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Student Success Story: Jinyan (Patricia) Shen: From sustainable fashion designer to product designer

So tell us a little about yourself and where you are from.

Growing up in a mega-city like Shanghai gave me a natural instinct for constantly adapting to my surroundings and a flexible mindset open to change and new ideas. I used to read two types of magazines; business- or fashion-related. The first type developed the mindset that helps me understand the broader scope of a product better. The second type led me to creative thinking and expression, getting a degree in fashion and textile design.

Where did you attend school and what were you studying?

I studied textile design at Chelsea College of Arts in London, a course focused on the sustainability aspects of fashion and textiles. A major lesson from the course was the way you can find solutions within textile design to support fashion to be less impactful on the environment. Presenting my research and development was something I took pride in and found enjoyable. I realised that what I enjoy the most is the story-telling and visual communication. This led me to start learning graphic design for branding, and UX/UI design later on.

How did you first get introduced to the concept of user experience?

Research and while I’m trying to be a graphic designer specialised in branding. I found out I’m very interested in UX & UI design.

How did you get interested in the multidisciplinary field of product design?

I’m interested in psychology and always like to read articles about business strategy during school. While I was studying graphic design by myself, I came across UX/UI and found that is something I will truly enjoy doing, and my interests in mental models and business naturally help me understand the ‘product’ better.

Before you joined DesignerUp school you had already done some UI/UX work. What was your process like of learning and doing those projects?

In general, it was very tough.

My main difficulty is I need to form a learning plan by myself, and I don’t know if it will work.

I learned a lot of theory at the beginning, but when you prepare your case study, these theories didn’t help you do a good job. I have also read a lot of articles and watch youtube videos to see how UX/UI people approach a problem. That helped me.

For those that are curious about becoming students, what was your experience like learning at DesignerUp? The curriculum, the instruction, the resources etc…

I already learned UX/UI for a year, so I know my way around, the one-to-one help from Elizabeth is the most valuable part of the course. I did my research before I join the course, and Elizabeth is very qualified and she helped me a lot.

What transferable skills from your previous studies and experience did you find most useful to the work that you’re now doing as a product designer?

Ability to learn things by yourself. Understanding a good product from a business sense always helping you design something that is not just valuable to the user, but also the business.

What is something that you learned in the program that you didn’t know before?

Business goal, key metrics.

What are your goals now that you’ve completed the program?

Experience UX/UI work in real life.

What types of industries and companies are you most interested in working with now?

I'm interested in working in startups because I prefer owning the design responsibilities and having effective communication that gets me involved in the conversation, making the product better.

Where do you think your skills are strongest and where are some places you feel you are still developing.

Strongest: Ability to learn

While studying UX/UI, I was actively researching learning materials instead of following courses blindly. My natural approach to learning is to first research and plan ahead, correcting my course if I sense something is off preventing progress, rather than trying the same wrong thing again and again. This is a valuable skill which helps me learn anything and apply it in practice with a short runway.

Still developing: Usability testing

From UX theory, the more usability tests the better, but I know that in reality we have to compromise how often we are able to design something with the user involved. So the when and what we should test within a time constraint is something I plan to focus on in the future.

If someone wants to reach you and talk about working with you, where and how can they do that?