Career interview with Mike Tschudy, Head of Design at Mint.com
I had the pleasure of talking with Mike Tschudy about his career path recently. Mike is the Head of Design for Mint.com. He shared a ton of good advice about intentionally planning your career, finding good sounding boards, and taking a step back occasionally to reevaluate your path. The full transcript of our discuss is below the video.
Transcript of Career Interview
Larry: So today I’m with Mike Tschudy. He’s the head of design at mint.com, which was acquired by Intuit a number of years ago (if you all remember). Mike and I have known each other — gosh man — probably for about 20 years — at least.
Mike: Yeah, maybe 25.
Larry: Yeah, because we both worked at Apple many many years ago and then we got to know each other at eBay. It’s where we spent a lot of time kinda working together day by day. So today I’m just gonna talk with Mike a little bit about what he does, and his career path, and just get some advice from somebody who’s been doing it for awhile and been doing a great job. So why don’t we start out with that, Mike. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you’re doing right now.
Mike: Yeah, my name is Mike Tschudy. As Larry said, I’m the head of design for mint.com. I’ve been in Silicon Valley for almost 25 years and have really enjoyed my career path. It’s never been a straight line, but that’s what makes it interesting. Actually, how I ended up at mint.com wasn’t a straight line.
Larry: Right. So do you want to take us back a little bit. I mean I think it’d be interesting for people especially who are interested in the path that you took. Go back to where you started with your education and the jobs and companies that you’ve been at, because you’ve been at a wide variety of places.
Mike: Sure. I have. So, let me just start with high school. I went to a great school, but I was not a great student. I was curious about a lot of things and lacked a lot of discipline to do the hard stuff. The easy stuff, I was really great at — when the things came easily. And I was committed in deed, but maybe not in thought, to go to the Naval Academy. And when I didn’t get in, I didn’t really have an option B. At that point I was living on the East coast, my parents — my father retired from the Navy, and moved to Ohio. And, so, well, there you go — I guess I’ll go to Ohio State. I went to Ohio State because I was a decent athlete, and so I walked on and played varsity Lacrosse at Ohio State, and there I was trying to figure out what to do. And when I reflected on my time in high school, I realized I really enjoyed English literature, I was very good at it, and I had suppressed a lot of my art and design experience in that process. So, I said, “Well, I’m just gonna go and be an English major.” In the pursuit of being an English major I tried a lot of things. I tried Engineering. I tried Education. There were things that I was good at, but didn’t really enjoy, and so I took a wander. It was really in my junior year in college that I had a girlfriend, at the time, who was an industrial designer, and I had this epiphany of going, “Wow, that is exactly what I want to do!”
Larry: That’s cool.
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Mike: And I had the luxury, we all had the luxury at that time, that college was a lot less expensive than it is now. And so I was allowed to make mistakes. I just destroyed my grade point average in the process. So I wasn’t very smart about how I experimented — there were others who were much smarter — knowing when to get a “W” (withdraw) — so I switched majors — really had a dual degree in English Literature and Industrial Design. Industrial Design was like Architecture, it was a sequence of classes that have to progress in order, so I was signing up for another three years, and I thought at the time that I really wanted to do Automotive Design. So I went and worked in Detroit for a year, very near my graduation, with General Electric Automotive, and they were working with all the big automotive manufacturers and design houses. I left a little dissatisfied — came back and finished up some classes, and discovered Human Computer Interface, and walked on — sort of — I tend to walk though side-doors — maybe.
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Note: This article first appeared on Brilliant Forge.