Designer, is this it?
This is my story
First of all, I would like to say that I did not write this article to be proud of what I have achieved. In fact, I know I am far from being successful. However, this anecdote serves as a part of me trying to tell the underdog side of the story. This is me telling you how I grabbed my opportunity when I feel lost, and this is me telling you that you should too.
However, this article of my ups and downs is a gift to the design community, with the hope that after reading this piece, you would know how to discover your own opportunity, and how taking such risks may just be the biggest personal life-changing decision of your life.
It started off a few years back when I had this feeling of ‘what’s next for me?’. Sure, I believe at this point if you are reading this, you had that in mind too.
Is this it?
At the naive age of 24, I had almost everything that I wanted. I had a good job, great circle of friends to rely on and of course, the strong backbone of a family. But as a normal human being, I always have this awful feeling of being ‘not enough’ in myself. So I started wanting more; to achieve more, to learn more. I started seeking out opportunities. Being critical, I have to admit that I am aware of my strengths, and to be honest, what I am lacking off too. So maybe that is the advantage that I have in me.
I initially started from the creative side of an event management company, and was in it for a solid 5 years. After breaking my personal glass ceiling, opportunities came and I moved to a production house that was our former client, and that marks my first big leap; from a designer and a creative brain for an event company, to a creative marketer for a video production house.
Everything was smooth sailing for me as I settled down. Fast forward, my learning curve started to flatten as I found my work being too mediocre and repetitive. Work was too playful, and the most important thing was that I could not foresee myself growing anymore. It did not take long for me to realise that I should be making my next step. I was in that company for less than a year.
Lost, and found.
In the midst of feeling astray, a friend decided to move overseas for a new job. At 25 and still being small minded, I found the decision itself is absurd, even though the company he will be in is well established in the scene. Before he left, we met and I finally got the chance to ask of his nine-to-five. God bless, he introduced to me of the User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) concept. After the fruitful meeting, I started reading the foreign terms of UX and UI. Coming from a guy who just let go of his daily job, I had plenty of time to do research on my own.
Once again, luck was on my side when I found out that his former company was offering a placement for their in-house apprentice program where they collaborated with Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC). The programme was initiated to breed young local designers in the digital world as Malaysia was in dire need to develop the digital field.
With great hesitation, I took my second big leap when I enrolled in the programme. However, what my friend failed to remind me was the complexity of the process. In total, I undergo 5 rounds of interviews and at least 3 sets of test for a 6-months program. The struggle intensified once I was in, and while my learning curve peaked, there are moments when I actually thought of giving up on the programme and to go back to my comfort zone, which is the event management.
Coming from a printing design background, UX & UI is totally a new ball game for me but this did not stop me from learning. For the whole duration, the internet was my best friend. I started developing a habit of Google-ing every alien concept that piqued my interest. I watched videos, I read articles, I took courses online and I mingle myself with people that have the same interest with me.
Amazingly, when you want something so desperately, you will find a way to get it done, by hook or by crook.
The late nights paid off as I manage to end the program with flying colours (self-proclaimed) with an offer for a permanent spot that I accepted with the hope that it was my way out to a better life. I knew back then this will be the stepping stone for me to get a better life. Post program, I started working as a UX/UI Designer, a very strange term I never knew existed just over 6 months ago.
A little bit more.
The cognition hunger for more grew a little after a year as I saw opportunities, locally as well as abroad. Unable to fully focus on my daily tasks as curiosity got the best of me, I took my chances and flew to Singapore to attend a design conference. It was an eye opener experience; what I saw back home was just a small fraction. With so much to learn, I felt right at home.
I went back home after the conference with a goal in mind; to get myself a job overseas so that I can level up my skill-set and compete with the people of similar mind set as mine. I do not want to limit myself just being complacent in my hometown and to compete with the same circle of people every single time. Note: I am not downgrading my peers. Like I said, I always have this feeling of ‘not enough’ in me.
I want a bigger and greater challenge.
That being said, I started brushing up my skills. I learned how to code. I started to look everything in a bigger picture from every angle that I can. I take my own sweet time to beautify my LinkedIn and AngelList profile. I also signed up to every startup-job website that I could find online. I even launched my own personal website just to let the online world know the existence of me in the UX and UI field. It took me a year to finally say that I am ready to face the world as I left my permanent job with no secured job yet in September of 2016.
November 2016, I packed my bags and took the train up north to Bangkok. I am fully aware of how rapid their startup scene is growing and hence, a one way ticket for me. I only had one thing in mind back then. Go big, or go home. I did not see myself going back home without securing a job there. In Bangkok, I pulled all the strings that I have and started to look for jobs online. I even went to the co-working space just to sell myself to the local market. I know for fact that there are demands for my skill-set and all I have to do is to sell myself to the right people. So that is exactly what I did.
Fast forward, I am now in Bangkok entering my third month working in a startup called Eatigo as a UX/UI Designer. All the hard work had really paid off (for now). I am happy with where I am right now. I am grateful for all the mistakes I had done, for all the leaps that have lead me to where I am today.
Of course, I will not be here today if not for my family who have never stopped believing in me. I owe them all my life. To my mentors; Izzati Khairudin and Izwan Ismail, thank you for taking chances in me. Without you guys, I surely will not be where I am now. All those steep learning curves that I got from each of you has shaped me to be what I am right now.
So, that is my story. I hope this short article can inspire you to do what you always wanted to do. I am not saying by venturing into UX and UI is the key for a better future for designers but what I am trying to say is to grab the opportunity in front of you, and to follow your heart when you feel lost.
Maybe luck was always on my side and I always got what I wanted but believe me, having luck without hard work is not enough.
Persistence is the key, keep a goal in your mind and always hunger to learn new things.
I can still say that this is not the end for me. I am turning 28 this year and still, I know I have a long journey to go. My new goal in this company is to help them revamp the whole UX and UI of the product, until at a point where I can be proud of my work. Amin.