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I’ve been aggressively applying to jobs ever since last month when I had completed updating my portfolio and resume. I’ve yet again overworked myself from applying to jobs and trying to make shit happen. It’s been so hard for me to continue biting my tongue at my current job and I’m just very lucky that I’ve had a lot of great and quick turn arounds and feedback from potential employers. I had at least 3-6 calls every week. Last Thursday I had 4 phone interviews. I remember going crazy trying to figure out my availability while looking at my calendar.

Meet Company A. I first spoke with the recruiter from there, then the hiring manager and then a designer. After having a great interviews with them, they had me complete a design challenge. I was kinda nervous since I wasn’t sure what to expect and I’ve never had to do one before. It’s essentially a way for the employer to see how you solve problems. My options was to figure out how to design an ATM for kids or design a texting app for a car dashboard. I opted for the latter. I was essentially up against some other girl and was told that we were similar, but after hearing that I knew how badly I wanted to stand out.

I worked all day last weekend and even up until 4AM. There went my weekend, but I wanted the job badly and plus I wanted to kick this other candidate’s ass with my skills haha. I did a shit ton of research, lots of prototyping, wireframes, visual designs, iconography, created a color palette, typeface selections, etc. I was gonna go crazy from all of the browser tabs that I had opened during my research. I had used InVision to organize this “project” and had things laid out nicely. I was hoping to get feedback from my friend/colleague who I worked very closely with and looked up to him as a mentor during my time at the company, but I was anxious and impatient since he failed to get back to my ASAP. It was due that following Monday and I really needed to send it out. So I just said fuck it and was really nervous and stressed out after I hit send. I had shared it with my team of what my design challenge looked like and they were impressed with how much I managed to churn out in 2 days. I was only suppose to spend 6 hours on this, but nope haha. I got great feedback from them and said that I definitely over delivered, whereas I felt like I didn’t provide enough. I remember panicking and throwing in more sketches to make it look/feel more complete.

After a couple days went by the recruiter finally gave me an update to tell me that the hiring manager and the designer were both impressed by my work. She was gonna give me more updates after meeting with them. While I was playing this waiting game, company B came along and reached out to me. The recruiter from there told me that the hiring manager really liked my portfolio and wanted to speak with me. I had a phone interview set up and it went really well. The next steps would be a 3-4 hour on site interview to meet the team and whatnot. After that they would make their decision. I found out pretty quickly that they really wanted to meet with me so I was in the works of scheduling something with them. As I was trying to schedule something with them I felt guilty in an odd way as I was still waiting for a response from company A. It got super nerve wracking.

When I had submitted my availability to company B, the recruiter from company A called me right afterwards. I thought to myself “FUCK!!!!!!” lol. She asked me if I was meeting with any other companies and whatnot. I was very straight forward and told her how company B is trying to pursue me and it would happen early next week. Instantly she wanted to figure out how to persuade me from meeting with company B.I  mentioned to her how both companies are great and I had felt so conflicted as to which direction to go. I told her how I thought a lot about the pros and cons to each company, but there were too many pros from both companies which made it harder on me. From there we started talking numbers. I gave her a good range and told her what I wanted in order to get me fully onboard. I ended the call with telling her that speaking with her made me feel better and it’ll give me some more time to think about things.

Company B emailed me this morning to reschedule our in person meeting and what’s another available date/time. I ignored the email since Company A said that they will call me in the morning. I think in that moment I realized I need to move forward with Company A if they gave me an offer. After I had dropped off my car to be serviced and getting home this morning, Company A finally called. She went straight into telling me they had an offer for me and I took down notes of what it all entailed. I immediately accepted. I would’ve been the world’s biggest dumbass if I passed up on the offer. I definitely got a bit more than what I asked for, which I really cannot complain. I told her I would gladly accept and how I ignored Company B’s email to reschedule with me. She was really happy and relieved to hear that. She told me how happy the hiring manager would be about the news. She mentioned how even though that other candidate was good, the hiring manager reallyyy wanted me instead. He not only loved my work, but my personality as well and granted I haven’t met any of these people in person lol.

While Company A was telling me the details of my offer, I started tearing up. I was so happy that after all of that hard work I fucking finally made it. No more bullshit, no more micromanaging, no more emotional abuse at work anymore. I felt a huge amount of weight lifted off of my shoulders and it felt awesome. As soon as I got off of the phone I called my mom to share the news. I had spoken to her 30 minutes before Company A called me to wish her a happy birthday and asked if she had received the flowers that I had sent. Calling her back with news about my new job made her extra happy on her special day. That made me tear up even more just because I’ve proven to my parents that I can handle it and there was nothing to worry about. I really kept my word on that one. After speaking with my parents I shared the news with my team since they’ve known about my interview process and job search. I continued passing along the good news to my close friends. They were all happy for me and I am forever grateful for their kindness and support for the hell that I’ve been through the past 5 months at my job.

I immediately thought about when my last day should be and scheduled a meeting with my POS manager’s new boss that she reports to. She pretty much got passed along to another manager that I know who is neutral with me. I immediately emailed her asking to schedule a meeting since I had some “important” things to discuss with her. I plan on sharing the things that my POS manager has said and done to me for the past 5 months. I’ve documented and took down notes of everything. There’s a legit timeline of what this fucking asshole has done to me EVERY WEEK. I don’t care if she gets fired or whatever the fuck happens to her, but I just need to get all of it off of my chest before I leave.

I am still overwhelmed with so much happiness and happy tears, too. It truly has been a struggle in this industry over the years and I’m finally making it. One of my close friends AC that I spoke with today said she admired my dedication that I put into my work and that made me tear up. I am very passionate about what I do. I am at the peak of my career and it really can’t get any better than this. I’m still in shock that I’m going to be making six figures. I can’t wrap my mind around that still. I am grateful for the hiring manager to give me this awesome opportunity. I remember during my phone interview with him I had told him he reminded me a lot of my previous manager that had hired me at my current company. How similar their personalities, values and sense of humor were felt so comforting. I remember that morning was bad because my POS manager said some shitty things to me before my phone interview. After that interview, I felt like this guy gave me hope that there is a great opportunity out there for me and someone is willing to give me the time of day yet alone a chance to prove to them that I can do the job. It all feels so surreal that I am gonna be going off to another great position. I was getting stressed out for how long it could potentially take me to find another job.

Anyways, it really feels so good especially to feel this genuinely happy again. It was a very happy Friday.

From time to time my UX team and I host happy hour events and with these events we’re mainly targeting the business analysts, engineers, and developers, but all is always welcomed to join. It’s a much more informal and laid back setting where we can have some drinks and collaborate. So far each session we’ve had has been pretty productive despite that it’s only 30 minutes collaborating and the remaining time is just pure socializing. We’ve been itching to do some usability testing on any of our current projects and it was about time we hosted another UX happy hour since it has been awhile. My boss had me make a poster for this event, which I thought was funny because the last time I had to make a poster was for our UX holiday happy hour. If you’re wondering what the hell that character is on the poster, it’s a tardigrade. It’s pretty much an indestructible water bear. Google it if you want more info on it haha.

Anyways, as a team we were discussing what we were going to test for this usability session. We settled on testing these redesigned icons that I’ve been busting my ass on. It’s a part of a project that I’m on where one of our classic products is getting a total redesign. It’s a 19 year old product that’s never been redesigned, so it’s about time it gets a facelift. Throughout the process of designing these icons, it’s been A LOT of work and some tough ones as well. It’s not like you’re designing simple functions such as “Save” or “Print”. I had some crazy one’s named “Quick Allocate” or “Valuations”. One of my colleagues that is also on the project picked 25 icons and made multiple choice options for it. I quickly blew up the 16 pixel icons into 200 pixel icons along with their designated multiple choice options since we had to get it printed and pinned to these large black boards. After we were done setting up, the team and I were getting pretty excited especially seeing people slowly trickling in. Myself and my colleague that chose the icons weren’t allowed to participate in the event so we acted as moderators and observed the way people were engaging in this usability session.

Whenever someone new came in, I just told them to grab a drink and start going through the boards with a marker and decide which icon matches what label is correct. Throughout the event we had people coming in to either engage with the usability testing or to drink and sing some karaoke. It was a good time. After moderating and mingling, I decided to join in on some karaoke action with my colleagues. At this point they’ve sang a bunch of songs already except for YMCA haha. One of my other colleagues gathered my team and we sang YMCA together. It was hilarious. That moment was captured on video and I’m still waiting for it to be sent to me. After drinking, karaoke and a bit of ping pong playing, I heard some loud discussions happening where we were testing so I went to check it out.

Basically went through each board with a few other people from my company as they were debating what each icon meant or what the icon should look like to fit it’s title. We received some tremendously helpful feedback. For me being the sole designer of the iconography that I’ve created and redesigned for this product made me so proud. There was lots of positive along with negative feedback, but those negatives created great debates and I just see it as constructive criticism. I felt really happy not only for myself, but for my team. We did an awesome job hosting the event, received great data from the usability session and of course socializing and having a great time with other folks within the company. There’s definitely some things we could’ve improved during this usability testing, but not too bad for throwing it together so quickly. It’s moments like this where I feel like despite being so consumed by my work, it truly paid off to get that positive recognition. I got home so late last night from work and was exhausted from driving, but I went to bed extremely happy. It’s truly a very rewarding feeling.

Recently I’ve noticed how engaged I am in my work and anything related to my career. I am constantly trying to stimulate my mind with anything user experience design related. I love trying to absorb as much information that I can and sharing out things I find with my team. I am fascinated by the things that I find and with the more I find, the more I can’t help but to search for more. When I find articles or design resources during my own personal time, it doesn’t feel like a chore for me to do it. I haven’t felt this involved in my career…ever. It’s a very rewarding feeling. Not many of my friends can relate to how I feel. I feel most of my friends are at a fork in the road with their careers and it’s okay. It’s common for people to feel like that, but I’ve just never felt like that. I can’t relate to them when they vent about their jobs. When I listen to them I try to put myself in their shoes and compare their experience with mines and it really just can’t even compare. I do get stressed out from my job from time to time and that’s normal, too. Oddly it’s a good stress. I probably feel frustrated about trying to solve an issue or I’m stumped about it. Regardless of what the problem is I feel determined to figure it out. I like the challenge and it’s very motivating.

I love my work so much that it’s hard for me to stay away from it as stressful and exhausted that I can get. Sometimes I’m working on the weekends, which is fine with me. Something that my friends probably won’t understand is that this momentum I have happening with my career needs to continue for as long as it can. My situation with my job is unclear at this point. Despite whatever happens I have to continue moving and not be slowed down. It does freak me out since there is so much uncertainty. I don’t really talk about it amongst my friends since it’s a sensitive subject to me. I don’t want to answer their questions nor talk about it. It will only distract me from continuing to do the positive things with my work. I won’t allow myself to get lost and caught up in the negative aspects for what might happen in the near future. I can only stay as focused as I can. This moment in my life is extremely important to me. It took me a few years to build my career up to this point and I will not allow it to fall. It has always been more than just a job or a paycheck. It’s not even about that at all. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and worked for in my life that it’s become something so precious to me. When bad things happen in my career, I do get extremely sensitive and emotional about it. I’ve babied the shit out of it and if something goes wrong, I feel like I’m a bad “parent” to my “child”.

Like I’ve said to previous employers and even my current one, it’s great to be able to do something that I love for work and to get paid is just a bonus. I wish more people can adapt this mentality without getting so caught up in the salary and benefits. It’s very hard to come across people that are humble about their shit. I feel like that’s why some of my friends are unhappy with their jobs. I see how people try to mask their dislike for their jobs with traveling and whatnot. I’ve just never been like that. I think people need to really take advantage of the resources that’s out there and to further their knowledge whether it sparks an interest to them or not. There is just so much valuable knowledge out there and it’s a shame as well as a waste to not take advantage of it. So far I feel like my team can understand this mindset that I have for design. They’ve struggled and succeeded as they’ve progressed in their career. Not saying it’s only a designers “thing” to understand, but sometimes it feels like it. It’s nice to share the same passion with some likeminded folks though. I’ve just grown to be very disciplined in what I do and there’s nothing wrong with that.

 

SucculentsMoon & Stars

 

There’s been a lot happening work wise. It’s causing a lot of stress for me and I’m finding it harder to concentrate on work especially with the most recent incident. I’m very sensitive and emotional right now. I took some time the past 2 days to just disconnect myself and to do nothing. I just wanted to stay away from my computer. After my meeting on Friday afternoon I realized that I’m not all there during our design review and not doing my work right. I need to clear my mind and not let that situation affect me too much, but it’s hard not to.

I was chatting with a close girlfriend on Friday night, who I look up to as a big sister. I told her about the situation and I just needed to vent. I didn’t want questions to be asked to add onto my emotions and thoughts. I wasn’t looking for words of encouragement or sympathy. I just wanted to say whatever I needed to say and call it a day. I felt relatively better again and decided to sleep it off during the remainder of Friday night. Plus, I needed to catch up on sleep since I’ve been working non stop.

No matter how hard I’m trying to redirect my focus on something else, the discussion I had with my boss keeps crossing my mind. It weighs heavily on me. I highly appreciate his respect for me not only as a designer, but as an individual. He got to witness how truly passionate I am about being a designer. He told me that I’m very humble and loyal to my team and that is why he loves me being an asset to the team. It was refreshing to hear that throughout the past 5 years of my career, that was the type of acknowledgement I’ve always sought out for. I will forever be grateful to him for letting me achieve what I wanted to here in Cali. It makes me pretty teary eyed and choked up just thinking about it all. Only a few people can understand this side of me when I get so emotional about design. I take my career extremely serious.

Yesterday I had received my 50mm prime lens in the mail. I’ve been eyeing it for awhile, but held off since I wasn’t as active with my camera lately. I finally purchased it since I realized that I definitely can’t go on vacation or travel anywhere any time soon, so this was a gift to myself for working really hard. So yesterday I was playing around with it and still getting adjusted to it. I went on a little photo adventure last night, which was pretty relaxing. I realized that I need to do this more often. It distracted my mind from everything and the calmness of the night helped as well.

Anyways, I’m currently at my usual Sunday spot to do work. I woke up in a good mood, ready to crank out some work. So far it’s been a fail. The web app that I use to access the wireframes I need to look at for my work isn’t loading properly. It’s frustrating to keep refreshing that shit and nothing appears. Then there’s a fricken high school jazz band playing literally right in front of me. WHAT THE FUCK?! I just want to do my work. Maybe these are all signs that I need to turn the computer off and go relax and enjoy myself. So I suppose I’ll have to turn this fucking computer off and read. For now, I’m beyond annoyed by this fucking jazz band.

Yesterday was my company’s off site. It was taking place down in Monterey, which is an hour south of San Jose. I’ve always heard great things about Monterey, but since it’s a beachy/touristy town it definitely reminded me a lot of Cape Cod back on the east coast. Drove down yesterday morning with one of my colleagues so it was a fun little road trip together. Checked into the hotel to drop off my bag. I was surprised how nice my room was especially with the view it came with. I miss it so much!! After I dropped off my stuff I met up with the rest of my colleagues there and had lunch before we got split up into these Thinking Teams. The whole point of this off site was to bring the company together and have our voices heard as to how we can improve ourselves and the company itself. There were a total of four teams: Communications, Processing, Career Development, and Culture.

I was on the Culture team. Everyone got split into their designated groups and we collaborated with other employees of the company to discuss what’s working and not working so well at our company culture wise. It was a great discussion and a relief to know that us UX team weren’t the only ones that felt that way. But also my team has already paved a path to improve the culture not only for within our team, but to hopefully influence the other teams in our company. I met two great ladies that was at my table and I spoke passionately about the type of things our team does to collaborate and to interact with each other. For example, I mentioned how we have UX Happy Hour to discuss certain topics where we have drinks and to share ideas with each other. Other people are invited to these happy hour’s so we’re very welcoming in that sense. Yet people don’t really know about these sessions that we have, but my team tries our best to spread the word.

After I shared that example as well as a few others with the two ladies in my group, one of them was going to be a speaker to share with the entire company of what our thoughts were. We were the last Thinking Team to present and for a second I was cringing hoping that L wouldn’t call out for me. I totally jinxed myself haha. She got into mentioning how a member from the UX team shared these examples with her. I was thinking ‘dammit not me!’ but it was haha. I had a mic passed to me and I spoke so confidently to a room full of nearly 300 employees waiting to hear what I had to say. I was being pretty goofy when I was speaking and my boss and colleague was cracking up from what I had said in response to someone’s question to me lol. One person asked if we can do the UX Happy Hour any earlier and all I heard was “early” so I replied with “breakfast? mimosas” haha. The whole room laughed from my silliness, but I really had no idea what that lady said haha.

When that entire session was done and we were regrouping with my colleagues, my boss complimented me that I spoke well and drew a lot of attention to our team (in a good way). I got compliments from the rest of my team as well. It was just an awesome feeling. I felt very proud and just even happier to have the job that I have. I felt very grateful to work with my team of smart and talented people. It was a total confident booster.

After all the discussion and what not, it was time to unwind and have some fun. We started drinking at 6PM until 2AM haha. It was open bar and the food was great. My team was definitely the loudest ones during dinner haha. My boss made two great speeches and we kept clinking our glasses. Then we got obnoxious and kept toasting to whoever walked through the door hahaha. It was really funny. Then we decided that we needed to do a collaborative dance off with the rest of the company haha. We were the first ones on the dance floor and screaming “UX” hahaha. That’s how hard we were representing for our team. It was so much fun dancing with my team and boss. Later that night after the music ended and open bar was closed, we migrated to a colleague’s room to hang out. We were goofing around and just having a great time. After all the fun, I returned to my room to take a late night bubble bath. My current place only has a shower so of course I took advantage of this great, free room. It was very relaxing and something that I definitely needed. So many funny things happened in Monterey, but I guess whatever happens in Monterey stays in Monterey haha.

I really love my company, team and job. I’m one very lucky girl. 🙂

The other day after I wrote my “Farewell JB” post, later that day there was even more great news! My boss usually schedules these one on one’s with each person on my team. Pretty much a quick catch up session on what’s going on and that everything is okay. This was my first one with him. We stepped into the conference room and he asked how I was doing and to pretty much share my feedback on how things  are going. I told him I felt like I’m growing and learning a lot. Just giving him lots of great feedback. In return he gave me awesome feedback as well. Turns out he offered to extend my contract and I’m getting a raise! WOO HOO!!! I was so close to crying because I was so surprised and happy. All my hard work has finally paid off. I was really flattered when he told me how happy he was to have me on the team and if they consider hiring again, he hopes they find someone just like me. That really hit me hard. I was so overwhelmed with all this awesome news. As soon as our meeting was over I texted close friends and made an announcement. I told them what with this promotion, it means I can finally fly home to see my family and friends. They were excited to know I’ll be back this Thanksgiving. I was honestly really scared and sad that I was going to have to spend another holiday alone. Really glad I’m not.

After I moved to Cali, I told myself I wasn’t allowed to fly back home until I got to where I needed to be in my career. I was very firm about that and at moments I broke down because I wanted to go home so badly since it is very lonely here. It was easy for me to have packed my things and drive across the country to be here. I told myself I had to work hard to earn that plane ticket home. I wouldn’t want to come back to visit often since I was still adjusting to a new lifestyle and I would just return to Cali being more homesick. Plus I really had nothing to show for at the time and I wouldn’t want to visit home being unemployed and whatnot. It would be a total blow to my pride and I’m just stubborn like that. My family and friends has seen me struggle and grow since I’ve been out here. They’ve always been very supportive and caring from afar because they knew how hard things were for me. My family and friends were always at the other line of the phone and have heard me crying and the frustration I’ve dealt with. It definitely is a different ball game out here for my career. I never realized designers were primarily contractors whereas in Boston there were more permanent, full time positions. I took that gamble that I wasn’t going to have that stability, but at least I got exposed to different companies and have met smart and talented people during this journey.

To gain the respect and appreciation that I’ve recently received from my colleague especially my boss truly means everything to me. I’ve fought so hard before and during the start of my career. I remember all the negative feedback I got and how people kept trying to persuade me to pursue another career path. This is my moment where I feel like I’ve really proved people wrong and giving that middle finger to everyone that doubted me. I know I’m a great designer and I definitely feel like I’ve reached “ah-ha” moment in my career that I’ve always been wanting so badly. I feel as if this moment has erased all the bad things that has occurred in my life especially during my time living here in Cali. It has all been subsided by this abundance of success in my life. I forgot about how horrible people were mean to me, the struggle of finding a job, being homesick, etc. It still makes me want to cry for what I’ve accomplished, but that hasn’t happened haha. I’m all about setting goals and achieving them, but this is the best one yet. Going to continue working harder and staying humble like I’ve always done in the beginning. I am really looking forward to visiting home and celebrating with the people that has always stood by me. 🙂

This week has been the best week ever at work. It wasn’t the fact that I literally drank everyday with my colleagues and my boss, but to see my team coming together and whatnot. One of my colleagues who works remotely from NY came to our SF office this week. It was great meeting him since he was just this voice on this phone to me haha. I was excited to meet him and hope that our team was gonna hang out and really get to know each other but that was a total fail. I was the only one in the team that was down to take him out. It was fun though. We hung out at work for a bit and hand some beer there in this “decompression room”, which has a ping pong table, tv, and a big keg lol. That was the room we went into everyday after 4 or 5pm. Soon we left work and he introduced me to an old employee that used to be on my team. It was interesting to hear their conversations of how things were like prior to me coming on board. After all the talk about work, we got down to having fun and went bar hopping in SF. I didn’t get home until 3AM on a Tuesday night. I felt like crap the next day and exhausted driving back and forth from SJ to SF. Luckily I don’t have a fixed schedule and can come and go as I please. Stayed out late again the next day and enjoyed an amazing dinner at this Argentinian steak house in SF. I’ll have to write a separate post on it. Hands down best dinner I’ve ever had. Over dinner we each shared our design process, skills and stories. It was just awesome to have these kind of discussions.

Before dinner that Wednesday night, my boss, colleague and myself went down the street to this really cool bar nearby our office. I got to meet my boss’ old colleagues which was amazing. They all worked for the same agency and have moved onto other amazing opportunities. I got to meet the designer that works for FitBit and I have one, so we got down to an awesome discussion about the design and got the scoop of things that are gonna be happening. I loved it. Next, I got to meet a project manager that works at Samsung, met a guy who’s wife is the creative director for Air BnB, and another designer who was a part of the team that designed Beats headphones. There were lots more. I was at a bar filled with so much intelligence and talent. I absorbed every ounce of their inspiring skills and stories. I felt like that moment meeting all these people and even my colleague that works remotely, I felt so much growth in my career. As corny as I’m gonna sound it really was an honor to be around these designers. I would love to be in their shoes one day and be able to say I was a part of whatever team to build XYZ product. It’s just an awesome and rewarding feeling. Aside from meeting great designers, I got to finally really chat with my boss. I discussed of what needed to be done for our team for us to be much more unified besides collaborating on projects. During our discussion, he told me how happy he is to have me on the team and whatnot. I felt truly appreciated and respected, which really boosted my confidence as a designer. I know I’m a good designer, but I’m playing in a different field that I’ve never been in before which is a new and exciting challenge for me to take on. These are the moments in my career that makes me love my job even more.

I see lots of amazing things happening for my team since there won’t be any more folks coming on board. We’re building this team from the ground up and I have hope that with the amount of amazing talent we have, we’re gonna make shit really happen. I learned from another colleague of mines that he is a writer, too. He’s a very intelligent man that has a ton of experience. I felt very enlightened by him when he told me about how he argued with this really popular software designer (Alan Cooper) that he used to work for. Not many people can say things like that. But here’s an article that he usually writes for UX Magazine: click here. Yesterday, I just got brought on board into this huge project and I am one of the main visual designers working with 3-4 interaction designers. That’s a lot of pressure, but I know I can do it. It’s pretty awesome that practically everyone on the team has their hands in this project. It’s gonna be an interesting process since this will be the very first time where ALL of us are collaborating together. I’m ready for the craziness. 🙂