My Story From Studying Mechanical Engineering to Becoming a Web Designer

Bio

I’m an independent Art Director, Design Partner, and Advisor at Ester Digital and a member of the international AWWWARDS jury panel. I love everything about UI/UX and product design, branding, and typography. Currently, I focus on using my UI/UX design skills to help start-ups, healthcare, and non-profit organizations solve their problems and seize opportunities.

How was your University time?

It was very much the same as it is for every teenager: both interesting and challenging. I was always addicted to art but decided to study mechanical engineering since my parents were also engineers. It was quite complicated for them to accept that being an artist is also a job that won’t leave you without a livelihood. So while I was getting a degree in mechanical engineering, I entered web design courses and practiced as a portrait and mural artist. 

However, the knowledge I got isn’t exactly what I’m using every day now; designing complex hydraulic presses made me very attentive to details and helped to think a few steps ahead. The most important thing, of course, is that I’ve learned how to learn. 

Why did you Seek out a career in this field?

Eight years ago, I found myself being absorbed by game design and 2D art, which, luckily, helped me find my first freelance project in this industry. It was the beginning of my design career. I have been working as a freelancer for several years, and then with enough experience and reviews, I found my first job where I worked in different roles – as a 2D artist, game designer, and UI designer. It took me some time to realize that designing interfaces for games was what I like most about my job. Interface design helped to marry my engineering thinking and passion for design. Once I realized it, I got into UX and web design, which paved the way to website experiences. So after earning my bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, I already had a couple of years of experience in the web design and game dev fields.

What was your first job or nuggets from jobs you had that helped you to get to where you are today?

My first serious UI/UX project was one of the largest e-commerce retail websites in Belarus. It was a project where I had to boost my skills and learn very quickly because the revenue of the company was directly influenced by my design decisions. I would say it was a difficult time for me, as I had to work almost 24/7 to fill the gap in my skills. On the other hand, it was a great experience and all the difficulties paid off. There is nothing more effective to grow as an expert than the challenges you have to face. And honestly speaking, now I don’t remember how hard it was to work on this project. But I still remember how proud I was when my design went through the testing by real users successfully and increased the company’s revenue; that was one of those amazing moments.

Another crucial skill that I gained from my job in game dev is art direction and a bit of team management. I led a small group of two artists; however, I managed to learn how to inspire and motivate them, guide the vision of the design team, and apply their talents to achieve the best possible results. 

How did you prepare for an interview?

Interviews are always stressful for every employee. I tried to relax in front of the HR office, breathing deeply. Usually, before the interview, I read about the company I am going to speak with, as it is always easier to communicate when you hold the cards. And I always remember that the employer is also interested in finding new team members, as much as the employee is interested in finding a new job.

Books that helped you?

I’ll mention three: 

Pixel Perfect Precision

by Matt Gypps

Paul Rand: A Designer’s Art

by Paul Rand

Don’t Make Me Think

by Steve Krug 

I think these are the must-haves for every designer.

Things are changing very fast in the industry; how do you keep yourself updated. Please list techniques or newsletters, podcasts, events, etc.

I’m trying to be up to speed, but sometimes that seems to be an impossible mission 😉 In terms of events, I am a fan of the AWWWARDS conference as Organizers manage to get together quite a few bright minds from top design agencies and tech companies. I haven’t missed a single talk in the last few years. 

I also enjoy reading articles on AIGA Eye on Design; it features works of the most exciting graphic designers from around the world and things they care about. Besides, the printed version always has different covers for each issue, and it’s a piece of art itself.

For more practical things in my everyday job, I read articles on UX Collective and Toptal Design Blog. And of course, I share my personal design experience in the Ester corporate blog.

What can you recommend on CV?

Be honest but never underestimate yourself. Oh, and since designers are artists, I would like to remind you that sometimes your CV should be more informative than creative. What is the point in an extraordinary and original resume if it makes it difficult to understand the scope of your experience? As for me, it is better to have a clear and simple CV and demonstrate your creativity through your work. 

Advice for someone looking for a job?

Don’t be afraid to apply for an opening and send emails to HRs even if there are no open positions. Never stop growing, develop yourself, improve your skills, be curious, be friendly. And one advice for the newbies: internship is a great start for your career.

Why do you think you were selected among other candidates?

Now when I work as an art director and mentor the design team, as well as participate in interviews, it became clear to me that professional skills are important but soft skills also matter. When you’re going to enter a company, you should be a team player. So with all other things being equal, my soft skills are what helped me to win the competition. 

Lessons from jobs that you couldn’t get.

I do not take them as failures; it is always an experience. And when I finally got the job, it became obvious why the previous companies and offers didn’t work out—all in good time.

Also Read: How Haseeb Qureshi Got Software Engineer Job At Airbnb

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