Hey Soren, tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hey there, I'm Soren Iverson. Outside of work I really enjoy cooking, reading, designing some stuff for fun, and writing my newsletter. Before design I played bass for a few different bands and wanted a pursue a career in the music business.
Can you tell us what you do as a Senior Product Designer at Square?
At Square I am responsible for the design of Square Online Checkout, a new product you can use to take payments online without creating a website.
I design the Dashboard and Point of Sale products and focus on the strategy and long-term vision for the product. It's a mix of working in design files, spreadsheets, documents and meeting with other teams to align and understand other initiatives.
How did you decide to pursue your specific career? What pivotal moments pushed you to where you are now?
I'd say the most pivotal moment was when I quit playing basketball in high school. My school was small, and almost everyone played a sport. When I quit I went all-in on honing my craft as a musician, which opened the door for me to start doing merch, videos, and other design work for bands. That's how I started my career.
Another pivotal moment was quitting a startup after only 6 months to focus on my own projects. It seemed like a crazy move at the time, and for a while, I really struggled. In the end, this paved the way for me to get the job I now have at Square.
What made you interested in product design?
Music sparked my interest in design, and then my interest in fin-tech started when I realized how bad so much of the existing technology is.
I remember specifically having such a difficult time making an online donation to a nonprofit, which was part of what prompted me and my co-founders to start Pronto (the company I worked on before Square).
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
I've spoken with many aspiring or junior designers that believe their portfolio gets them a job. It doesn't. People hire you, not your portfolio.
That said, your portfolio should be visually and contextually remarkable enough that it gets someone to send you an email or pick up the phone, then you can provide additional context and information as the conversation progresses. I see a lot of designers over-index on process and skimp on the visuals.
Think about it this way, it's not likely you would tell someone your deepest-darkest secrets when you first meet or on a first date. The same is true when talking about your work with recruiters and hiring managers.
For entrepreneurs who are just getting started, don't try to solve problems that have already been solved, understand your customers, and choose speed over perfection.
I wrote a medium article about my experience here
3 Character traits that would make someone excel in your field
1. Consistently generate and share your work
2. Seek out critique, do not fear failure
3. Always assume there's someone smarter in the room, ask questions
What fuels you to continue to do what you do?
Working at Square helps me provide opportunities for underrepresented minorities and small business owners. Knowing that people are able to grow their business and serve their customers is so rewarding.
In my past work with startups, I was motivated by knowing that my efforts could help emerging businesses survive and differentiate from their competition. Design has the power to drive sales, gain customers, increase installs, etc. That stuff gets me excited.
Most difficult thing about your job?
Working remotely with a team I've never met in person presents challenges.
Don't get me wrong. I love my team. They are incredibly talented, generous, and kind people that continue to teach me more about design, leadership, and collaboration, but I there's a level of serendipity that comes when you are working in a room with other people. I really miss that.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
Do more of less. Also start writing.
Best advice you've received/heard?
The people you look up to are still figuring it out.
Any last thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to learn more about Product Design?
1. Seek mentors - ADPList isn't a bad place to start
2. Read writing from experience people - Personal blogs and newsletters are great
3. Meet people - Twitter is a great place for this, just be sincere
4. Start sharing work - Don't wait until your work is "good enough" and start iterating
5. Find inspiration - siteinspire, mobbindesign, thegallery.io, are.na are all great