.