Every mentor has a unique story to tell, a unique perspective to share, and unique passion that sets them apart as not only mentors or designers — but as wonderful human beings. I am so excited to share another one with you all.
Carolina (call her Carol or Carô) is from Porto Alegre, South of Brazil and has been working as a designer in Berlin, Germany since January of 2018. She’s a splendidly giving human being that is passionate about elevating others by helping them to discover what paths they want to take in life. A true mentor, she guides mentees by working with them to unleash the best versions of themselves.
Often times, designers who are new to the field can become overwhelmed by the many paths that they can take. They are uncertain about their journey — being open to ANY opportunity that comes their way. This can be a slippery slope.
What Carô is passionate about is helping designers focus in on what they TRULY want in life and in their careers. This helps them become the best person they can be.
🦊= Amber KB Wilson (ADPList Ambassador)
😄= Carolina (ADPList mentor)
🦊 Hello there! So tell me a bit about yourself!
😄 Hi! So, I’m from Brazil, and I moved to Germany three and a half years ago to work as a designer. I decided to be a designer when I was around 14 years old. My mother went crazy because she had no idea what that was and how I would make money. But it turned out fine! I’ve worked in many different areas of design, from graphic design to app design to marketing to product — which is what I do now.
Beyond design, I love traveling, learning languages, and reading a good book. I also love cooking! Italian food especially.
I’m a very chill person. I like to stay home or go to the park. I enjoy being close to nature and hiking around the lakes here. Berlin has so many awesome lakes!
🦊 Haha, that’s perfect, I’m a homebody, too. I need to travel more. Do you have a favorite place that you’ve traveled to so far?
😄 Well, that’s interesting. When I was in Brazil, it was really hard for me to travel so I didn’t travel much. Now that I live in the middle of Europe, it is super easy to travel. It’s an hour flight to another country, and that’s my favorite part about Europe. But apart from that, I think from the places that I’ve been, I’m totally a mountain person. Even though I come from Brazil.
Especially in the winter, when it’s snowing, I just find it so beautiful. For me, it’s like a muse to go to the mountains in winter.
Besides that, I just really love Italy so I try to go there as much as I can.
🦊 Oh my gosh, yum. I’m sure you get a lot of good food in Italy. Awesome. So tell me something about yourself that would never come up in conversation.
😄 It’s not super weird, but usually people don’t expect that I’m a huge soccer fan. Soccer is a huge family tradition. We love soccer, going to the stadium and watching the games together as a family. It’s a huge deal.
🦊 Did you pick up a new hobby during the pandemic?
😄 I have to say I didn’t really. I sort of just dove deep into work because I also started my job at the beginning of the pandemic. I will say I really got into cooking more and started to focus on healthy recipes.
🦊 I think that’s great! More people need to hear that. Self-care should be a part of your life that you plan for. Thank you for sharing that.
Alright, so now let’s get into design a little bit. What kind of impact are you making in the world using your design skills? I love this one, because we’re all problem solvers. Right? So what kind of problems do you see that you’re solving in the world or want to solve in the world?
😄 That’s kind of an easy one for me. Since last year, I’ve been working on this platform that is related to education, which is coaching. It’s super nice to see the impact that we create. I never was the type of designer who likes to work with e-commerce. I always like to work on B2B software and in these types of environments — working on creating software that is focused on helping people unleash their potential.
🦊 You ARE kind of like a coach! Interestingly, Timothy also touched on the differences and similarities between coaching and mentoring. You really do help people unleash their potential.
😄 And also because right now I’m focused on design leadership. And for me, that’s exactly it. Helping the team, mentoring the team, helping them grow to actually create impact.
🦊 Oh, good segue! My next question is what kind of mentorship do you like to provide for mentees?
😄 I really love and am strongest in helping mentees find out what they want to do and where do they want to take their careers.
I’m also a facilitator and I do a lot of workshops. I love workshops, and I’m constantly talking about workshops and teaching workshops. I do that also with my team at work.
I have two mentees that I’m doing that with, and it has been super fun. I feel like I’m definitely better at that.
I actually do some learning sessions on that with my team at work and I’ve been thinking about how to transform them into group sessions for the ADPList community.
🦊 I was actually about to suggest that you should 100% definitely do that as a group session. I will be the first person to sign up for that! 😉
So regarding these workshops that you facilitate, can you give us an overview of what the topics are?
😄 At work, I facilitate all kinds of workshops from team building to deciding design principles. Or we’ll do a team retrospective once a month. Then to bigger workshops, like a design sprint, or other types of discovery processes and discovery workshops.
Sometimes I facilitate workshops with a few customers and clients — but more focused on discovery, product discovery and things like that. I kind of became a specialist in remote workshopping over the past year as well. It’s definitely a topic that I’m happy to talk about since I’ve facilitated more workshops remotely now than in-person.
🦊 I LOVE that. I need to book a session with you to learn about how to facilitate workshops! And you should definitely do a group session or something. It’s nice that we no longer have the barriers of geographical distance.
Okay, I love this question. Can you tell me about a time that you didn’t know if you would make it as a designer and how you overcame that?
😄 Ah, well, I can say two things. One was when I joined design school, back when I was 17 years old. The school where I studied design, was actually brand new. I was part of the first design class in the university, and it was pretty nice.
There was an exam that you need to pass to get into the university. When I got to the exam, there were a lot of people with colored hair, tattoos and piercings all over. And I’m like the most basic person ever. And so I thought to myself, “Am I at the right place?”
And the second one is about two or three years ago, right after I moved to Germany. I had some hiccups in my career. Long story short, I changed jobs a few times and I wasn’t happy at all as a designer. I really, really felt like after 10 years, I’ve been so stressed and I was burning out. Tired of working in startups that are always chaotic and always a big mess.
I started doing some more interviews and changed jobs again. And it was always super hard. Because I am 100% a generalist. I don’t know many things about UX research, for example, but I know the basics. But many companies here are looking for specialists, especially bigger companies.
They want specialists or they want people with deeper knowledge. It took me about six months and I lost count of how many interviews I did. I was about to just give up and go back to marketing or something.
🦊 So tell me, what are your three most common questions you get as a mentor? And how do you answer them?
A lot of people are interested in Berlin; it’s very trendy and popular at the moment. It’s very competitive in the sense that there are a lot of opportunities. Unfortunately, many of these opportunities are for seniors.
It’s definitely harder if you are more junior. Still, there are a lot of opportunities. There are A LOT of startups in Berlin that are hiring — really big startups.
European startups are coming here and opening offices. So it’s definitely a good place to be if you are a designer.
Usually when I’m hiring, and of course this depends on what type of professional I’m hiring for, it’s mainly about getting to know the person.
I always like to start by understanding their design process :
From there, I would start asking questions about stakeholder management.
After I go through that, I go into more specific questions. If it’s product design, what type of tools do you use? Then I usually go a little bit broad again. And I always like to ask people what has been their biggest moment as a designer that made them happy or proud and also what their biggest challenge was. I get to hear about all kinds of great stories.
What are they looking for? What do they want to learn — inside and outside of design. What inspires them? Any hobbies? How do they learn things? How do they keep updated? I really start to get to know them.
🦊 Wow, thank you so much for walking us through that process! I just had a moment where I felt like this was a mentorship session between you and I, I’m writing so many good notes!
🦊 Yes! Exactly. I love that. Okay, one final question. So if there is one thing you could tell every single mentee you have ever met or will meet — What would that one piece of advice be for design?
😄 That’s a big one.
I would say the first thing is to always be eager to learn. Design is a constant, evolving discipline. It’s always changing. There’s always new trends. There’s always new tools, new frameworks. There’s always things to learn.
Learn about empathy, learn about collaboration, communication, how to work together… because designers don’t work alone. Designers work in a team. Even if you’re a freelancer, you still have your clients where you have to collaborate with other peers. Focus on learning how to best collaborate and how to get feedback.
Keep improving — not only your designs, but also you as a person.
Have the right mentality and just keep on going. Keep on rolling..
Thanks for reading!
PS — Stay tuned for our next article (dropping next week)!
Her groups sessions are lively, educational, and real. If you want a taste of that, check out our recap of “Make your portfolio as nice as your Hinge profile”. We’ll be learning about her story, her growth, and how she advocates for her authentic self! We promise sass and a lot of fun. 😎