Enterprise design & a small-medium size company — These were the two main goals I had as I embarked on my job search.
- *Scrolls through Glassdoor*
- *Sees nice, geometric logo, with equally ambiguous company name*
- *Oh wow, they have a nice website*
- *OMG they do enterprise design AND they have a nice website!!!!*
- *Presses “Apply Now” button 5 times*
I applied to Segment knowing nothing about “Customer Data Infrastructure”, but left the interview learning so much more about what I was looking for. (I also later learnt that Customer Data Infrastructure is a term that Segment invented themselves)
We constantly seek to deliver AHA! moments in design. That’s what I felt upon leaving Segment’s on-site interview. Their interview process was extremely comprehensive, and as one may say, well-designed. Through a full-day packed with meetings with various stakeholders, Segment made me realize things I did not consider in the first place, but were important for highly successful teams: Strong cross-functional collaboration between engineering, product and design.
After that, it was clear to me that Segment was the place to kickstart my design career. Every single person I met with, whether an engineer or product manager or researcher, had consistently great things to say about the strong collaboration culture at Segment. There was a common understanding of each role’s value, and how together they drive towards a unified goal of building successful products. Not only is design set up for success, but each of the roles are because they are well supported by one another.
Despite how perfect Segment seemed to be, I had some hesitations on whether this would be the right place for a young designer.
Hesitation #1: Naturally, at such an early stage of my career, mentorship and growth are two things that others remind me to focus on. I was skeptical whether this would be available in a smaller company, where things might be more unstructured, and people might be more stretched.
Hesitation #2: I was also worried about bucketing myself to only designing for enterprise software too early on in my career.
Hesitation #3: In addition, I struggled a little reconciling what others might think of where I worked: How the brand name of a smaller company compares to a larger, well-known corporation, and what this meant for my future opportunities.
After a month of being at Segment, I can happily say that many of my initial hesitations have been debunked, and I couldn’t have imagined much better for a place to come to work everyday.
Hesitation #1 debunked: Lack of mentorship in a smaller company
Aside from realizing that mentorship is one of those things that “ you only gain as much as you put in”, I am very lucky to have a design manager who helps me work towards my goals. Hareem is always within reach, and so are my fellow product manager & engineers who I learn so much from everyday — Being a designer doesn’t mean that you can only learn from designers!
Hesitation #2 debunked: Bucketing myself into designing only for tools
There’s just so many exciting things happening in this space, and so much to improve on! Even if this were to happen, I will embrace it.
Hesitation #3 debunked: The brand name of a smaller company
For Segment’s size, it has had incredible traction & contributions to the design community. From our design system Evergreen, to dribbble presence, and design leads forcing us to write Medium articles… I realized many things contribute to the recognition of a company’s design brand.
In addition, Jeff (my design mentor), reminded me that it is more important for my work to speak for itself. When you are having a conversation, or in a job interview, no one is going to ask you to speak for more than 2 minutes what XYZ company does when they can just Google it themselves. A brand name gets you only so far, and it is up to you and your work to carry it through.
Choice is not an illusion: You have the power to decide the place you come to everyday. Before deciding on your first, or next career move, take a moment to ask yourself what is important to you. What excites you? What is good for you? What makes you uncomfortable (in both good and bad ways)? Where are places that you can find that? Remember that in interviews, you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you.
When I became more intentional about what I was looking for, my job search became more straightforward. I knew what I wanted, and I was also able to better articulate what I wanted to recruiters and hiring managers.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer — While smaller enterprise companies excited me, they may not be the ideal environment for everyone. However, the good news is: With increased awareness of the value of design, there is bound to be something out there for everyone 😊