Hey Felix, tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am an amateur in most things I do such as: art, cooking, community building, etc. I would like to say that I am working on a manga as my side project and twitch stream my art! I like to draw and spend time working on community events within discord and people I've met from Twitch!
Can you tell us what you do as a Product Designer at IBM?
I am a product designer with an emphasis on user experience design for IBM. The biggest part of my job involves creating and redesigning experiences within our product to offer our users and potential clients a seamless and user friendly experience! Sometimes I run workshops, lead and facilitate meetings, and have been branching into visual design as well.
How did you decide to pursue your specific career? What pivotal moments pushed you to where you are now?
A little embarrassing but I love my story. I was going through a bad breakup and experiencing my quarter life crisis all at the same time. On my birthday, 3 of my close friends took me to do a hackathon and I joined as our "designer." I had 0 idea what I was doing but i networked and learned a lot from the designers on the other teams. This sparked my interest and eventually led me to seek out ways to break into the field. I'm one of the "bootcamp people," because I went through a bootcamp called General Assembly to learn and pivot my career. I struggled a lot for the first year but eventually I landed a role at IBM through sheer luck and timing (Im confident in my work but luck is a big portion of it as well.) Now I live in Austin Texas but also go back and forth between here and Los Angeles California.
What made you interested in design?
I really love the human aspect of design. People tend to think that design is to make things pretty or cutting edge, but at the heart of design, it truly is about people. I got a degree in sociology because I love learning about people and design combines the human aspect and the visual aspect into one fulfilling role.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
I have a few pieces of advice, especially for those who are looking to pivot careers.
1. Never give up on applying. The worst thing to do is to stop pursuing. This doesn't mean dig yourself into a bad hole but know to apply and try while you're keeping your life together.
2. Get a mentor. I didn't have a mentor and I really wish I did but having someone guide you and to bounce ideas/thoughts off of is invaluable.
3. Network, network, network. I'm not a super smart person nor am I outstanding at any particular skill. The one thing that I do like doing is meeting people and I used that to my advantage. You can always work on your craft and skill as design is always growing and changing and so will you. I got this role 100% because I met someone and they contacted me about this position so I cannot stress how important this is.
4. There is no 1 way to get into design. I know people who are self taught in the field, certified, college taught, bootcamps (me!), and everything in-between. Explore and find which option is best for you! Also know that design is not for everyone and not everyone can do design but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try!
3 Character traits that would make someone excel in your field
1. Biggest one is EMPATHY. To have empathy for your client, your user, your boss, and everyone in general. To be able to empathize with the company who needs to make money but at the same time empathize with the user who will be using the product, that is the sweet spot.
2. Attention to detail. I struggle on this so I can confidently say that this is one of the best. When working with developers, you tend to need to be pixel perfect, check your spelling, and just in general keep an eye out for little things.
3. Being able to stand up for yourself. I don't say this in the sense of "I must know how to stand up to bullies," but rather in a sense that you will submit designs and you will receive pushback. As the designer, it's our role to advocate for the user and there will be times when you will have to defend your work (as any creative field).
4. BONUS ONE. Be open to criticism. Criticism is a good thing. Getting eyes on your work and feedback is a good thing. Don't be afraid of people giving you feedback and criticism because together, you will make a better experience.
What fuels you to continue to do what you do?
I'm not entirely sure on this one. I think a big motivator is that it's a cushy desk job that allows me to be creative and empathetic. If I really had to pinpoint something that fuels me, it would be because the world of design is always changing and evolving, this means the things I learn and do will always change and that's exciting!
Most difficult thing about your job?
Deadlines, deadlines, and deadlines. This is a simple answer to a complicated question. There are many little factors that add up to me potentially missing deadlines and that is what people see when you get reviewed. People don't see the back and forth between devs, the pivots in projects, and everything in between.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
You're gonna go through some hard times, much harder than what you're going through now, but you will be fine. You will do great things and succeed in ways that you could never even think of.
Best advice you've received/heard?
"Hug yourself when no one else will, pat yourself on the back when no one else will. You deserve it and more."
Any last thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to learn more about Product?
Express your creativity! Never stop expressing yourself or halting your creative process. No matter what your outlet is, you should express yourself and keep those juices flowing.