UX Nights February 8, 2022

My first UX job: how to be successful and thriving as a QTBIPOC creative

Video Transcript

Awesome. so a little bit about my journey first just to kind of set a reference of where I’m talking through. The first one is just you know, Didn’t have a conventional way that I was raised within the UX field. I actually started using the computer.

I got my first pirated copy of Photoshop. Now it’s like, how can you, I mean, you can still find cracked versions, but it’s back when Photoshop used to be handed out in little disks. And I remember I got a copy of it. I was like, when does this started playing with it? Absolutely loved it absolutely loved first learning.

You learn to manipulate images like, oh my God, I can make myself look like, wow. And then slowly turning it into banners. And then websites learned it pretty early on. I was getting my hands on this in middle school. And then throughout the course of my high school, I kind of shifted and I.

Wanting to be a doctor and so belong as time I spent my entire college, like, you know, prepping for them cats. I took all the courses, got a couple of papers published in a scientific journal. And then, you know, I just decided when it was so close to going straight into medical school I kind of got cold feet and I said, I really don’t know if I want to do this.

At the same time, one of my academic advisors was recommending to me, Hey, you know, this gap year thing is like super popular. It’s like super past, just like, go try it out a little day. Now she probably saw that I was doing all these other things on the side. To help you for college throughout the entire time of college?

I had paid for my way through college, through designing websites, working with different colleges, institutions, launching websites applications for. Programs and university, and it’s funny the entire time I was like, this is just the hobby since this, just, just to pay for college. But the beautiful thing is you know, if you are really passionate about something, you can essentially turn it into a beautiful thriving career.

And also within the realm of UX, it is a myriad of ton of different opportunities. And the biggest recommendation that I have to you is you can kind of, you know, strike yeah, the The ground put a stake in the ground with where you think you might enjoy, but especially early on in the career, my recommendation is just to keep your eyes open, keep your heart open, keep your mind or Ben.

And who knows, you might find something that you may enjoy specifically with a particular domain, another parallel industry and technology, or a particular industry in itself, right? You may like working with a particular series of clients or solving particular problems. And so, especially early on your career, American foundation is just keeping your eyes open and also at the same time, putting a two feet forward and just trying your best at something, just so that you can at least see what it’s like to experience it.

And one of the biggest advices that I got that was really beneficial was even though you had put in so much time into one thing, Don’t be afraid to pivot. Don’t be afraid to invest time into something else because one, you’re never going to lose all that experience from the other industry, especially when you’ve pivoted, but actually you bring this whole new set of skillsets into the field that you’re going to break into.

And for many people who think about UX oftentimes sometimes delay it because they’re like, I don’t know if I should switch, I have this going on. But what I say is maybe that could even be the place where you see. You know, it, particularly with domain, a particular field that you’re working in, maybe that is the entry way into doing user experience within the industry.

And how much form breadth of experience you already bring into there versus somebody. And all they did was learn designs coming up. But for those of you who had the opportunity to learn design, you know, more power and through just the breadth of education and breadth of so many myriad of things that you’re surrounded by in school.

But anyway, since leave a, I’ve had. Too long, but it’ll sit down across many things. I actually first started as a developer and then throughout the year shifted into UX. And that was at the time when UX wasn’t really a thing just yet. Now it’s like one of the hottest careers I’ve wanted to be a UX designer.

But back in the day you had developers doing as experience designers, doing user experience. And then now it’s a beautiful is again, like many people are wearing different hats. Do you have this evolution of a product designer that’s coming up? And just to put in simple terms, a product designer is really a UX designer that also thinks about the business as well.

Business in terms of just performance product teasing things, launching things. With all that said, I, you know, I would just say titles are always changing and. It’s less around the particular title at the moment, but rather just what is it that you’re doing? What is it that you’re collaborating on?

And so, if anyone has any questions on particular industries definitely reach out have worked across so many different clients and yeah, especially in New York city worked with many of the, most of the agencies here. As well as fashion finance clients, too many of them. But with all that said many places learn tremendous amount of things from, and when I first started working, I was actually doing freelance work and getting my foot in through the door just by hopping around.

I started in San Diego and I instantly fell in love with an agency I worked with and through them, I’m just working on a myriad of projects that blossom into many different opportunities. But with that for anyone who is just starting your first UX job, just got it within the recent years. First of all, I want to congratulate you also, for those of you who are still going at it, I want to congratulate you on your effort because it is tough to just get that first foot in the door and what, you know, the big T that I absolutely hate is just like, as an industry becomes more popular and you have more people gatekeeping because they’re just like, ah, no, like we want it for ourselves.

And so, especially now more than ever, it’s just like getting harder and harder. Don’t give up organizations like us on attack. Like there’s so many resources whose mission really is to create more diversity within our industry. And in terms of just like queer and BiPAP perspectives, it is so, so lacking.

And so just by you existing within this space, you are really shifting the trajectory of our industry. But with that said you know, as you enter the industry, there’s so many things that just helped accelerate and boost you up. You get to work on so many projects and you could put in your portfolio now, versus you’re working on portfolio pieces that you’re like, I think I paid for it, but it’s not the work on it and put it in my, you know, my book. That’s hardest thing. And then, yeah in terms of career, just all the scale of different titles and plus ones, what are, you had mentioned a tight on papers, a much struggle, you know, Yeah, title is just one thing.

Rafael, which greatest character are you? I haven’t watched it for a long time but I’ve resonated with many of them over the years. I know interesting characters though. Interesting active development process show. They’re all. I feel like they’re all just coming into their own skin, not just as the greatest character, but just as their own celebrities.

And so for the first one where I want to start with is a couple of different topics. So today’s talk is really going to touch on a bunch of different themes. Just different domains of areas that I could see improvements being done, or at least things that I would want it to learn myself.

And these can also apply if you’re outside of the industry. I think they’re pretty broad enough for hopefully you can take away some lessons and learnings from this as well. But the first one, but I want to start with is. Setting goals. Especially when we start in the workplace, it just feels like this is something that you have to do just at any position.

And some organizations have a great job and empowering your goal with some, you know, could use definitely a lot more improvements, but the first advice would give everyone here is don’t blur your personal and professional goals together. And the thing about this is that when you set goals, really, you want to think about what is it that the company right, the organization can do to help you achieve that goal.

And oftentimes I work with people. People want to put goals such as, like, I want to study more about type style. I want to study all these things. And the only caveat I will say is if the organization is giving them resources to do so, they’re paying for you to attend conferences or paying for your books or paying for education or whatever it is.

More power to you, but more often than not companies don’t really invest in the personal goals for individuals. And so with that, my recommendation is aligning your goals with business goals, that you can get this beautiful compliment of being able to go after. What is it that you want from a professional context, right?

Is it a higher title, more responsibility working in a particular domain, and so the first kind of advice I’ll give you is just be really crisp and clear with what is the goal of a professional quote unquote, right? A goal that you want to set that the organization can help you compliment with.

And the REO mentioned smart goals changed you know, our life, no joke. So smart goals, breaking it down is a structure in which we set the goals. And so oftentimes they’re like, I want to do X, I want to, for example I would say. The goal of, I want a journal more, right? So that’s a big goal this year.

This trending that I hear everyone is I want to journal more. In that it just doesn’t really crisp as to, you know, how long it’s for, when is it that I want to achieve? What exactly am I trying to accomplish? And it’s a smart SMR. It is an acronym that helps us set up the way we structure that goal. So the first ones S stands for specific.

They’re just saying that recommendation just make it simpler. Sometimes a goal can have a myriad of pieces to it. So maybe it’s easier instead of one goal, you break out into two, right? The next one is measurable. So this is really to determine whether your goal was successful with. It doesn’t have to be like numerical per se, but it just needs a way that you can just measure maybe where you landed with a goal.

Is there a 50%, 75%? How do you measure that? What are you using to measure that? Attainable. So I’m jumping to T actually real quick, SMA R a T T stands for timed, which is the timeframe in which you want to set the goal up. And so with that, that goes back to a attainable. You want to set a goal that you can then achieve in that time.

So journaling more just broadly could be, but is it in the next three months? Is it four months? And setting that milestone plus also the measurable context. How many times do you want to track. Is it once a day, three times a week. And then that’s what you’re measuring for three months, right?

Maybe your goal is I want to make journaling a habit of mine. And so you can see how that’s kind of a, like, how do you actually achieve it when you break it out? The goal becomes, I want to journal three times a week, three to four times a week, make it a range for yourself. For the next two months with a goal in mind that these goals that you’re studying will then ladder up into this bigger picture thing.

Does that make sense? And so instead of focusing on the bigger picture thing, which is sometimes really tough to crack, because we don’t understand the actionable steps needed, the smart goal kind of is a way to help bring it down to what are the daily habits and tasks that we can do that progress us for.

And then lastly in terms of setting goals within the workplace the next advice is really just aligning them to either milestones or permissions. And milestones is really the stages of your career, right? That you want to ProQuest forward. Is it going from a junior level to an associate level, associates who senior level, right? Or is it milestones in terms of just moving somewhere, to work. Some people want to move to particular locale to work with certain companies that are each one, or is it the milestone? Just making more money. And that is okay. You know, sometimes when I work with people who just say, you know, I just want to make more money.

I’ve done this for so long. I’m like, yeah, like think that your goal. And so along the lines of just. Making professional goals line up with what is it that you’re truly after? And then sometimes people will say, well, you know, the company is doing X. I don’t have budget. Why, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Unless you are the person who owns the company or you’re a shareholder, or you’re somebody who profits directly off of the equity of the organization, you don’t necessarily need to be in a position to worry about those things. And so sometimes corporations unfairly put the pressure to their employees to have to take on the burden of maybe changing their expectation because the company can’t necessarily do something for them.

And I don’t say this as an absolute means, you know, if it’s a smaller organization per se, you know, they don’t have as many sources and you’re making a balanced. Sure. But at the end of the day, Your goals, your career path, like this is all your sprain. And so don’t feel bashful if you want what you want and that, and just going after and taking the steps you need which are important to you and why this is really important to kind of cement is nobody’s going to fight harder for your goal to stifle yourself.

And just keep saying that to be able to sell over and over. And also the next thing is that the goals aren’t If the goals don’t motivate you enough, get a lot more specific with your goal or shift the goal into something that you’re truly desiring. One of my mentors taught me this, where you have to set these goals as things that just will wake you up in the morning.

Oh, this is exactly what I want. And once you can just have these goals kind of inspiring you, pushing you, then that’s where you’re able to self-sustain yourself, moving towards your vision. But once it’s starting to blur, you take into consideration all these other people’s things and all that.

That’s when it starts to become really difficult, because then we’re carrying the container for everyone else. The next point is on permissioning. So this one’s really interesting because oftentimes we work with people with an organization such as like these, these broad terms, right? Yeah.

You know, I just want more responsibility. Can you figure that out for me? And while, you know, that’s not an impossible ask. Sometimes it’s really hard for managers and people higher up to actually articulate that vision for you. Again, nobody knows what your vision and goal is aside from yourself.

And so with that, my recommendation is. Doing some Intel understanding the landscape of what’s happening. Well, what’s the T around you, right? Who’s doing what, what businesses happening? You don’t have to take action on what you understand. But it’s really an order so that you can frame your needs to other parties.

And why this is important. It’s also because when you work with managers, they’re usually managing a ton of people. And what I’d like to do as an exercise is this as a role reversal. So now imagine all of you all are managing this gigantic UX team, you have about 50 direct reports under your big shot.

And you’ve published articles, all these things like amazing. All these 50 individuals are asking you, I just want more responsibility in the workplace. Can you figure that out for me right now? That’s about the same time you have like your own work. You have to do, you have a manager, you have to report to, you have a product that you have to launch, then there are 50 people asking this from you and you can see how immediately this just falls by the wayside, right? Because you’re like, oh, how do I do this all sound like a consistent basis. And so sometimes managers are spread so thin that even the best meeting managers struggle to articulate the vision of people that they manage, because they’re just, their hands are so full.

You know? And so with this one of the really great advice that I got was shifting what we ask to asking for permission. So once you’ve done the Intel you found out, or these things are happening, oh, that’s an interesting project. Maybe it’s shifting the, kind of the goal or shifting the ass to, Hey, I would like to.

Work on this project. Yes or no. And prompting the people who are within leadership positions to, to just give you the answer and just open the swim lanes for you, allows you to just directly go into it. And once you shift some of the asks in the organization to be this way, you’ll notice things, just start opening up, easier left and right.

And when we have put in the diligence to actually figure all this out, and definitely it takes time, people who, you know, see a lot of value in that we’ll often reward the people who do that for them. So with that said sometimes an easier way to kind of set goals is to figure out what goals do you need permission?

I need to get a promotion. I need more pay. I need all this. And once you set those goals, then your professional goals really rely on other people to help activate you to get there. Versus these are just personal goals. You’re cheating yourself. Yeah, that was a mouthful. Any questions? I feel like this took me a long time to learn and I was like, oh my goodness, this makes total sense.

A smart goal for improvement becoming the go-to percent in the design department for you. So I think there’s a ship. Thanks for saying this, Anna, let’s go through this real quick. Become a senior suicide within two years of working at yeah. So the first one becoming the go-to person for your design work again, this needs, I would say this one needs to be more specific. Also, thanks for sending this as example. I think it’s really good to just have something that we can all look at and just workshop it together. I mean, for this one, I would tie it with, you know, what like to do what, once you’re the go-to person what’s going to happen.

What is, what is, what is your intention of, you know, this particular goal? And I would actually set that as your goal rather than kind of the journey towards it, if it makes sense. So the go-to person is you’re activating additional projects, right? Just activating additional projects should be your goal.

If that helps, is it to collaborate with certain departments, then collaborating a certain departments should be the goal. Does that kind of help? Yeah. Develop leadership skills. I Jose two workshops per year. This is perfect. You know, you have something that’s measurable two per year timed, developing leadership skills.

Yeah, exactly. And by hosting. Yeah. I think you got it with that one. Next one become senior UX designer with excess salary by when, right? So this one needs to have something that’s more tight and then sometimes managers struggle with a particular accelerator. And the indicator and particular title, not saying you shouldn’t have that, but sometimes we break it out right into more specifics.

So one advice I’ll give you all is, especially with changing your titles. Should I put this as one of the sides, but we’ll talk about it now, but as you’re picking titles to go up into one of the easiest ways that you can kind of just put yourself up for that position is essentially a gap analysis of what you’re doing right now and what your.

Want to be, do wink. And so what people will do is you just basically align those and then see which kind of day to day tasks or just overall responsibility that are either aligned or not aligned. And one really great tip is you just do that gap assessment yourself, and then put the ones that you have the gaps in as your goals.

So that’s just a really, kind of a sharp, crisp way of just really creating and paving the path for you to be in line for a promotion. And so often we don’t think this tactically, but once you do that, you’re essentially, it’s just like as easy as checking off a, to do list essentially for the next position.

And so American foundation is for everyone here, you know, if you want to be promoted in your current position taking the next higher up role, going to the job description right. At your company, because all companies have different requirements. And if your company doesn’t have a requirement, then looking at another company, that’s kind of similar to it, similar size or industry, whatever it is.

And then using that to do the matrix against, right? So that’s for the title for the salary count. That one we’ve done like a, a specific, deep dive in finance, which explains a lot more with highly recommend everyone to check out. But for that one, one thing to ask for is in a given position, what is the salary band meaning in this specific position?

What am I able to. And you can also ask that of the next position, right? You’re just like, Hey, I want to see if, you know, I want to go after promotion and just understand what might be the band that exists for that role. Basically the first one is understanding where you sit in a band, right? It’s very different from a title because it’s like very much like a salary.

You could be making a certain amount and still, I mean, you could be potentially making much more than the people who, you know, you are working under. Sometimes it’s like really odd it’s like that. And so understanding where you sit in the band and also the next one is, again, going to the job description or the core kind of functions of that role when you do basically an assessment of yourself with the team, whether it’s like your year end evaluation and people are ranking you.

If you’re getting like fives across the boards of tens of miles of boards and everything is a great Gregory. Good, great. Yeah. That could be a great rationale for you to say, Hey, if I’m in this band from, you know, 50,000, 200,000 for this role, but I’m getting all fives across the board, I should be much higher to the other end.

So with that advice, Anna, I would actually break out the position and the salary into separate calls because that will at least make it easier for people to help you achieve that. And then within two years working at blah yeah, yeah, yeah. So if that’s just the context of you, the lens, you’re seeing things.

Yeah, and I would actually, American and nation is make your time for sure. Yeah, set goals that are aligned with the review cycles that your organization or circles that are aligned with just your own capacity. If you find that every six months you have like different interests, all of these things set your goals to what is it that you’re going to achieve in those six months.

And so what you’re quickly going to see are just like whittling down of this, the big picture into each individual, actionable steps, right? And that’s what you want because more often than not where people kind of struggle is the actual steps to take, to get to the goal. Everyone has a vision and everyone has this big picture in mind, right?

Everyone’s a visionary, which is great. But more often than not people don’t achieve their fishermen because they don’t know the actual day-to-day steps they have to take to get there. And the more you can identify that and then articulate that. Sooner than later, you’re going to see. You’re like, wow, I’m already here now.

Awesome. Yeah. And they don’t teach you this at work. So it’s like, yeah, hopefully that’s helped. Yeah. And they don’t teach you the school either. Exactly. This is what we’re here for. And so two exercises I’ll give you, especially, you know, when you’re struggling to kind of figure out what is it that you want to do.

We always talk about this organization. Just any way that we can set you up for success, thrive in the UX industry. This is our, you know, mode show. And one of the things that’s really setting the vision of what you want to achieve. And what exercise is really envisioning this perfect day, or thinking about what is it that you want to be spending your day to grant and in many consulting and many leadership exercises, they’ll just have you just like chart out literally like.

24 hour or you wake up at when, like, what are you doing? You don’t have to get in that specific detail, but just put yourself in the space, just what you want to be doing in that perfect day. And really your life is just a matter of working backwards from there. As simple as it may seem. And sometimes what we don’t realize is that we’re taught to just aggregate things in our lives, thinking that somehow the aggregation is going to get us to this end goal, but it’s actually quite the opposite.

It’s actually taking stuff off, being really specific, walking towards that vision to get exactly what it is that we want. But aggregating all these things and pulling all these things together. At the end of the day, somewhere has to. Somewhere, somehow it has to translate right. That into the 24 hours that we’re spending, how much are we sleeping?

Where are we hanging out with? Who are we living with? And so one thing to think about in this exercise is just asking yourself, what does that perfect day for you, what are you doing? Who are you working with? What are you working on? And then those are the things that are going to help you to at least ambition some of the goals that might help get you there.

Awesome. And then the next advice, this was really interesting exercise that helps articulate. Actually we hold a lot more wisdom than we’re aware of. And sometimes we don’t understand or embrace the amount of wisdom that we hold because of our ego or because of peers, societal pressures. And one of it is tapping into inner wisdom.

And we have this deep unconscious that actually knows what it wants, but oftentimes in the translation of it into waking crunch, just NES. Before we were just like, ah, I want something else. And so in this exercise and you know, we, you know, I highly recommend watching this video afterwards and just do the exercise yourself.

It takes about five to 10 minutes, basically. It’s imagining yourself, 80 years from now. You’re gonna be you know, just imagine yourself, 80 years from now or 80, 85 is you want right. And imagine that you’re just able to time travel and also have the space-time continuum thing workout where you can just have a conversation with your eight year old self, or your 80 years from now. And. The first step is just articulating exactly what you look like.

And it’s about articulating, you know, your, you know, your luck, your face, your what are you wearing all this, just to put yourself kind of, in this imaginary context to have yourself in front of you. And the next thing is really just to gaze into your eyes and just imagining this, and then asking the questions that you want answers for.

Right? And some of those people recommend starting this exercise with a simple yes or no answer, right? Sometimes we’re toying with something we’re struggling to figure something out like, gosh, should I do this? Should I do that? And sometimes just like sitting in this, and this could also be a meditation exercise and just asking this simple question to this older self of hours, and then just hearing this answer come out of nowhere.

That is the innovative. Interesting. And so sometimes this is really helpful if we are, I know, 110 years young, that’s on talking about climate change. I love it. It’s true. Yeah. Sometimes and highly recommended, like if you’re debating between different jobs or different career paths or all these things, you can even just ask yourself, like, should I be doing this?

Should I take this opportunity? And then all the sudden this answer will come to you. That is inner wisdom. Follow that. Let that guide you. Yeah. That’s your intuition. They don’t teach you this at work. They’re like, we are your wisdom. Listen to us. Awesome. So the next advice, any questions on these things, it’s like ton of really fun activities for you.

Yeah. Okay, awesome. So the next tip is really this exercise of managing pop. Has anyone heard this before managing up? Yeah. Thanks, Kyra. Benching up is really basically how you essentially manage the people above you so that you can get you know, what is it that you need to be successful? And really this one is in a nutshell, just being proactive with the meetings, being proactive with the cadences, being proactive with how you’re setting up time with people above you, right?

And sometimes it’s really scary and nerve wracking. I’ve been there. I felt that to set all this up with people above you, but I guarantee you, you know, remember it’s about asking for permission first and for people to open the swim lanes for you. And this one is really just saying, Hey, you know, I really value our time together.

I’m going to set it up. Yay or nay, you know, and at the same day I was like something to prod there. But yeah, so my recommendation is if you want to get like super tactical usually setting up once a week meeting for 30 minutes and why I recommend this is just regular cadence versus duration is going to be really helpful.

Just setting the context over, you know, six months, people understanding who you are, how you approach problems and just seeing how you’ve grown. And sometimes the managers will do this thing where they’ll set up this like five hour, you know, meeting like once a year. And then it’s like, you know, like you only get to talk to me during this time.

And sometimes for those elusive managers who are like, ah, I know I don’t have time, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. My recommendation is. Setting up even shorter time, just the 15 minute check-in right. And really the importance here is just really aim for consistency of cadence in order for that other people, leadership management, to just understand you, understand your trajectory, understand where you are.

And then also keep you top of mind. That’s like the biggest important thing. And that’s saying, you know, you have to be at the top of the food channel and time, not in any way, but just as you’re working through maybe like your goals, what it is that you want to do, all these things that as other opportunities to come up instantly, they’re able to go, okay, great.

Like, you know, this person has this opportunity existing on this project, like can slot you in easy. So that 15 minute conversation, even I promise you is going to do so much more justice than just this longer meeting that you might set up with somebody. Both our 30 minute meeting on Friday for reference.

Yes, aria. I have one-on-one every week with a manager who is a founder. We are small, best thing has ever happened to me at work when signers also got promoted to design need couple weeks ago. And yeah, I mean to just focus on me great designer. Wonderful. That’s wonderful. Both our three minutes on Friday for reference.

Yep, absolutely great. Yeah. Workplace goals. And if you haven’t set it up yet and you haven’t done it, you’ve been there for awhile. Like those, you know, shave, just go set it up, you know, it just like it just, what I always like to remind myself is thanks for the vault. What I’d like to remind ourselves is any more.

We can just give ourselves that reset that we need. And sometimes we fret over taking actions, sometimes actions, every really yearn to take, because we’re like, Aw, like all this has happened, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But at any moment we can simply go reset and just start over. And so with that, if you’re learning you know, some things that you want to implement, just, you know, give yourself the grace and compassion.

Just say, I didn’t know that before. And then now I’m just gonna try it out. And then see how it works for you. Yes. Awesome. This one’s really important which is around ego is not your friend. It’s not your BFF. We don’t Kiki with her. The ego is a very tough one because ego is really around survival and the ego is really on hoarding resources.

It could be resources of money, time, attention, whatever it deems it to be a resource or how we’ve been trained to think of it as a resource. And what is really scary sometimes is that the ego has no sense or relativity of boundaries, right? Because the ego always constantly thinks it’s dying. It’s like not gonna exist.

Say I was like, oh no. You know? And so with that context, yes. Put us in positions where we think through the scarcity mindset, things aren’t enough. We’ll also be putting ourselves in the position where even we have enough that it just will not feel like enough. So with like over consumption, right? A lot of advertisements for over consumption.

Really the interesting thing, if you study it, is it pokes out our ego and when it can poke at our ego, It activates the ego and then the ego does the purchasing ego does takes the actions, right? That’s like pretty sinister advertising, but really, basically in the workplace, oftentimes people have learned techniques to poke at our ego.

Yeah. To get us to do things that they need us to do. And one example, and you may have heard this before is if we have a colleague, that starts instantly peppering you with all these compliments out of thin air. And then I’m just like, what do you need? But they start peppering you with all these compliments and then the end of the sentence is, but you can do it faster.

I always know you could do it faster. And sometimes the ego likes a little lure, it’s like fishing, throw a little, you know, thing in the pond and just like, and that lure is. Awakening and making it equal, feel value. Oh, I’m useful. I’m valued all these things. And then, and then putting a challenge in front of us, as if we didn’t complete that challenge, we won’t be, you know, a good colleague, which is crazy absurd. But going back to the point is sometimes we fall into this trap where we keep doing things, that might not be the best for us, that doesn’t support us, that move us away from our goals that ultimately is not conducive.

As an individual, because our ego is doing things, reacting to things. And so this is a really big lesson that I just provide. You all just like, see, you know, create space for a conversation you may have with yourself. Just to ask, you know, where is this showing up in my life, right? And the more we can actually decouple ourselves from this reactionary ego, it allows us to keep constantly going back to our vision, right?

And at the end of the day, you know, that everyone could think so many things about us and we could keep going down. You know, the trap of everyone has so many thoughts. And at the end of the day, if you just see so much value in yourself, you know, you’re doing a good job, all these things, like that’s all that matters.

And. The truth is, there’s just a lot of people, a lot of inequities in this world that prevent people from just seeing us as who we are, but at the same time, degrade the work. And the thing is that we bring into this space. And so with that, you’re going to face challenges in which the ego will be hurt.

The ego will, will feel many things, and the opposite of ego is actually self-compassion, self-love a self empowerment. And once you’re able to fill your cup up with what it is that you truly know and believe about yourself, and you can truly lean in and just feel that. And that’s when it’s just like all these tricks and traps that people want to lay.

It just shows itself. And now it’s like when someone peppers compliments, if it doesn’t follow with like an immediate ask and I’m around a compliment, I’ll take it. I I’m able to see it right away. And so I presented that to you. It’s just just something to noodle on. And I think most of the time you know, I hope everyone is doing the work and the workplace and being more aware, but unfortunately everyone is all just struggling to right in the workplace.

Like none of this was taught to any of us and, you know, our peers and our colleagues and the reality is, is everyone just struggling, you know, with their own things. And really, it’s just not sometimes. Opting to be a part of that, you know, struggle sometimes. And sometimes in the workplace, people say the worst thing, darnedest things, and in those situations that ego wants to, I mean, it’s using, it’s trying to use this as almost like a learning to like, you know, not have this happen again, but it’s just not conducive because that lesson also from that trauma was not for us to learn either.

So when people are throwing shit at us, like, I mean the biggest kind of analogy that I’ve provided people is you gotta see yourself as like a wall sometimes or a mirror, you know, like a really hard mirror. So when people are throwing like really nasty stuff at you, just allowing to bounce off and come back to them and you’re like, this is your work buddy.

Like this is your work to do. And that also took me a long time. But yeah. And the ego wants you create a space for it and shift away from it. You’ll notice that the compassion you have for yourself also shows up in the way that you work with people. And you create space for people when they come from a place of positivity versus scarcity.

Yeah. Awesome. Here’s another really important lesson is just in terms of your work and your design and just in terms of the space of UX, right? A lot of the times when we enter the realm, we don’t realize what exactly we’re being hired to do, particularly because sometimes we’re not making the business decision.

But one lesson that came out of one of our book club books was really this principle that UX and design in general, digital design for the most part is really not about making things beautiful, but rather make things functional. And when you can make things super functional, just simple, functional, right?

Not the whole like bells and whistles and everything’s listed, but like, you know, something really simple, something that’s functional, then there’s beauty in that. And so sometimes. This is a really great way to kind of frame the way that we approach the work. Plus also the way that we approach and prioritize some of the decisions that we make and when we can make things functional, right?

We make things more inclusive. Other people can use. The other people can be a part of the process. We allow other people to have access to things that they haven’t had access to before. And so the beauty of design, and maybe for some of you, this is the inspiration of why you want to go into UX, which is a beautiful thing, is I want to make things so that other people can have a chance of experiencing.

And the reason why UX is industry is becoming bigger and bigger is because things are going digital. That haven’t been digital before. A lot of medical devices are finally making a gigantic upgrade in the last few years to being, you know, not this like, you know, analog system or like kind of analog digital devices with these screens that look like, like old school calculators.

But they’re, you know, glucose monitors that are connected to the internet. All these things imagine like just the UX of that, right? You set up the, you know, labeling system, but then if you did it wrong, somebody could potentially have a life or death situation, because they read the chart wrong.

And so why this industry is also going to continuously grow is because there’s going to be new challenges that are going to come up. As we shift to have things that have the digital before to be digital in the near future. Near, he says, I love that there’s beauty, Megan, these functional user-friendly and exactly this beauty all around us is really a reframe and the way we see things and what I always give advice to up and coming new UX designers, and also some bootcamps don’t do a great job of teaching this because sometimes they go down a rabbit hole of like, you know, like, oh, like, you know, all these things.

Like, I mean, there’s value. Like don’t get me wrong. Like border radius is a button sizes, all these things, but sometimes what I recommend to UX designers is take a step back, right? Just like, take a few steps back and just see the big picture and see where this sits. And then drill down. Sure. You can drill down, but you have to osculate between the two.

Macro and might grow if you’ve really want to be a successful designer, because the macro is going to help you understand that have these larger conversations of where things sit, and also the macro lens can also help to sell in the specific, detailed things that you’re trying to accomplish.

But also at the same time, you also have to have the ability to go super detailed, to be able to make things right refined for nest. And also when it comes to accessibility, accessibility is really about the micro, right at an individual level. How are things working with screen readers, other products that are integrating into the use of consuming digital products, for those who experience a disability. And so really ultimately, you know, it’s about change shifting this reframe from just making the. Pretty pixels, but really ultimately something that is this expertise with this ethos, that our job is to make things more consumable, friendly, interactive. We’re not just us, but a marry out of people.

Yeah. Awesome. And also the last point on this one is design methodology is also often sold to different stakeholders of the businesses. So usually the people you manage and other people as a way that they can put the user first. And so with that frame and context in mind, understanding that your role was really set up to bring the user right into this process.

That has to be a Testament right. As to what it is that you’re trying to achieve. And when you can also align your, you know, your output with the business goals of your domain, your department, or your individual role, that’s when you’ll see acceleration in your career. Yeah. Yeah. Feel free to drop any questions, just a couple more slides and then we’re done.

Yes. Next tip, raising your hand. And so this one really simply when you have additional bandwidth to just raise your hand and just just say, Hey, I got some free time. Is there anything I can help you with? Just quite simply that requests outwards without other people to leverage and utilize you in an organization, right?

One caveat with this is if you do this so often that, you know, like 40 hours is not really going to your manager, like the work you’re supposed to be billing against are assigned to do like it might not be great on paper for you. I mean, you could definitely talk about like, shifting your role per se, but.

This is, I would say, just like, even like with 10% of your time, right? Just helping other departments, other people that you might not necessarily work with will allow you to also gain visibility right. And connections across domain. And so this is more, not just something to think about. And I think it’s a good skill to train yourself.

Especially when you’re early on as a junior designer, associate designer, senior designer. When you’re in leadership level, this is where this really comes into play. And not just, you have to understand the landscape and assess like who’s doing what like, blah, blah, blah, blah. But you have to also put your team up always consistently so that they can get work.

And still it’s a myriad of different skill sets across different levels. But, you know, again, start with the NMI. If there’s a gigantic creative team who wants to be managing leading in the future, it’s great to kind of have that frame of mind of understanding some of the challenges right there.

You’re going to face with that. And one of the biggest challenges really that many managers really struggle for is how are you also advocating for your team? How are you selling your team to different functions and different business schools, because what you often see are the managers who struggled to do that and then design teams get dissolved, unfortunately, because their design team didn’t get work from other places.

Interesting. And then for anything that’s time intensive, my tip is always aligned with your manager, and it’s a great thing to talk to them about. Awesome. Finding these spaces, especially as a QTBIPOC creative, a few things. The first one is connecting, leaning one, two cheerleaders, right?

There’s a thing to impose the talks about leaning more into people who celebrate you, the people who just tolerate you. I love that so much. And it’s just, was a really great reframe as to thinking about who we’re investing time into. And then my other tip for y’all is disconnect. If it’s something really important that you’re like, Hmm, I don’t want people to like snooping.

Go off of work channels, because like I’ve said this time and time again, but like slack teams, all that, like it can be easily accessed, also email. It can be accessed by anybody, your organization through specific ways. And so with that my recommendation is I mean you can say it, you can delete it.

Sometimes they keep a repository of it. So just, you know, like have a call, have a text message conversation, going, if it’s a particular thing like, you know, as an example is sometimes people go into litigation, with organizations because of diversity issues or other things. And especially with stuff like that, that really needs to provide private channel.

You these, these. The streams are not going to be your best friend. Yeah. The next point is creating boundaries. So this one’s really important too. Just like how we talked about prioritizing risk, harnessing what your needs are, right. And investing time into yourself to understand your needs. And then that’s really important, especially as you show up for others and your work setting, an example of how you want other people to be like, and then creating the spaces that you love and enjoy. So just understand that you are just as powerful to be a conduit, to create the space that you want. My big thing is if you see things that you want to see more of around you be the vessel that brings it into fruition, and then putting your requests out there, the worst that can happen is people see.

Don’t say no to yourself first. That’s a big advice I give to everyone. Don’t please do not be the one to say no to yourself first. Yeah. G is yes employee resource groups. So with many large organizations, these are the little individual organizations that exist within the company, that empowers specific identities, specific roles, right? All these things. And then with this, a couple pieces of advice. One, I think it’s great organizations create this to help support her, please, but also know that this is a way in which organizations are treating. To keep employees, right? This is created again, it’s a balance, right?

Employees are quick to jump. They’re like don’t resonate with this. And so companies are saying, Hey, we have to invest the time to keep employees. But also with this, understand that there has to be a kind of a a limit that you set to some of these things as it pertains to just how it impacts your livelihood.

And so oftentimes where I see a lot of unfortunate kind of a dream or BiPAP people clear by people, especially as to lead the, you know, the ER, employee resource groups for you know, anything diversity related, you’re on the pride committee chair, because you’re gay. It’s like, what, how did that work?

DEI, you know, chair like, but anyway, with that said, One recommendation I have is strike a balance with your allocation at work, especially for those of you who are on salary, you really have to strike and have the conversation of, okay, how much time am I spending in this versus how much time am I spending in the day-to-day work.

And if a company truly values you doing a specific role, helping with a specific charter you can put the pressure on them saying, if you really value me, then put that as a part of the allocation. And then quickly, you know, you’ll see the organization. I’m like no, really, we only, we need you to do it with your extra time.

And what that means is actually they want additional free labor for you. They don’t want to pay you extra for it. They don’t want to pay a consultant to do it, but they’ll rather have you do it first. And so. Really the struggle with this and the ERG is, is sometimes I see, unfortunately, a lot of people from marginalized identities get sucked into this place where they’re, they’re put in a position where it’s.

You have to be the lifeboat of other people from marginalized identities, but really at the end of the day, it is up to the organizations and they have to make the decisions to uplift their marginalized communities. It is not everyone else’s job, except for leadership, right? To do that, which is a tough pill for me to swallow.

How do you find it if a certain company safe space for LGBTQ folks? So actually as an organization, we’re working to set up this way that we’re digesting some of the job applications that are coming in. And one of it quite simply is just understanding their charters that they set up in the organization employee documentation, that everyone has a sign in terms of how they create space for one another.

And the first thing to take a look at right is in this document that people agree on are protections right afforded to LGBTQ identities. And if it’s not, you know, it might, you know, it could have been an oversight, which is all fair, but if it wasn’t and you know, they just don’t actively want to put in something interesting.

But it’s a really great place to kind of just start by looking. And that’s something we’re going to start asking organizations as well to provide. Another one is looking to see if they have your GS set up right. For queer individuals, queer identities. But also with that, the next question is how much money is the organization investing into these initiatives?

Yeah. So with that said, seeing what they’re actually doing with their money and investing in the people and. Rules that keep people from defined and safe. I think it’s going to be a really crisp indicator of the space that they hold for these identities. Yeah. And then lastly, and then there’s just like really quick things how we create space, right?

Not just for us, but for other people all around us. A few things. One thing is in the context of leadership, leadership is not about accolades, right? We’re taught that leadership is about also ordering people to do things, but really leadership at the end of the day is about co-creation and activation.

And what I mean by that is when you can, co-create most successfully with a myriad of people that is leadership, and sometimes it will be seen as like somebody who can order so many people around. That has a certain limit. And sometime it’s hiding through many different inequitable things because people under them also doing the same as, because cascading thing.

But as you can see it really quickly, this can crumble quite at an instant. And also with activation is how are you activating the people around you to do their best, lastly a thing that I always like to kind of inherit for myself as leadership. It’s really about leading by example, putting forth what you want to see more of it than what is not me, and to do the work for other people, not any leads at all, but really what qualities do you want people to be expressing?

And how can you start to set forth the example of what it is, right. And a big thing with this right. Is rest right as something that’s really important. And sometimes people will work through, you know, like, oh, I’m sick, I’m on vacation. I’m working all these things. And the question I prompt you on is in leadership, leading through example, what example are you setting when you do the things?

And like sometimes we put in positions where it’s like, oh, it’s really hard. All these things. Two things. The first one is see how more proactive communication. Changes the conversation around it. If that does that. And it’s not a really great space in that regard. Maybe there’s thing to explore a little bit further there, right?

In terms of just what is equity as a whole, right? Not just yourself to inhale. Next thing is every situation is different. So especially for people in the industry, oftentimes what I see is just taking what’s happened on one project and replicating it in another. And while that may work for certain contexts across a landscape, what I would say is you work with different teams, different people, different projects, different organizations, and the more you can adapt things to work within that context, you will be more valuable, more successful.

And so really it’s about just opening up your years, your minds, your hearts to. Observe and take in what has happening and then figuring out what is it that you want to do together. Taking a shell and using it, we’ll get you first step of the way, but ultimately it might not be sustainable.

And also understand that these are all different, again, intersectionalities that we just have to think about within the professional space. And then don’t take every feedback. This is really important as it pertains to marginalized backgrounds, because sometimes we don’t realize that people are, you know, like we’re gonna do that one shift for lack of a better term.

And sometimes when they are, you know, still working through stuff and they have feedback from. Taking in their feedback sometimes amplifies what they’re still working on. And so with that again, with a green assaults we can be open to feedback, but my pressure test is, does it come from a place of ultimately uplifting me, and that the feedback is not ultimately rooted in, uplifting me then, you know, we might have a catch 22 there. If it’s just feedback, just to tear me apart, like, honestly it can mean the best, but if I just get the sense that you’re just here to tear me a new one, like I’ll file it in the index card and put it right.

It’s like, thank you. Come again. Yeah. And so, and remember that everyone just trying their best, that’s a hard pill for everyone to swallow because they were just trying their best to the capacity that they know. And sometimes they just don’t have the capacity to go further. And it’s just, we have to create the space for that and sometimes a boundary about as well.

And then a couple of traps, pitfalls, myths. I often see, especially with people starting off the career, it’s just a few things. The first one is, especially for people who’ve been in a position, they been struggling so hard, right? It’s like, ah, I want to get promoted. I wanted more money out.

I want these things. There’s a happening, oftentimes a resort that I see people leaning more into is I’m going to apply for jobs and bring that up. And that’s, they’re going to have to, you know, give me X, if I do Y I went that. More often than not. I haven’t seen it go really well. Also go to the one on longterm.

And with that threats are also not very sustainable and think about what is it that you want to create that’s sustainable, versus that you need guts. Next thing is what I have here. Also people going, oh, I hate this place. You know, I’m so ready to check out, sorry to get a new job. But I feel like I just have to leave this place so that I can finally find the space in my own.

And with that what I will say is that, you know, maybe it’s about finding and striking a balance first and seeing how that works, because I ultimately go back to, how can we keep black. Yellow body safe first. And one of the core tenants of that is financial stability, in order to keep our community safe not paying rent, all these things.

Like there are implications of those things that has far reaching impacts. And so with that I mean, one of the things that we had talked about in like many spaces is this theory that, you know, a job as a job, like it’s a relationship that we build. And if you just got to maybe take a step back and just treat it as I’m going to do X so that you can just pay me and I’m just going to do that and then figure out what is it that I’m going to do next with my life.

More power to you, and don’t allow anyone to take that from you because that’s really another way of looking at how you strike a balance, with opportunities. But again, through the context of capitalism and through the context of capitalistic devotion, we’re taught that if we are not a hundred percent aligned with this organization, blood, sweat, tears, everything, heart and soul that we need to leave, you know, and that these transactional relationships are actually not good.

But what I will say is if in the context that you have enough money squared away, right? And you can take a gap, a gap, more power to you, like please like do what it is that you could do with the resources you’re afforded. But if you’re in the instance where you’re going to feel the strain and it’s actually going to cause you a lot more stress to be in that position maybe it’s just about.

How you develop just each transactional relationship so that you can figure out what is next, right? Yes. A job as a legal contract, agree exchange, limited number of hours for money. Yes, exactly, exactly. And so also, you know, one statement that has resonated with many people, if I say to people, how would your younger self, the person who wanted to apply for this job, react to what you’re saying now.

It’s not saying like, oh, I’m not devoted. Like, whatever, but it’s this act of like, I, I’m just going to leave now, like, and I’m figuring it out. Or you know, like, I’m not going to leverage and lean into all that I’ve cultivated. And for many people, especially QTBIPOC parties. We have such strong, valuable relationships that we cultivate because we’re just, I mean, such awesome people, but we we’re so mindful.

We’re so conscientious. We develop these relationships. And at the same time we worked so hard and we, we develop a security around us. But sometimes at the axes of having the security and going into the next kind of like tier of pushing ourselves, we sometimes, I mean, it’s, I would say it’s hard. I face upward mobility all the time.

Like upward mobility challenges all the time. Which is like getting in projects, like leading things. Like I hear you, you know? But I’ve moved myself away from having to sacrifice myself. So that I can get to like the next, whatever it is that I want. And really finding this balance. And it’s, it’s like a unique kind of just dance or balance with different contexts.

So that I can really lean into what I have cultivated so that it can progress into the next thing. Granted, you know, you don’t like, please don’t do work that like actively hurts people. And that’s like really not a good thing, but you know, all within reason. Like, if you’re working with an organization and maybe they’re just like soulful, it’s not like money.

But you know, organizations like not like doing anything like egregiously horrendous. But it’s just like, for example, you know, I like working with apple. And then apple, you know, like your, you know, create these I-phones and all this things, you know, Like figuring out, like promise yourself, like, what is it that you’re going to do differently, with the next position and use those resources to then prop stuff up to get there. And again, especially with QTBIPOC bodies, we have to find a solution that is really different from what is mainstream, because mainstream is really what celebrates and what works well for white bodies, white, CIS, hetero bodies.

And what’s going to be different for us is really going to be, what’s going to be successful for us. It’s going to feel intrinsically different. But again, if it was successful, we would be really seeing if, if what was implemented was successful for QTBIPOC bodies, we would see a lot more QTBIPOC bodies be in successful positions.

And so that’s just a little bit of like the chicken and egg thing of like, what do I do? But it’s just. To sum it up strike a balance with what you have. And then lastly, flip the narrative, right? If you’re faced with challenges, see this as an opportunity to test different methodologies, learn from it, and use it as a way that you can prop yourself up into the next chapter of your life. Don’t allow, you know, other people. Defeats. You’re like, don’t allow yourself to defeat yourself. Like see all this as a way that you could be greater, be more mindful, being more conscious, be even more right.

And all of these is going to lead up into things that you’re going to look back and go, oh my God, that was rough. But I learned from it. And again, it’s also gets apartments is so bad. Cut it off. The next one is striking a healthy balance between personal life and work. I think this is really important kind of tenant, just like, especially in the context of work to Deepak bodies are unfortunately put in a position where it’s just always just the costal hustle hustle.

And so ultimately it’s up to us to find and strike that back. And then lastly, when in doubt, reverse the roles, switch the narrative that’s in our mind switch, the context is do what’s needed for us to kind of sometimes get out of our own heads, get our ways so that we can approach the problem differently.

So, yeah, that was a lot that summates the end of this talk. Can we have a little, like, you know, short 15 minute session for everyone, but just want to open up, like, is there any like questions coming out of it? Like, did any of this like resonate with you all? Like, you know, just like pulling my like heart and soul out of it, just like, this just took me a long time to where nobody taught me this.

And when I work with other people in the creative industry, especially Cuban pop out bodies, you know, this comes up again and again and again, as patterns And I think having learned all this at the beginning, I would have done many things differently with my career. But with that said, it’s never too late.

It’s never too late to shift the narrative for all of us.

With that, that brings us to the end of our evening. Thank you for sticking with us.


Transcription by Descript

Tips to find success with your first UX job, managing up (and your ego), and finding safe spaces as a queer BIPOC designer.

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