Hi Crystal, care to share a little bit about yourself?
Heyo, I'm Crystal! I'm a designer currently living in Toronto, Canada. I love being creative: drawing, singing, cooking, telling bad puns etc. I enjoy spreading positive energy by showing people pictures of my dogs.
Can you tell us what you do as a Product Designer at Capital One?
I'm currently on the Customer Acquisitions team where I have the opportunity to get involved in different stages of the design process. I do competitive research, facilitate design sprints, ideate design solutions, push pixels, user testing, and a bunch of presentations. I am also working on the design system at Capital One Canada, which involves a lot of planning and guidelines writing.
How did you decide to pursue your specific career? What pivotal moments pushed you to where you are now?
I've always been a creative person and wanted to study art in university, but with traditional Asian parents, they considered art as a hobby, not a career option. I went through majority of my undergrad studies feeling very unhappy and nihilistic. I chose to study Humanities and loved learning about social issues, but it felt meaningless since I couldn't really do anything about all these humanitarian crises, other than writing papers or doing a presentation on it. I was in my final year when I realized I didn't want to keep feeling that way and I had to take charge of my own life. That really pushed me to work hard and do something for myself for once to pursue something I want to do.
What made you interested in product design?
It's the perfect combination of things I'm interested in and good at! Being creative, technology, and understanding people. I care a lot about other people, their lives, what they do, how they think etc. What's better than turning that into a career? I don't need to be a superhero or save lives, but if I'm able to do what I love and design impactful products that make someone's day better, even just a little bit, that's my dream job.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
Portfolio: Portfolio is a must when it comes to design jobs. You don't need that many client projects, start off with personal/passion projects to show that you're a self-starter and you take initiative to learn new things on your own.
Personal Branding: For those transitioning into design, focus on how you can leverage your background/experience and relate it to design. Ask yourself, why do you want to become a designer? What life stories/experiences do you have that made you realize you wanted to pursue this career? To stand out, don't be afraid to tell your story and brand yourself.
Networking: It is true that connections matter a lot when it comes to job hunting. Go to networking events (virtually for now, until it's safe to go outside again), reach out to people for coffee chats or zoom calls, ask for advice, portfolio reviews etc. Building these connections isn't for job referrals, but to learn from others who's been there and how they got to where they are today.
3 Character traits that would make someone excel in your field
Empathy, ability to think critically and creatively, resilience
Most difficult thing about your job?
Explaining and getting buy-ins from stakeholders who may not understand the importance of certain design decisions.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
Things may not seem that great right now, but life is always going to have ups and downs. Always be grateful for the things you have, if you're unhappy, do something about it. You're going to fail, but that's ok, just keep on trying :)
Best advice you've received/heard?
Be humble, but don't sell yourself short. Be confident in yourself, and never stop learning.
Any last thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to learn more about Product Design?
Read tons of design articles and books, reach out to other designers, build your portfolio, and try to see the world in design to practice design thinking.