Maanasa’s interest in designing experiences that would solve real world problems made her switch from graphic design to UX design.
You'll spend a third of your life working—which is a big part of why there's a movement of people reimagining their careers in pursuit of more meaning and purpose. This desire to impact real-world problems is what brought Maanasa, a graphic designer, into the world of UX/UI design.
While studying graphic design at the National Institute of Design in India, Maanasa enrolled in interaction design and coding classes. This changed the trajectory of her career.
“It was here that I discovered my love and fascination for UX Design. I got to work on several projects that involved problem solving through a digital medium, and I found that my foundation in graphic design really helped me bring sketches into fleshed out interfaces and prototypes,” Maanasa says.
Although graphic design is traditionally focused on designing for print deliverables, Maanasa decided to build upon her skillset and learn the fundamentals of design for digital devices. This was a smooth transition, since many of the skills in these career paths are transferable.
A graphic design by Maanasa.
“As a graphic designer, the ultimate goal for me was pixel perfection, using skills like typography and layout. When transitioning to UX design, I had to shed that habit and switch to user-focused design thinking. The key difference between these approaches is that the final design aims to solve a problem for the user, rather than just look appealing,” says Maanasa.
The First Step: UX Academy Foundations
So, how do you pivot into a new field without investing in an entire university education? For Maanasa, the path forward lay in online courses and mentorship with an experienced designer.
“This idea of the ‘fundamentals of design’ is what drew me to Designlab’s UX Academy Foundations, along with the 1:1 mentorship, amazing student community, virtual events, and career services.”
More graphic design from Maanasa.
Maanasa’s UX/UI Design Learning Experience
Maanasa’s experience at Designlab was particularly effective thanks to the mentorship, course structure, and our vibrant community of learners.
“UX Academy Foundations and UX Academy provided me with a time and cost effective way to gain practical knowledge in the field. UX Academy Foundations helped me prepare to apply to the full UX Academy program.
“They were both well structured, and I love the 1:1 mentorship. Having that feedback and support helped me pick up concepts more quickly and improve my designs. When I was looking for different bootcamps to enroll in, Designlab seemed to have the best structure and community—two things which I was most particular about when applying,” Maanasa says.
A portfolio project by Maanasa.
In particular, Maanasa found the community Group Crits, and 1:1 feedback from her mentor, to be helpful.
“My experience was amazing! I really liked the platform and class structures, as it felt like I was learning at my own pace but able to compare with fellow classmates through shared posting. I was also fortunate enough to receive the Designlab Diversify Design Scholarship.
The mentors I had were extremely knowledgeable, generous with their time and encouraging. I got written feedback within a few days of each submission, and had Skype sessions every other week to talk out my process and what to think about going forward. There's just no substitute for critiques, and this course focused a lot on that.”
Landing Her Dream Job at Spotify
After graduating from UX Academy, Maanasa landed her dream job as an associate product designer at Spotify. She’s currently working in a squad of 16 members consisting of product managers, engineers, data scientists, user researchers, product designers, and UX writers.
“It has been a dream of mine to work at Spotify, so I'm so glad I was able to achieve that through Designlab,” says Maanasa.
Website screens from her portfolio.
Maanasa found the job post directly on Spotify’s careers page (which has an awesome call to action: “Join the band”). She also made sure to connect with employees and recruiters on LinkedIn to learn more about the company culture and ways of working.
The interview process for her role had two rounds. The first was a value based interview and portfolio review. The second round was a design challenge in the whiteboarding style format.
What It’s Like To Be a Product Designer At Spotify
As a product designer at Spotify, Maanasa focuses on delivering the best experience for listeners, creators, and external partners across all of Spotify’s products and markets. ‘Band members’ bring fulfillment and value to listeners and creators and make it easy for people to enjoy Spotify every day, exactly how they want.
Maanasa particularly loves that her role involves collaboration and creativity, it isn't one discipline working in isolation, and that she feels empowered to be her best.
Spotify app mockups.
“When you join Spotify, you’ll be empowered to be your very best. The company focuses a great deal on enabling continuous development – giving employees the opportunities they need to learn on the job and grow with the company. Everyone is encouraged to expand their skills, no matter their seniority. Everyone who works here values the opportunity to be an audio pioneer and share in Spotify’s mission to unlock the potential of human creativity.”
When asked if there are any exciting projects Maanasa is working on that she can share, she responded with a very intriguing: “I can't say too much just yet, but I'm so excited to see how users react to how Spotify will be changing in the near future!”
Her favorite perks of working at Spotify is the free Spotify premium access, and working on a product that she loves and uses daily. Additionally, Spotify has extensive learning opportunities through their dedicated team GreenHouse, an employee assistance program, a self care hub, flexible public holidays, and extensive travel opportunities.
Advice for Future Product Designers
Now that Maanasa has graduated and landed her dream job, she has some advice for incoming, current, and graduating UX Academy students …
“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself”
“... or let the imposter syndrome take over. As long as you're doing work you enjoy, or in an industry you enjoy, that's enough to get your foot in the door!”
“Take your time to learn the design process”
“Give yourself enough time to learn the design process, and don't rush through the course work.”
“Remember to have fun”
“Apply to any opportunities and networking will take you a long way. If you're passionate about a product or company—try to show them through your application. Remember to have fun, and good luck!”
When she’s not working, Maanasa enjoys playing the drums, football, long walks by the Southbank, journaling, and checking out museums and art galleries. Looking towards the future, Maanasa says, “I definitely want to get better at storytelling, and motion design. I feel like the future of experiences lies in video and audio based content so I'm excited to see how I can level up my skills to contribute to meaningful work!”
Looking to transition your career into the world of product design like Maanasa? Learning visual and UI design is the best way to start. With UX Academy Foundations, you'll work 1-on-1 with an expert mentor to learn key visual design concepts and practical skills.