We formed a new working group and wrote a fresh mission statement to clarify our goals: to help create networks between marginalized people, give access to experienced industry professionals, and build paths to career opportunities (at Spotify or elsewhere) for those who have been historically excluded.
Screen Share Day Recap: Over 200 Conversations With Aspiring Designers
On July 21, a group of Spotify designers ran the second round of Screen Share Day, a program where aspiring designers and job seekers pair up with Spotify Designers, for 30-minute one-to-one video calls and chat about things such as portfolios, interviews, and design careers. We piloted the idea last fall when we paired aspiring designers from Blacks Who Design (blackswho.design) for 30-minute sessions with designers from all over Spotify. After positive feedback from people on both sides of the conversation, we decided to expand the program.
The Screen Share pilot became Screen Share Day. We kept it as lightweight as possible, inviting people from Pursuit, Where are the Black Designers?, #HIREBLACK, YSYS, and of course, Blacks Who Design to chat with as many Spotify designers as they liked. Those who were interested grabbed spots during a 6-hour online event with designers at Spotify from many different levels and design disciplines.
42 of our designers had 219 conversations about design with people from Ann Arbor to Zambia at different stages of their design education or working life. We asked some of those Spotify designers to share the answers they gave to the most frequently asked questions.
Here’s a sample of what they talked about:
Choosing the right team for you
Senior Product Designer Anna Hatzisavas shared advice on company size. Smaller companies allow more ownership of the product you work on, and more opportunities to work on the end-to-end experience with a wider range of responsibilities. Whereas larger organizations mean a smaller slice of ownership, allowing you to focus on and nurture your part. In general, larger orgs mean more opportunities to learn from talented designers, UX writers, and researchers.
Eileen Murphy, a Senior Product Designer, discussed how people can discover what they may want in their next career, role, or company. Everyone is different and understanding and outlining personal motivations, needs, and goals can help folks land jobs that allow them to grow and flourish long term.
Interviewing and portfolios
People we spoke to were curious about the specifics of Spotify’s interview process. Product Designer Clara Shim pointed aspiring product designers to this article about our interview process but also said: “The recruiting process is very much like a matchmaking process. Spotify is a bigger company with a myriad of products so different teams will have different needs...To get this matchmaking process off to a good start, it’s important to read the job description and see if the role is a good fit for you.”
Another Senior Product Designer, Matthew Budelman, put his portfolio advice into a list for us:
Tailor your portfolio to your audience. It’s obvious to say, but as designers, we get excited and forget that the best portfolio is not the one that wins design awards, but one that actually gets you a job — if that’s your goal.
Lead with your best. Hiring managers are going to judge you on the first 3 projects they see, make them the best.
More ≠ better. Only show your best work, even if that’s two projects.
Tell a story, but be brief. A portfolio case study needs to tell the story of the project, but hiring managers are busy and don’t have time to read 2,000-word essays. Just give us the highlights. Leave things to discuss for the portfolio review or interview.
Done > perfect. Don’t get hung up on micro-interactions or fancy animations if you don’t have something in place. A simple PDF of a great project can get you a job. The fancy website can come later.
Rosie Maharjan, an Associate Product Designer, joined Spotify straight out of college with no prior design experience. On Screen Share Day, Rosie had a lot of conversations about overcoming that high barrier of entry.
She broke down the advice into three categories:
Portfolio: “There’s a common misconception that you have to have an internship or previous experience to build out your portfolio when in reality, you can always work on personal projects — especially if it’s something you can actually ship and talk through data and insights on. Although I didn’t have previous experience before starting my role, I was able to talk about the recruiter chatbot I made (without any coding), and how I used KPIs and metrics to measure its success. Spotify, in particular, really values creative, data-driven entrepreneurial mindsets.”
Network: “Having a good portfolio is important, but so is showing your personality and passion. One effective way to do that is getting on design Twitter: There’s a huge design community on there, and it’s a more simple and effective way to personally connect with professionals than traditional networking.”
Presentation: “The “tell me about yourself” interview question can be daunting, but also a place to craft your narrative (How did you get into design? What are you passionate about?). To be honest, a lot of my interview process in Spotify felt more like a vibe check than anything else — which makes sense, because they tend to hire highly talented designers who are also very kind, authentic, and fun to work with.”
How to get into UX Writing
Becky Hirsch, Senior UX Writer, chatted with aspiring UX Writers, as well as designers. Many wanted to know how you become a UX Writer in the first place.
“There are fewer clear pathways to UX writing than there are for design, so people are always asking how to get into it in the first place. I tell my story, which is one of privilege, but I also like to explain that I’ve seen UX Writers come from backgrounds or studies in journalism, poetry, marketing, customer support, teaching, and design.”
Becky shared a resource she’s been using to gather feedback, job opportunities, and advice for a year — the Content + UX slack community. She also explained that smaller companies will sometimes hire a jack-or-jill-of-all-trades writer. If you can find a gig that includes some product writing, you can get exposure to the craft and a couple of portfolio pieces without having to land a UX-specific role right away.
We had a wonderful day
Thank you to everyone who showed up and shared their time with us. From your feedback, we know that you were pleasantly surprised by how open and honest our designers were about their experiences. We were thrilled to hear our advice was actionable and direct. Every Spotifier walked away from these chats inspired, interested, and more in touch with what it’s like to be starting a design career in the 2020s.
This is still only the beginning of our program. If you’re an organization with a community that might be interested in connecting with Spotify Designers, let us know. We’ll keep in touch about the coming iterations of Screen Share Day.
Hire these designers!
Some of the designers who joined us on Screen Share Day were kind enough to let us share their information. If you’re hiring, this list is the place to start.
Achille Perrin (He/Him) based in Lyon, France
Akanksha Y (She/Her) based in India
Alexis Ashby (She/Her) based in Chicago, IL
Ammara Wasim (She/Her) based in Toronto, Canada
Angela Chen (She/Her) based in New York, NY
Bryan Ge (He/Him) based in Dallas, TX
Candice Steele (She/Her) based in Indiana, USA
Charlotte Suitt (She/Her) based in New York, NY
Courtney Fortin (She/Her) based in Ann Arbor, MI
Di Hu (She/Her) based in Princeton, NJ
Elsa Amri (She/Her) based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Fangzheng Zhu (He/him) based in New York, NY
Farah Dianputri (She/Her) based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Gonzalo Alfaro Fernandes (He/Him) based in Cochabamba, Bolivia
Hildy Abreu (She/Her) based in New York, NY
Hyobin Yang (She/Her) based in Seattle, WA
Ibukun Nofiu (She/her) based in Lagos, Nigeria
Ikram Navia (She/Her) based in Los Angeles, CA
India Myers (She/Her) based in Portland, OR
Jayraj Ahire (He/Him) based in India
Meltem O (She/Her) based in London
Mikayla Buford (She/Her) based in Chicago, IL
Mikayla Harris (She/Her) based in London, UK
Miranda Mo (She/Her) based in Providence, RI
Nadia Diaz (She/Her) based in Miami, FL, USA
Rohit Kakkar (He/Him) based in India
Rose Schipano (She/Her) based in Brooklyn, NY
Sila Eser (She/Her) based in New York, NY
Stefi Semuil (She/Her) based in Jakarta, Indonesia
Suzie Wang (She/Her) based in Atlanta, GA
Uba E. Obasi (He/Him) based in Los Angeles, CA
Uduakabasi Abasiurua (She/Her) based in Brooklyn, NY
Vineel Thota (He/Him) based in Hyderabad, India
Yujie Wang (He/Him) based in Copenhagen, Denmark
Yueshan (Aubrey) Li (She/Her) based in Seattle, WA
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