How this Senior UX Designer Pivoted From Consultancy to In-House Work for a Top Tech Company: Joy's Story
Joy, Senior UX Researcher
I had been working in consulting for 15 years. I was on the company leadership team.
I never really wanted to be on the leadership team, but they asked me to fill a vacant role. I saw it as an opportunity to help the company while also learning about running a business.
While I did learn a lot being on the leadership team, I also was one of the few people on the leadership team that still worked leading client engagements because that was the part of the work that I liked. As I was thinking about the next step in my career, I realized that I wanted to grow in my research skills and do more research work. And the next steps for me in my current company were to be on the leadership team and sell work. And I did not want to sell work. I didn’t want to write the proposals. I didn’t want to make bids. I liked doing the work and I just wanted to do the work.
I knew that I would have to go outside my company to learn new research tools and skills. I felt like I had hit a limit in terms of my interests. It was a great firm, but I wasn’t growing in the way I wanted to. So I left my job in October, before I met Maya
Working with Maya
I’m part of this group called Women in Innovation. They hosted a workshop with Maya and I really liked a lot of her frameworks. She said, “There’s five types of career pivots.” And I thought, “Ooh, I like this.”
As a researcher, I maybe could have figured out this career stuff by myself. But it was nice to not have to design my own process, and to have someone tell me what I should be doing and give me feedback.
If left to my own devices, I feel like I would have wasted my energy on designing my process instead of getting the work done.
During her workshop, she taught us about figuring out our core needs and wants and how to use those to drive our search in this amazing market. This really resonated with me and made me realize that I wanted to hire someone to help me.
After her workshop, I understood I needed to focus, otherwise, I might just apply to any job that came my way! I loved all the exercises Maya designed to help clients figure out what we most care about and what we like doing best. After all, I stayed with my last company for 15 years. I am not someone who job hops! This idea of making sure this next role meets my criteria was very compelling to me.
I started last November with Maya’s mindset modules. Through this, I realized I tend to focus on doing the right thing. Maya called it being the good girl. I would ask myself, “Am I following the rules? Is this the right way to write a resume? Am I writing this correctly? Am I doing what they want me to do? Is this the right thing to talk about?” This was good for me to learn about myself.
The next module was all about your core. She had us think about people we admire and then projects that we liked doing. These exercises were another way of thinking about it versus just being like, “What do you like to do?” It was a nice, concrete way to think about what you might enjoy. I think that was super helpful.
We also covered work-life balance stuff in her workshop. She shared a framework of cares, key skills, and lifestyle stuff. I like that structure because all that stuff is super important to me too. I realized I really do care about these lifestyle things, not just the work. I mean, that is one of the reasons I left my last job.
The Job Search Approach
Now I have my own criteria for my job search. I was able to create my own research guide for interviewing companies based on those core elements. I was like, “Ooh, if I care about work-life, what kinds of questions am I going to ask? If I care about the types of work, what do I need to ask?” This was super helpful when networking.
Once you choose a career direction, Maya makes you get super specific. I was like, “Well, I just want to work in-house at a company, and I don’t really care what kind of company it is.” She asked, “But you really have to get more specific. Like do you want to work in tech or healthcare or what?” And I was like, “I mean, I’d be fine working in any of these.” And she’s like, “But when you do your job search, it’s much easier if you have a direction. Like just choose one to start out with, it doesn’t mean you have to stick to it.”
Her prototyping mentality is helpful – just try it out. If it doesn’t work, then choose something else. You’re not stuck in it forever. She, of course, doesn’t know about all the different industries, but she takes a researcher mentality and encourages us to interview people who work in those areas to see how it feels.
She provided feedback on my resume, my portfolio, and other things. I thought that was also a useful part of her program. Once I had that stuff, she provided a template for a six-week job search sprint where she tells us, “You have to apply for at least two jobs a week. You have to contact four people every week, just network.” So, I followed that, and her matrix for choosing jobs by using your core elements to rank job opportunities. There are so many jobs out there, it was helpful to use that to select who to network with first.
In the beginning, I was just collecting information through networking with former coworkers and peers. I enjoyed reaching out to people from my network. It didn’t feel like networking! I thought I hated that, but I learned I only hate business development networking. But when I’m networking with friends, I actually love it. It didn’t feel hard – all I had to do was reach out to somebody that I used to work with and say, “Hey, how’s your life these days? I’m looking for what’s next.” They were always happy to talk to me and refer me out. And they’re people that know my work. So, anytime they would refer me to someone I had never met before, they would always be willing to talk to me because the person that they trust was like, “This person is really great. I worked with them before, you should talk to them.” In fact, it was a former coworker who introduced me to her boss at Adobe. I hit it off really well with her. I knew I would love to work with her from both a lifestyle perspective and as a person. But, I didn’t hear back from them for a while.
So, I asked Maya, “What do you think I should do?” She encouraged me to reach out by emailing them, telling them that I had other opportunities coming up but that I was still really interested in Adobe. Those nudges then yielded referrals to other people at Adobe that she wanted me to meet and I would keep checking in with her and finally ended up interviewing with them.
Putting the Framework to Use
This whole time, I was speaking to other companies, like this startup, and I thought, “Ooh, their work-life balance doesn’t sound that great, but they do really cool stuff and they’re also listed as the best start up to work for.” But what is the criteria for that? Is it the pay? Because salary wasn’t actually a big thing for me. I cared more about the job itself and the culture of the company.
I also did a first interview with another great company. I loved the team, but it would have been running a lot of workshops and doing less research. This is where the good girl thing would have gotten me if it wasn’t for Maya. I was able to stop the process before it got too far. Before I might have let it continue when I don’t actually like the job. Instead, I was just honest with them and told them that it was not what I was looking for.
Each week, I would apply for at least two jobs. Then every week, I reported back to Maya, which was really helpful because in the end, I wanted to find a job before spring break. And it was about that time that I finally heard back from Adobe. They were preparing an offer for me!
At the same time, another friend contacted me. I had informationally interviewed her earlier about the healthcare industry. She didn’t have any research roles at the time, I was just asking her about healthcare in general. Soon after, her researcher quit. She contacted me and asked if I was still looking for a job. Because of all the networking I did, people knew I was on the market and would just reach out to me.
So, I had other interviews set up while Adobe was making their decision. I knew they were going to make me an offer. I was just like, “You know what? Adobe fits all my core elements. Why would I even waste my time? I just would rather have this job.” So, once I knew they were going to make me a formal offer, I canceled all other interviews, even though I didn’t know what the offer was. When the offer came in, it was higher than I expected. Maya’s strategies for getting them to move along their process really helped. I was able to advance their timeline and I start next week.
I feel like what makes May unique is the mindset stuff and constantly directing us back to those core elements. The core elements are what really helped me the most – going back routinely to my criteria, to what I care about personally and looking at how this role matches that. She does these group calls which I also found super helpful. I also learned that I really love networking when it’s about helping each other do better things.
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