1. Learn the fundamentals
When you’re getting started as a UX designer, be sure to learn the basics first. Get a solid foundation of knowledge through these resources:
UXPin Free Books (http://uxpin.com/books.html)
The Hipper Element by Joel Marsh (http://thehipperelement.com/post/75476711614/ux-crash-course-31-fundamentals)
Smashing Magazine (http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2012/08/29/beyond-wireframing-real-life-ux-design-process/)
Become familiar with the terminology, the theories and best practices. Learn how to put them to use. You can discover the best patterns in UX design by studying web sites, web applications and mobile apps. Follow key blogs and publications to find out more about the UX design process.
UI Patterns (http://ui-patterns.com/)
Nielsen Norman Group (http://www.nngroup.com/articles/)
A List Apart (http://alistapart.com/topics/user-experience)
User Interface Engineering (http://www.uie.com/)
Boxes and Arrows (http://boxesandarrows.com/)
Usability Geek (http://usabilitygeek.com/)
2. Find a mentor
The best advice I received when beginning my career was to find someone who’s great at doing what I wanted to do. Find a mentor. Find someone who’s got the experience and is willing to share it with you. Network with other designers to talk to and learn from. You can find a UX meetup to attend (http://user-experience.meetup.com/). You can read a blog I posted about the importance of finding a mentor (https://medium.com/@joeykirk/you-need-a-mentor-7d3bd86da216).
This will be a person you’ll rely on throughout your career for advice, critiques and help. So choose carefully. If you are serious about learning and becoming a designer, I’d recommend our program at Bloc (https://www.bloc.io/design). We do one-on-one mentorship with experienced professionals who will help you become a better UX designer.
3. Hone your craft
The best way to learn is to put your knowledge and skills to action, and continue learning. Learn by doing. Find a project and begin working on it. Once you complete that one, find another and build it. Design something for yourself. Design something for a friend. Design something for fun. Design something just to design something.
Disclaimer: I am the UX Design Director at Bloc (http://www.bloc.io), where we offer one-on-one mentorship for people wanting to learn how to develop for the web, create mobile applications or become a designer.