I didn’t fail. I learned.
How my visit to Adobe changed my thought process
As I stared outside Nick O'Neill’s car window, I asked myself, “Am I really doing this?” The answer to my question was yes and as we passed the beautiful mountains of Lake Tahoe, my eyes lit up from excitement. I decided to take a risk and be spontaneous — I was heading to San Francisco. When we last spoke, I was telling you about my amazing time at Epicurrence, but what I left out was the adventure afterward. Here I was at this amazing event with hundreds of great designers, trying to find my place in the tech world as a UX Designer and I was leaving California before visiting the elite “Silicon Valley” — one of the biggest tech hubs in the country. I kept telling myself that I would come back soon but I knew that if I didn’t go now, I would’ve probably never make it back.
While in SF, I went sightseeing with the amazing Helena Price, stopped by UENO., met up with some great new friends from Epicurrence and met one of my UX idols (now, my mentor), Nancy Douyon! However, what left one of the greatest impression on my future career was my trip to Adobe. From a previous Adobe design talk, I made a great connection and friendship with Elaine Chao Finnell. She let me know that if I was ever in SF, I could come visit Adobe. When she told me this, I automatically assumed it would have been in a time (like a year from now) when I felt ready to be in front of designers with a tenure twice my age. Although my stomach was turning in circles, I connected with Elaine and let her know I was coming. I did it and there was no turning back now.
Elaine worked at the speed of lightning and she set up not only a tour but one on one’s with diverse, new and tenured designers from all over the Adobe headquarters. I was ecstatic then I turned into a nervous wreck! I wasn’t ready! Helena gave me a pep talk right before I left. She knew how much I admire Adobe and how hard I was trying to find my way as a UX Designer. Her words were,
“ Be yourself and just work your butt off. It shows. They are people just like you and they can help you.”
The day came when I went to Adobe SF and here are the 5 most valuable things that I learned that day:
1. Let things flow.
I was so nervous at first that I didn’t even realize the beauty that was in the architecture and walls of Adobe Headquarters. I also almost forgot why I was even excited to be there. From the moment I met Elaine in the lobby, things flowed and it was great! I met with 6 designers and it was far from formal and less intimidating than I thought. Don’t let your anxiety take away from what could be your best moment.
2. Good or bad, trust in your work.
Before this trip, my thoughts on my design process were to only speak on things I was confident about and ask questions about the things I was not. Although this may be the correct method for some things, when speaking to a mentor, team or co-designer you may be leaving out very pivotal information. With feedback from some of the designers, I realized I needed to vocalize the details to my design process, good and bad, to a tee. As a new designer, this is crucial if you want to learn or grow.
3. Build relationships.
I wish I could bold that statement more so I’ll settle for just saying it again, build relationships. It is so important to build relationships with people especially when you are a new to the game. What I realize was that I was so taken aback by titles that at first, I got somewhat “tech struck” (same as star struck). The beauty of the relationships I have formed was that I would have never gotten to visit Adobe if I didn’t build one! When speaking with the designers, I was instantly reminded that they are actual people too. They have families, hardships and stories that all differ from each other. Their backgrounds were diverse such as graphic design or human computer interaction and some even had similar stories like myself, which are completely opposite backgrounds to design. While taking the time to sit down and ask countless questions, I was happy to leave with new people of reference and guidance.
4. Take a chance and believe in yourself.
Being in the Adobe HQ was truly surreal for me. Less than a year ago, I was just a girl from Brooklyn, NY crafting greeting cards on her bedroom floor and now I was talking to major designers including the Mastermind behind Adobe XD, Tom Krcha. I usually go the safe route, especially when I think about my responsibilities. And to tell the truth two days before this particular day, I was supposed to be on a flight back to NYC. It was by far one of my boldest and most reckless moves. I had no idea what would happen if I went to SF or if I would even come back with a position that I wanted but what I did get in return was confidence. To hear in person from a Sr. Experience Design lead, that they truly enjoyed your discussion on accessibility in design and it gave them more things to think about when they design. That moment was amazing.
5. You never fail. You learn.
At the end of my trip to SF and Adobe, I didn’t leave with an internship or position but I did leave with a new sense of wealth. Some could look at it as a failure because I didn’t get what I thought I wanted. However, when you look at the facts, like all UXers do, I received everything I needed through my experience. I went to California unsure if this career was right for me or how to even get through the door to make a difference if it was. What I left with was the realization that the door was always open. I just needed the confidence to walk through it.
I met some amazing people in Adobe that have truly shaped not just my thought process in design, but in life. They taught me that confidence in your work will grow over time. Accepting feedback will help you to grow and build that confidence. Always trust your instincts and if you fail, never give up.
The beauty of UX is that with every mistake, you will find out something new and with every success, you will make someone else happy.
My new goal is to “never fail but always learn”. I am okay with my mistakes for I know, it will lead me to something amazing for my user or better yet… myself.
Thank you to all the amazing people who encouraged me to go to SF, Epicurrence friends, UENO., Helena Price, Nancy Douyon, the brilliant designers at Adobe and a special thank you to Elaine Chao Finnell for going above and beyond for a young designer she met on Twitter. Thank you for believing in me and my journey of becoming a great UX Designer.