Hi Dhananjay, care to share a little bit about yourself?
Hi, I'm Dhananjay, aka DJ. I am a Product Designer, currently applying my design skills in solving problems for the B2B citizen developers.
Since childhood, I have loved to draw and paint, so anytime I get to do that, that's a good day. Besides that, I try to take out a few hours every day to practice weightlifting and swimming. Ever since the C19 lockdown happened, I try to break off from work/meetings in the evenings to play Badminton with my wife.
I believe that spending time outside of my laptop screen really supercharges my output at work.
Can you tell us what you do as a Senior Product Designer at Zinier?
I am working as a Product Designer designing low-code developer/citizen developer tools at a startup. My current company, Zinier, is an enterprise telecom startup where I design a suite of low code tools that are critical for reducing development efforts. To build these low code tools, I am actively recruiting research participants, conducting qualitative and quantitative research, converting unknowns into solutions, building and prototyping complex flows, collaborating with engineers, and working with the product managers to find the right market fit.
As you can see, I am working on really technical yet exciting topics that require me to work on the intersection of hands-on designing and research ideations. I try to enjoy every aspect of my work, which means I make it a point to understand every little detail of it, talk to as many stakeholders as possible, and communicate my learnings to the community.
How did you decide to pursue your specific career? What pivotal moments pushed you to where you are now?
I started as a Graphic Designer, designing tech-fest posters for the college I was studying in. While doing this, I started realizing the complex world of product design simply by looking at how Photoshop was designed. Photoshop to me at that time seemed like a really complex piece of software, yet they were able to pack everything together beautifully in a compact package.
After completing my engineering degree, I got a chance to join an e-commerce startup as a UI/UX designer. This was one of the most important points in my career; I could enter the design and tech world as an entry-level designer because of this opportunity. Post that, I continued to work in startups to this date. I jumped into startup opportunities that required lots of pixel-pushing, which made me good at delivering the end product and working with developers.
But above all, I stay nimble and always open to learning. I believe working in a startup keeps you on your toes, always thinking, constantly challenged.
What made you interested in design?
I look forward to solving design challenges every day because I get a chance to impact people's lives with my design work. To me, there can be nothing more energizing than that.
The most interesting part of my field is actually talking to the users during the research phase. The next most interesting bit is to iterate on the product-feature based on end-users' feedback and collected data-points.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
1. Grow your network. Connect with people on LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium, Dribbble, and even Instagram.
2. Broadcast your most compelling work using this network. Your network can and will help you to get your next gig. Create a portfolio/website and use your network to get all the feedback.
3. Get into a habit of creating content. Let your work speak for you even while you are asleep. Creating content regularly will also improve your thought process as a person.
4. If getting hired is the most important thing in your life right now, then treat it like a full-time job. You just need one YES! All other NO's won't matter once you get that YES.
3 Character traits that would make someone excel in your field
1. Attention to detail in everything you do. The more you obsess over the details, the better your final delivered product would be.
2. Being empathetic in every scenario and solving the smallest of problems using that empathy & your craft. Be kind, thoughtful, communicative, and show empathy.
3. Growth or learning mindset. If you are not growing, then you are just comfortable. Change is good. Growth is good.
Most difficult thing about your job?
Distilling big, complex unknown problems into simple/usable solutions that can be experienced using interactive prototypes. Most designers have a hard time breaking a big problem into small problems, small solutions, and combining all the small solutions to solve the big problem.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
Just because people pay you, it doesn’t mean they own *all your time*. Please don’t permit them to take over your life. Time away from work gives you a perspective that makes your work better. Leave early from work to get better at your craft.
Best advice you've received/heard?
1. A small battle for you may be a big battle for someone else. It doesn't mean you or they are doing it wrong. The same waves hit us differently. You don't know how long someone else has been in the ocean. You also don't know if they're facing other sharks underneath the waves. Be kind to everyone you meet.
2. Always keep exploring upcoming career opportunities. Even if you don't need a new job right now, it is always a good idea to work on your portfolio, add new certifications to your profile, seek mentorship, and go for job interviews. Exciting things will happen when you are not ready or looking for them.
3. If you are not happy with where you are in life, then move. You are not a tree. Good things happen to those who hustle.
Any last thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to learn more about Product Design?
Be open to learning new tools, new skill sets from anyone in your social circle. I meet with students/budding designers almost every weekend, and I see a common trend of them being scared of failing and learning new things. It would be best if you had a growth mindset towards new opportunities and challenges. With real failures, you will truly understand what you need to be doing with your personal and professional life.