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Why a digital design career requires leveraging all your skills

How to start a digital design career?  64885

Great design makes the world a better, more inclusive place. That could be larger font sizes and helpful virtual assistants to improve a digital healthcare app or e-scooters with intuitive navigation functionality built-in.

This episode of Shine: a podcast by Star, centers on a question we frequently receive here. How do you start a digital design career? So we gathered experts from Star and Google to answer this question. Start your design journey and listen now. 

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You don’t have to come from a fancy design school

While it never hurts to have a degree from a prestigious university, product design like engineering is first and foremost about your skills. Alisa, now a UX Designer at Star, studied philosophy at university and started her professional life as a copywriter. 

One thing she knew was that she didn’t want to write TV jingles her entire life. So she started taking notice of design opportunities where she worked. Little by little, she took on more design tasks, eventually enrolling at Projector, Ukraine’s famous Creative & Tech Online Institute. 

However, even after graduation, Alisa still found herself at her previous employer, occasionally having to take on copywriting tasks. After getting a little more experience, she landed a full-time design job at automotive solution provider Cloudmade before coming over to Star. 

In some ways, Tiffany’s journey couldn’t have been more different. She did take a more traditional approach and graduated with a degree in interaction design from California College of the Arts. 

However, there are some distinct commonalities shared on their career journeys. Both have had to work very hard to get where they are, and each has had a little luck. But most vitally, Alisa and Tiffany underscore the importance of networking and community building

Organically not randomly: finding your footing in the design world

You can have a fantastic portfolio. But what gets you the job is being active in the community. Tiffany describes the advantages of going to design events in your area because “even if you aren’t actively looking for jobs, it’s a good way to learn about what’s happening outside the classroom and meet people in the industry.” This is how you build connections, and by following up on LinkedIn, you can start entering the broader community. 

In some ways, it’s universal advice. Tiffany emphasizes that you have “to leverage your connections,” whether that’s a professor at school, a job fair or networking at companies you’re interested in. Take the opportunity to “ask questions and just talk about Design Thinking, design strategy, enterprise design, service design solutions and other interesting topics.” It might lead to an inside track on a great job or you’ll expand your skills. Either way, it’s something you shouldn’t miss. 

Alisa shares this sentiment emphasizing the idea of organic, not random, “You work hard for what you get now.” It’s all the result of what you’ve achieved in the past. 

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How to find design opportunities online and in the real world

Product designer solutions are in high demand. But one of the challenges Tiffany faced was that every role seemed to be calling out for mid to senior-level designers. How could a recent graduate with a few years of experience compete?

Even today, that’s a challenge that resonates with a lot of people looking to enter the field. But there are many ways you can level up your skills. Some of the examples these experts share include: 

  • Internships 
  • Apprenticeships 
  • General Assembly, Springboard and other skills bootcamps 
  • Hackathons 
  • Certifications

You can find examples in each category. For example, Google has had successful apprenticeship programs for UX design for a few years now. Likewise, Star hosts Design Internships specifically for junior designers. They even include an opportunity for successful program graduates to join the Star Crew full-time.

Kickstart your design career 

At Star, design fuels everything we do. Our designers play a critical role in every stage of our end-to-end product building. And their importance will only continue to grow over the next few years. 

Get a strong foundation to start your design career by listening to the complete podcast. Alisa and Tiffany share more, including their biggest tips for aspiring UX designers, their career journeys and valuable resources no matter what stage of your professional life. Listen now and check out one of our many open job opportunities.

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