To tell you how I first got a product designer job I need to tell you how I first got into design.
I was in primary school, and at the time I didn’t have many interests aside from computer games, and I was looking for things to do in my free time.
My brother just started a web design course, so we had a computer at home with an early version of Adobe Photoshop installed on it. I tried to help him a few times and do some of the tasks he received as homework, and I completed some of his tasks for him. I actually learned to use design software in a really young age. From there on, design was mostly a hobby for me for about 10 years.
At age 21, I already had enough work done to put in a portfolio, I think it was my third or fourth portfolio, and it help me get accepted as a web designer working on a shopping website. I did a good job, and having such a big responsibility made me much better in a really short time. I got bored quite fast from the role, which became very repetitive and not challenging, and I wanted to make a change. I improved my portfolio again, and I landed a job at a nice design studio that was working with big corporates. There I worked with other designers who were much better than me, including an art director which gave me feedback on my works. I learned a lot there, and it helped me start my “real” career as a designer, and I started getting offers from startups and big tech companies.
I kept designing, producing works for others as well as for myself, got into writing and became more involved in the local design community, which helped me build a network of designer and developer friends I enjoy hanging out with. Today I’m a freelancer, very focused on UI/UX, and I work with amazing companies I couldn’t even dream working with in the past.
Why did you Seek a career as Freelance product Designer?
I think I was one of the lucky people who chose a profitable hobby at a very young age. As a teenager, some of my friends enjoyed playing soccer, other enjoyed playing video games or creating music. I enjoyed doing graphic design. After many years of practice, my Photoshop skills were already decent enough, and people started asking me to do it for money. I enjoyed doing it for free, so of course I was also happy do get paid for it.
What was your first job or nuggets from jobs you had that helped you to get to where you are today?
My first job helped me get into a routine of doing design in exchange for a paycheck. This was something I was not used to, but it was important for me to feel what it’s like to work in an office. It wasn’t a good job, but I felt like it’s a promotion from doing random stuff for clients, to getting a paycheck every month. It also helped me be more confident in my second job, which was working in a design studio. The clients I was working for in the studio were big and important, and I had to get much better in order to deliver good design on time.
Things are changing very fast in the industry, how do you keep yourself updated. Please list techniques or newsletter, podcasts, events etc
I usually stay up to date thanks to social media. People share interesting stuff in local design-related facebook groups, and on twitter. I also like designernews.
What can you recommend on CV?
Keep it as short and concise as possible. If you’ve worked as a waiter before it doesn’t mean much for an employer who’s looking for a designer. If you have no prior design experience, you can talk about your special traits instead, such as “excellent communication skills”. You can also talk about your software knowledge. Try to think about the employers – they want to see how you can contribute the company the most, that’s the only reason they care about your past employment.
Advice for someone looking for freelance product designer job?
Your first job is not supposed to make you rich. Once you’ve done a good work at least once, and your colleagues appreciate your work, it would be much easier to find a new, better job and progress in your career path. So instead of a high paying job, try to build a path that will help you evolve in your profession.
How do you find freelance product designer jobs?
I think employers who hired me did it because I was able to speak their language. My experience allows me to speak freely not only about design (most employers aren’t designers), but also about the business side of things, or even technology. I was curious about the company, and the interview was more of a conversation.
Ariel is product designer located in Tel Aviv, Israel. For the past 5-6 years I’ve worked as a freelancers, where I helped startups and tech companies with designing products that align with both the company’s and their users’ goal. I also write on Medium from time to time, and when inspiration hits I build side projects of my own.