April 19, 2022

Long Hung

Design Competitions: 3 Reasons to Try Them Out from a Webby Awards 2020 Winner

April 19, 2022

Design competitions, when done right, can be a great opportunity for young designers to showcase their talents and start building a professional network in the industry. Our guest today, Long Hung, a Product Designer at Goldman Sachs, has started participating in design contests at university. She sat down with us to talk about getting into design contests, winning Webby Awards 2020, as well as which contests to consider if you feel ready to join the race.

Long Hung, Product Designer at Goldman Sachs

Long is a Product Designer with 5+ years of experience. A dedicated and innovative leader with a knack for integrating user insights to tackle complex problems, she strives to create meaningful experiences that delight users and drive business growth.

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Please tell us a bit about your background in design

I’m a Product Designer with 5+ years of product design experience. ​In my current role, I work as a senior designer at Goldman Sachs. Previously, I have led designs for the award-winning mobile apps SongPop 2 and SongPop Live at FreshPlanet. I’m experienced in working with various startups to transform their missions into products and better experiences. My clients span several industries including finance, social, nonprofit, sportswear and gaming. My work has been recognized in the Webby Awards 2020 and Core77.

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I would say design awards could be part of your story when you talk to recruiters
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Do you remember how you first discovered design competitions?

Design competitions are young designers' or design students' entry tickets to the professional world. They can pay a cheaper entry fee and use their concept design to enter design competitions. 


Senior college students in Taiwan can enroll their graduation projects in the Taiwan Young Designer’s Awards. My graduation project (teammate: Yuhao Chiu) got Bronze awards for industrial design and was exhibited at Taiwan World Design Expo.

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Wow! How did they help you get noticed by recruiters?

Honestly, it didn’t help me get noticed by recruiters because it’s not an international competition. I would say design awards could be part of your story when you talk to recruiters.

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Product or graphic designers are not like architects that have a license to prove their ability. If young professionals need to be seen, design competitions are a badge for them to prove their ability and skills
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That’s an interesting concept. In what other ways did they help you enhance your design skill set?

Young designers have lots of different concepts and ideas they want to try out. Design competitions are the ways for them to prove their ideas and sharpen their presentation skills by showing solutions and prototypes.

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Why do you think design competitions have become so popular among young professionals in recent years?

Product designers or graphic designers are not like architects that have a license to prove their ability. If young professionals need to be seen, design competitions are some kind of a badge for them to prove their ability and skills, as well as showcase their projects or products.

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What other ways do recent grads have that help them showcase design skills? Please name at least two.

  1. Build up your portfolio;
  2. Prepare to be ready to present your works;
  3. Reach out to people spontaneously like using ADPList to schedule calls with mentors;
  4. Ask for feedback and suggestions.


For more details about building a great Design Portfolio, read our interview with Jens Nielsen, a Senior Digital Product Designer at the LEGO Group and an experienced CSS Design Awards Judge.

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What does the preparation process for design competitions look like?

I didn’t design any products for competitions. It’s more like I found out that the projects from class or apps from companies might fit in these competitions’ categories. 


If I feel that my work matches the competitions’ goal, I will start to write design proposals and concepts and prepare the key experiences or the hero shots of products to participate in the competitions.  In order to be more prepared, I suggest you go through all the previous winners, analyze what or why they win and apply all these tips and tricks to your submission.

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It sounds very exciting! But what about rejections that come with participation in design competitions, do you have any tips for handling them?

Getting rejections doesn’t mean you are bad. They are not criticizing you as a person. Your ideas or solutions might not be the best ones for that time, and that is okay.

Long recommends these competitions: 

  • Core77
  • Adobe Design Awards
  • RedDot
  • Any international competition matches your major
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In your article on Medium, you mention a series of unfortunate events that happened to you while applying for schools, jobs and visas. What helped you stay motivated during that time?

I spent three years applying to grad school. After I finally graduated, I could only find one job with a pretty low wage and employers didn’t want to sponsor my visa. During that time, I was exhausted and depressed. I really wanted to prove to myself that I could survive in New York.


I tried everything that I could do to stay afloat. I’m grateful that I got help from many people at that time. They helped me with documents, wrote recommendation letters and sometimes just checked in on me.

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I also read about your O-1 visa. Congrats! Many people believe that it's extremely difficult to get an O-1 visa. Any tips for those who want to apply for O-1 in the near future?

I can’t give too many recommendations but I can say that joining design competitions, participating in design conferences as a speaker and showcasing my works in exhibitions were the keys to my application for O-1.

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Could you tell me a bit about the project that got you Webby Awards 2020?

SongPop Live was a live music trivia game app. The app launched in Canada and the United States in October 2019. SongPop Live combined host-lead player interaction with real-world cash prizes. This game app is accessible to everyone and everywhere.


Before launching, we ran hundreds of test shows with testers and hosts. Passionate players loved the game and shared social media posts about the intensity of the competition.


Our team was really excited about winning the People’s Voice Winner in the Games & Puzzle category for the 2020 Webby Awards.

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Looking back now, do you think it helped you get a job at Goldman Sachs?

Winning an award might add a few points. However, it’s not necessary. It’s how you present your work and why the team made those design decisions.

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What are your go-to applications and tools for a productive workflow? 

Notion, Google Sheets, Google Documents and Figma.

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How do you think design competitions will evolve in the next 10 years? 

Each year it’s getting easier to apply but harder to win any prizes. I think this trend will continue to evolve.

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Any final tips for young designers who want to make a career in the design industry?

Reach out to people, understand their problems, brainstorm, create hypotheses, make prototypes and don’t forget to test out your solutions. 



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