Hi there, please tell us a little bit about yourself! Who are you? What do you like to do for fun?
Hi there! I'm Stephanie, a Seattle-based UX designer at Amazon Web Services (AWS) where I'm designing cloud technology services. Outside of design, I'm the co-founder of Bathing Beauteas, an in-home spa experience that helps high impact women reduce stress. I'm also an artist who loves to draw food and capture the PNW landscapes.
Although I started my career in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, I later fell in love with design. My UX journey led me to connect and learn from countless amazing creatives and mentors in the field, some of whom became lifelong friends.
In my downtime, I love hiking, drawing on Procreate, and listening to spooky podcasts (have you heard of The Magnus Archives?). My fiancé and I also really enjoy traveling and cooking together.
Can you tell us what you do as a UX Designer at Amazon for those who are unfamiliar?
As the sole UX Designer on the team at AWS, my role is to lead the design and establish design processes for enterprise-grade cloud tech services. That means driving key design discussions and decisions that ultimately impact our clients and users. I spend most of my time collaborating with product managers and designing mock-ups and clickable prototypes!
At Bathing Beauteas, my co-founder and I lead our intern teams on designing products to empower the modern woman through historical bathing traditions & natural ingredients. However, our vision goes far beyond tea baths. We’ve always believed in the power of a great story. We believe every woman has a unique story to tell and we aim to help her find a voice in the community through our products and philosophy.
How did you decide to pursue your specific career? What pivotal moments pushed you to where you are now?
Since a young age, I have always loved drawing and making things with my hands. This passion led me to dive into a number of creative career paths before I learned about UX. I had no idea that people can combine creativity and technology to make people’s lives easier, but it sounded awesome. I didn’t have the money to join a bootcamp at the time, but I was hungry to learn. I picked up books, talked to mentors, and practiced, practiced, PRACTICED. Soon after, I put together my portfolio and was lucky to get recruited to AWS as a UX designer.
My background has spanned the worlds of marketing, art, entrepreneurship, and visual design. This has given me a range of hands-on experiences that I draw from in my current role; from designing logos on my laptop, to learning how to draw digitally, to sharing art on social media, to kick starting two small businesses. I think all these individual jobs have actually been very helpful in preparing me for my current role of UX designer. Even now as I'm doing UX design, I still find that there is much relevance and similarity to what I have studied and done before in all these roles.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
Focus on solving real user problems and gathering as many real-world projects as you can. You can even create your own projects that are unique to you! If you are transitioning from another industry, you probably have a lot of skills that are already applicable to UX–you can highlight those skills in your portfolio and resume and talk about how they help you be a strong designer.
Storytelling skills can really help you stand out! Lay out the details and break down your project–what makes your case studies unique? See if you can pique your readers' curiosity. Being a good designer means being a better communicator, which means honing your storytelling and presentation skills through practice.
What are 3 character traits that would make someone excel in your field?
Persistence, resourcefulness, and flexibility
Most satisfying & difficult thing about your job?
Most satisfying: Owning your design decisions and actually making big impacts. It’s so gratifying that my ideas are turned into products that help so many people.
Most difficult: Learning how to get feedback early and effectively.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
Don’t worry too much and have more confidence in yourself! It sounds a little cheesy, but you are learning a lot and doing a good job. Keep persisting and more doors will open for you.
Best advice you've received/heard?
Be proactive, not reactive.