In this day and age, an international career is undoubtedly an asset. But how do you go about making that happen?
At our Design Innovation Night with DataTjej, three of our UX/UI designers told us about their career journeys. One of those designers was Raquel, who emphasized the role that mentoring and networking played in strengthening her international career and getting her where she is today. One of Raquel’s key mentors was Martina Gobec, Design Director at ustwo, a global digital product studio founded in London that has now expanded to Malmö, NYC, Sydney, San Francisco, and Tokyo. In addition, Martina is an Industry Leader at Hyper Island. We thought that Martina’s advice was too good not to share, and so with her permission, we’ve adapted one of her conversations with Raquel into a list of 8 tips on how to take your international career to the next level. While Martina’s advice was originally formulated in relation to the field of UX design, we think that her wisdom holds true for a variety of fields.
1. Don’t give up!
Keep pushing, sending, learning from your mistakes, and always try to get quality feedback. Call and ask for it, and don’t take no for an answer. But also go into this with clear expectations; it can take up to a year to get a job. Prepare mentally and financially for it. Have a plan B – what if your Plan A doesn’t happen?
2. Engage your network.
Knowing the right person is essentially what opens the door. Don’t be shy; ask people to introduce you to someone. Do your research on LinkedIn, find the companies you want to work for, and see how you’re connected to the people who work there. If they don’t reply in a few weeks, keep pushing. Don’t let them get away with not answering! It’s not that they don’t want to do it; there’s just a pile of other stuff on their desk.
3. Be where the right people are.
Conferences, local UX events, book clubs, Pecha Kuchas, startup events or incubators. Do your research, and find the people.
4. Stay true to yourself.
There’s a line you don’t want to cross, and your gut feeling will tell you where it is. NEVER ever cross that line. Don’t sell yourself short. If you do, you will lose the money and self-esteem. It’s not worth it!
5. Don’t ever write a bulk application.
Prospective employers can see those from afar (the ones you’ve sent to 10 companies). Do your homework, make them know you know what they do, and how you would contribute to that.
6. Show, don’t tell.
“I’m engaged, responsible and creative”. Everyone says that. Instead, try writing: “In the past year, I’ve been involved in ________ in addition to my studies because I believe _______. The results I have brought to this team are ________.” Exemplify everything.
7. Be yourself and be honest.
Share what you’re good at and what it is you still need to learn. Be proactive and say what new learnings you’re looking for from the company you’re talking to.
8. Get creative.
Is there a new way of getting a good application out the door, rather than just an email? A portfolio app / prototype? Not sure? Find your strengths and build from there.
With the advice she received from Martina and other women in tech, Raquel succeeded in advancing her international career as a UX designer. “This is why I believe that sharing is one of the most powerful tools we have,” says Raquel. While Raquel was looking specifically at the field of UX design, Martina’s wisdom and the value of mentorship are universal, and their interaction is proof that mentorship matters. Often, mentees become mentors, passing on their knowledge to the next generation. Raquel did exactly this, sharing her own experiences and the knowledge she had been given with the ambitious young women that attended our Design Innovation Night.
Are you well-established in your field? Be open to helping newcomers develop. Are you a newcomer in your field? Find a role model and ask them for guidance. A key element to increasing diversity in tech on a global scale is to lift each other up along the way. 🐾
Adapted from the words of Martina Gobec, Design Director at ustwo and Industry Leader at Hyper Island. ustwo is a global digital product studio, started in London and with studios in Malmö, NYC, Sydney and smaller satellite studios in San Francisco and Tokyo.