💎Prepare for your upcoming interview with Work & Co company with these recruiter tips! Watch the video until the end to learn all about their application process.
📼 Apply for your next job at Work & Co, the company dedicated to designing, building, and launching digital products such as mobile apps, websites, e-commerce platforms, in-store digital technologies, digital kiosks, bots, and other digital experiences. Hear some tips and tricks from Diana Mulladzhanova, Lead Recruiter at Work & Co, about the company’s application/ hiring process and work environment.
📼When preparing for an interview with Work & Co, it’s essential to know the ins and outs of the company’s application process. It begins with submitting your resume through Work & Co’s career site. If you're applying for a design/writing position, make sure you have your portfolio linked to your application. After you’ve scheduled your first interview, you should get to know your interviewer: Review their LinkedIn profile and learn about their career path. During the interview, talk to your recruiter about your background. Diana recommends sharing real-life experiences as examples: describe the experience, and the problem and challenges you faced, showing how you collaborate successfully on a team. How did you solve the problem? And provide details of what happened after the action you took. Storytelling goes a long way and gives the recruiter a detailed picture of your responsibilities, decision-making abilities, and organizational and communication skills.
📼 At Work & Co, collaboration is at the core of the company values. The success of developing products relies on a well-defined set of goals and KPIs that everyone involved gets behind. So they care about building a safe team environment where everyone respects each other's opinions and reaches for the same objective. Collaboration also means being hands-on, no matter the level: you’ll always be involved in creating the product!.
Work & Co - A Young Company’s Commitment to DEI
Diana explains that as a young company, it's extra crucial for Work & Co to lead the way and set new standards for diversity, equity, and inclusion. The company's working to embed these values into their practices, from recruiting and retention through the actual projects that they launch into the world. Last year, Work & Co committed to specific actions for diversity, equity, and inclusion. They established an ERG structure, including groups dedicated to Black, Asian, LatinX, and LGBTQIA+ team members, adding more D&I training and tools to support dialogues around race -- creating a safe space for uncomfortable conversations.
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining Work & Co? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Diana
If you are interested in a career at Work & Co, you can connect with Diana Mulladzhanova on LinkedIn!
More About Work & Co
Work & Co is a 400-person digital product company with offices in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. The best digital products require small, senior teams who are hands-on from start to finish. Their clients — IKEA, Apple, Epic Games, Nike, Gatorade, Mercedes, Aesop, Vistaprint, ALDO, and other admired companies — participate directly in an iterative process based on rapid prototyping, continuous testing, and fewer large meetings. No timesheets, just fully-dedicated teams. Forrester Research calls this company's approach "a model to follow."
A Conversation with Vouch's Lead Designer Carrie Phillips
She signed on as their lead designer, and in the two and a half years she's been at Vouch, she's worn half a dozen different hats, experienced a personal evolution in the way she strikes a work/life balance, and made inroads against the goal she shares with the whole Vouch team of creating a business insurance product that works for startups.
We sat down with Carrie to hear more about why she became interested in design, why she joined Vouch and how Vouch's culture supports her design work, and what advice she has for others looking to succeed at a high-growth startup.
Carrie's first few design projects were practical ones.
"I grew up with a little sister who has a bunch of disabilities, and my father and I spent a lot of time building things around the house and retrofitting really crappy medical equipment," she explains. "We were always sort of trying to make her environment work for her and her interests, like to play baseball or cello or go to school. So much needed to be adjusted that I developed a bit of an eye for problems to be solved."
Carrie credits her early experience seeing how her sister navigates the world and coming up with ways to help her as sparking her interest in product design. She studied industrial design at Ohio State University with the goal of working in medical products and technology to improve accessibility.
"I think when people say accessibility, they think of making sure the buttons on the screen are high enough contrast so that somebody with colorblindness can parse out the active areas or text hierarchy and screen readers and stuff like that," says Carrie. And while she notes that those are certainly important examples, larger impact in the accessible space stems from general innovations.
She gives an example of what she means: "Like my AirPods. I'm jazzed about AirPods because my sister wears hearing aids, and hearing aids are still clunky and ugly. AirPods are like a sneeze away from a hearing aid, they're pretty close, and that's really cool."
Other things that fit in that category? Google Glass, Siri, swipe keyboards, and Google Maps, says Carrie. Those are the kinds of projects Carrie wants to work on—projects that transform the way something is done or experienced and, in so doing, create a better product for people with disabilities. "When I think about accessibility, I'm almost thinking about it like, what are the most interesting innovations happening for the mass market that could then trickle into smaller niche markets and really change lives?" she says.
Carrie is still a team of one, which means she's done almost every kind of design work for Vouch at some point over the last few years, from mocking up onboarding funnels to branding to conducting user research and handling "QA bug bashing stuff." She has a practiced spiel she uses to explain her work to new hires at Vouch:
"Design is intended to make things useful, usable, and beautiful. And each of those words routes to a different field of design. Beautiful is user interface, graphic design, and making it pretty. Usable is more UX—how can I organize this flow or label things in a way that somebody doesn't get stranded somewhere and confused? And useful is more product design. It's like, how do we actually answer the question in the first place? Not just how do we make the solution we've already chosen useful, beautiful, or usable...it's more, what should the solution be in the first place?"
It's that top-down, open-ended problem solving that Carrie loves most about the product design work she's doing now. "It's really fun, sort of the puzzle of unpacking the problem and coming up with a solution," she says.
The puzzle is a particularly big one for Vouch. "Vouch is rewriting policies. We're trying to solve [the business insurance problem] at the very bottom," says Carrie. "A lot of my most valuable time is spent trying to understand what it is we're building and how this tiny decision over here is going to cascade all the way to the customer experience in a year when this policy gets approved."
Carrie approaches solving that puzzle with what she calls her best "user-centric shot." For example, she'll design a button, including its text, in the way that would make the most sense to customers. "Then that does a round trip through insurance, ops, and legal and comes back to me. If it sounds too much like a robot lawyer rewrote it, then we put it back in the cycle. We are a no-lorem-ipsum shop because text is just too important for meaning," she explains.
It was Vouch's mission that initially inspired Carrie, but the reason she keeps going into work (or, in the last ten months, logging in to work) is the company's culture.
"It sounds very corny, but the team genuinely cares and gets to know each other, which produces an environment where everyone feels comfortable contributing really big, weird ideas," says Carrie. "Vouch isn't interested in just making insurance a little bit better. We really want to shake it up. So everybody has to feel safe throwing out some real ridiculous nonsense from time to time. And you only do that when you're amongst friends."
That focus on human beings is so important that it's one of Vouch's five core values and the one that stands out the most to Carrie.
"Put people first" can refer to users, teammates, and individuals, explains Carrie. "It means 'put your partner first, your kids first, your people first," she says.
3 tips for succeeding at a startup
Carrie has worked to bring accessible product design to every company she's worked at, from the small startup she founded with friends after college to Vouch. She's able to make the most impact in environments like Vouch's, where open collaboration between teams and a constant focus on learning is shared by all.
"What I care about with startups is the hustle and momentum," she explains. "I know a lot of people are really into the impact that they could have in Silicon Valley. But I don't care if thousands of people use what I made or just a few [do]. I really love being on a small team that is intimately aware of their competitors and is earning the respect of new customers and trying to win."
"I like playing on the team. It's like the only sport I've ever been good at is startups," says Carrie.
She's gotten better at her sport over time and has three key lessons to pass on:
1. Do regular personal retros. Carrie used to have a 30-minute date with herself every Friday ("in the morning, 'cause if I did it Friday afternoon, it wouldn't be worth my time; my brain would be fried," she notes) to do a retrospective on the week. She's fallen away from the habit, she says, but is bringing it back as she keeps going deeper into the specifics of the insurance world. "I reflect on the week, what I learned, what I did, what changed, what produced a big emotional response for no good reason," she says.
2. Organize pairing sessions. One of the key parts of Carrie's workflow is the "tweaking sessions" she has with engineers on her team. "Instead of peppering them with tiny, nitty-gritty feedback all along the way, I reserve some time at the end, like, 'We're going to get coffee together and you're going to share your screen and I'm going to angst over the spacing a little bit and it's going to be kind of annoying 'cause we're going to be nudging around pixels,' but it almost always ends with something that feels like 10 or 20% more polished," she says. "And it makes sure that I'm perpetually aware of the friction generated by my requests."
3. Don't lose yourself. "Startups are just so fun. They move so fast. You can get kind of lost in the hustle or momentum of things," says Carrie, who says that she struggled to remember that in her first few years on the job. "I used to really let that hustle and momentum take over my life. It was too fun to stay late and get ahead and really sweat the details. I thought I was being a good designer by getting really amped on whatever teeny-tiny change needed to be made," she says. "Try to enjoy the momentum—relish the fact that your job is actually exciting and moves quickly and that you can see your change in production in the wild—but also, know that you will not ever regret closing your laptop at 5:00 PM or 6:00 PM," she reminds readers. "It'll be fine."
This edition of our career spotlight series features Caitlin Flint, Group Design Manager at Intuit.
Caitlin's career began at the Advancement Project, a civil rights nonprofit focused on large-scale systemic change to remedy inequity. There, she had the opportunity to work on mapping software for California's first-ever open redistricting process, which ignited her passion for improving people's lives at scale. This made her a natural fit for a role on Intuit's design team, where she has worked for the past six years. Caitlin earned her B.A. in Design from the University of California in Davis, where she specialized in Visual Communications.
At Intuit, she leads design work for TurboTax Live, a product that connects tax experts to millions of customers who need tax filing assistance throughout the year. She leads a team of diverse craft experts who specialize in everything from research, interaction and service design, to artfully curated assets (visuals, motion, voice, and tone) that bring the product to life. As part of Intuit's design leadership team, her top priority is solving customer problems and creating an environment where her world-class team can do the best work of their lives.
We sat down with Caitlin to discuss what the day-to-day life of a Design Manager looks like, what advice she regularly gives early-stage designers, and what she looks for in applicants' portfolios when she's hiring for Intuit (which she is—so take notes!).
Before we dive in, can you tell us a little bit about yourself outside of work?
I live in San Diego, where I was born and raised, and where my husband and I are lucky enough to enjoy the beach and sunshine on a regular basis. I love backpacking and rock climbing, but when I'm unable to get away, anything outdoors (like attempting to keep the plants in my garden alive) will do.
Let's talk about your role as a design manager at Intuit. What sorts of things do you do on a daily basis?
I lead the amazing design team behind our TurboTax Live assisted tax offerings. Every day the team connects customers to our virtual Tax Expert Network to help solve their most pressing financial problems. This requires curating a cohesive end-to-end experience across our consumer tax portfolio to make sure the new features we deliver work together seamlessly for access to experts wherever and whenever our customers need it. I provide creative leadership to ensure research, interaction, visual, and content design all work together to deliver on a common strategy.
A critical part of my role is driving innovation through what we call Design for Delight (D4D) and Customer Driven Innovation (CDI) processes. This involves developing deep empathy to understand customer problems, going broad to narrow with potential ideas, then conducting rapid iteration to arrive at the best possible solution. At Intuit, everyone is customer-obsessed, but our design team goes the extra mile to ensure we bring empathy and qualitative behavioral insights to the table when we're discussing how our products are performing and how we can better serve customers. Human-centered practices are ingrained in our craft.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of being a design leader? The most rewarding?
Being part of an insanely talented team is incredibly humbling. My goal as a designer has always been to have a positive impact in the lives of the customers I serve—leading a team exponentially increases that potential for impact. It's most rewarding when you can see how every individual's efforts amplify the collective results of our team. Great research insights lead to crisp, focused interactions, which are then bolstered by beautiful content, motion, and a visual language that supports ease of use, confidence and delight for our customers.
That said, this is also the most challenging part—creating an environment optimized for collaboration, with a common vision and shared pace, so the individual parts come together like a symphony. Without that, even with great individuals, the output is just noise.
Caitlin collaborating with members of her Design team
You joined Intuit as a designer six years ago. What drew you to the role and the company?
I was drawn to the triple threat of an inspiring vision, an established yet evolving design culture, and a clear path for individual career growth. The financial decisions individuals make on a daily basis are numerous, complex, and carry emotional implications with real consequences. Eliminating that burden, by providing better tools for financial freedom, inspires and challenges me daily.
And being at a company that actively invests in great design makes me confident we can make an impact. It also means that, as I grow and learn, I can keep taking on new challenges. There are designers at every level, all the way up to Intuit's C Suite, that I can learn from. It's inspiring and really amazing to be free of a looming ceiling over what's possible.
How have the people and culture at Intuit supported your growth into a management role?
I started at Intuit as an individual contributor, and from day one I would hear people say, "We want to provide the resources for people to do the best work of their lives." In my experience, this has been spot on. It's one of the many reasons Intuit has been recognized on Fortune's Great Places to Work list year after year.
The culture is such that I've had many great mentors and coaches—formal and informal—over the years. Taking courses and attending conferences is the norm, as is having the opportunity to learn from external guest speakers and internal experts on a weekly basis. Before I became a manager, I was supported and encouraged to enroll in leadership courses (where I mostly gained data and a vocabulary to support what I saw modeled around me by design leaders every day). Once I became a leader, opportunities for continued learning, such as unconscious bias training, have also been the norm.
The Design team celebrating Halloween
Now that you are a manager, what's one lesson you try to impart to more junior designers? And one way you try to set them up for success?
I'm really grateful to have had great mentors to help me learn that it's important to do less, better. This is as critical for delivering great products as it is to career growth. I'd equate the early career phase to the "go broad" part of our design process—rapidly iterating, trying new things, seeing what works, and savoring the surprises. Eventually, though, you hit the narrowing phase. At that point, there's a lot of power in choosing a few areas where you really want to excel. That way you can focus your efforts and put your native genius to work, rather than be so-so at everything.
As the go-broad phase of your career winds down, don't be afraid to ask for help from peers and leaders if you need help narrowing and deciding where to focus for the next phase of your journey. Always give yourself permission to try new things, but know where your core strengths lie.
Let's shift gears and chat a bit about getting started in design and landing an entry-level role. When you're evaluating candidates, what sorts of things do you look for in a portfolio? What are your assessment criteria?
Your portfolio is a tool to showcase how you think—not just what you delivered. This means I'm on the lookout for candidates who use engaging case studies that tell the story of a project.
What problems are your customers facing? What's the ideal outcome for them? How will you measure success? I'm interested in how a candidate sets the stage with a clear from/to journey. Then, I look for how you put the design process and methods to work to identify an effective solution to the problem. Last, I'll assess the execution of the solution—how you use interactive elements and visual elements like color and type to make using the product simple and intuitive. A talented designer may be stronger in some areas than others, but they'll understand how the pieces fit together and how to bring their audience along on the journey.
What would you recommend someone do when they're just starting to build their portfolio? Are there specific types of work they should ensure they include?
Overall, it's best to tailor the work in your portfolio to the types of roles you'd like to take on. If the body of work in your portfolio demonstrates your skill as an illustrator but you're hoping to land a role as a product designer, you might want to re-evaluate the projects you've included. The exception would be if there are transferable skills you want to highlight. For example, maybe you did a ton of customer research and trend audits to inform the style of the illustrations you'd use for an app, and that ignited your passion for product design. A project like that demonstrates skills applicable to product design and tells the story of your career journey. Including it would demonstrate breadth of knowledge and an ability to learn and adapt.
If you don't have a ton of work to show yet, don't worry. The best designers I've worked with have an entrepreneurial spirit and don't mind being scrappy. Even without formal experience, you can put your creative problem-solving skills to work just about anywhere and document the process and outcome for your portfolio. For example, seek out pro bono or nonprofit work, where you can make an impact in the communities you care about and add the work to your portfolio. Or, do a heuristic evaluation and guerilla user tests on a product that solves a critical need for you, but is painful to use—then provide your recommendations to improve the experience and prototype a new approach.
What's one thing you've seen recently in a portfolio that pleasantly surprised you?
Recently, a designer I interviewed (and hired) showed solutions they explored that included augmented reality (AR) & chatbot. It was great to see them consider current tech trends in their go-broad explorations. Even better, they showed how they backed away from these solutions because they didn't adequately address the customer need. In this case, the AR approach required two hands on the phone, which took away the hand that was needed to complete the task in real life.
This demonstrated their knowledge of trends, while shining a spotlight on their customer-centric rationale. It also showcased a love for the problem (rather than a specific solution). Plus, I personally got to learn something new in their portfolio review, which is always great.
What's the number one thing you love to see in a portfolio?
The real world is messy, and designers weather the storm by savoring unexpected surprises along the journey. I love when candidates are transparent about what went wrong, what they learned, and how they recovered. It shows grit and creativity, the ability to persevere when real challenges arise. It also shows depth—if they didn't uncover challenges along the way, I'd question how well they tested the solution. What weak spots are we going to uncover later, when it's too late to address them properly? Embrace the messiness of it all!
And one thing that really bugs you?
A portfolio that only shows screenshots of the products a candidate has worked on, without any context or insight on the process, is a real letdown. It also bugs me when the success of the work isn't evaluated from a customer perspective. It's great that your client was happy—but I want to know what benefit the end user received from the product.
Last, but not least, what piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to apply for a design role at Intuit?
Take time to learn what Intuit does—explore our products and get a sense of where they fit into our customers' lives. Second, learn about who we are. Our values (how we work) are as critical as what we deliver. We have an amazing, customer-centric culture at Intuit, especially in design. Beyond that, we care that our employees also love working here. Consider how you will add to that culture—the diverse point of view you'll bring to the table, and how you'll live out our values within a team.
To learn more about Intuit's open roles in their design teams and beyond, check out their PowerToFly profile here.
Watch the recording of our invite-only networking event with the hub of the digital office: Slack.
This event included included a keynote address, panel discussion, and live audience Q&A driven by questions from our community. Hear from Slack's women design leaders on why they love their company, upcoming projects, industry trends, and career advice. We also dove into Slack's commitment to an inclusive culture, pay and promotion equity, employee well-being, and more.
Speakers from Slack included:
- Sara Culver, Design Operations Manager
- Jen Enrique, Senior Product Designer
- Vivian Urata, Staff Product Designer
- Rose Nguyen, Senior Product Designer
- Anna Niess, Group Manager, Product Design
Slack is hiring! Slack looks forward to connecting with curious, creative, and talented professionals to further expand their team.