Junior Product Designer's Checklist: 7 Secret Tips
November 1, 2020

When you are just starting out in a new field, things can be challenging. There are a lot of things that you might not expect, and you wish you had someone to help you adjust faster. While nobody’s journey is the same, there are a few things you can do in order to excel in this field.

As a junior product designer, you will have to face many difficulties, but these will help you grow and learn. In order to improve your transition into this new field, here are some of the best tips to help you out.


1. Plan Your Portfolio in Advance

Portfolio planning illustration

Probably the very first thing you will need to do in order to excel in this field is to start planning your portfolio early. Whether you were just a student or an intern previously, there are always opportunities for you to create more content for your portfolio. This is important, as it is the number one thing that will help any potential employer learn more about the way you work.

One of the key elements that your portfolio should present is the progress you have made and the skills you have acquired while working on different projects. Even if you have not decided on your niche yet, you can have pieces of different fields in your portfolio.

The important thing is that it does not look like a supermarket catalog. The portfolio is meant to show things about you, your skills, and your thought process as you create new content. You can achieve this by including step-by-step pictures of your creative process. This way, you should know the process of work and the steps you take in order to complete any piece of content.


2. Find Your Niche

The niche you choose to work in will heavily impact the way you work and the content you create. There are different fields that a junior product designer can choose to work in. This decision will heavily rely on your preferences and the work you have previously done in college. Some of the fields you might choose to work in include:

  • UI design
  • UX design, research, or strategies
  • Mobile app development
  • Website development

Whether you choose to work in UX or another field, tools such as FlowMapp can truly help you learn more about making your work look as professional as possible. Apart from these, there are also many other options that can help you find exactly what you wish to work on. Deciding on your niche will require some time and experience, so the best thing to invest in is an internship or a volunteer project.

Having experience from an internship during your college years will also work positively in this situation. Volunteering usually allows you to gain experience without having to take time away from your current job. This is something you can work on during your junior product designer position and gain experience as you go. This will help you make the right decision and pick a niche that you will enjoy working in.


‍3. Balance Your Soft and Hard Skills

One thing you need to keep in mind as a junior product designer is that there is not just one set of skills you will need. Your hard skills are very important and will define the way your employers, teammates, and clients view your work. On the other hand, your soft skills will help you transition into a true professional.

When it comes to the different skills you can have, some are more important than others. Problem solving skills are important to help you understand what your clients need and how you can deliver it. Creative skills are important, so you are able to bring the right content to life.

The thing you need to keep in mind is that all of your skills are not going to develop overnight. Both your hard and your soft skills will require time and effort from your side in order to be developed. By knowing and understanding the skills you need to develop, you will be able to know what to focus on. This way, you will manage to develop all the skills you need before you move up in your professional journey.‍


4. Apply to Many Different Jobs

When you are first starting out in any professional field without much experience, landing a job will be tricky. You might only have one field or one position in mind that you want to go after, but applying for one job is not wise. In this beginning stage of your career, you want to be able to get as much experience as possible. This is the best way for you to network and enhance your knowledge and your portfolio.

The best idea is to start by putting together your resume and writing a cover letter that you are able to easily slightly alter. When you apply to different jobs, you have to be able to change your cover letter, so it applies to the needs of every employer. As this is the beginning of your career, all of these applications will help you gain valuable experience in the field.

In order to be able to apply to many different jobs, you need to be able to have the right tools available.  You will need tools such as Grammarly, Hemmingway Editor, and similar services, providing you with access to professional essay writers and editors. This will allow you to make the right, professional resume, and cover letter free of grammar and spelling errors.

Even if you have decided on one niche, you might want to experiment with different positions until you find your calling. That is perfectly okay and expected of every young person trying to gain experience as they go. Therefore, applying to as many jobs as possible is a good idea and will help you learn more about the interview process.


5. Grow Your Social Circle

Grow your social circle

Networking and getting to know more people in your field is always important, especially when starting out in any professional field. This can start right from your college years and will progress through your years of working experience. Networking can be done in many different ways and will help you gain valuable information and become a better version of yourself. Most importantly, networking with the right people can help you get recommendations for job openings and future employers. This is very important as it helps you start your working journey on a better note and with more confidence.

The best way to grow your social circle is to meet with people you went to college with that work in the same field. In addition to that, you can also meet new people through internships and volunteering jobs. These are equally important and can help you grow your contact list with people who know exactly what you want to work on.


6. Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions

When meeting new people and working in a new environment, everyone will expect you to have questions and make mistakes. You need to keep in mind that every company knows you are a beginner and that you need to learn before you excel. Nobody is born with product design knowledge, and until you master your hard skills, you should not feel ashamed about asking questions.

Many young people believe that graduating from college means that you will immediately be an expert in what you studied. Professionalism and expertise come from experience and experience alone. The more you work, the more mistakes you make, and the more you fail, the better of a professional you will become.

Therefore, you should never be afraid to ask questions. If you make a mistake, ask how you can turn it around. Instead of shutting down, be alert and eager to learn. The more you persist and ask your mentors and peers, the more willing they will be to teach you. This will help you see things through their experienced eyes and learn to evaluate things differently. Then, one day, you will be able to do the same for another young designer in your field.


7. Always Welcome Feedback

Always Welcome Feedback

Last but not least, another thing that goes hand in hand with asking questions is asking for feedback. This is something that many young people are not open to receiving and can feel intimidated when presented with something they might have done wrong. Receiving feedback is one of the best ways for you to gain experience quickly, improve your skills, and become more creative.

There are many people in your professional path that will be able to give you feedback, and you should always welcome it. That being said, you need to keep in mind that not everyone will have something nice to say. Negative feedback should be viewed as a great chance to evaluate everything you are doing and truly examine the points you can improve.

Staying polite is always important when someone gives you feedback on your work process. The fact that someone is willing to take time off their day to share their opinions on your work is great. Feedback is hard to receive, and it might sometimes make you feel like you are not doing enough. As long as you maintain a positive attitude and work on improving your way of thinking, your work will also improve greatly.‍


Achieving Your Career Goals Easily

Being a product designer is one of those jobs that will always require you to continue to improve and learn new things. While that can be highly competitive, working in a certain niche will help you stand out from the crowd and build a strong social circle. This way, you will be able to reach your professional goals easily and effectively.

Don’t be afraid of moving forward. The future is bright. Angela Baker, a professional writer and editor.