I am coming up on my first year at HomeAdvisor this month and I've been reflecting a lot on the experiences I've had. The current role that I am in holds a lot of emotional value to me as I've worked really hard to get here. I've worked countless amounts of job that meant nothing but a paycheck, I've worked for little to no money on freelance opportunities, and I went back to school to learn the principles behind UX Design.
I've realized that a lot my previous work has help shape the way I approach my work today. For example, I noticed that the
meant nothing but a paycheck jobs helped shape a lot of my fundamental soft skills like how to effectively work with a team, how to handle a fast environment, and how to deliver clear communication. All very critical skills to have when working at a tech company. Another, being that your workflow can feel so different than anything you've done before working for a large organization. Projects could feel like they move so slow, or that you end up having countless amount of recurring meetings. You could also feel like you talk about your work way more than you actually do the work. In reality, things are about the same, just framed differently.
While doing freelance design work, I would think of the clients solution more than would I spend time physically doing the work. I would enable myself the time to sit at a desk and design something out but really by the end of the work day it felt like I got nothing done those days because I didn't have anything concrete on Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. I would end up thinking about some great solutions while driving home, or while I'm in the shower. My workflow then was way more thinking, than physically designing. (One of my favorite designers, Hassan Rahim, speaks about this same concept in one of his interviews that I felt so validated)
Today, I spend about 60% of my time talking about the work I do, and 40% actually doing the work. I don't know if that's the exact math, but it certainly feels that way. It probably sounds like this is leading towards something negative but I genuinely like my workflow. At it's core, design is solving an issue within certain boundaries and restrains. That to me means that uncovering the issue is the hardest part of it. Why is it important to remove, or add this? Do we have any data points that leads us to assume this? It turns into a mystery that you're trying to solve, and it is so infatuating. This results in me having constant communication with product managers, other designers, developers, etc. What allows me to only be heads down 40% of the time is that we have a great design system in place at HomeAdvisor that putting a mockup together and turning that into a prototype comes so easily.
While I have learned so much about the task at hand, I have learned that the way I approach it hasn't changed. This has made me feel proud of the work that has come before my time at HomeAdvisor. I have uncovered new areas in which I want to get better at and by knowing I have the foundation and enthusiasm to accomplish that, I'm incredibly excited of what is to come in my career.