Hey everyone! Welcome to one of EntryLevel’s event. Today, we're going to be talking to Elizabeth; about her career in product design and how she landed a new job, and some tips and advice for you.
Before we get started and I introduce Elizabeth, just a brief background on EntryLevel. EntryLevel is a learning platform where we help you learn and get experiences so you can get hired. Our courses are designed for you to actually practice what you learn and build a portfolio through the programs — and these are on…on the right. You can see some of the programs that EntryLevel offers; this UX design, digital marketing, product management, and plenty more… in venture capital analysts, data analysts, etc.
As we get started, I would love to know where everyone's joining us from. So if everyone could just type in the chat which city, country they're joining us from, just to see where everyone's from.
Cool, we have someone from Hong Kong. Bangladesh. South Africa.
I'm joining in from Kenya so... Oh Colombia! Nice! A lot of…a lot of people from Nigeria and Elizabeth is joining us from Germany and cool. So we have people from — a lot of people from — Nigeria and a lot of people…I mean people from all over the world.
Alright, so keep popping that in and I'll keep on going ahead.
So who am I? Of course, I am the learning designer at EntryLevel where I work with the instructors to create courses that you guys see on the platform and today, our agenda is to chat with Elizabeth. It's…it's a brief, casual conversation where we hear about our experiences. You are also…all, everyone who's attending is also…you should ask questions, put it in the chat or ask raise your hand so I can unmute you.
A bit more about that is that — don't spam the chat. Keep this past…chat light. Talk, write your insights and learning that you get from the answers but do not spam the chat and if you can, turn on your videos so we can see you. It's…it's…it's, we have 50 people here and I think a few more will join throughout the meeting. We usually have about 80, so would be nice to see people who are attending or while…while we're all chatting and if you have a question, again, raise your hand.
So let's get started introducing our guest for today; Elizabeth, who is a product designer at Zalando. She's been working in the design space for eight years and now instead of introducing her, I'm gonna invite you Elizabeth to join us in…
My first question to you is: tell us a little bit about yourself and…and your background.
So yeah. Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. I'm glad to be here and I'm glad that so many…so many people have joined. So with that being said, I’m a…my name is Elizabeth Orayo. I'm born and raised in Kenya. I started my career when I joined the Kenya…Kenya Poly which was…which is now the Technical University of Kenya in 2014…2012 for my diploma. Finished diploma, after that I got in an internship. After internship I went back to school to do my bachelor's degrees in the same university which is Technical University of Kenya but as I was doing my bachelor degrees, I was also still working.
So I got a job with the City magazine who…the same people gave me an internship. So also worked with them. After some time, I left and went to economic Industries. Then after that, I went back to cooperate to consultant…so consultant Media Center. So I worked with them for like, almost two years as a senior. Then I became a head of graphic design, but they were just designing posters, business card, just a normal graphic designer and also designing the website and also the magazine every month. Then after that, of course, as I said I was studying and also working.
So when I finished working…when I finished studying my bachelor's degree, I graduated of course in 2017, I started looking for jobs that are offering UI/UX because I…I heard this industries is moving and it's growing fast and at the…at the consolata media center, I'm just a graphic designer. So what will I do with this degree that has given me this platform to learn more about interactive media because I specialize in interactive media. So I started looking for roles and companies that were hiring and by that time this thing was new; UI/UX was new.
So by that time, Cooperative Bank was hiring and safaricom. So lucky enough, we were very few in the market. Not like today, so many UI/UX designers and so many product designers. By then, we were so few, so getting these few people was not…was not easy. So but then again, it was easy for us because now, we were a few but now spotting them was not easy if you're not on LinkedIn. So I was approached by a recruiter on LinkedIn, telling me to interview for the Cooperative Bank of Kenya, they are looking for UI/UX designer and also for…for safaricom, I just applied online. I saw the advert, applied online. Luckily, I was called for an interview. I didn't perform well in safaricom but then again that week, I had the two…two interviews; safaricom and Cooperative bank. So I didn't pass safaricom, they gave me a record but then again, I went for Cooperative Bank interview and I did the interview and I I was given an offer. So now what I can say is my UI/UX design, I've been in that industry for four years because that is when I now ventured in deep dive in UI/UX design rather than graphic design. So as a UI/UX designer I have four years of experience.
So after that, of course, my…my journey started evolving because we were learning but then everything was even, scrum Masters. We hadn't heard of scrum Masters who are known as product…product managers but then now we had scrum Masters, we had the agile, we were working. So all these terminologies were new. So everyone was learning the job. So we…we learned so many things in terms of designing the… of the channel, of the bank and after that so I was like, what is next for my career?
So then I started looking for other opportunities because I was hungry for better opportunities. So then again, I started looking for other opportunities and then Zalando came in. So I think I'll answer that as we go but that has been my journey. Simple. Yeah.
Awesome. That's amazing. That's…thank you for sharing in detail how your career…career evolved and how you ended up in design.
I think my…my second question would be to clear the confusion before we start. Like, I think some people get confused between product design and UX design and then also, are they the same and then the difference between UX and UI design, especially people who are like early on learning about like, the jobs, the design space. So if you could clarify the differences between them, that would be amazing.
So IU…UI design is user interface. Designing the user interface of an application, be it website or mobile. That's just the…the interface; how it looks, the colors, the look, and feel of the user interface while the US…UX design is the user experience. Designing the experience in terms of when the user logs in, after they log in, how do they navigate to this page. Making the experience easier and making the…the application simpler for the user in terms of after they log in, when they go to this page, will they understand the login journeyed. Also maybe they are making a transaction, will that transaction be flawless for them? Will they understand the transaction from beginning to end? So designing the experience for the user.
Whereas, a product designer design the whole thing. How…comes up with a vision and idea before we even come to people, before we even come to experience. You come up with a product in terms of maybe for us, like, there's a new feature we came with when we're in the Cooperative… When I was working with the Cooperative Bank of Kenya, we came in with a feature called m-pesa float. So we…we thought like, people were coming with their money physically to the bank to deposit. Other than having that, we don't want people to go physically because of covid and all this and also making their work easy. I don't have to come all the way from…from my place and maybe it's two hours drive to go and deposit money, why don't I just make it simple? I can just deposit… I can, if I have money in my account, I just send the money to my account through my account, I can have an m-pesa float. So if I have that money in my account, there's no need of me withdrawing it and taking it physically. I can just transfer it by the click of a button. So that's product design. Designing a product to make…to make the journey for the user simple.
And then now, the user experience comes up with the flow. The moment they…they transfer the money from the bank to that…to the m-pesa float, how does that journey goes? And then the UI now comes in. How does the look and feel look from in terms of the colors? Will the user understand that this color is for m-pesa, this color is for the Cooperative Bank of Kenya and then that's…that's how the…the three different types of design. Yeah.
Awesome. That makes it really clear and easy to understand. So if you like designing customer experiences, yes, choose UX design and if you like making things look great, look and feel great with colors, fonts and typography and all this stuff then, maybe UI design would be more interesting.
Awesome. So as you also mentioned that like these all jobs are quite like new age, like product design, scrum Master, product owner, product managers. Like, they've been there for a while, for the last five, six years they've just all the terms: product designer, UX designer have become really popular recently. What would you say, like, how lucrative is it for someone starting a new career? Is the product design industry and…and the job prospects there? Like, are people…especially because so many companies are having layoffs right now especially the big ones, so is it still like, if someone is new, is it still like, there's a lot of opportunities available for people in design space or they should hold on?
So I will start with the fact that the…the industry is huge. The industry is so huge. So I'll just advise, know your niche. If you're good at…at design, in terms of graphic design, instead of just being a graphic designer, you can venture into UI design because now we are going in technology. Technology is moving fast. We are no longer graphic designers. Graphic designers, anyone can be a graphic designers. Nowadays, canvas has made it easier. You can…you come to me, I tell you, ‘you want me to design for you,’ maybe an invoice or maybe a…a business card, I will tell you, I'll charge you 5 000 Kenyan shillings but then when you go to canvas, it's already there. It's a matter of just putting your name, your website, you have it. Go print. So it's…it's…it has been made hard for graphic designer to even…to be…to be… to make it in the…in the market.
So now if you're a graphic designer, you can transition to be a UI designer and design applications because there is no active design application just like that. They have to be all those experience involved. Designing work product, design involved. So if you're good at graphics, venture into UI and if you're good at creating experience apart from just creating graphics, if you're good at storytelling, you can be a product designer in terms of maybe you want to come up with a product, is this product that you love. I've seen someone who was working on…I went through the questions and not saying they're working on their own type of product. It means that you are creative enough to come up with your own product. Designing from scratch, design the experience, designing the UI, and have it a fully fledged application or maybe a fully fledged website. So you are…you are more into…into design in terms of UX and UI design other than just being a normal graphic designer. So venture into things that are in the market because the market is huge.
Coming to the question of layoff, as much as they're laying off, there are more companies that are hiring. Zalando is hiring everyday. There are companies that are hiring every day. As much as they are laying off, they are still hiring. So don't focus on the layoff, focus on there's a new opportunity. Everyday people are leaving Zalando. Everyday I get and I get email because they send email to everyone, ‘oh this is my last day at Zalando.’ ‘I've been here one year and a half.’ ‘I've been here five years.’ ‘It's my last day, goodbyes.’ There's an opportunity. Maybe that's a product owner. There's an opportunity. They will advertise that.
Of course the layoff is… it…it happens because of all this war and everything is happening fast but then again it's all about being positive. If I wasn't positive, I would say maybe they'll never choose me, they'll never relocate me all the way to…to Germany because I'm from Kenya, then let me not apply for that particular job. But when I was approached, I was like I'm positive. If that if they're relocating people, why not? So let me just apply. So you just…you have to just change your mindset and make sure that if you believe in something you can achieve it. Doesn't have to be to be like, in terms of… it doesn't have to be defined by something for you to do it. Just believe in yourself and it will happen. So, yeah.
Awesome. That's a great answer. You can build the skills. There's always companies hiring and just know how to, I guess learn how to sell yours… sell like, what you can do.
Yeah, amazing. From that I want to like, I think everyone is here and would love to know more about… so you were in Kenya, now you live in Germany. So how was the process of finding a job in a different country and how to like…what was the story behind now working in Zalando? And tell us what Zalando does as well.
So it's…it's a long story but I'll keep it short. What I can say, since I started working at Cooperative Bank of Kenya, I think I was one month or two months old at the bank. I started applying for jobs in the U.S, in London, in Italy. So one of my friends — we were two designers so he was already there. So I was now the other designer. So we were two designers. So as he was passing through my desk, he saw me applying for jobs and he was like, ‘Liz, you've not even finished three months!’ ‘You've never even finished your probation, you started applying.’
So in my mind, I was like, I've now been employed at The Cooperative Bank of Kenya as a UI/UX designer and I can see, United States of America, they want UI/UX designer. They want a senior UX designer. I'm like, if I've been employed here, they know I'm good at what I do. Why not apply to these other companies and these other countries and I know their pay is good? Why not?
Yes, it's…it's too soon but why not try my luck? So I can say this journey started way way back when I was just beginning my career as a UI/UX designer. I was ambitious enough to know that it can happen for me. So apart from that, of course, at that particular time, I even talked to…to people telling them, ‘you know, I've been applying and I've been getting no. So many no replies, so what should I do?’ And then they were like, you are from Kenya, you are applying to go to the U.S. You're applying to go to these other countries. What makes you sure, so sure that they relocate you or they will give you a job and not someone from the US. and then they click my mind. Maybe that's…that's the reason I've been getting all these. Unfortunately, not just because I'm not good but because maybe they don't want somebody from Africa. They don't want some…somebody from another country but I stopped a bit but then again, I was like that there are remote jobs, so let me start applying for remote jobs. There are other companies that are relocating people, why not…why not apply for relocation for jobs that are announcing they will relocate their…their international…international employees. So it's like why not? So I kept applying as much as possible and apart from applying, there are so many interviews I did. What I love about those interviews, I learned a lot during the journey of all those interviews. I learned a lot; how people, how other companies work, how they do their job, how a product designer or a UX designer is supposed to do in a day-to-day job in that particular company and learn the international way of working, how the people in Europe and companies in Europe, be it Microsoft, be it Google, how things are done out there. So those interviews, even if I didn't get all those jobs, I learned a lot and that helped me in the other interviews that was coming, that were coming along because there's an interview I did in…there was… I was interviewed by…but I think it was in the US but it was remote. So I really wanted remote jobs because I wanted to work from home and even stay with my kids. So this guy was like, ‘show me one of the things you've done, some of the designs you've done.’ So I opened Adobe XD and started showing him some of the design I did and he was like, after I showed him, he was really nice, and he looked all through the design. I showed him the design and why we did the design. After that, he was very sarcastic and he told me, ‘if you are… if you are…good designers don't use Adobe XD, they use Figma. If you're a designer and you're using Adobe XD, you're not a good designer.’ That really got to me and I…I told my friends at work because we have this group that we always motivate each other to always apply and to always make sure that you learn a lot from all these interviews. And I told them this guy told me I'm not a good designer. He told me I should do…I should now venture into Figma and all, and by that time, you know, people fear…fear growth and fear getting out of their comfort zone.
I wasn't familiar at all with Figma. I was in fear learning Figma because it's a…it's a new thing, a new application. In Cooperative Bank, we use Adobe XD. So they were like, yes, I know he can't…somebody can't just tell you like that and you lose hope. Yes, that was wrong of him to say that but with that, take it positively and learn Figma. Just learn it on the side. Yes, you don't use it at Cooperative Bank of Kenya but learn it on the side because ideally this is what is used in the market out there and funny enough all those interviews I did, all of them are telling me, ‘Design in Figma’ ‘Submit your design in Figma’. So even if this guy was like you have to do…you have to use Figma, I was like, by then, all these interviews, no one was asking me Adobe XD. Everyone was Figma, so I had to learn. Of course, some of the design, I made mistakes, that's why I didn't get the job because I was still learning Figma. So it made me learn. So from all these interviews, it made me learn how things work out there. How design is…is done out there and funny enough, all these interviews made me who I am today.
So apart from all applying, get…getting all these unfortunate and all that, all this was on LinkedIn. Every application I have done most of them or through LinkedIn. Actually, 99 on LinkedIn. I revamped my LinkedIn portfolio and my LinkedIn profile to also make it look really well with describing what I'm doing at that particular role and also putting all the certificate I've done. Apart from the certificate in school, I also did online certificates. Also did voluntary jobs with the UN. So they see this lady’s very, you know, very interactive. Apart from her normal work, she's doing voluntary work out there. So apart from that, I made sure my portfolio…online portfolio on…on B hands is up to date, my designs are great. So whenever I apply, I attach my…my portfolio and also I made my profile open to recruiters only, open to work, recruiters only. Not the green on my profile because I'm employed. Cooperative Bank will be like, you're looking for work and you're employed here. So I made sure it is open to work, only to recruiters. So if a recruiter will not contact me in a week, I was like, this…these people are not doing their job because I used to be contacted. I think if not two of them in a week, one of them in a week. ‘Hi Elizabeth, I saw your profile, was very impressive. Kindly, if you are…if you…if you need, new opportunities are available, kindly send your CV, send you whatever.’ So through that, I have all these interviews I did through all, mostly all these recruiters from LinkedIn. Then after applying so many of them, I remember there was the one I did. I even did an interview with the director of UX and I knew this is it. This is my job only to realize this particular job, he didn't want a UI/UX designer, he wanted a visual designer. Apart from being a UI/UX designer, they need only a visual design. A visual designer is…is more of UI design in terms of the interface and the visual, making it clear, the colors and all but to me I was giving him all these UI…I did a UI design, I also did the user experience and he's like, ‘no I want someone who's fully UI…UI, I mean visual designer.’ So it's like this was it. I knew the fact that I'm going in an interview with a product, with a UX director, I knew I was going to get a job but it made me realize if I'm applying for a job, I should insist on that particular role that I want and make it perfect.
So apart from that, now the recruiter came to my inbox, a recruiter called Casmir from Zalando. He's from Nigeria. So he came to my inbox, that was…that is four years after I've been applying, I've been doing all this, it was not just a day thing or a week thing. So he came to my inbox and told me and and before that, all these things that I was doing, I also got side jobs to even do and also get paid because now, they love my portfolio. Yes, they have their own companies but they're not employing but you can work remotely and help them with the side project. So it still helped me get my side hustle and get…apart from just getting, not getting the job I got, not getting full-time job, I got this side hustle that helped me build my portfolio and also get my money on the side. So even if you don't get a full-time job, you also get your side hustles and you also get remote jobs that you can work in.
Also be good at your job. So he came to my inbox and he's like Liza, ‘Hi Elizabeth, I like your profile, it's really impressive. Could you apply for this job?’ And I was like, ‘Do they offer relocation?’
So I went to the Zalando site. I had never heard of Zalando, never. I wasn't even following them on LinkedIn. So I went and followed them and I'm like, ‘Oh it's a fashion company.’ And…and I asked him, ‘How is the pay?’ ‘Is the pay good?’ Yeah, the pay is good. He told me the rate and then I was like, ‘Do they relocate people?’ He said, ‘Yeah, they relocate people.’ And true to his word, I went to look at his profile and he's from Nigeria, he was relocated, I think nine months ago. I'm like, okay. If they relocated this recruiter from Nigeria to Germany, then why not? So I was like, okay. Fine. That's okay. So he told me, ‘You can apply on the website or you can even send me your CV and I'll put you to the process.’ I'm like, the better, because I've been applying all these things and they never even come through. And he told me that this application, when you apply, after 48 hours, you'll get to know if you've gotten the job or not. So it's like the better because some of this thing they take three months, three weeks, they don't even get back. Some of them they go MIA after a week. So like good thing, I will do it. So it's a sprint interview, so it's a sprint interview that Zalando does sprint interviews, once in a while when they're looking for…for roles to fill. So it's…you will do these interviews; that there are three interviews. So this three interviews, you will do them all in a day. Like, I start from 10 to 11:40, then from 11:40 to 12 something then from 11, from 1 to 2PM. So the first interview was getting to know me with the recruiter, just a normal with the recruiter. He…so I was now contacted with a different recruiter from Zalando. So he told me about Zalando and told me, ‘You get into this particular stage, me talking to you right now is a huge step. The fact that Zalando has contacted you and you've gotten the first interview with the recruiter, it's a huge step.’ So it's like, I know it's a huge step but I need the job. You know, I just tell myself, like, yeah it's a huge step but it will be huge if I get the job. I'm like, okay but if I've reached this point, it means I'm good anyway. So let me just continue with the interview. So he told me that. He told me that, she told me now the interview will be on this date and this this date. So I'm like, okay, then after 48 hours, you’ll know you've gotten the job.
So that day, we…I did three interviews. The first interview was getting to know me with…there were two ladies. They interviewed me, getting to know me, how I…how my career growth was? They asked me a few questions. Then the next one was with a managerial interview asking me if I would like to go the managerial way or just the designer way because when you do managerial, you'll never be a designer, you just manage people and all. And then, the last one was now deep dive. So this one because it was time this Corona period, they would have flown me to here in Berlin to do now the deep dive for them to decide if I have gotten the job or not. Just because this period — Corona period — they couldn't do that. So it was, it was online. So she was asking me questions, I sketch online, I sketch on a piece of paper…I sketch on a piece of paper, I show her. You know, it was a really long discussion, almost one hour forty five minutes. So after that, then I…the recruiter told me, ‘You've…you've gotten an interview with the hiring manager.’ I was like, I only knew it was…it was just the three interviews, why am I going again with the hiring manager but I was like anyway, let me continue because at least tell me if I've gotten a job or not.
So she told me I'll have this interview with the hiring manager, so when should I put it? So she organized the meeting, we had the talk, then the hiring manager gave me feedback. Apparently by this time, I had already gotten the job. So he told me this was the feedback; they said you're…you're a good listener, you're a good communicator but the only thing they saw was like you…you when you give your answers, you are repetitive with your answers. You emphasize on the answer too long which takes more time but other than that, you're a good listener, you're a good communicator and they loved you, your presentations and they would love to work with you.
I'm like, so does this mean because I didn't get…I hadn't gotten the offer. So I asked him, ‘Does this mean I got the offer?’ ‘Is it a yes from Zalando?’
It’s yes from Zalando, we'd love to work with you. I was like, thank you because now he's…he's currently my boss. So that's…that's the…it's like now talking to your boss and seeing how the team works. So it's like, and he asked me to ask him my questions and one thing about interviews, always ask questions, even if you don't have a question, always ask. They will see that you're interested to know how their company works or what they are…they're working on. So I ask him, ‘What's the best thing about working in your team?’ Then he told me the best thing about working in his team is that the team is diverse. No one is from the same country. If they are…they are from Germany, it's just one. German, the UK, US. No one is from the same country so to say. So it's different nationalities. So it makes it even more diverse because that's great.
So then the recruiter called me and she sent me their…now the…the offer and trust you me, Zalando is the only offer I have gotten ever since I started doing interviews. You can imagine, the only offer. The other offers I've gotten is just a side job but the main offer for full-time job is Zalando and I…and I'm telling you it's patient and persistent. Never giving up in terms of how many interviews you've done. I can't even tell you the number of interviews and the number of applications. Number of applications can even reach a thousand but of course the number of interviews I'm telling you, it can be even more than 50 interviews. So it's…it's…it's a process but it's possible and it's possible because if it is possible with me, why not you?
So yeah, that has been my story of how I reached here.
Wow! Thank you for sharing the story. I think that was…that was really really valuable for me as well. Learning about your experience when I'm sure for everyone attending here, lots of gems and lots of key pieces of information that I hope everyone was taking notes or would remember because from your like, persistence on applying for jobs and using LinkedIn so well and I think like, optimizing your LinkedIn so well that recruiters start reaching out to you. It's…it's amazing and when you're at 50 interviews, I mean thousand applications is huge and even 50 interviews. Like 50 sounds like a small number but talking to a person for like, maybe one hour each, that's 50 hours and preparing for each interview.
If you’ve not gotten a no reply and no replies are not that we've received an application. Someone from a hiring team will look at your application. So we used to tell each other, ‘If you have not received a no reply today, you're not applying, you're not even looking’. So how many no replies have you gotten? Like already, I've applied two, so I'm waiting.
Tomorrow, the next day, have you applied? Yes. And do you have an interview this weekend? This week I have an interview. So when my boss asks where I am, make sure you…you plan them well because I'll be in the other room pretending I'm in a meeting but I'm in an interview.
So having people to support you and maneuver, because at the end of the day you're still working on your full-time job and you're still looking for other opportunities. So it was really really really interesting how you have to be persistent in what you want and have to be…to do all this interview to only get one offer. So, yeah.
Awesome. Yeah and I had a point. Oh yeah, I was gonna say that like a lot of time, people reach out, feeling dejected and sad that they're not hearing back from companies. So here is just like, another example that you might need to do it for a really long time for a lot of companies before…because, because the opportunity that you'll get after that is something that you'll really enjoy and can be life-changing as well.
Awesome. So I have a lot of questions to unpack from that and just like some other questions as well but I also want to invite people who are on the call, if you guys have any question, feel free to put it in the chat or if you'd like to ask the question to Elizabeth directly, raise your hand on on Zoom. You can do that in the settings. Yeah, just next to your name, you can raise your hand and I can then unmute you, so you can ask a question.
So I'm gonna start from well, like, just one like, question where you mentioned from the start as well you were using Adobe XD, then the designer, the… the recruiter or someone might ask you to like, everyone uses Figma now and then each company was actually asking you to submit in Figma, what…what's…what are some tools other than Figma or Figma that new designers that should master, like, should start learning because there's so many tools like even like sometimes…I like…I don't…I'm not into design but like we have the program. So there's this Figma, there's Whimsical, there's like…like the Adobe suite in general and then some new tools coming as well. So what are your recommendations for tools that upcoming product designer should start learning?
So what I can say is if you're a designer regardless of you’re UX designer, UI designer or even a product designer, just master the main ones which is, if you are creative, you have to be creative. Figma is all about just making the design, the UI design in terms of the mobile and web and make so that other product owners or even engineers can look at your work as you design. So but being creative, you can be creative and being creative, you can use Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator. Yes, those two. So just master the Adobe and also Adobe XD, of course but know the tools that you…that you can be good in and master them well.
For me, I realized I was good at all those graphic whatever, software applications to design but I was ignorant with Figma because I was like, if I can do Adobe XD, if you can use Adobe XD, why these are the basics. Sketch, I've never opened Sketch. I opened Sketch and was like, wow! This is too much work for me because Sketch is broad. I didn't even want to start looking. Same with Figma but the moment I started because I had no choice, I had to learn it because that is what is used most in the market, even use it here at Zalando. We don't use of course, Photoshop and illustration but when you want to be creative with other jobs, you have to know of course all those applications.
So I can say be great at what that specific company needs because that's the tool you'll be using mostly but to be a general and a great designer in terms of maybe, you go to a company and they no longer use Figma but they want to use sketch, you have to be good at Sketch. So just know what the company needs and perfect that and be great at it and that will help you maneuver in that particular company. Of course, have the basic knowledge for all these other tools but perfect that…the one you'll be using on your daily day-to-day job.
So there are many applications. I can't say this one is good, this one is not good, but there are so many. Yeah.
Perfect! For those who want to learn Figma, we have a new course coming up on Figma which is launching next year. So keep an eye out for that in your emails.
A couple of questions from people; do you…some quick ones, do you need a…is it…is it compulsory to neither have a university degree to get a job as a UI/UX designer?
You have to…not a university one, but you can have online certifications. You can go online and do the online certification and get your certificate. Those certificate will help you, will help the recruiters know you are certified in this particular field.
These days, they don't really look at your degree, but at least knowledge and persistence and knowing that you have all these certifications online that you've done. Yes, a degree is good because most of the jobs they say a university degree or work experience is relevant. And you…so you see someone doesn't have this degree but they have the experience and they have all these online certification, it helps. So don't give up knowing that you don't have the U…university certificate. You have the…the passion, you have the…the learning tool, you can learn online. Not a must for you to…not a must for you to pay them. Most of the things that I've done online, on my LinkedIn, I have not paid for. I did Allison the other time, I've been certified online. They want me to buy the certificate, I'm like, I'm not buying the certificate but I don't need. As long as that link is there and when a recruiter clicks that link it goes to…to Alison and it says I've been certified, I've done this course, it's good for me. So do…even if it is LinkedIn, LinkedIn has a lot of courses that would help as well. So it doesn't…it's not a must you have the degree but have the experience and the online certifications.
Absolutely. Looking at more questions and Kritika, I think your question is about product management so we'll save that for some other event and right, think.
So I think this was a very common question as well around getting started in UI/UX design without having a background in it and I think like, what generally I’ll advice is to will…do some online course as you mentioned and build up your skills and then we…we recommend creating your portfolio or your body of work and showcase what you have done. So I think I'll frame that as a different question for you: is…what are your…some tips for…some tips for people who are creating their portfolio to apply for jobs and especially when they don't have a job and they're working on like, fictional products or just choosing a company and working on. What are some…what are…what are some of the company…what are the companies looking for in the portfolio when they are hiring UX/UI designers?
So they're looking at the kind of design you've done especially when you're applying for companies, maybe you're applying, let's…let's give an example of [Music] I don't know, maybe let's give Cooperative Bank of Kenya. So you…you are applying at Cooperative Bank of Kenya because of course since, I don't think they have replaced me ever since. They're still looking for someone.
So maybe you apply for that particular…for that particular role. Have designs, previous designs that you've done. Be it the previous job or just your project. Maybe redesign the application of the omni channel that the Cooperative Bank has. Give them a different perspective on your view as a designer and show that this is what, maybe that application is lacking for it to get more customers. You know, pinch where it…it hurts and they will be like, by the way, this is a good idea. If that person can come up with this idea, what if we employ them in this company? How many ideas will she come up with as a product designer, as a UX designer, as a UI designer in this company for the company to grow?
So you're interested to join Zalando, design something that Zalando can be proud of and see like, okay, this makes a lot of sense. If you bring these two to application, it will bring us more customers. Why not give them a different look or a different feel, you know, so that when you share your portfolio, the first thing they see, ‘Oh they design something that is concerning us.’ ‘Okay I'm interested, let me look at this portfolio now’. But if you designs things that they don't really, are not relevant to them though not really…not really but maybe if your work is interesting, they will but to get them, to get the attention, some of these things, design things that maybe you want to apply to this specific company and design things that concern them. Redesign some of the things, maybe it's a…as a different project. Give them a comparison of that particular project. It doesn't have to be the same particular project that they have done, but give them a comparison of a different idea and maybe that will help when you…when you even answering questions in the interviews and they'll be like, because most of the interviews, they're like show us your work and the idea behind it. So when you're showcasing it and they say this is the idea I saw in your application, this is what you do but this is an interview like, they'll never forget you in that interview. So there’s this interview, we are interviewing Elizabeth and she told us this and this and this, did you interview her? Yes. Did she proceed? Okay, I think that lady has something. Make sure she, you know, so make sure they never forget you in that interview. Yeah.
Awesome. Thank you for the advice. Someone asked if you can be a mentor for them. So are you…are you? I guess your…your profile is still on ADP list, right? where students can…
Yes, I did but I've still blocked because I'm still trying to kind of settle here. Settling in Germany is a different story. I’ll be back next year when I'm already settled, when I'm already finished my probation. I'm yet to finish my probation. I think it's ending in… I think I'll be six months, I think in March. So maybe when March reaches, I’ll now put the date back, yeah.
So you just went to Germany like a couple of months ago?
Yes, in September.
Ah! Yeah… yeah that's…that's not the…enough time to settle down especially in a new country. I've been…I've been in Kenya for two months and it still feels like I'm getting to know things.
Exactly! You see, it's not easy. Me, I have kids, you know. It's not easy.
Absolutely. So yes if anyone is looking for advice, look out for next year when Elizabeth will have offers, lots on ADP list and you can of course, check out more. There's a lot of designers who give mentoring and advice on ADP list, so you can check that out and because that's how I found out about Elizabeth. I was looking for designers and...and then stumbled on her LinkedIn and read the…like the post that she's migrated to Germany. So I was like it would be nice for the students to learn from your experience. This is actually interesting question because I'm curious too, because I've heard that Germany has a lot of language because many of people who want to go there, like some companies, require due to no German… yeah I think that's with universities as well.
So is language a barrier that you're dealing with or is that not part of a problem since your team is diverse?
The good thing is our team is diverse. For company, we don't speak German. I think that's the best thing about it. I…I don't know any German. Actually yesterday we even had a German class. I enrolled for German classes and I even forgot to join yesterday because it was at six but that is just aside. The reason why I want to learn German is because our day-to-day life here, you go there, you ask someone something, maybe direction because German is huge, Berlin is huge. So you get somewhere, you want to take a bus, you want to take a train, you cannot ask them. The first thing you ask them…you have to ask them if they speak in English but if you're speaking German, you just ask them. Ich bin Elizabeth (my name is Elizabeth). Whatever, do you know where the bus is? You know, it will be easier for you.
But in my day-to-day job, we do our work in English. Our office, everyone speaks in English. No one speaks in German. Of course they're Germans, but most of course, I think 30…30 percent or is it 40 something percent is German but the other 60, 70 percent are from different state, different... Most of them are from Turkey, very few are from Nigeria and Kenya but mostly are from Turkey, Brazil. So we see all these people have different languages so Zalando doesn't have…doesn't say you have to speak German for you to…to work with them. So that's…that's a good thing.
So when you're looking at these jobs, look at the job description. Do they need German? When they say German is a plus, it doesn't mean you have to. When they say this course is a plus, it's just a plus. If you have it, the better for you. If you don't, it doesn't hinder you from getting the job. So that's a good thing about the company but our day-to-day life, it's hard. It's hard settling in Germany…Germany if you don't know German. So even asking for something, it's…it's crazy. So at least you have to know some German. Someone like me I…I… I hate languages. I hate learning a new language. For me it has to…you see like Figma, it has to take… it has to make sense to me for me to learn German. So it's…it's not easy to…to maneuver things here. Even asking someone simple thing, you know, someone is smiling at you and smiling at your kids and they speak in German, you’re like, what can I say? I know they want to say something nice about the kids but then again, we can't communicate. So it's tricky but it doesn't affect my work but it affects my day-to-day walk. So yeah.
Nice. Thank you for sharing that. So yeah look out. If you're looking to move countries, right? Sure the barriers with the living a different country. I think, just looking at other questions.
Alright. There's another question on not having a background in design. So I think we already answered this. Talking about doing certifications in online courses and creating a portfolio.
Our next question, I think something that I wanted to know as well and someone has asked that twice as well. It's like building a resume, in CV, we had a session with the…with the recruiter from Australia actually to talk about advice on building resumes. That was about two months ago and one question that someone asked there was, like, nowadays there's so many resume design tools. It's like you can design resume on Canva or like this… Like even LinkedIn, the tools by LinkedIn can generate a resume for you and there's so many others which make it look like, popping and beautiful, like UI design. Like next show you like an expert but the person there that recruiter said that usually, it's… it's fine to just have a simple resume. Even you can create in a Microsoft Word but what is inside the resume is what matters but if…if you're applying for like, a job that is specific to showcasing a particular skillset in your design or something, if you have a cool resume, it won't hurt.
What are your thoughts on like, having a format, particular format, is there anything or for like applying for UX/UI design jobs and I think I'll add on another question to that.
Like, what is the format and what is your recommendation and the second is for people who are again without any previous job experience but only courses and certifications, how can they leverage their like, resume. Like how, what…what should…what should they put in the resume when they don't have any job experience?
What I can say, I've always used LinkedIn to do everything. So I'm here because of LinkedIn. My CV I downloaded, you know, on your profile when you see, when you click ‘build a CV’ or maybe ‘download PDF’, actually download PDF is easier. That's what I do. As long as I have my photo, my profile picture, I have detailed everything on my portfolio in terms of the title; I'm a product designer, Zalando, what I do at Zalando? I'm head of Graphics. What I do as a head of Graphics? As an intern, I do. The only thing LinkedIn won't…won't showcase it because it's not there is your referees. So what I do that with all that listed, I download PDF and when I download PDF, I'm a designer, I have Illustrator. I open PDF on Illustrator and now, I add my referees. And when I add my referees, my profile is complete and it arranges everything in terms of also the courses you've done and also the certifications, it's all listed in what you're proficient in. So as LinkedIn has built for you, you can also edit it to the way you want it to look and edit the colors and all the other. There was a job I applied and they were like, we don't want a LinkedIn built resume. I was like, how now? Whatever I'll put in a different design is…is what will be in this…in that same CV.
And another thing, when I applied at Cooperative Bank of Kenya, when I was now doing my onboarding and all that, the recruiter was like, ‘Nice, no wonder you're a designer. I like your portfolio. I like your…your CV.’ Because it was…I even printed it in a big paper because it was really nicely done because it can't fit in an A4 because the format is huge. So I had to print it in an A3 for it to look really huge and she was like, ‘No wonder you're a designer.’ Because they used to the normal document, five pages, but now mine was a huge one and it's one big page. So I think your CV should look good, being a creative person, being a creative person, in terms of, you see when you take… I'm good at Photoshop, there's a way it lays out and I don't have to ask…I don't have to go to the fifth page to see that your…your skills are Photoshop,Illustrator, design, thinking all that. It's all in the first page where your name is and where your career is. See, so how you lay out your…your CV will give the recruiter an easy time because they receive thousands of CVs but the moment they see that yours is… is easier to look, other than going to the fifth page, I will consider this first.
So the other question is, was… was: what exactly or th… the certification, if I don't have…if I don't have the experience. What I can advise is: work on freelance project. When you get a client and they want you to design whatever, let's say a website. They want a website and they want a website, within a week or within two weeks, that's an experience. You don't have to be fully employed for you to have an experience. You don't have to be part-time employed for you to be an experience. That particular job is an experience. So you see that person, maybe that person who gave you a job, maybe he's a CEO or a founder of this company. So you say, you work for this company for a month. That project maybe you work for…you for two months. For two months, I did this design for this company and this is the design. For one month or 10 days, I did this design. That still counts because it shows that you can do the work. Experience is not about the years. It's about… especially when you're starting because when you're starting you feel like, oh I'm not good enough, I can't get the job. The experience, those tiny projects are still experience because before you do all this work, you've done your research, you're learning. You've… you've looked up all these things online and learned a lot. So experience is all about learning and experience not about you being employed. You can be employed and for a whole month you don't do anything. You don't have any project to do. When I join Cooperative Bank, for a month, I didn't do anything because they had not started out the layout of all this design. We were just doing user stories. We're just designing user stories and we hadn't started the real work. So I had nothing to showcase for a month.
But there's this person who is not fully employed, has something to showcase for a month. So who is better? The person. So your portfolio is good, you can present that to someone and show them this is the design I have done.
So every design, small design you do, it's an experience. Don't count it out. I've never worked for a company full-time so I don't have experience. You have experience. Your own project, those projects that you come…ideas you come up with. Maybe there's a design you've always wanted to design and maybe you've come up with a design in terms of you just creating your own things and you build your portfolio. That's an experience. You had to experience after this project for this particular time you call it, maybe the…the renovation project. You call it renovation project. The renovation project, I work on this project in this particular time, this particular time and this is what I did. That's an experience, it will help you. When your CV is bein… is being perused, they will see, this is someone who's doing something great for the… with their life. they're not just sitting regardless if they're not fully employed or not. So I'm hoping that helps.
Awesome. Thanks. Thanks so much Elizabeth. That was great advice for building a resume and I think, like the top takeaways for me from the session were: work on your LinkedIn, improve that, work on side projects, build your… if you don't have a job, build your profile by working on the companies, like working on projects. You can just choose a company that you want to work for, find something that you can improve and create a…create a report or a case study on that and then share it with the world. Apply for jobs. Talk to people. If you apply for 100 jobs, maybe you hear back from 10, maybe you get two interviews.
So the…the odds are better in your favor when you put in more effort and more consistency. And so, once again, once, I'll start wrapping up now but Elizabeth if people want to… I've shared the LinkedIn profile because a couple of them were asking in the chat. So a few students might reach out to you and yeah I recommend others to… we've had a LinkedIn Workshop. We did it a couple of months ago. So if someone is willing to build their profile, have a look at that workshop. That's like, there's a recording available but also I think there's one…one skill that is often not told. Not not a skill but just like a trick. That when…when improving a LinkedIn profile, what I suggest is: imagine yourself five years into the future — who you want to work with or work under and look at their profile. Like, review… review profiles of other people, five seven years senior to you and like see what stands out in their profile and just, not copy it but like, use it in your own language, use it in your flavor and apply it to your profile. And there's a lot you can do by just looking at a lot of LinkedIn profiles.
Alright. I'll just have a couple of…so before…as we wrap up, I just want to tell everyone that we do have a UX design course. I'll share the link in the chat and yes, we do get a replay and a big board. I can… I can share my LinkedIn profile in a bit.
So yes we do. We have a UX design course where it's…it's runs over six weeks, where it's more focused on the design thinking approach and like, how to use design thinking to identify user problems, solve them and a little bit of sketching and wireframing on… I think in this one we teach Whimsical but you're free to use any tool you like and…and then you end with how to create prototypes, user flows, and conduct usability testings.
And for those who are more excited or interested in UI design or visual design, the instructor who is… his name is Anthony. He…he's a senior product designer at Amazon. So he's building our visual design course which should be ready by January. So keep an eye out for that, where we discuss everything about colors, typography, accessibility and…and some other things that I don't know about because I'm not an expert.
And lastly, we have two more events over the next two weeks. If you're interested in data analysts and product management, join our event next week on next Wednesday and then on the Sunday after that, we have Eric joining us, who was an entry-level student and who will share his experience of getting a job after completing his program. So there's, I posted the link in the chat. If you're interested, do sign up.
And for everyone who joined today, thank you once again. I was great to hear Elizabeth’s story with all of you and thanks once again Elizabeth.
Thank you for having me.
A User Experience or Product Designer gets to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. But how exactly do you break into this high-demand industry?
Whether you’re new to the workforce or looking for a career switch, becoming a designer is definitely possible —as long as you’re willing to put in the hard work.
In this event, we talked to Elizabeth Orayo, a design expert and hear her story of landing a product design job in Germany.
In this session, we will also cover:
You can ask questions and build your online network by interacting with fellow classmates and an expert instructor —all in real time via live chatbox and Q&A. You can also submit your questions in advance.
EntryLevel helps you learn and get experience so you can get hired. Our 6-week programs are taught by world-class mentors, so you can learn and build a portfolio of work.
You'll learn with a cohort of driven peers, and each lesson is unlocked after a set time so you stay accountable and finish the program.
Elizabeth is a product designer, with 8 years of experience and very passionate about design. Elizabeth loves traveling and inspiring people around her. She lives by this great quote, "Giving up is the birth of regret.”