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JOURNAL

When I was 5, my mom gave me my first diary and was taught to write in it every night before going to sleep. To this day, I haven't stopped handwriting my personal thoughts, stories, and self-reflections in my journal. 

This is a place for me to share what I find beautiful in my adventures, what makes me excited and passionate, and all the lessons I learn along the way. 

Filtering by Category: Career

Speaking at Google I/O 2017(!!)

Fiona Yeung

Prototyping to Production: Bridging the Gap with a Common Tool

3 years ago on May 19th, I started my first day at Google as a design intern. This year, I got to speak at Google I/O, an annual developer conference designed to engage and celebrate the developer community  with 7,200 attendees at Shoreline Amphitheatre.

My colleague David, a UX engineer and I gave a talk on how to bridge the gap between designers/developers through a prototyping-centric workflow using a UI framework called Flutter. In this talk, we covered the existing workflow between designers and engineers, 4 mindsets that help bridge this gap, the power of prototyping, my journey to learning how to code, and a live demo using Flutter. 

The 3-day event was as exciting as I thought it would be. It felt more like a festival than a conference. The Shoreline Amphitheatre parking lot was transformed into an exciting summer tech festival with a 'Main Street' boardwalk with sandboxes spread out across the venue to demonstrate different products to explore. There were street performers, live music, and even an after-hours arcade. I met a ton of people through Women Techmakers, XX+UX, and Flutter office hours that made me proud to be working at Google where education and openness is so highly prioritized. 

It was dream being able to speak at Google I/O. I'm grateful, humbled, and very blessed to say the least. I'm excited to continue growing at Google, pursuing bigger goals and dreams as a designer.

FAQ: Tips and tools for getting started in user experience design (aka UX)

Fiona Yeung

This piece was originally published on Medium with Google Design. 

As an interaction designer on the Material Design team at Google, I often receive emails and questions from people who are trying to transition to UX or who simply want to learn more about the ins and outs of the industry.

“I want to get started in the field, but being a [insert unrelated major] student, I just have no idea on where to start. Do you have any advice on what I can do to break into the UX field?”

User experience design is one of the most in-demand jobs right now. It’s a field that has grown and evolved so fast that it places new demands on its practitioners every day. UX designers work on a vast range of products and services from websites, mobile apps, and the Internet of Things, to VR and AI. There’s constantly new tools, new trends, and new technologies that we’re required to keep up with. As a relatively new designer in the industry and a former intern at Google, I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far, and start a repository of the most frequently asked UX questions that land in my inbox.

1. What is UX design?
UX design stands for user experience design. It’s about finding the sweet spot where human needs and business goals meet, while giving users a delightful and seamless experience with a product or service. Good user experience design is often invisible because it’s not just about how something looks, but instead about how it works. My friend and colleague Drew Shimomura helps distinguish between visual design and UX this way: “Visual design says ‘make it clear and simple’ while UX says ‘don’t make me think.’” As a UX designer, I try to help users reach their goal in as few steps as possible. UX is constantly working in the background, presenting information and functionality that makes sense to the user, while reflecting their needs.

2. I want to become a UX designer. Where do I begin?
Start with the fundamentals. Understanding how line, color, texture, shape, form, value, and space work together is useful if you want to develop an eye for good design, and necessary in helping you become a better designer. If you need a primer, I recommend reading Graphic Design: The New Basics by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips, or Meggs’ History of Graphic Design. Both teach the fundamentals and are informed by contemporary media, theory, and technology. Don’t forget about typography basics too, I love Ellen Lupton’s Thinking with Type.

At Google, we created a design language called Material Design which is a design system that combines theory, resources, and tools for crafting digital experiences. You can explore the system at Material.io, and our Material Design Guidelines are a great resource for learning on your own.

Moving beyond these basics, we need to incorporate design thinking. Good UX requires us to understand people and behaviors. Consider reading up on The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman as well as IDEO.org’s Design Kit to dig deeper into Human-Centered Design. This goes into the research phase of the design process which is especially important in understanding the problem you’re trying to solve. For more information on the design process, I’d take a look at the sprint process created by Google Ventures to get a sense of what a (condensed) design process looks like.

3. Do I need a design degree to become a UX designer?
You don’t have to have a design degree to be a UX designer. I formally studied graphic design and found it to be useful, but many of my colleagues and friends in the industry are either self-taught or have non-traditional backgrounds. For example, my intern manager at Google studied cognitive science and a former colleague was a psychobiology major.

There are pros and cons for both formal training and being self-taught. Design school provides you with a structured learning environment and on-going guidance. There’s a well-planned curriculum with instructors, mentors, and people who are obligated to provide you with feedback. (UX bootcamps are a good alternative form of design education and typically run for 12-weeks or so).

If you decide to learn on your own, you may have to create your own environment, projects, and lesson plans. You can focus on exactly what you want without the constraints of a semester timeline, and you get to choose your own mentors (as long as you put in the work to find them). While it’s great to have more freedom with the types of projects you take on, this may come at the cost of structured guidance.

4. How important are internships?
Internships are a great way to learn about the industry. However, they usually require you to know a bit about UX and have a substantial portfolio already. If you’re currently a student, I highly recommend taking advantage of internships during the summer since many companies only accept students. Internships allowed me to try new experiences without a long-term commitment. It gave me time to figure out what I really wanted in a career and what kind of place was good for me. In fact, being an intern at Google is how I ended up here as a full-time designer! (Psst! Design internship applications are out now for summer 2017!)

5. What tools should I spend time learning?
A designer’s toolkit is large and relies on many skills and tools: physical, digital, and emotional. I like to design with Illustrator but other colleagues use Sketch, or Photoshop. There’s no “right” tool to use, but whatever works for your own process. I’m a bit old-school so I always start with pencil and paper. No matter how advanced our software is, my team and I rely heavily on sketching as a starting point. For prototyping, there’s Framer, Principle, and Origami. I’m still very new to prototyping but my team uses Flutter which is an open-sourced framework for building cross-platform UIs—learning how to use it has been challenging because it’s my first programming experience but extremely rewarding. If you have zero to little experience with these tools, I highly recommend Skillshare and Lynda for video tutorials. You can also create simple prototypes with InVision and Marvel (I used these in school), by uploading pngs and creating hotspots linking your screens.

6. What technical and non-technical skills should UX designers have?
Being a great designer also requires soft skills; everything from being a good listener and communicator, to having empathy and self-awareness. You have to understand and empathize with what your users want. We can’t assume we’re designing for people who live just like us. Take YouTube for example. In their efforts to target the next billion internet users, the research team gathered field studies from India and learned that data was costly and slow. This resulted in YouTube’s offline mode feature, but that was just the beginning. Most recently the birth of Youtube Go, a new Youtube app designed to be offline-first and work even when there’s low or no connectivity. When you think broadly for your users and from their perspective, designing effective solutions becomes easier.

7. What kind of UX projects should I work on independently?
Work on projects that allow you to solve problems involving UX thinking. It can be in the form of an app, a smart device, or even something like the redesign of way-finding at the airport! Take a look at your environment and find something that you are dissatisfied with, then figure out how you can improve that experience. Merge something that you’re passionate about with design and you’ll find your niche.

Your perspective is what makes things interesting. For example, I travel a lot and always want the most authentic experience instead of visiting the tourist-y or must-see spots. That’s hard if I don’t know any locals, which is how I got the idea (while in school) for project Loco, a concept app that connects travelers with local guides for tours or custom itineraries. Let yourself play creatively and you’ll find that your imagination is a great tool.

8. What UX resources do you recommend?
Read, watch, and listen to design articles, books, and videos by design leaders. There are tons of great interviews, podcasts, and blog posts that detail designers’ success stories and explain how teams operate at different companies. Learn about the future of design but also the history. Devouring as much as you can will expose you to how designers really work.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Virtual and in-person bootcamp design classes are also a great way to learn. I’m currently taking a class on Javascript with Codecademy! There are so many different types of classes, you’re bound to find one you’ll like. See: General AssemblyCooper UBitmakerCourseraSkillshareLynda.

Also, don’t forget to reach out and meet real designers! Attend design events run by local organizations, or conferences (like 99U and FITC), and participate in community groups like Designers Guild. I’ve met so many great designers from attending Dribbble meetups and co-hosting XX+UX happy hours. When I was just getting started in UX, I learned a lot by attending Startup Weekend and volunteering at FITC since I couldn’t afford the tickets. Just by attending, I learned a lot more about the UX world and how designers think and communicate. It’s likely that you’ll end up meeting others who are in a similar boat, and who you can learn together with. Continue putting yourself out there as you continue to learn and grow as a designer. Good luck and keep creating thoughtful design work!

If there’s something you’re still wondering about, feel free to add your question in the comments below or email me directly. And if you’re a designer about to graduate, you might find this article that I co-wrote to be more useful: The First Steps to Landing Your First Job.

The First Steps to Landing Your First Job

Fiona Yeung

Originally published on Medium with Google Design. 

It’s your final year in school, and you can’t wait to graduate. In just a few months, you’ll be out in the real world free from essays and midterms. But just as soon as you’ll enjoy your newfound freedom, you’ll also be faced with the daunting task of figuring out where you will be in the next few months and landing a job you want. As designers, there are many potential paths to take, from entering into the agency world, to joining a design team in a large company or startup, to striking out on your own.

We’re Andre and Fiona, former interns at Google who’ve both returned for full-time positions on the Android and Material Design teams respectively. We’ve pulled together some advice for preparing for your next big step into the workforce. Whether you’re a designer or not, we hope these tips will offer some clarity and confidence as you set off for your next chapter.

Get involved

You’ve heard the statistics and have probably had moments of self-doubt, but applying and landing your first big job doesn’t need to be a scary and intimidating endeavor. Companies understand that as a new grad you won’t have much experience. What they look for is enthusiasm and talent. They like to see that you are willing to spend time growing and learning as much as you can. Do you have the ability to apply the learnings such as design tools and process to solve problems and contribute to projects independently and collaboratively? Not only do they look for hard skills, but they are also hiring for attitude, character, and culture fit. Proactivity and self-awareness are great traits to carry.

Experience doesn’t necessarily have to come in the form of a full-time job. Experience can come from volunteer work, freelance gigs, hackathons, and side projects. Get involved in the design community. Immerse yourself in the industry and demonstrate that you have a strong passion and are motivated for growth and learning. Twitter and Quora are both great ways to expand your network. Sharing your experiences on Medium or personal blogs (like this article!), can be a positive way to demonstrate your personality and unique voice. Don’t be afraid to reach out to designers that you’re inspired by and ask for advice or share your work!

Remember, recruiters and hiring managers are thinking, “Who is this person and what are they going to bring to my team? Can they think outside of the box?” Just the same way a senior designer is going to come in and talk about his or her work experience or portfolio, your job is to come in and show them how excited and passionate you are to start your career and how hard you’re going to work to knock their socks off.

Here are some great organizations, events, and classes that you should check out to get involved:

Know yourself

So you know you’re super excited to get your foot in the door and start working, but maybe you’re a little unsure of which type of company to go for. Ultimately, you have to understand what your values are and what you want out of your first job. How do you want to grow? What do you want to learn? You should strive for the company that has the same core values as you which will make your career more meaningful. Every company is different but there are some generalities to consider when you’re trying to find the right fit:

  • Large-size companies are good large-scale impact. They have access to tons of resources and can help with your career path but can be limiting to specific roles.
  • Startups & small agencies tend to have a higher risk and instability but they allow a breadth in roles with less bureaucracy and it typically moves faster which can be exciting.
  • Large agencies are good for having creative freedom, providing an opportunity to expand one’s stylistic range due to the wide range of clients but can often feel as though there is less ownership.
  • Freelance jobs allow you to have career freedom with less constraints, but it can be also be less stable and require more self-management.

Another thing to consider is whether you want to take some time off after graduating to do something fun like travel. Regardless of what you decide, know that there’s no need to rush. Taking a few months of personal time before starting full-time can also be a good way to learn more before you settle into the “adult” world. Fiona took a few months to go backpacking across Europe and Western North America which helped her recharge before returning to Google. It can be a great way to end one chapter before starting a new one. When we were trying to decide which path to pursue, people offered a lot of advice and opinions. In the end, we took it most with a grain of salt because our processes and learning styles are particular to us.

Think about where you see yourself in a few years. There are endless amounts of resources and mentors you can learn from. You need to ask yourself these questions, talk to a lot of people, and ultimately go with your gut. Below we’ve gathered some thoughts from fellow friends who have tried out different paths.

Sahana Kumar, Frog

“While I was trying to decide what kind of company I wanted to work for, I had to think about it in terms of what I wanted to learn, and how I wanted my career to progress. I had had experience at a small experience agency, a start up, and a large tech company, and had never quite found my fit in terms of projects I felt passionate about, and an opportunity to learn what I felt I needed. I decided that I wanted to apply exclusively to agencies because of the variety of projects I would get to experience. Although tech is super fun and lucrative, I felt I needed the well rounded experience that an agency provides. I get the opportunity to work on multidisciplinary teams and first hand experience conducting research with all different types of users. Working at an agency was an easy transition from the school environment and I find myself challenged and excited every day! I may be ready to transition and focus on a product in a tech company someday, but that will be later down the line.”

Sarah Hum, Facebook

“It was very important for me to try different things while I was still in school because I had no idea what I wanted. I started with the agency route and turned to tech, trying both startups and large companies. I will always lean towards startups. I love the fast-paced, do-or-die environment. I love the satisfaction of working with an all-star team all aligned under the same goals and all experts in their domains.

That said, I knew Facebook would give me the strong foundation that I wanted in a full-time role after school. I wanted to be challenged by the insane amount of talent here and learn how to ship products at scale. Of course, I also needed to believe in the product I would design for and working on Messenger has been very fulfilling. Facebook was an easy choice after I could match my needs with the company that would deliver. I would have had a much harder time making the decision without the internship experiences.”

Adil Majid, Spire

“School had always been incredibly frustrating for me. I didn’t like working from seemingly arbitrary prompts and having my work enter the void after being submitted. My top priority after college was to find a place where the things I designed were solving real problems and where the quality of my work would be determined not by the instructor’s tastes, but by the user. I joined a startup in order to work on a small, nimble team, be close to our users, and focus on shipping instead of endlessly iterating.
One downside is that there’s less room for wildly experimental products (since startups have less money to spend on products that may not ship). This same constraint also adds to the excitement — a startup’s survival depends on being laser-focused on providing a quality experience for its users. There’s no strong brand to rely on if you ship a bad product. As a designer at a startup you’re required to be intimately familiar with your users, be constantly user testing, and collect and analyze data in order to delight your users.”

Talk the talk

After you’ve narrowed down your options, you’ll soon find yourself interviewing. Our best tips for having successful interviews is to be yourself and show your passion. Practicing will help you talk about your process clearly and thoughtfully, but don’t overdo it either. Companies want to be able to see and understand how you think about design and how you’d approach a problem. Your ability to communicate an idea clearly is extremely important, so saying what is meant rather than hurling an arsenal of buzzwords is about clarity.

Rita DeRaedt, Google

“There’s such a thing as over practicing and too many mock interviews. Be yourself. Have a conversation. You get hired because you’re being yourself, but if you get hired because you’re a very rehearsed version of yourself, you won’t like the job.”

In addition to being able to talk about your process, it’s also important to have an online portfolio that highlights your best work and your personality. It’s always better to give the viewer a good sense of who you are, instead of just slapping a name on a website with some projects. You can show your personality through imagery and voice in your process. Tell a story and make sure your passion is expressed clearly in your work.

Evan Coutre, Box

“Interviewing and designing are similar in that they are both an iterative process. It is very unlikely you will get it right the first time. Stay encouraged. Treat it as a critique and collect as much feedback as you can and try to gauge what is working and what isn’t. Iterate accordingly until you start to get some positive feedback or results, then look to improve other parts of your process whether it’s your portfolio, your presentation, or how you sell yourself and your work.
There is a time for learning and a time for earning. When comparing companies to apply to or work for, a fair compensation package is important, however your focus coming out of college should be to find a place where you can learn the most. What you earn now is insignificant to the potential you have to earn later in your career if you maximize your learning opportunity now and become really good at what you do. Individuals learn differently: some learn by doing, some learn from others, and some need a happy medium between mentorship and autonomy. Know yourself and the best opportunity for you to learn and maximize for that.
After redesigning my portfolio and doing a couple interviews, I got to a point where I was confident that I could get past any initial phone screen or portfolio walkthrough, however I couldn’t seem to break through the final step of giving an onsite portfolio presentation. Without much feedback to go off of I could assume that there may have been a lot of variables involved with the decision and maybe I just wasn’t the exact right person at that time, but regardless of the circumstance I knew that I could improve. I reached out to others who had gone through a similar process to see what they thought made them successful and just like I did with the earlier parts of the interview process, after a few tries, I learned what interviewers were looking for, how to better articulate and sell my work, treating it more like a design problem until I saw better results, ultimately leading to offers from multiple companies.”

If you want a full in-depth guide on interviewing for design positions check out our friend, Andrew Hwang’s guide

Embrace the journey

For us, being interns at Google vs. full-time designers is different, but not that different. As an intern you are already treated like a full-time employee. The great thing about Google is that everyone has something they are excited to learn about so in the end, we all feel like students with a never-ending desire to learn more about technology, design, and ourselves. Take time during your first few months to really immerse yourself in the work culture and meet people. These people can become lifelong work friends as well as really helpful mentors. There are talented and smart people all around you, so be sure to take advantage of that.

It can be challenging being the young, new member on the team. It’s easy to feel the imposter syndrome. Remind yourself that your youthfulness and inexperience is actually an asset to the team because you are part of the next generation we are designing for — new grads carry fresh perspective, new ideas, and no prior experience or assumptions, which can be really helpful to a team of designers that know their work inside and out.

Every job and every person is different. The important thing to remember is that your are embarking on a journey, and you should treat it that way — with open eyes and a willingness to learn along the way. Focus on what you want to achieve right now in your life. See how you can combine design with other interests. Throw yourself into projects that make you feel excited and motivated. Be fearless with your decisions because this industry is always changing and so should you. #TheFirstSteps

This article was co-written by Fiona Yeung and Andre Tacuyan. Fiona is a UX Designer on the Material Design team at Google. Andre is a UX Designer on the Android team at Google.

Back at Google!

Fiona Yeung

It's Friday and I just finished my first week at Google as a full-time designer on the Material Design team. Since I interned here before, it was a lot easier settling down and getting into the swing of things. The Noogler orientation was a lot more intensive than the internship one but was still fun since I love meeting new people, especially because they were all just as excited as I was. The weekly TGIF was also a lot of fun. It's where Larry and Sergey officially welcome all the Nooglers and then talk about company-wide announcements. The actual campus was just as big and exciting as I remembered. Only a few things changed on campus such as the new visitor centre and some new cafes, other than that I was still really familiar and comfortable with everything.

My first day was really nostalgic. Stepping onto the Google shuttle bus reminded me of last summer and all the exciting days that I had. It was so good returning back to Google. The nostalgia reminded me of my aspirations and goals as a designer. Being at Google refueled my drive and really showed me that I can do anything I want. Anything is possible. Reuniting with my former manager Brynn Evans was one of the bigger highlights of the week. She's bright and energetic, and really knows how to push me in the right ways. I'm also really excited about the team that I'm on. The Material Design team is full of talented and really cool people so I can't wait to work with them on really cool projects. I plan on keeping some of my internship goals such as consistently meeting lots of new people, having 1:1 meetings, asking for constructive feedback, and trying to learn and be as involved as possible. 

Being a new grad designer starting off at Google can also be a little overwhelming. I'm lucky that I know how Google teams work already, but it can be intimidating especially working closely with people that I've looked up to for a while. It's important to remember that you're here for a reason and that you just have to be yourself. Everyone is unique at Google and that's why we have such great culture. 

Aside from all the fun things at work, the Google and Silicon Valley bubble is big and can easily suck people in so I'm going to try my best to be conscious of it; constantly reminding myself of what's outside of the bubble and to never lose my drive for adventures or other passions. I'll write another separate post regarding the bubble but for now, I'm just really excited and inspired by all the smart, driven, yet humble people I've been meeting! 

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Bye Bye University!

Fiona Yeung

It took me a while to process this but I'm no longer a university student! I graduated in June from York University/Sheridan College with a Bachelor of Design honours degree making it onto the Dean's honour list and receiving Cum Laude too! Needless to say, I was not only thrilled to receive those honours but to never have to step into a classroom again! I loved my design program but somewhere nearing the end of my third year, I felt that my time in school was up. I didn't want project briefs assigned by teachers anymore.  I was ready to dive into the real world. 

If you're also a new grad, here are a few things that I try to keep in mind: 

  1. If possible, don't work right away. Take some time to do some exploring. You've been in school for as long as you remember. This is a great time to discover more about yourself!  Once you start working, you'll be working for a long time and there's absolutely no rush or a need to race to the next big promotion. 
  2. Your job isn't your life. What does success mean to you? In the western society, I find that so much of our time and energy is focused on our career and 9-5 life that we forget that our life isn't only about our job. Don't forget to spend time outdoors. Find a hobby. Make friends outside of work. There's a whole other world out there so don't let your life revolve around work.
  3. It's okay not to know what you want to do. There's no rush. It might be freaky to be jobless or be doing something you don't love, but there will be time for you to figure that out. If anything, just try to spend time doing what you love, the things that make you feel alive. Forget about money. I know it's easier said than done but if you have a good support system and find that it's possible to take that risk, go for it. The security and money will find you as long as you truly work hard at what you enjoy doing. There's always a niche for it. 
  4. Everybody is learning as well. You might think your boss has it all or that the friend you look up to is utterly perfect..but believe me, we're all just figuring things out day by day. You'll start learning that everyone also starts out as a newbie and feels the exact same way. We are all learning things just like you so don't be too hard on yourself! It's okay to feel confused about the 'steps' of life or to feel lost at times. 
  5. If you want to move, do it! Now is a great time to move to a new city. One chapter is ending, and now it's time to start a new one. If you want to explore somewhere, then give it your all. Make it happen. There will always be excuses that come and go so don't wait! Your 20's is a great time to explore yourself and the world. If you can't afford to move right away, start working on a plan that allows you to make your dreams come true. 
  6. Change is inevitable. No matter how much you want to hold onto something, someone, or a dream, change is inevitable. So let's embrace these changes and make the best of things.  You're entering a new chapter now. There will be more responsibilities, bigger decisions, and larger sacrifices...but don't worry, change is good, it allows growth. Find something to look forward to that is a result of these changes. 

So go for it. Do what you love. Be brave. See the world. Open your heart to change (especially if it's scary!). It's time to get excited for this new chapter of your life! 

XX+UX Toronto

Fiona Yeung

XX+UX is a happy hour for women in UX. The goal has been to foster a community of like-minded designers, researchers, and women in tech who meet up periodically. User experience design (UX) has exploded in the last few years with a visible and increasing demand for UX at large companies, at small start-ups, and for freelancers. And yet, like tech in general, men are still over-represented in the field.

The first XX+UX event was held at Google HQ in October 2013, where attendees created “story cards” that represented themselves or their journey into UX. Since then, there have been 20+ XX+UX meetups in the Bay Area, Austin, Paris, New York, London, and Sydney thanks to partnerships with LinkedIn, Salesforce, Pinterest, Etsy, Airbnb, Medium, and more. 

Last summer while interning at Google, I helped co-organize one of the meetups with Pinterest. When I returned home, my goal was to host Toronto's first XX+UX meetup. After connecting with some people, I partnered with Normative to organize and co-host XX+UX in Toronto. 

While there are several design events in Toronto on any given day, it was nice to have one dedicated for women in tech. The night started off  with treats catered by The County General and Moo Milk Bar and then later a DIY marker mug activity. We asked the ladies to write down the name of a woman that inspires them. The event had a great turn-out and we were happy to see a lot of mingling and happy faces.

I look forward to hosting more XX+UX events so if you're interested in co-hosting a XX+UX meetup in Toronto or another city, feel free to email me

Below are some photos from the event. See the full album here

Exciting news!

Fiona Yeung

Finding a job after graduation is something that most students worry about. I'm so grateful that I won't have to worry about that because I will be returning to Google as a full-time designer in 2015!!! It was a pretty tough decision to make when I was deciding which offer to take between Google and Facebook. I didn't apply to any other companies but was happy with my options. 

When deciding between Facebook and Google, there were tons of pros and cons to weigh in on. Some of the most important factors that I considered when making my decision include (in no specific order): 

  • Mentorship
  • Company goals and mission 
  • Design culture and impact
  • Opportunity for growth
  • Products (how excited am I?)
  • Openness, culture fit, people 

Both companies have an incredible mentorship program where people are always willing to provide advice, and guidance making you feel appreciated and reminded that they genuinely care about your growth. I love how Facebook has such a strong, tight-knit design community, but at the same time, love that Google was finally understanding design and making huge improvements as a company to appreciate and respect design more (such as with Material Design, and the FORM design conference). 

After weeks of weighing the pros and cons, I knew my heart was set out on Google after having such an amazing time there this past summer. 3 months there wasn't enough for me, and I want to continue exploring and learning there before I move on to other companies. Ultimately, I went with Google because I want to learn more about the different types of new technologies that Google explores. I felt more excited about the things that I would be exposed to such as, wearables technology, self-driving cars, and projects that I never would've imagined possible.

Facebook and Google are both amazing companies, and even though I'm going to be a designer at Google, it's likely that my path with Facebook will cross again in the future. :)

Attending Grace Hopper 2014

Fiona Yeung

Last week, I had the opportunity to fly to Phoenix, Arizona to attend the 14th annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) conference sponsored for me by Google. After two delayed flights, and countless hours at the airports in Toronto and Chicago, I arrived in Phoenix Tuesday night around 11:30pm. My roommate was a former intern at Google as well so we had met before already. 

It was my first time at this conference so I really didn't have any expectations of what it would be like. It was amazing to see 8000 attendees, with only 6% of them being male. I attended the opening keynotes and presentations on the first day but they actually weren't as relevant to me as I had hoped because what Shafi Goldwasser talked about was targeted more for people with an engineering background, which I didn't have. 

Throughout the conference days, I attended several leadership sessions, a helpful student opportunity lab, multiple presentations within the HCI track including a few that stood out such as "Everyday Extremes: Designing Mobile for Anyone, Anywhere", and "The Future of Wearable Technologies in Women's Fashion", and I also talked to tons of companies at the career fair. 

I was really interested in the leadership sessions because I found that it was a nice opportunity to learn interpersonal and leadership skills, instead of only focusing on technical presentations. The first leadership session I attended was called "Successful Leadership" presented by Kathryn McKinley, a researcher at Microsoft. It was an engaging session where everyone shared their tips on how to be a successful leader, lessons learned from leadership failures, when to say no, and certain challenges that we faced. 

  • Be an effective advocate for what you think is right and wrong

  • Speaking at meetings regardless of your position

  • Being an authentic leader, be true to yourself

"Everyday Extremes: Designing Mobile for Anyone, Anywhere" presented by Caitlin Colgrove, an engineer at Palantir Technologies was part of the HCI track, and one of my favourites. I found this talk to be the most relevant for me as a UX designer which was nice in the sea of engineer-based talks. Below are some key take-aways that I benefitted from her presentation. 

General framework to think about when designing for the extreme cases

  • What are the components of the system? (phone connected to smart watch etc)

  • What are the pressures on the components? Users will make mistakes, how can we help them make fewer ones? How can things go wrong?

  • How do we design the extreme scenario? How do we make it as least frustrating as possible?

  • Think about the extremes. They happen everyday.

Overall, I had a lot of fun throughout the conference and even got some spare time explore the city. I definitely recommend women in tech to attend this conference if they have the chance to next year! 

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Google for Students & Sheridan Curiosities

Fiona Yeung

Hello! It's been a little over 2 months at Google now and it's still as fun and exciting as the first day. I have been working hard on my main project for the Google+ stream working with user experience researchers, project managers, engineers and other designers. I've definitely learned a lot about the process of how designers and engineers work together to ship a product. 

On a side note, I was lucky enough to be featured in the Google For Students blog as well as the Sheridan Curiosities blog for my school. To read the Google blog post, check it out here and to read the Sheridan Curiosities blog article, check it out here

The Working Group

Fiona Yeung

Since the beginning of January this year, I've been a design apprentice at a really cool company called The Working Group. The company is made up of designers, engineers, strategists, business developers building mobile and web products for startups and national brands such as the Toronto Star, TSN, and Everlane. TWG plays a leading role in the Toronto tech community by incubating start-ups and hosting technology and education events for our community such as Decoded Fashion, and the NEXT program with MarS. 

As a design apprentice at TWG, I have been working closely with the designers, developers and project managers for a few different client projects. I can't say too much about those projects but it's been an awesome experience being able to be a part of the process from initial information architecture designs to creating the wireframes and visual designs for both tablet and web mocks. TWG has such a great open culture where I was able to walk over to absolutely anyone and ask them for advice, to char or just to pick their brains. 

I've had my fair share of internship experiences in 2013 but this one was definitely very unique because of the large number of developers and engineers that I got to work with. In school, most of the time I only get to work with other designers, so it was a new experience for me to work with other people including the project managers and business developers. It opened my eyes up to who needed to be involved in a project in order to have it complete from start to finish in the 'real' world. Being a part of client meetings were also really informative and taught me that design wasn't the only thing to think about when it comes to creating solutions for a product. There were limitations and concerns that needed to be dealt with on the business side of things that were incredibly important for the designers to be aware of in order to design the best solution for the problems for our clients and their target audience. 

My apprenticeship with TWG will be over in a few weeks so that's why I wanted to write a short reflection of my time there. Before accepting this position, I had my doubts that I wouldn't be able to handle my workload with school, extra-curricular activities with a part-time apprenticeship, but I am extremely glad I stuck with it and gave it a try. It's been a great three months and I'm very grateful to have met the awesome and incredible people at TWG!