Designing your career growth (with an emphasis on work in startups), from first steps to senior-level strategic moves

Leveling up

You don’t need to go to a fancy program to learn to be a great designer or design leader. Most of the best designers I’ve worked with have been entirely self-taught. But they can help, in particular in filling in some gaps that are likely to become evident if you move from designing to things like executive roles. Full disclosure: I’m a current or past member of or participant in most of these, so I can be a bit biased. Happy to chat about my experience if you’re curious if one is a good fit.

Business Perspectives for Creative Leaders by Yale School of Management x AIGA (I did this—happy to answer any questions you may have)

On Deck Design Fellowship (I’m currently part of ODD cohort 3)

Design Dept. offers workshops, team learning, and leadership coaching to help teams, ICs, and leaders become more effective

d.MBA is a 6-week business course teaching business fundamentals to designers.

Reforge is a great learning community, especially for product management, marketing, and ops folks

AIGA’s Professional Development resources

Designer Fund has a number of great programs, including their Collective group. If you’d like to strengthen your business x design skills, check out their Design for Business Impact case study blog, and their Business Value of Design program.

Round is a community for senior leaders and executives in tech

Career ladders, like these ones hosted at, are a great way to self-audit which areas you should focus on growing in. We can also talk about it together.

Find cool roles

Climate Designers Jobs

Design Gigs for Good

Freelance with Trestle Collaborative

All Hands

Designer Fund’s portfolio company jobs page (most VCs have one of these and they’re awesome resources, but Designer Fund’s is particularly great because these are all companies that value design)

Femke’s job board

Most Slack-based design communities (like IxDA, Designer Fund Collective, etc.) have jobs channels which are some of the best insider info on roles, including ones that haven't yet been posted publicly

How to learn design

Try a mentorship session through ADPList (or directly with me, if you like). Design Buddies is another great community as well. Both ADPList and Design Buddies run regular workshops, portfolio and reviews, online meetups, and much more, and are accessible even if you’ve never done design before.

Briefbox “offers practical, realistic and industry-respected project briefs, courses, and mentoring to help you improve” as a designer. Even if you don’t get the paid full version of the briefs, what you can see for free already offers great starting points for your own projects.

Online Platforms to Find a Mentor in the Tech Industry
By Polina Karasova

How to Develop an Eye for Design
By Kathleen Warner

If in doubt, try copying nature: The world is poorly designed. But copying nature helps.

IDEO’s Design Kit Mindsets

Newfound Network: “Small, invite-only groups for knowledge sharing and peer support.”

Students of UXD

A quick note in this section: don’t underestimate how many designers are entirely or mostly self-taught! Most of the designers I’ve worked with have been. Ultimately, one of the best things you can do to learn is just to start. You don’t need to work in a company to design something. Identify a problem to fix or start with websites like Briefbox above and just get started. Then, use mentorship to get feedback. That loop alone is all you need to learn everything you need to know to work as a professional designer.

Getting hired & designing your career

A Designer’s Guide to Interviewing
By Tanner Christensen

Trends and Timescales
By Jill Carson

High Agency
By Shreyas Doshi

How to Approach Job Hunting Like a Design Challenge
By Chrysan Tung

Five Steps to Nailing Your Portfolio Presentation in Job Interviews
By Peter Herbert Barnaba on the Figma blog

How to Prepare for Your Facebook Product Design Interview (or any company, really)
& How to improve your chances when applying to design jobs
By Lily Konings, Product Designer at Facebook  •  UX Collective

3 ways to tell the story to nail your UX portfolio reviews
By Xiaofang Mei, Senior Design at Microsoft

Resume inspiration and templates from Figma

Hi, it’s your mom and I have some advice for your job search [jk]
By Micah Osler

Also check out the “Recruiting” section above to “spin the map around” and consider how the other side of the table is thinking and perceiving you

Run for political office

We desperately need elected representatives that are actually representative of America—that is, leaders who come from the diversity of backgrounds that make up the country. I'm a big believer that the skills it takes to design products—listening to people and understanding their problems and then working with, not for, those people to design a better way—are the same kinds of skills that would make our political life better. If you're thinking about running, please do it! And contact me to let me know how I can support you.

Run for Office is a database of national political offices at all levels, supported by the organizing software NationBuilder

Arena runs training for future candidates and campaign staffers and an annual summit

New Leaders Council (I'm a fellow) runs a 6-month "Institute" fellowship program focused on engaging progressive leaders in their community

Run for Something helps equip you to run for office

Run For Office Day, a project of Civic Nation is a movement to encourage underrepresented populations to run

Conferences + Events

Figma runs an annual conference called Config which, given Figma's popularity, has kinda become THE meetup for designers in tech each year. Streaming free online or paid IRL in San Francisco.

AIGA runs a great design conference every year

For a very academic HCI focus, check out ACM's (Association of Computing Machinery) renowned conference called CHI (Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems). The site is different each year so Google to find this year's registration site.

Dribbble used to run a cool conference called Hang Time but I don't think they're running it anymore unfortunately :(