Filipinos in design!😱 Mentorship really opens doors of opportunities to meet people you didn’t expect to meet, especially ones that share similar cultures with you! As a Filipina creative born & raised in the Philippines🇵🇭 and immigrated to the USA (Chicago, IL) in 2010🇺🇸, I didn’t discover UX until my Freshman year of college began in 2017. It’s very cool seeing vast opportunities for mentorship over time, and I am blessed to be a part of an industry of makes product experiences better. In my case, I have yet to meet more Filipino designers worldwide, and it was a pleasure to get to know a fellow Filipina creative and ADPList Mentor, Shaira Tuazon from San Diego, CA in February 11, 2022. This interview gave me a more open mindset on how I may need to approach job searching differently, and I’m excited for you to read her story!
Enjoy the reading!😄
Also a big foodie too!🍽
I get, like, somewhat fixated on certain foods, on different days. So like, some days I’ll be, I’m going to go to the nearest dollar and get Jollibee (Filipino Fast-Food chain). Or like other days, it’s like, oh, I really, like lately, I’ve been really into Hawaiian food. So I’ll like to go and get that so it kind of rotates. But I kind of go in like a circle a little bit, too.
Yeah, so I’m Shaira. I am a Product Designer based out of San Diego(California). Umm I, I guess, like one interesting thing about me is I actually went to school, not for anything related to product design. I was a communication major but discovered UX design through an internship that I had my senior year of college and I kind of, you know, dove headfirst into UX and product design ever since. So currently, I am a Product Designer at Meta working on the Facebook app and I work on everything related to personal profiles these days. Prior to that, I was working at Intuit. I was working on TurboTax for a couple of years, I led initiatives around self-employment. So helping and all like complex tax situations at the time, I would, you know, work on things for investors and self-employed folks who have like, really complex tax situations. So my goal was to simplify things for them there. And then prior to that, which was the internship that I had, that became a full-time role, I was working at a healthcare startup, and it was in the addiction industry. So I started off being more of a visual media intern, and kind of discovered just different facets of design there. Like I discovered things like motion design and, you know, UX design and found UX to be something I was interested in.
So I don’t necessarily pick by industry, I pick by growth, I feel like this is one thing I’ve done. It’s that, for me, I want to understand things that I want to grow in.
So like, for example, working it into I wanted to grow in terms of solving really complex problems like health care also had that, but it wasn’t in the scope of what I was working on at the time. That was a place where I decided I wanted to truly learn how to innovate and set standards for the industry. I have no idea how that works yet because I’m still learning. But that’s kind of where I choose where I want to go next.
Ooh. So it wasn’t a new hobby. It was like really picked up. But I really picked up video games, But I just find like, you know, gaming fine. Like I’ve explored a whole variety of games over the last two years I was playing, It Takes Two which is a PS like a PlayStation game. It’s like a co-op game. Those are my favorite kind of games. It’s a co-op, whether it’s online or couch Co-Op, those are my favorites.
I’ve also been, trying out different games that are more creative I guess is one way to put it early the pandemic I was playing Animal Crossing, which I mean a lot of people were and then I picked up Minecraft recently with like a couple of friends as well where I could like build things in the game but yeah, that’s something I’ve been like a lot more like doing a lot more of again.
Yeah, I think in my experience, UX is pretty universal, right? Because as long as you care about your users like that’s the value of creating stuff.
And as someone who’s obviously changed industries a lot, I didn’t have anything social to show Facebook, or I didn’t have anything FinTech to show turbo TurboTax into at the time. So I think it’s always, you know, you can always apply the same skills in the industry.
Ooh, that's such a good question. I think for me, I’ve always seen so backstories obviously, I said, like, I didn’t study UX design when I was in school. But the three of my biggest passions have always been art, you know, design as a whole technology, and helping others. So like, I’ve always wanted to see, like, is there a way to meet all of that, and I see UX designers like a happy medium of all three, in terms of impact, as I’ve, you know, been lucky to be able to solve really complex problems with TurboTax or even like, helping creators on like Facebook, etc.
So I feel like one of my biggest things is making an impact through understanding, what are users’ goals and how can I help them get through and achieve those goals is that impact.
I think that the Interesting thing is Facebook, especially coming from Intuit, which is more of like a US-based company versus Facebook, which is very international. It’s mind-boggling to me to know that I have an impact on literally millions of people who use the product.
And so with that also comes it’s like the whole with “great power comes great responsibility”. And to me, it’s that I want to make a positive impact on people and I have a lot to learn. And my goal is always just to help users really at the end of the day.
Oh, that’s a good one. I remember. And people ask me all the time about imposter syndrome. And it’s such a real thing. And for me, especially early in my career, I always wondered like, as someone who learned, you know, UX design on my own. Am I gonna be able to land UX design jobs, or even when I did land, it’s like, would I be able to do my job? Right? It’s such a, it’s, it’s such a problem. I feel like many people face like, Am I good enough to do this thing that I’m trying to do?So yeah, definitely early in my career, and even some days when I just don’t know what I’m doing. And I’m unsure. Like, I always feel that sense of like, doubt of not doing the right thing or not making it to whatever my goals are. But one thing I’ve done to like overcome that is really being able to ask questions and ask for help, which is easier said than done.
But I, I’ve realized over my career that I, as a person, as a designer, as a leader, can always ask questions, whether it’s, it’s coming from a learning mindset, like I want to come in and learn. And I feel like I’ve mentioned that a lot already. But like, my goal is to learn and understand and grow. And a big part of that is I can’t learn if I don’t ask those questions. So being able to encourage me to be vulnerable and ask things that might seem like very new questions or things that I should know, have really helped me learn that, you know, other people are not judging me for what I am judging myself on. And knowing that other people are also incredibly helpful and want to see me succeed has really helped with that as well.
I’ve always been more of just a shy person like I keep to myself and whatnot, but, and I didn’t know how to network early in my career, but it’s definitely been helpful just in a remote setting to like, I don’t know, like being on screen helps a little bit, for some reason, right of like, I can talk and be more a little bit more comfortable with someone I’ve never met.
Like, even if you believe that you have capabilities when recruiters try to look at your stuff, they don’t fully know you yet, but they already reject you right away. So what would be your advice?
So one thing I’ve always told people, like in my career, and I’ve realized this, as I’ve grown as a product designer, is that storytelling is one of the most valuable things that you will learn as a product designer and use to your advantage. For me being able to tell the story of users who use a feature I’m working on to my leaders, to help them understand why we’re doing what we’re doing, or when I’m interviewing to be able to tell the story of why I solved it this way to tell the story of the company and why we were approaching this from a business perspective.
Like my biggest thing is thinking of ways of how you want to tell your story to tell the story of you and the story of your projects, whatever that really means. And that might mean you know, tweaking your portfolio to be able to emphasize like, for example, me as a product designer, while product design encompasses everything…
I thrive more in early processes like doing research partnering with cross-functional partners, like understanding the business like early explorations, over something like visual like design, like as an aspect of it. So I try to tell my story a little bit more in that sense of my portfolio, there will be some visual aspects of it. And I’ll still show that, but I kind of lean a little bit more on emphasizing what I like to do. And that’s what I’ve always encouraged other people to be able to do is think about your audience and what you want to tell them.
Like if you were looking at a recruiter, what’s something you want to be able to tell them? And there are so many ways to tell your story now, like you mentioned Julia earlier, like, she did like a video, which is like a quick intro to her and what she’s about. And that’s a perfect example of like, How can I tell my story in a way that’s comfortable to me.
And that doesn’t mean you have to do video because not everyone is comfortable with video. Like one time I applied to a company, I think it was Spotify at the time. And while I had no experience in the music industry at all, one thing I wanted to do to tell my story and somewhat stand out is I know, like there’s been a whole thing of resumes that we can get for the company. But I wanted to take it in a different direction. What I did was you’re probably familiar with Spotify wrapped. And so what I did when I was applying way back then for it was that I created a prototype that was almost as if you’re viewing stories, and I wanted to tell my story through that. So that was a way that I felt more comfortable. I didn’t want to have to go on video and talk to someone.
I wanted to show my skills and be able to share how I like to present myself. So really that storytelling aspect and thinking of what do I want to show to this person who wants to be speaking to or want to speak to is something that’s going to be really valuable as you start a career.
That’s a really good question. So a backstory to me, which I’ve already kind of mentioned is I started my career through a startup, and I had no idea what UX is. And I was incredibly lucky to join a company that had people who wanted to mentor me to wanted to help me discover, like, what kind of design that I want to focus on moving forward was I in the right field that I wanted to be in, and all that.
So to me, like, I personally feel a heavy investment in mentoring people who are early in their careers, as well as people who are changing their careers. Because these are things I’ve personally experienced, like when I was early in my career, I got mentorship, when I know, was trying to shift careers, essentially, knowing that I didn’t have any experience in UX like I had mentors who were there to support me.
And to me, it’s that, like, especially for underrepresented minorities, I want to be able to help, you know, people in design, and otherwise be able to tell those stories of themselves and what they have to offer, even when it might be a little bit more difficult to stand out.
And I think like, that’s kind of what mentorship I want to provide, it’s to be able to show or like, encourage people to be who they really are, you know, like, focus on what their goals are for themselves, and really help them be able to shape that into something that a company will truly value.
Shaira is here to help you transition smoothly but at the same time lead you to understand what you want to do in your career. She will be more than happy to support your career journey in whatever stage you’re at!
Check out the Amazing Design Mentor Shaira on ADPList here!
You can also connect with her on LinkedIn here!
II hope you learned something new from Shaira because I definitely did and I hope you did too! A job search can be stressful and scary, but you are not alone! If you are just starting to get into mentorship help, it’s not too late to check ADPList yourself. Connect with the design community and mentorship platform provided by ADPList! Don’t knock it until you try it!