What I'm looking for in my next role...

 

The answer is simple, perhaps a bit wordy, but simple. In my next role, I’m looking for a start-up that is design-centric, with a multidisciplinary team of awesome designers — where I can continue to learn, grow as a Product Designer and provide value for years to come. I’m seeking a role where I get to be innovative and autonomous, but also be able to collaborate and learn from other designers and those in product.

 
 

REFLECTING

In my years of experience as a Product Designer, I’ve gone from remote freelancing, to contracting at a large legacy company, and eventually, found my way to Reddit. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to how product teams function, the product development process, and, ultimately, what happens when there’s a lack of collaboration both within the design organization as well as across various product teams.

While it may seem as though I’ve hopped around by choice, I’ve actually been on the search for stability for quite a long time. However, without having a proper design education (academically), and having to make a major career switch — this hasn’t been the simplest feat.

In any case, I am proud of my experiences. At each place I’ve worked, I’ve learned something new about design, product in whole, and also, what leads to failure and/or success in tech companies. Every single career experience has helped me to both further develop my technical design skills as a Generalist Product Designer, as well as my soft skills such as communication and empathy.

 
 

LEARNINGS

At Gigster (2016) — I learned how to work remotely as the sole designer on MVP products with strict timelines, a full-on product team (PMs + Engineers), and clients with personalities that range across the board.

At eBay (2017 to 2018) — I learned how to work very closely on a single product team with PMs, Content Strategists and User Researchers.

At Designlab (2017 to 2018) — I learned how to mentor up-and-coming designers and act as a Design Manager by consistently providing feedback, both in-person and through weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) video chats — to ensure that process-driven projects are delivered on time with the best possible design solutions for real-life clients.

At Reddit (2018) — I learned the importance of innovation, the value of data, and ultimately, what makes a design team truly great. I learned how to be a Product Design owner on small product teams — balancing both my own design autonomy (with the projects I was working on), along with collaboration with the rest of the design organization and relevant product teams. With the guidance and mentorship of an amazing Head of Design, a tough-as-nails but brilliant Design Manager and a Lead Designer that believed in and stuck with me from beginning to end — I was able to grow drastically as a Product Designer in a rather short amount of time, developing my design, communication, and feedback skills in a fast-paced environment. The whole shabang! I will be forever grateful.

 
 
The Reddit Design team on an off-site — posing with (and later eating off) paper plates made with the face of our fearless (Head of Design) leader, Diego.

The Reddit Design team on an off-site — posing with (and later eating off) paper plates made with the face of our fearless (Head of Design) leader, Diego.

 
 

IN CONCLUSION

Becoming a Product Designer was the best decision I ever made, in life. And, I mean that completely. Despite the hardships, the tears shed when things didn’t worked out, and the bad days — the journey has been well worth it. I’m hoping that whenever and wherever I finally land, it’s at a place I’ll be able to stay for the long haul. I plan on continuing to grow as a Product Designer (IC) for the years to come, and perhaps, many moons later, design management will find its way into my future.

 
Reflection, CareerMichelle Lin