Eric Saber: Professional Organizer to Product Designer

Eric Saber, a March 2020 UX/UI* graduate from Flatiron School, followed a self-defined winding road to get to Design. But, by following his need for a change throughout his career, he’s now thriving in tech.

He shares his journey from professional organizing to product design below.

Beginning In Business

The route Eric Saber took to becoming a Product Designer was, in his words, a “winding journey”. Eric began his career in sales as an Account Executive working with non-profit arts organizations. But, a decade into his first profession, he was ready for a change.  

“I felt an itch to strike out on my own. So, I made a bit of a left-turn and started my own professional organizing company (a la Marie Kondo). I’ve always been an organized person and I love creating order and efficiency,” he explained, “so it was a natural fit for me.”

Eric had his organizing business, Outer Calm, for just under 3 years. But eventually, the itch came back that told him he needed something different.

“While I loved organizing and helping my clients, I preferred a more structured work life vs. being a freelancer.”

Pivoting Into Product Design

As he contemplated his next move, a chance encounter with a family member put him on the path toward tech.

“I was talking with my father-in-law who was redesigning an app he built. He was asking my opinion on the interface since he knew I was pretty well-versed in tech, and that was the lightbulb moment when I knew I wanted to be a designer. Shortly thereafter I found Flatiron School.”

Looking back, Eric’s eventual decision to pursue a career in Product Design was a long time coming. 

“I’ve always been a bit of a tech nerd, but I’m also a guitarist and songwriter, so for the longest time I was looking to have some form of creativity be a part of my work life,” he said. “I thought that that ship might have sailed until I learned more about product design as a career.”

His decision to apply to Flatiron School’s UX/UI Design program was informed by the testimonials of peers who’d previously attended the Software Engineering program and had a positive experience.

“All the alumni I spoke with said that it was a really difficult program but worth it if you put in the hard work […] Flatiron had one of the more robust design programs and I also got the impression that, of all the bootcamps out there, Flatiron had some name recognition that was respected (which would help with the eventual job search).”

Bootcamp Experience

Eric enrolled in Flatiron School’s UX/UI Design program on the NYC Campus in late 2019. Eric, like many students, initially struggled with the accelerated pace of learning. 

“Soaking everything in and putting it into practice at such a breakneck pace to meet deadlines was not easy. As a brand new designer and student, it felt like learning to build a plane while flying it,” he recalled. “That said, in hindsight, it was super valuable to learn that way because it mimics the real-world deadlines designers face on the job.” 

What’s more, after spending over a decade in careers where he worked independently, learning to work cooperatively with the other students in his cohort presented a learning curve that he appreciates looking back.

“The group work was invaluable since so much of the work you do in the real world is going to be collaborative and cross-functional.”

Even with the demanding schedule and rapid learning, Eric found that he thoroughly enjoyed his coursework.

“My favorite part of the program was the initial education around design thinking and the overall process that goes into solving some of these big problems. It takes so much work to make things work. When you’re using a great website or app, it’s easy to forget that a lot of people did a lot of hard work to make that experience a good one for you.”

Job Search Journey

Eric graduated from Flatiron School’s UX/UI Design program in March 2020, right into the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

“As you might imagine, the job search was tricky, though I’m sure it would have been even without a pandemic. It was hard getting my foot in the door and convincing hiring managers to give me a phone screen, having no prior design experience,” he explained. “Even though I knew all my other experiences and soft skills were extremely valuable to the work, many hiring managers just wanted to see your past work in design.”

Despite the rough launch post-graduation, Eric’s dedicated Career Coach supported him throughout the job search.

“[My Career Coach] helped to focus me and frame my applications in a way that allowed me to stand out not despite my unconventional background, but because of it.”

Working In Tech

When we talked with Eric in early 2023, he’d been working as a Product Designer at FCB Health in New York City for almost 2 years.

“I love being a designer and I am so grateful for my experience at Flatiron. I really feel like I have found my calling and I owe so much of that to you guys. The reality is even better than the dream, and I think the way that the program is set up allows for designers to be well-prepared for real-world work.”

The overlap between his previous and current work, he says, is more than one might expect. 

“It has been a perfect marriage of my skills and experience in sales (where I learned how to present work and help clients) and the time I spent running my own company (where I had a direct impact on people’s lives by creating order out of chaos). Add in the creative aspect and you couldn’t draw a better Venn diagram of the things I’m passionate about.”

Reflecting On His Journey

Eric’s advice for other Product Design students is to lean into the hard work required to thrive in the course. 

“You really do get from the program whatever you put into it. If you’re willing to hit the ground running and realize that it won’t be easy, that there might be some nights where you don’t get much sleep, you will get so much in return. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the structure and support of Flatiron. I feel very lucky to be an alumn!”

Looking back on where he started, Eric’s biggest takeaway is that hard work pays off.

“If you have the right mindset, a good eye, and a strong desire to learn, you can make your design dreams come true. I pinch myself every day that I get to do this for a living!”

Itching For A Change, Just Like Eric Saber?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Eric in a program that’ll teach you the design skills you need to land your first job in tech.

Not quite ready to apply? Try out our Free Product Design Prep Work and test-run the material we teach in the course. 

Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

*UI/UX Design course is no longer available. For students interested in this course of study, visit the Product Design course page to learn more.

Matthew Thomas-Wicher: Law to Design

Matthew Thomas-Wicher, a March 2020 UX Design graduate*, spent 5 years pursuing a career in law before dropping everything to pursue design.

He shares his journey from law to UX / UI Product Design below.

Pivoting From A Path To Law

Matthew Thomas-Wicher graduated from college with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a minor in Pre-Law. Followed by an internship in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., his path toward a career in law seemed clear. 

“After [my internship], it just made sense at the time to break into the field before going to law school,” he said. “Unfortunately, after five years working in Corporate Law, I realized that path wasn’t for me.”

In the search for his next career, Matthew didn’t have to go far to settle on tech. 

“[My interest in tech] started with coding, and how each project you work on is essentially one big puzzle,” he recalled. “It makes you really think, and I loved each and every challenge presented to me.”

Matthew had previously learned coding during a 6 month in-person course in D.C. and saw Product Design as an opportunity to repurpose those skills. 

“I was always interested in Product Design and even tried to incorporate it into my job at the time, combined with a bit of coding knowledge,” he explained. “Product Design, just like code, requires a deep understanding of the problems you are trying to solve and that’s what drew me in. The fundamentals are transferrable, and together, they are very useful.”

Deciding On UX Design

Matthew’s decision to attend a User Experience Design course was based on the positive review of a friend. 

“One of my good friends in D.C. went to a [bootcamp] a couple of years before I did, and he had nothing but good things to say,” he said. “He had been successful in the field for some time, and [the bootcamp] was his starting point.”

But, he acknowledged, that switching careers after spending years building experience in a field was daunting. 

“To be honest, I felt like I spent so much time in [law], that it would be almost impossible to completely start over,” he recalled.

Despite his doubts, Matthew was committed to changing careers. 

“I decided to jump in head first! I quit my full-time job working as a paralegal and moved to Chicago to do the Full-Time UX Immersive Program.”

Spoiler alert for any nervous readers: looking back, Matthew said “it was a great experience.”

His Bootcamp Experience

Matthew enrolled in a full-time User Experience Design course*, committing 40 hours a week to his studies. The grueling schedule, he said, was made easier by the people he learned alongside. 

“[My favorite part of the program] was working with so many different people. Everyone there had similar goals, and we all worked together to meet them,” he said. “After spending so much time with everyone, day in and day out, you get pretty close.”

Those new connections also led to additional challenges. 

“The most challenging part was working on a team with people who have all different ways of doing things. Having to adapt and learn how to keep the cogs turning was a challenge,” he said. “But after working in the field for several years now, it definitely prepared me for working with multiple stakeholders at various companies.”

Matthew sums up the outcome of his bootcamp experience succinctly: 

“At the end of the program, I got a certificate and a bunch of new friends.”

Job Searching During The Pandemic

Matthew graduated in early 2020 right into the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The last two months of our cohort was during the beginning of the 2020 pandemic,” he recalled. “I had low expectations going into the job market.”

Despite entering the market just as the world shut down, Matthew landed his first job quickly. 

“I feel like I got pretty lucky with the job search. After I applied to a bunch of places I found a really cool startup based in Chicago that took a chance on me,” he said. “I took on the role of Founding Product Designer at a small seed-funded company that had coincidentally been in the process of moving its headquarters to DC. It was tough. I worked with the company from the beginning, all the way up to their Series-A funding in late 2021.”

Matthew worked at his initial company as a Founding Product Designer at The Demex Group until October 2021 before moving to his next opportunity. As of writing, he is working in a remote role as a Product Designer & Design Strategist at Oportun.

Working In The Field

Three years on from graduation, Matthew is enjoying working in Product Design immensely. 

“I absolutely love it! It definitely matches up to the dream, and I am so happy I made the switch. I feel like I look at the world around me and how people interact with technology so differently now.”

Having been in a senior-level design position right after completing his bootcamp, he has quite a few projects that he looks back on with pride, especially those where he got to flex his coding skills. 

“Back at my first company … I was a product designer but also a full-stack engineer. For my last task at The Demex Group, I got to take the lead on a huge project which was pretty groundbreaking in the field,” he explained. “I was able to take it through the entire design process and code the entire platform with the help of one other designer. The project ended up being one of the main things that helped them secure their Series-A funding and it was just amazing to see my work out in the wild and watch people interact with it.”

To see Matthew’s work, visit his portfolio.

Reflecting On His Journey

Looking back at where his journey into Product Design began, Matthew’s takeaway is that of inclusivity and keeping oneself open to differing perspectives. 

“In this field, you work with many diverse groups of people. These could be the users who you are building for or the stakeholders who you work with at whichever company,” he said. “Different styles of working, understanding, communicating, etc. Having that experience at [the bootcamp], working with so many different thinkers was a bit frustrating at first, but looking back, it prepared me so much for my career.”

His advice for other students getting ready to enter the workforce is a single word: network. 

“My biggest piece of advice is to network. There are tech events all over no matter where you end up taking your program. I landed my first contract role at the same time I got my first job in the field, just by networking at an event and getting referred to someone.”

As for how he thinks of his bootcamp experience almost three years on, Matthew is all positivity.

“It was such a great experience.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Matthew Thomas-Wicher?

Apply Now to join other career changers in a design program that will set your portfolio apart from the competition. 

Not ready to apply? Try out our Free UX / UI Product Design Prep. Or, review the Product Design Syllabus for the full list of skills you’ll learn to prepare you to launch your next career.

Read more stories about grads who have successfully changed careers on the Flatiron School blog.

*Featured student was a graduate of Designation Labs, which was acquired by Flatiron School. The User Experience Design course is no longer available. Visit the Product Design Course page to learn more. 

What is User Experience Design?

The term “user experience” has been around since the ‘90s. It was coined by Don Norman, a cognitive scientist at Apple, back before Apple became the household name it is today. He focused heavily on user-centered design, which placed the user at the front of the product design process. While “user-friendly” is a term you probably know well, it wasn’t all that popular at the time.

Put quite simply, user experience design is the process of planning the experience a person has when they interact with a product.

UX design focuses on the interaction that a human user has with everyday products and services. The goal of UX design is to make using these products and services, both digital or physical, easy, logical, and fun.

Designing Around The User

So, let’s start at the beginning: the “U” in UX. Why?

As Apple founder Steve Jobs aptly put it, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

The user is the person who is going to live, eat, and breathe your products. It’s your job as a UX designer to give them an enjoyable, useful experience.

But first, you have to know who they are. Designing a user persona (which is done by a UX researcher, whose role is more back-end and data-based) lets us come up with an ideal user and examine their desires, wants, and frustrations with current solutions.

The bottom line: You have to know who your user is to make something that works well for them.

By placing the user persona at the forefront of the design process, we ensure that we eliminate the user’s pain points and ensure a user-friendly product that they will rave about for years to come (or until you come up with a newer and better version).

Once we’ve established a user persona, the job of a UX designer and his or her team is to think through every step of a user’s journey with the product. All parts of that journey should be memorable and add value to the user. Understanding the target user and the user journey allows designers to delight customers at every stage.

A Sample User Experience

As an example of a great user experience, let’s look at Matt’s user journey with Carvana, a popular website used to sell and buy used cars.

Matt is looking for a new car. He’s tired of haggling with salesmen at the car dealership when he sees an ad for Carvana, the car vending machine. He heads over to Carvana’s website. Excited, he saves a few cars to his wishlist.

Still a little uncertain, he chats with a salesperson at Carvana and then with an acquaintance who recently used Carvana. Feeling ready, Matt finally chooses a car and puts in his payment details. A week later, his shiny new vehicle shows up on his doorstep. This is no doubt the best car-buying experience Matt has ever had!

In this example, it’s clear that Carvana put Matt at the center of their business. 

They figured out who their target user is (Matt and people like him) and their pain point (hates haggling at the dealership). Then, they thought through every step of Matt’s buying journey in order to make the entire product easy to use, incredibly useful, and downright magical.

This is the definition of good user design — to make products that are useful, usable, and desirable.

Make Magic With Product Design

User experience is just one part of Product Design – the overarching concept that combines UX and UI to craft user-centered digital experiences. For those in this field, the digital world is a veritable sandbox where the limits are naught but your imagination. 

Apply Today to take the first step on your path to a career in Product Design.  

If you’re not quite ready to apply, try out the curriculum with our Free Product Design Prep or check out the Product Design Course Syllabus that will set you up for success.

Do You Need A Degree To Become A Product Designer?

We’re going to put the spoiler right out in the front here – no, you don’t need a degree to become a Product Designer. 

But, that’s not the whole story.

While a formal college education isn’t required to enter the field, the skills taught in those degrees are critical. Now I can hear you saying “isn’t that contradictory?”, but hear me out.

Put quite simply, a traditional 4-year educational degree is not the only pathway for acquiring the necessary skills. In fact, you have at least three different avenues: traditional 4-year, self-taught, or an accelerated bootcamp program. 

So, better questions to ask are “Which skills do I need to get my first job as a professional Product Designer?” and “How do I get those skills in the most time and cost-effective way?”

Important Skills For Skills Product Designers

Skill #1 – Design Fundamentals

Probably given away by the fact that “fundamentals” is in the name, the design fundamentals boil down to thinking like a designer. They typically entrail understanding the universal design principles, thinking in a user-centric methodology, and the development of a “designer’s eye.” 

This is what you build style, brand, and strategy on top of.

Skill #2 – Design Tools

According to research by Adobe1, 42% of hiring managers report that familiarity with design tools is the most important skill they look for in a prospective new hire.

If you’re deciding which tool to learn first, we recommend starting with one that will help you visualize your ideas and design concepts such as Sketch, Adobe, Figma, and Maze. 

Related reading: Here’s our Design Director’s guide to creating a wireframe in Figma

Skill #3 – Communication and Teamwork

We can’t all be the misunderstood geniuses of the world that doesn’t play well with others. In the career world, knowing how to communicate effectively and work on a team is critical to a successful and long career.

Learn to take feedback well, implement constructive criticism, and work with others in preparation for future relationships with clients and coworkers.

Skill #4 – A Standout Portfolio

Yes, this is a skill. It’s easy to throw together a substandard portfolio that will quickly relegate your application to the dustbin. It’s far harder to painstakingly craft a portfolio that will get you noticed.

Should you enroll in a bootcamp, you’ll likely graduate with a portfolio filled with quality projects that have been winnowed down by review after review until only the best remain. Career service teams will also give you tips on how to build the best portfolio possible to get you hired faster. 

Whether you attend a bootcamp or not, it’s also a good idea to develop some “real world” design experience in preparation for applying to industry jobs. 

Volunteer your skills to non-profits, small businesses, and community organizations, or advertise your services on freelancing sites like Upwork or Fiverr. These experiences will improve your application, improve your design skills, and set your application apart from the competition.

Related reading: Here’s our guide to building a portfolio that will get you noticed. 

Skill #5 – Networking

Unfortunately, the old adage of “it’s who you know”, is quite true in the modern world of work. 

Networking connects you to the hidden job market (i.e., jobs that are never formally posted and are filled primarily through referrals). Build this skill, expand your network, and you’ll see doors you didn’t even know existed opening for you.

Related reading: Networking Tips (For People Who Hate Networking)

Educational Avenues

So back to the title of this article – do you need a degree to be a Product Designer? (TL, DR – No!) 

But in order to obtain the necessary skills to enter the field, there are typically three pathways available to you: getting a traditional degree, being self-taught, or enrolling in a training program.

Traditional university education

Now we’ve already established that you don’t need a degree to break into this field, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a good choice for some. The structure provided by traditional institutions can be very helpful and provide on-campus networking opportunities.

The downside to these conventional degrees however is that they are time-intensive (often 2-4 years minimum) and prohibitively expensive for many.


A self-taught approach, while significantly cheaper, lacks accountability and guided learning that can be vital to maintaining velocity towards your goal.

For those with the persistence and consistency needed to find success in this avenue, this avenue can be freeing, allowing them to take their time working towards industry skills. But, there are many more would-be designers that lose momentum and never feel “ready” to take the next step into the industry.

Accelerated bootcamp courses

Training programs and bootcamps on the other hand – at the risk of sounding cliche – combine the best of both worlds. 

They are often an economical choice when considering total ROI (return on investment), establish a course to follow, teach practical skills, hold students accountable for progress, and provide guidance throughout. 

Some courses, such as this one in UX / UI Product Design, even provide post-graduation career coaching to help new graduates find their first job.

Not sure if a UX / UI Product Design bootcamp is worth the investment? Here’s how to know if it’s right for you. 

What’s more, an accelerated bootcamp can have you industry-ready and applying to jobs in less than 15 weeks. For students looking to change careers, a less than 4-month commitment can turbocharge their path into a new industry. 

Breaking Into The Field

Beginning a new career as a UX / UI Product Designer won’t be easy, but it is incredibly rewarding. While it will take time, practice, and patience, Flatiron School is here to help prepare you. 

Apply Today to take the first step on your path to a new career.  

If you’re not quite ready to apply, try out the curriculum with our Free Product Design Prep or check out the Product Design Course Syllabus that will set you up for success.

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NYC Networking For UX / UI Product Designers

With more than 8 million residents, New York City has many opportunities to connect with people from all walks of life. For Product Designers, NYC is a great place to start out, establish yourself in the thriving arts and design culture, and build a career-long network of fellow designers. 

Here’s our list of the best networking and meetup groups any Product Designer looking to expand their network should take advantage of.

Groups For NYC Networking

Brooklyn Product Design

This networking group describes its objective as “connecting the product design community together through curiosity and shared learning via speaker talks, social events, and hackathon events in a safe space.”

The group lists more than 3,800* members and covers just about every design topic ranging from design principles to research and mixed reality AR/VR. 

UX Crunch New York 

UX Crunch was created by Tech Circus, a company that produces educational events for the UX, Design & Product community. The group is dedicated to New York UX Designers and is currently hosting events online. 

Women of Culture NYC 

Women of Culture is a “community designed to connect and inspire women via meaningful engagement with the arts and creative self-expression.”

Meetups feature curated cultural experiences, group trips, workshops, and online networking events. With more than 4,500* members, this group has a ton of girl power! 

Arts, Culture & Technology 

This group brings together professionals “working at the intersection of the arts and technology to share ideas, strategies, successes, and challenges,” and to explore questions related to the influence of technology and culture. 

New York UX & Design Community

This is a Design community with the goal to blend the disciplines of business, design, and technology. With more than 5,000* members, often featured are conference talks, events, and exclusive industry reports made for their audience. 

Fashion Pros: Designers, Artists, Photographers, Recruiters 

Fashion Pros is specifically tailored to professionals involved in the fashion industry. Members include designers, photographers, videographers, artists, models, merchandisers, and buyers.

The group is a great opportunity for meeting others interested in joining the industry, finding employment opportunities, and networking with recruiters and those already in the industry.

Design Vine NYC

Design Vine is a group specifically for interior designers. Members must be actively practicing as interior designers, have a degree in interior design, or be currently pursuing a degree in interior design.

The group aims to create a “positive, energetic environment for designers to gain perspective, cultivate meaningful relationships, deep-dive into new products and vendors, and unapologetically celebrate each other’s creative and professional development in the field.”

New York Entrepreneurs & Startup Network

With more than 23,000* members, this group has by far the most members on this list. 

Members include “startups entrepreneurs, small business owners, angel and accredited investors, venture capital managers, crowdfunding experts,” and other business professionals. The goal of this group is to connect members with potential business partners, investors, and clients. 

NYC Code & Coffee 

Code & Coffee is a NYC coding meetup that typically meets on Sundays at 2 p.m. and welcomes coders of any skill level and background. 

Attendees range from self-taught hackers, current/ex FANG engineers, uni students, startup devs, fintech, bootcamp grads, and non-traditional tech folk of all ages. This is also a great opportunity for Product Designers to meet and network with developers.

Young Professionals New to NYC

As the name suggests, this group is specifically for those just starting out in The Big Apple. Members can be from any walk of life, not necessarily design, and their events often focus on social events and outings. 

New York UX & Design Community

This group brings together designers of all disciplines and design-adjacent positions. Members include “Product Designers, UX designers, UI designers, Graphic Designers, Web Designers, Marketing Designers, and design enthusiasts.”

The goal of the meetings is simply “to learn something new and meet someone new.”

NYC Black Designers 

NYC Black Designers’ mission is to “foster the small but growing community of black designers in New York. To raise awareness, and strengthen ties with groups outside of this community and ultimately change that percentage.”

Most events focus on the topics of UI/UX Design, UX Research, Design Strategy, and Visual Design. Designers of all levels and backgrounds are welcome, as well as design adjacent roles like Product Managers, Engineers, and Data Analysts.

Find Your Community At Flatiron School

Whether you’re based in New York City or not, a community can help you get to where you want to go – the first job, the next one, or just to get started. 

When you join Flatiron School’s UX / UI Product Design Course, you’re joining a community of like-minded designers. Though they may come from all walks of life, their goal is the same – to take charge of their futures and launch a new career in Product Design.

Join them and Apply Today to be industry-ready in as little as 15 weeks.

What I Learned Interviewing for Product Design Jobs

Interviewing for product design jobs is hard. It would be great if you could just be accepted without the stressful formal interview process, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. 

So, the best thing you can do is prepare. 

This is the interview experience I went through. You may have more rounds, fewer rounds, different questions, etc., but this was my experience to help you in yours. 

Round 1: Phone Screen

Getting an email requesting a phone screen (a quick chat, brief call, etc.) is great! It means that someone looked at your resume and liked what they’ve seen so far. Phone screens are typically conducted by recruiters or HR and are intended to weed out bad-fit candidates so only qualified contenders are forwarded to the hiring manager.

What to expect: Phone screens usually include straightforward questions about why you applied for the job, what your salary requirements and availability are, and whether you have some of the basic skills required.

How to succeed: Don’t just answer the phone when it rings – prep beforehand! Review the job description for fit, practice your “tell me about yourself” pitch, and do some research on the company.

Round 2: Hiring Manager Interview 

If you’re a good fit for the job based on basic qualifications, you’ll likely be moved to the next round. This is usually an interview with the hiring manager, and would most likely be your direct supervisor if you’re hired (though not always). 

This round allows the interviewer to get to know you, learn about your background and skill set, and judge whether or not you would be a good fit for the company and team. 

But, interviews are a two-way street. Use this round to ask questions about the role, the design team, and the company culture to determine if you would want to work there. 

What to expect: This round usually has the expected interview questions like “tell me about yourself”, “why do you want to work here”, and “why are you leaving your current job”? Prepare for the more common questions, Product Design specific, and industry-relevant topics. 

Some questions to specifically have answers ready for:

  • What is your definition of product design?
  • How does your design process typically begin?
  • How do you approach making user personas?
  • How do you use user personas?
  • What research methods do you use to gain consumer insight?
  • Describe a product you designed in a previous position.
  • How would you rank your user experience and interaction design skill level?
  • How many iterations of prototypes do you usually go through?

How to succeed: The key to succeeding in this round is to highlight the value you can bring to the organization. Have concrete examples ready of previous projects where your designs have had a significant impact. Your answers should demonstrate that you are capable of excelling in the role, so emphasize why your skills and experience make you the best candidate for the job. And don’t forget to research the company and practice your answers beforehand!

Round 3: Portfolio Review

This round may be entirely separate or part of one or all of the other rounds, depending on the company’s process. You’ll likely have submitted your portfolio as part of the initial application, and should be ready to discuss its components in any interaction with the company. 

What to expect: Your portfolio of past projects is the best example of what the company can expect should they hire you. They may go front to back, hop around, or only ask about a few designs. Their aim is to see how you got to the final compositions, and how that workflow could be implemented to solve their design challenges. 

How to succeed: Don’t assume that the hiring manager (or any other employee interviewing you) has reviewed your portfolio before walking into the room. Walk them through your best pieces, clearly explain your design process, and highlight the impactful outcome of your contributions. Bonus points if you practice your explanations for each piece beforehand. 

Round 4: Stakeholder Interview

If the hiring manager liked you enough to pass you on to the next round, you’ll most likely have a least one more interview with a relevant stakeholder. This person may or may not be in your direct department, but their work will intersect with yours or your teams. 

What to expect: The previous rounds established your qualifications, skill set, and overall fit for the role, so this is more likely to be a less in-depth conversation meant to judge your culture fit. Expect more personality-related and high-level design questions. 

How to succeed: Try to establish a good rapport based on information gathered from previous interviews to demonstrate your knowledge of the company, its design needs, and the wider industry. Be ready to review your portfolio again, and look up your interviewer beforehand so you have an idea of how your roles might intersect if you’re hired. 

Final Step: Offer (Or Rejection)

This is it – it’s the end! The interviewers have poled their opinions, the candidates weighed against each other, and a decision has been made. Hopefully, you get the call offering you the job. But if not, take the experiences of the interview process and apply what you’ve learned to the next company. 

Key Takeaways

The rounds and people may be different for each company you interview with, but the main ways to succeed and make it to the end of the interview process and secure an offer are often similar. 

Identify The Company’s Design Challenges 

The company has a problem that they need to solve. No matter the format, product, or customer, they are trying to find someone who can perform the best work in the least amount of time. Calculating ROI with upstart and training costs influences the decision-making process when hiring. 

By identifying the company’s design challenges, either through your due diligence research or in discussion with the various stakeholders you meet during the process, you show that you’re invested in the solution and ready to hit the ground running. 

Practice Explaining Your Design Methodology

Walk through your design process explanation with a friend or the mirror during your interview prep. (Saying you chug two red bulls and then lock yourself in your office until it’s done is not a design process.) You should have concrete examples of how you identify challenges, prototype solutions, iterate possibilities, implement feedback, and roll out final products. 

Be clear and concise. They want to see how you would operate on the design team, and if your design methodology is logical. 

Optimize Your Online Portfolio

Portfolio quality makes or breaks your application. A concise portfolio with strong designs and standout visuals will land you the job, while a never-ending carousel of every design since you opened Figma for the first time is the surest way to send your application to the bin. 

Only include your best work, use a polished online interface, and make sure it’s not password protected when submitting for review. 

Speak Their Language

Notice your interviewers using some lingo that seems industry-specific? Make sure you know what it means – don’t feel stupid asking – and then incorporate it into your dialogue. If it feels like you’re already a team member, they’re more likely to make you one. 

Emphasize Your Experience With Industry Tools

Demonstrating your competency with professional-grade design tools like Figma and Webflow can help catch a hiring manager’s eye. For career switchers or those new to the industry, Product Design Bootcamps like the one offered by Flatiron School give you hands-on experience that can turbocharge your application. 

Apply Now to our Product Design course or book a 10-minute chat with admissions to see how you can take charge of your future in as little as 15 weeks.

No matter what, keep on that job hunt, and best of luck in your search! Remember, your next opportunity is just one “yes” away.

Dr. Delminquoe Cunningham: From Animation to UX / UI Product Design Curriculum Expert

Flatiron School’s UX / UI Product Design Curriculum is designed by subject experts with real-world work experience. 

Dr. Delminquoe Cunningham, a Senior Curriculum Developer, has 17 years of experience in the industry. He has held a variety of roles from UX Designer and Rendering Specialist to University Professor and Business Consultant. But, as a self-professed lifelong art lover, it’s all been part of the journey for him. 

Dr. Cunningham shares his journey from Computer Animation to UX Design below.

Give me an overview of your experience – where did you start and how did you get where you are today?

I’ve always had a passion for art and design; it’s been a lifelong journey to learn all I can about these subjects. My fascination for math and science lead me to understand the balance between art, math, and science.  Computers and art lead me to obtain a BFA in Computer Animation from the Art Institute of Atlanta. This degree led me to some of the leading companies for visual fx, animation, and game creation – NBC Universal, SCIfi, Krater, and Acclaim Games, to name a few.

After several years of honing my real-world skills in animation, I returned to the Art Institute as a teacher, ready to share what I’ve learned with a new generation. I moved from teaching to department chair; during this time, I completed a graduate degree in Entertainment Business from Full Sail University. I also enjoyed a career as a corporate trainer, teaching business and design software to internal marketing teams and companies across the country.

My graduate degree led me to pursue a doctorate in Global Business and leadership. As it turns out, all of these different paths were leading me to User Experience. 

Understanding the user has always been my number one goal, either in entertainment or business. I realized that, whatever the product may be, if the user’s experience is subpar, then there is no product to sell or distribute. Before joining Flatiron as a UX / UI Curriculum Developer for Product Design, I worked with Mitsubishi Electric Trane as a front-end developer and UX designer, working to develop new customer experiences for building automation systems. 

I’ve always followed my interests and focused my studies accordingly.

What are some notable projects you’ve worked on?

Mitsubishi Electric Trane

Building Connect Plus

Role: Frontend Developer/UX Designer.

First Command Financial

Client-facing bank portal/ Internal bank-facing interfaces

Role User Experience Architect.

Do you have any advice for current or prospective Product Design students?

To any student looking for advice, mine is to be a lifelong student – always be curious, and look for the next trend in art and design.

Inspired by Dr. Cunningham’s career pivot story? Take the next step and Apply Now to our Product Design bootcamp or book a 10-minute chat with admissions to see how you can take charge of your future in as little as 15 weeks.

How To Create a Wireframe in Figma

A big part of User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design involves something called wireframing. Simply put, a wireframe is a visual mockup of a web page without all the final details. The goal of a wireframe is to demonstrate how the content should function on the screen.

Doing this work in Figma makes it easy to wireframe lots of ideas quickly and get direct feedback.

Start with wireframes

A few weeks ago, the Product Design team at Flatiron School designed an update for a page on our website. We were moving quickly and instead of starting with wireframes, I instructed one of our designers to start with high-fidelity mockups. Big mistake you guys – starting with pretty mockups created 2 challenges:

  • The polish made the design too precious. We needed our content and engineering partners to critique the content, but they were not sure how much we were open to changing.
  • We ran out of time to iterate. The design spurred some other good ideas, but we spent too much time on the finishes and had no more time to explore.
Wireframe in Figma
When a design has too much detail right away, people have trouble knowing how to respond.

In this case, we were able to push the deadline out another week. The design team regrouped, produced a handful of wireframes without branded styles (colors, fonts, icons, images, etc.), and something magical happened:

  • The content and engineering teams suddenly had helpful questions.
  • It was easier to share the wireframes early and often, so iteration happened naturally.
Wireframe in Figma
Good wireframes focus on the important details.

Wireframe from the inside out

When most people start a wireframe, they skip an important step. Most people start with a big box shape to frame all the content. Then they make smaller boxes inside those boxes to represent things like navigation, page footers, sidebars, and so on.

Instead, start with the most important content on the screen and move out from there. This approach is called Epicenter Design and it will change your life.

Wireframe faster with Figma

If you are making wireframes in Figma, it’s really easy to explore multiple concepts quickly using components templates.

A screenshot of Figma's community showing lots of wireframe templates.

One of the wonderful things about Figma is the Figma Community. Other designers just like you and I have added hundreds of templates to the community library. Many of them are free and new designers benefit a lot from seeing existing solutions to problems they may be working on for the first time.

Want To Try It Out?

Hiring companies consistently rate Figma knowledge as one of the top “must-have” skills for UX / UI Product Designers.

In the Product Design course at Flatiron School, students are taught hands-on, practical skills, including how to use Figma.

A great way to try out the course is by taking a Free Product Design Prep Work, with no commitment or strings attached! You can also see all the skills we teach in our Product Design Course Syllabus.

You can also learn more about what it’s like to be one of our students in this day-in-the-life of a Product Design student post.  

WATCH: Six Interviews With Leading Product Designers

Thinking of pursuing a career in product design but not sure if it’s right for you? In that case, ditch the google searches and get advice straight from expert Product Designers at the forefront of UX / UI design innovation. 

In the 6 interviews below, you’ll hear from leading Product Designers on career paths, designing for a wide range of users, and how to excel in the field.

Preparing Design Students For The World of Product Design

Tech Perspective Podcast Ep. 15 with Flatiron School Instructor Jennifer Houlihan

Product design and UX / UI – what’s the difference? According to Jennifer Houlihan, Product Design Lead Instructor at Flatiron School, they’re stepping stones in the same design pipeline. The two schools of thought work together to deliver a user-friendly and stakeholder-approved product to market. 

In this episode of the Tech Perspective Podcast from April 2022, Houlihan explains the crossover between the disciplines, the importance of having a holistic design methodology, and how a strategic mindset can help designers level up in their careers.

“Product design includes UX / UI, you can think of it as an umbrella or a circus tent. But product design includes a lot of strategic work mapping business needs and stakeholder needs to what the users need. [product design] is a level up from UX / UI.”

Product Design, Mental Health & Brand Storytelling

Tech Perspective Podcast Ep. 18 with Founder of Really Good Emails Matthew Smith

Are you Yoda or are you Luka/Leia? In this Tech Perspective Podcast Matthew Smith, Founder of Really Good Emails and Principal Designer at Bunsen, explains how knowing a brand’s role in their customer’s story drives better product design decisions and can ultimately result in hyper-dedicated users.

“To me [digital product design] is the skill and practice of creating a user interface people can engage with and do so with utility and enjoyment – that’s where the brand comes in … Design isn’t just about making things look better [it’s] about relationships.” 

Signs You’d Be A Good Product Designer | All Things Product Design

Tech Perspective Podcast Ep. 21 with Flatiron School Director of Design Matt Donovan 

For those considering a career in product design, Matt Donovan, Flatiron School’s Director of Design, recommends they consider the following questions:

  1. Do I like working visually?
  2. Am I a curious person?
  3. Do I like working with other people?

Donovan discusses what makes a great designer, the importance of empathy in design, and whether or not a background in coding is essential in this episode of Tech Perspective Podcast. 

“Product design is like a Russian doll with lots of different components … there’s all the research that goes into it, the high-level strategy … and then there’s the user experience design.”

Design Ethics, Building Products & Intellectual Curiosity 

Tech Perspective Podcast Ep. 22 with Flatiron School Director of Product Design Joshua Robinson 

Versatility and flexibility paired with a deep well of expertise in niche areas can give designers a competitive edge, Joshua Robinson says, but ethical designing is critical to ensuring a quality product that serves all of its intended users. 

Robinson explores navigating ethical quandaries in business, designing for inclusive accessibility, and which qualities are key to excelling in product design.

“Product design encapsulates elements from both UX and UI but also extends it. It brings the designer into the business side of the company and helps them think strategically about the features, products, offerings, and customer experience and touchpoints.”

The Human Side of UX Research

Tech Perspective Podcast Ep. 23 with UX Researcher at Eva Rajewski

With a background in Anthropology and a career in user experience research, Eva Rajewski of values meeting people where they are and using design to validate their individual needs and concerns related to specific product offerings. 

In this podcast interview from April 2022, Rajewski highlights the need for understanding users’ pain points, what graduates can expect day-to-day as a UX researcher, and the future of UX. 

“If you asked someone 200 years ago what they wanted to get around faster, they would’ve said a faster horse. They wouldn’t have told you they wanted a car. The job of the researcher is to understand what the problem is and how to solve it.”

From Radiology Tech to UX / UI Product Designer: Sabrina’s Story

Flatiron School info session Q&A with Product Design Bootcamp graduate Sabrina Hernandez

After almost six years as a dental radiology technician, Sabrina Hernandez decided to pivot and pursue a creative career in product design. After completing Flatiron School’s full-time Product Design Course at our New York City campus, she has since begun a successful and fulfilling career in the field. 

In a Product Design info session, Hernandez chatted with Joshua Robinson, Flatiron’s Product Design Director, about her career transition, challenges she faced leaving healthcare, and her experience with the course. 

“My biggest challenge when changing careers from healthcare to product design was getting my head around a new skill set and believing in myself. You just have to believe that you can expand your mind to learn more and become a new version of yourself.”

Think you have what it takes to join the ranks of the best Product Designers working today? Test your mettle with our Free Product Design Prep, or check out the Product Design Course Syllabus that will set you up for success and launch you into a new and fulfilling career.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of 07 June 2022. For updated information visit

Do I need to be an artist or a coder to study UX / UI Product Design?

The short answer is, NO! You do not need to be an artist or a coder to study UX, UI, or Product Design. 

What is Product Design? 

At Flatiron School, we focus on digital products, such as websites or applications. Product Design is a holistic concept that spans across both UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) design. Learn more about the differences amongst Product Design, UX design, and UI design.

Do I need to be an artist to study UX / UI Product Design?

No! There is a decent amount of drawing  involved in UX / UI Product Design. However, the purpose is to develop or communicate ideas, and that can be done very simply – meaning, it doesn’t take a great deal of artistic talent.

Instructor Jennifer Houlihan demonstrated this firsthand during an instructional session (Sketching For Design) when she had participants turn a simple scribble into a bird. During the session Jennifer states, “Very little drawing is needed to convey an idea. It takes little to communicate powerfully, and it doesn’t require an art degree.”

Do I need to be a coder to study UX / UI Product Design?

There is a debate amongst industry professionals around how much code designers should know. Some believe it’s best to specialize in design so little to zero coding knowledge is required. Others believe that robust coding knowledge is a must-have, as it enables designers to work on broader projects as well as “speak the language” when communicating with developers.

Here at Flatiron School we believe that coding knowledge is a highly useful skill that will ultimately make our Product Design graduates more competitive in the job market. That’s why we teach students the basics – HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). 

“It helps you be a better designer. You’re learning about the principles behind the code because it makes you a better designer and a better team collaborator. Resilient, flexible, and being a collaborator is important to standout in a job marketing. Being a better collaborator – having those mental modules about code – will help you.” – Joshua Robinson, Product Design Director

“Our hiring partners gave us feedback that [they would prefer] entry-level Product Designers to have a basic understanding of HTML and CSS. We cover the basics of HTML and CSS early so that students can play with it on a project level.” – Giovanni Difeterici, Senior Director, Education

In addition to basic web development languages, students will also learn how to leverage responsive designs for various screen sizes and how to hand-off designs to developers. 

Want to learn more?

Our Product Design course is crafted so anyone can be successful – regardless of your skill level. Download our syllabus or talk with an Admissions rep today.