Hey Jacob, care to share a little bit about yourself?
Hi, I'm Jacob and I'm a Product Designer at Verizon. Since I moved to NYC not too long ago, I love exploring the city and hanging out with my friends. I've recently got into keyboards and I love looking at how keyboards are made and am currently trying to build one out myself. I've also been reading a little and am trying to finish Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. I enjoy listening to music in my free time as well since we're unable to attend any concerts during this time 😭
Can you tell us what you do as a Product Designer at Verizon for those who are unfamiliar?
Yeah, sure! Specifically, right now I'm on a team with 6 other designers, 2 leads, and a couple of mid-level designers such as myself. We work closely with developers as well as the business portion of things. Specifically what I do is I try to align business goals with user needs to create meaningful experiences combined with ease of use for anyone to navigate through the My Verizon App. Going through flows, creating site maps, finding disconnects within current flows are all part of my day-to-day job.
How did you decide to pursue your specific career?
In college, I was studying to be a lawyer and was a Political Science Major. Once I graduated, I wasn't feeling like I was fulfilling anything in my life and I wasn't happy with my career path. I started taking classes in graphic design at Art Center on the side while I was working at a commercial real estate company. I got introduced to Product Design when I was 25 and since I've always been into the creative space, I thought, "Alright, this is the time to jump into the field." I talked with someone who took a Bootcamp and took the leap, quit my job, and went to General Assembly for 3 months in 2017.
I thought that after Bootcamp I would find a job automatically but I later realized that I had to work for it. I ended up working at a startup for a couple of months and then moved to Dallas to work for a design consulting firm which I feel like was a life-changing moment for me career-wise and personally. I was there for a year and 2 months as a consultant and I ended up leaving and moved to New York where a friend of mine introduced me to his old manager who helped me network. After about 3 months of interviews, I landed a job as a Product Designer at Verizon here I am today.
What made you interested in your field? What do you like about it?
I love that I can collaborate with Product Managers and develop personal relationships with the people I'm working with. Also, being able to see a product come to fruition after all the hard work is super fulfilling. Working on a product when it was just a thought and seeing people actually use the product after a couple of months is a very rewarding feeling.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
Put yourself out there! It makes a world of a difference. Networking and introducing yourself and connecting on Linkedin helps make you stand out from the crowd. For instance, after Bootcamp, my cohort and I all had similar projects on our portfolio, but what sets people apart is who you talk to and who you know. Also, don't be afraid to ask for help and get to know the people you're reaching out to.
3 Character traits that would make someone excel in your field
Persistence, Having thick skin, and being reliable/dependable (hone your craft and people will notice, it's nice being the go-to person on your team for a specific "thing").
Most difficult thing about your job?
When you're creating a product and you have these grand ideas, you have to ask "Does this align with the business?". I would say the hardest part is being able to let go. Even if you put in hours of work on a project or prototype, after research or reviewing business goals, there will be times where you'll have to pivot and say "Hey, this was a great idea but sadly it's not going to work out." Not being married to your designs and being able to let go is something all designers will have to overcome.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
Voice your opinion! It's not something that happens overnight and as a junior designer, it feels like your opinion doesn't matter. I still struggle with this to this day but your point of view can be a game-changer for your team. You'll never know until you open your mouth.
Best advice you've received/heard?
Don't take it personally. It goes back to being able to take constructive feedback and having tough skin. Take things with a grain of salt and move forward was the best advice I got from my previous director at my old job. That's what stuck with me most and what helps me on a day-to-day basis.
Any last thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to become a Product Designer?
Don't focus on one application like Invision, explore others like Principle, After Effects, etc. and use whichever you're comfortable with but don't limit yourself to just one. Grapple with multiple applications to help you with your career.
I'm currently reading "This is Service Design Thinking" by Marc Stickdorn, which dives deep into case studies from a professor.
I would recommend giving it a read. Also, Pay for Linkedin premium, it's a great app and I think it's worth the investment.