Not too long ago, I had the chance to meet with Joe Cahill who is an Experience Design Manager at Unqork and is also a fellow mentor at ADPList! Joe is born and raised in New York 🏙. Although he says, “Which I tend to treat like my nationality haha but I am Irish & Puerto Rican”.☘️ 🇵🇷
What is your Favorite Emoji?
“Most used emoji is 🖕🏻 But 😂 is also up there and 👏🏼 Bc as a New Yorker I tend to 👏🏼 emphasize 👏🏼 my 👏🏼 damn 👏🏼 sentences.”
What show are you binge-watching?
“Most recently I finished Ozark and I’m “patiently” waiting for the back half of the final season. But also have a new love for all the weekly released shows like the Disney+ shows”
What is your go-to drink?
“Sooo favorite drink…. Fav…or…it drink…. Toss up between an old fashion 🍻 and a spicy margarita 🍹… but I figure you want a non-alcoholic drink… so it’s gotta be coffee (pronounced caw-fee) ☕️ All of them keep me super productive as a designer hahahha!”
“Outside of work, I like to spend time building Legos because I am a man-child. I also have a ton of Legos on my shelf right behind me! It becomes a fun icebreaker when I’m meeting with clients. On occasion, I actually use Legos as a visual aid to explain how a design system works.”
Here is Joe and his Lego Wall!
“So I will annoyingly talk to anything about anybody. I would say that one thing that doesn’t come up in a conversation is what I do for a living. I have to come up with the simplest way of putting it so it doesn’t confuse anybody at a table of people. The answer is that I like to build websites and apps 📱💻. And they’re like, “Oh so like a developer?” I mean.. yea kind of but more on the design side and an ordered psychological version of all users with everything else in the world. My lovely friend likes to refer it to as “We make everything work,” which is also a nice way of talking about our jobs.
“Oh, I like to keep myself busy. I would say my favorite hobby now is being an ADPList mentor 😎! The second hobby is that I started doing construction on the house myself. So I laid out floor amongst my entire second floor of the house. That was a lot of fun so I learned how to do that. I still got all 10 fingers and 10 toes so I think that’s also when knowing that I did a lot of the work with a saw barefoot and still am terrified that I got it done. I also learned how to put up molding and paint paneling. You know a lot of really different handy stuff 🏡. It’s like pushing the limits of what I’m actually good with. Where I’m not using a computer every day.”
“So short answer is anytime I get into a UX project, my goals make a difference for somebody, right? It sounds very, you know, big picture, but it’s our job. Our job is to be responsible for everybody’s experience with whatever we’re building. So that’s kind of the biggest part of it. On the other side. I constantly do work for free. Which is yes, a good thing and yes, a bad thing. A lot of good for nonprofits. So during the pandemic, I did a branding package for a dog rescue 🐶💕. So I was able to do like a logo and colors and the whole material that comes with it. Web stuff and mobile stuff ya know. It’s my way of giving back to people who can’t afford to pay an exorbitant amount of money from a professional designer. I think it’s good to kind of help out where we can. That’s the thing so maybe my work during the day might be more analytical work, then on the outside, I can be more creative. So it’s always a balance and keeping myself fulfilled.”
Wow. So.. without sounding cocky, I always knew there was something different about how I worked right. Like there was something in my head that was like listening to all my directors at the time and it makes sense what they’re saying but they’re not thinking bigger. The downside was I also have enormous self-esteem issues so I would always take jobs. I would never take jobs where I could overly excel. I got to a point where I had to sit back and say to myself if you want more, you want to do more, then stop getting in your own way. It became a big point of pride to get myself out of that hole and push myself forward, and it was hard because there were always moments of like a constant imposter syndrome of like, you’re not supposed to be here. You’re not supposed to be doing this. Even now, like in all the years later, I worked at an Ad agency and there was always that part of me that says how can I know you don’t work here? Like they don’t know you don’t belong here but I always have to sit back and say fuck it you’re here. You have the job, you’ve earned it. Then I keep pushing myself forward. I think that’s always the ups and downs of our field because a new technology comes as our jobs change as we start to move into management or move into executive management. How do you keep pushing and keep yourself going? I think it’s always being your own cheerleader. I think that’s how I’ve always constantly overcome getting in my own way 👊🏼.”
“So this is one of my favorite parts. I want to hear what somebody’s goals are and what they want to achieve and be there to support them. Like it’s always me talking. You’ve heard me always tell a bunch of stories and a bunch of nonsense, which I think are always great. But there are two reasons for it. One is that we always talk about our shared experience like I have experienced generally anything at this point. Like if you have any problems with an interview/take-home test or just want to talk, vent, or talk about how shitty somebody is at work. Okay, spill the tea I am here for it 🍵. For everybody who I mentor the first thing I would say is that I’m here whenever you need me. If you need me and there’s no spot, message me I’ll fucking fly in time 😂✈️.”
Be yourself and stick to your process. We know that if you’re a junior designer, you’re not going to come out knowing 20 years of UX and 20 years of research, you’re going to be somebody who just knows what you know, and you’re here to learn when in you are in your first job. If you’re pivoting from another type of industry all that extra work, from all that extra shit you’ve done before, means something to us. It’s not like we look at it and be like, “Oh my God, you’re the 20 year old at college.” You are somebody who has life experience, which comes a long way because when you build a good UX department, everybody needs to have a journey that’s going to contribute to the bigger picture. When I get the questions from mentees on how to stand out, it is “Always being yourself”. I think one of the best parts about our job now is that we get to meet people. Like the best people I hire are the people I want to have a drink with after work. Even though we are in a work from home situation now, I still want to eventually meet up in person and we’re going to have to drink 🍻. As long as I enjoy that type of energy ✨. We are golden.
I will tell every mentee, to just be yourself. Be yourself and don’t give up on yourself. I think that’s the two big pieces is especially when the interview process for UX is so vast and they go from two interviews and you’re good. You might get a job to 14 interviews, including a whiteboard challenge and a take-home test and all these other nonsense it’s very easy to get your own head and get so stuck and get in affects your self-esteem. It affects everything that goes on with you. And you have to remember that you’re always going to overcome like it’s just a job interview. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it like the long-running joke with a lot of the mentees I need is that as I’ve gotten older I become this, “Whatever happens, happens person”. If I worry about every job I didn’t get, I would go absolutely nuts. Now, the job that I got gave me some of the best people in my life who are my family, who are my friends who are the people I count on the most. I’m not going to say that I didn’t need these jobs. These are not the right jobs I should have got. You know we have to trust the process because our job is about the process. There’s only one way we’re going to be able to deploy reality to life. Look at that, turning that into a whole agile thing.
Cheers to wholesome mentors like Joe!
Thank you for taking the time to read this article,
Feel free to book an appointment with Joe on ADPList right here: Joe Cahill
And…. Stay tuned and follow for more Inside Scoops w/ ADPList