4 Ways for Women to Grow Their Product and UX Careers
With women holding 53.5% of jobs inside the department, Product and UX is one of the unique sectors inside tech where the gender gap in the overall workforce does not exist. That being said, while holding a majority in the total Product and UX workforce, women only hold 11% of leadership positions. What are the ways the tech community can help grow that leadership number? What are the best ways for women to get their foot in the door in Product and UX? How have recent trends and challenges changed the roadmap to success?
Motion Recruitment’s event series Tech in Motion brought together some of the brightest minds in Product in UX for the webinar “Women in Product and & UX Design: Stories that Inspire.” UX Manager at Firefox Emanuela Damiani hosted the conversation with Global Head of User Experience at Schneider Electric Rory Waldinger, Senior User Experience Consultant Deepali Kakar, Digital Design Program Producer at CVS Health – Aetna Kristen Arakelian, and Experience Designer Frankie Kastenbaum.
Continue reading for a recap of the event, or watch it in full below:
How to Start in Product and UX
While having boot camp experience is a great asset in Product and UX (with some of the panel members being Boot Camp graduates), it’s not the end-all/be-all to get a foot in the door. “Just doing a boot camp isn’t enough anymore,” said Kastenbaum. A way to stand out in the increasingly crowded field is to find "real world" projects. Frankie continued, “These don't have to be the biggest companies or long projects at all. Reach out to friends and family, reach out to your own networks, and try and get yourself a project...There are lots of opportunities to do it that way."
Many in the group agreed that using your connections is a great way to grow a burgeoning career in product and UX. Rory Waldinger talked about the importance of looking around your community. Local small businesses and non-profits are looking for help on things like brochure-ware and other ways to get started and build a portfolio.
Read More: Highest Paying Tech Jobs in Product and UX for 2022
The Importance of Mentorships
When discussing mentorships, the panel agreed on the significance of having someone to help and advise you on your career, but also the difficulty of finding a person that fits what you’re looking for. “It’s hard to find a mentor. It’s a process,” said Deepali Kakar. “You have to have an idea of what characteristics you’re looking for in a person.” Kakar also recommended creating a “board of directors” for yourself, a group of people with diverse perspectives to help you achieve your goals.
Also, a mentor/mentee relationship does not have to be a formal thing. Just having people around you that you trust and respect their advice is great and doesn’t need to be properly titled. These types of relationships can be helpful throughout your career, not just at the beginning, so even if you’re established in the Product and UX world, reaching out to people for guidance can be a great thing.
Optimizing your Product and UX Job Search
In such a wide sector as Product and UX, the panel agreed that trying to be an expert on all things isn’t feasible. Finding out what part of Product and UX appeals to you the most will help guide you on the jobs to search for. “Understand what is important to you,” said Kristen Arakelian. “What you like to learn, what interests you, where would you like to focus.”
Once you find that out for yourself, jump in with your applications, even if you feel you aren’t 100% qualified, and make sure to practice for interviews. “Knowing how to interview is a skill in Product and UX,” said Moderator Emanuela Damiani. Training for the interview process is something that many potential applicants are not doing and gives you a leg up, while also helping you see potential red flags in the companies that you are looking at.
Growing your Product and UX Career
As you move into more prominent positions in the field the panel recommended enhancing decision-making skills with a mix of data as well as gut instincts. Waldinger told the group, "It's important that you have the data. If you have the data, you have the research to support your recommendations, at the end of the day, if you pull it all together and you have a cohesive story to present to your client, then you've done your job."
Beyond that, continuing your Product and UX education even informally will assist you in your Product and UX journey. From virtual and in-person conferences to searching industry hashtags on Instagram, there are a variety of unique ways that can help you stay up to date on the latest trends.
Finally, when moving from contributor to manager, what is expected of you drastically shifts. Instead of just creating, managers in Product and UX have to figure out the real problem to solve, not just the first to come to mind. Important factors to success according to the group were knowing how to be honest with yourself about your strengths and fears, how to prioritize your time and how to say no to certain tasks and how to find your voice and how to lead and encourage a team.
There was much more discussed in the event, so to watch the full discussion, click here. To make sure you’re informed about all of our future Tech in Motion events, head to the Tech in Motion event page to see all upcoming webinars.