Share a little bit about yourself?
Hello, I'm Grace H. Park. I'm the creator of "Spill the Beans" and am currently a Senior Product Designer at The Walt Disney Company working in the Commerce space. I like to draw, paint, play games and make videos during my free time. Fun fact about me is that I can make a huge "click" sound with my mouth (stuff no one cares about 🤣).
What inspired you to create Spill the Beans?
When I was in college, I never knew what field I wanted to pursue but I always knew I wanted to help others through my craft. I researched online, tried to connect with people on LinkedIn, but still, I didn't know exactly what I was looking for. I couldn't find a page or a site where real-life experiences were shared from industry professionals easily and accessibly and decided that it would have been helpful if one existed. A lot of people actually emailed me asking me to share how I got into the field of UX/UI and I realized that real experiences and advice from those who were further along their career were extremely insightful for those starting off. What better way to learn about a craft than from the people around you. That's when I decided to combine the skills that I accumulated over the years to publish my own site and create Spill the Bean(s)!
P.S. It's spilltheBEAN.org since spilltheBEANS.org was taken 😂
Can you tell us what a Product Designer at Disney does for those who are unfamiliar?
Product Designers are in charge of making sure individuals can navigate through a product, whether it be an online product (i.e. a website/app) or a physical product (i.e. an air fryer), as seamlessly as possible using research to back up design decisions. An example of this can be making sure the checkout experience on a site is intuitive to decrease bounce rate and meet business goals.
In short, I pinpoint a problem, dive deeper into "why" the problem arises using research, ideate multiple solutions, test the proposed solution, and rinse and repeat. Something that I didn't know about this field when I first got started is that there's a TON of public speak you have to do. You have to always be presenting your ideas to stakeholders and be able to explain step-by-step how you came to your proposed solution.
At Disney, I'm working on multiple different projects at the same time. This means I have to make sure to keep track of where I'm at for each project as well as keep those who are involved (i.e. developers, project managers, etc.) all updated and in the loop. There are many times where I'll have to reprioritize my tasks and pivot from the current project I'm working on in order to complete an urgent request that sometimes may come in. Working here has taught me that being scrappy and having strong communication skills is imperative in completing a project efficiently. I actually wrote an article about the 5 Things I'm Learning as a Product Designer at Disney. Feel free to check it out!
How did you decide to pursue your specific career? What pivotal moments pushed you to where you are now?
After college, I went into marketing for one year and realized it wasn't for me. I heard about UX/UI from my brother who was already a Product Designer and I took the jump by enrolling myself in a boot camp using the money I saved from my first job. I went to two actually, General Assembly for 1 week and UCI's Continuing Education program for 6 months. I wouldn't recommend doing two though, save your money and invest in one!
I digress, but after bootcamp I was jobless for around 6 months. Breaking into any field is tumultuous and discouraging but don't lose hope! I got my first UX job at a startup and slowly made my way up from there. One pivotal moment is actually when I got laid off during the pandemic from my first UX job. I felt like I was starting from ground zero but little did I know that it would be the biggest blessing in disguise. During my unemployment, I had enough time to create what you're looking at right now, Spill the Beans! Creating this platform allowed me to connect with a lot of different individuals and it eventually got me connected to my friend, Tana, who referred me to my current role today.
I guess things may not always make sense in the moment but there will one day be an "AHA" moment when everything clicks, so don't give up!
What made you interested in your field? What do you like about it?
UX was intriguing since it combined two things that I felt I knew a bit of. UX relies heavily on research and since I studied Psychology at UCLA, I felt like I could use my major to combine research with creativity. Also, the idea that my designs would be based on data rather than subjectivity increased my curiosity.
I love being able to solve complex problems and create simple solutions for them. It reminds me of solving a puzzle or being in an escape room, there's always 5 billion things you must think about when you're designing a solution. I like to say that a good Product Designer is someone who is able to take chaos and make it organized.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
Create something unique to you, whatever that may be. You may be into crafting new furniture or creating soaps on the side, whatever it is, showcase your passions to the world and you will be remembered more than just coming into an interview with a flashy portfolio. Everyone and their mom has a nice looking website but what have you done that shows more about you? What can you bring to the table that others may not be able to follow? Show people what makes you special.
Another piece of advice is I truly believe that 95% of getting hired is relationships. You can give all the right answers and know how to solve 100 different problems but your personality and how you can get along with the people you work with will be crucial in this profession. Remember to get to know the people that are interviewing you as well. Make it into a dialogue rather than solely answering a bunch of questions.
AND if you're asking someone you just met if their company is hiring... the answer will most likely be "no". Remember, no one wants to help you if you seem like you're just using them to get what you need. Build on the people around you and respectfully get to know your network because you genuinely are interested in the person, not just their job title.
What are 3 character traits that would make someone excel in your field?
• Strong communication & interpersonal skills - OVER COMMUNICATE! Always. Be on top of it to let your stakeholders know what you're working on, what roadblocks you're experiencing, what questions you don't understand. Having the ability to over communicate is so underrated and very much needed in this field
• Ability to multi-task (be scrappy) - If your designs get shot down, try again and don't take it personally. Keep exploring till you find the best solution.
• Be Proactive - Take initiative! If you have nothing to do, look for ways to help others or create new solutions!
What would you like to say to your younger self?
You're doing well :) I'm proud of where you're going even though you don't see it yet.
Best advice you've received/heard?
Even the smallest step forward will have lasting effects. A small progression forward will eventually add up to something greater if you stay consistent.
A leader's job is to push others to excel.
Any last shoutouts, thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to learn about Product Design?
Google, read, ask, and continually be curious to learn more from others. Although the road seems long and unknown, be courageous, believe in your skills, and keep pushing forward, it'll all be worth it in the end.
Also, JUST DO IT. Give it a try, whatever it may be!