Hello my name is...

Minyi Zhu

Product Designer @ Yelp by day ☀️
Bookworm, anime lover & illustration enthusiast by night 🌙

Years of Experience:
Favorite Emoji:
On the Playlist:
99% Invisible, UX Coffee, Dollars to Donuts
Go-to Food:
Chicken! 🍗

Hi Minyi, tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hey friends! 👋I'm a Toronto-based product designer working at Yelp. I originally came from Guangzhou, China and moved to Canada at the age of 16. Being exposed to multiculturalism at the young age was definitely a challenging yet exciting experience for me. I was fortunate to meet many incredibly amazing and friendly people who supported me during life journey.

Outside of work, I like traveling, drawing, reading books, playing piano & legos & puzzles & badminton, and watching anime & TV series & documentaries (Yes, quite a few hobbies!). I'm also passionate about mentorship and making social impacts that help build a more inclusive and diverse community.

Can you tell us what you do as a Product Designer at Yelp for those who are unfamiliar?

I just joined Yelp as a product designer recently and I primarily design for the local businesses. As a product designer, I work closely with researchers, data scientists, product managers and engineers to build a seamless and positive experience as users interact with our products. We collaborate together on defining the problems and understand users' mentality through research. Since I'm still pretty new to the team, I can't speak too much about my current projects now but I'm very looking forward to my new chapter at Yelp. :)

How did you decide to pursue Product Design?

My design journey was in fact not linear.

I didn't graduate with a design background, instead, I studied social sciences during my undergrad and I worked for a few years in human resources as a consultant. I decided to make a transition about two years ago as I was exploring new opportunities that could combine both my personal interests and career aspirations. I know I like art and design in general and I'm also curious about emerging technologies. Most importantly, I enjoy studying people and their behavior. What I did back then was talking to as many people as I could to understand what it would be like to switch a career and work in the design field. I was excited to discover the concept of UX (User Experience) and believed that it speaks to my true passion of helping people while realizing my own values.

I started to self-teach myself by taking online courses and learning how to use different design tools. I also read many books at that time. Then, I made a big decision in 2019 -- I quit my full-time job and went back to school to pursue a Master's degree in UX. Making a career change was never easy, and I still remember all the exhausting nights when I was struggling to make my first design portfolio after 8 hours of work every day.

Looking back, I'm grateful to see where I am now. I'm happier and more fulfilled because I'm doing what I'm truly passionate about in full capacity. I also got to meet so many intelligent, friendly and like-minded people in the UX community and I think that's probably the best part about it. I can't thank them enough for cheering me up and helping me during the journey.

Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?

Challenge yourself by asking lots of Why's in the decision-making. It is not easy to fully understand what we really want sometimes, and that's okay. Keep exploring, trying out different opportunities, asking questions around will ultimately lead you to a clearer goal.

It's also easier said than done, so my advice is if you have an idea and it's still being undecided after a long time, just start DOING something. Whether it's small or big, as long as that's what you like or interested, just do it! 😄 As time goes by, you will figure out what works and what doesn't. I know this might not work for everybody, but I found being proactive and having a strong execution ability often leads me to an unexpectedly positive result.

Another suggestion would be to get to know some mentors / people who are willing to help you through networking. One of my friends ever told me: "The best way to learn is to learn from the best." I can't agree more with his statement because I have learned so much from the people I met in the UX industry, from design conferences to online webinars. I also love two mentorship platforms called UX Coffee Hours and ADPList. You will find so many amazing mentors there who are willing to support you and guide you to the right direction.

What are some must-have resources (books, tools, podcasts, etc.) you would recommend for your industry?

The first two podcasts that helped me make my career transition are UX Coffee (Note: podcast is in Mandarin) and Dollars to Donuts.

UX Coffee is led by two designers from Google and they invite different speakers to talk about entrepreneurship, product, UX research and design. Dollars to Donuts is more research-specific. The host usually invites people who lead user research in their organization and have them talk about their experience and advice. Some other podcasts I enjoy are Design Notes & Bezier! Check it out :)

The first UX book I read is called About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design. It's a VERY thick book that I still haven't finished reading.😄 Nevertheless, I believe it's one of the best books where you can learn almost anything fundamental about interaction design.

What are 3 character traits that would make someone excel in your field?

Curiosity, Critical Thinking, Empathy

Most satisfying & difficult thing about your job?

My job involves cross-functional collaboration and I work with multiple stakeholders every day. People might not perceive the same information as we expect all the time, so making sure that the team is aligned on shared values and goals could be difficult sometimes.

What would you like to say to your younger self?

Be patient. Keep up the good work. The best is yet to come.

Best advice you've received/heard?

Sometimes you have to be assertive to move things forward. Make your questions straight to the point. Be direct and concise. ✌️

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