Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common FAQs I receive about design, career, community building, running, favorite content, and requests. Enjoy!

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🎨 Design & Career

How did you get into design and what is your career journey?

When I was a kid, I enjoyed drawing my favorite anime and video game characters. I also wasn’t very interested in most topics I was learning in school, so I spent a lot of class time drawing and writing stories.

In college, I studied bioengineering and computer science/engineering. I wanted to solve problems and make things.

Soon after graduating from undergrad, I was drawn to product/UX design. It felt like a happy medium that combines a lot of my interests - storytelling, solving problems, art, and science.

Why did you major in bioengineering and computer science/engineering in school? How does that connect to your career today as a product/UX designer?

I was drawn to bioengineering because I wanted to learn how to biohack myself to run faster. Not gonna lie, I was also influenced by society to study engineering. Biology was also my favorite subject in high school. I love learning about cellular processes - they were all cool stories to me.

I also studied computer science/engineering because I wanted to make fun games when I pivoted away from medicine.

After doing a few internships in both fields, I realized those weren’t quite the career paths I saw myself in. I learned about product/UX design through the internet. I then did some projects, freelance work, and an internship. I enjoyed it, and decided to do that for my career.

Engineering taught me a lot about how different systems work with each other. Just like how different parts of the user experience in the product work with each other. Also how different cross-functional teams work with each other to build a product.

How do you build your personal brand?

I think building a personal brand translated into action is - do things, and tell people. Telling people can come in posting on social media and organically in conversations.

I’ve been blogging/sharing my art and content online since 2014. I didn’t fit in at school, and wanted to improve my writing. I started blogging about running and life on Tumblr. I talked about what I did and learned every day, as well as some of the life obstacles I was experiencing. I realized that vulnerability helped a lot of people, so I continue to do so today.

Action items for anyone looking to start building your personal brand:

1. Complete your profile (on one social media), and start sharing your story or what you are learning as a post.

2. Connect with others on a similar journey and make friends! The hardest part is starting all of it, but it gets easier after that first post.

How do you deal with imposter syndrome?

Instead of looking at other people as “competition,” I focus on what I can learn from them. I also believe that collaboration is more productive than the competition. Collaboration creates more value overall and helps all parties go further.

I used to struggle with comparing myself to others, whether that be in running times, years of experience, grades, and number of followers. It’s completely out of my control, so I stopped caring and focused on what I can control to create impact.

How do you network?

I think networking is like making friends - meeting people and seeing how you can help each other. I like to meet people through online communities such as Design Buddies. You can reach out for a chat to get to know them more or to collaborate on something.

How do you manage your time to accomplish more in a day?

I think long-term and have short-term habits that compound to long-term results. I say no a lot so I have more time. I don't worry about pleasing everyone to focus on making more impact long term.

I’m also self-aware. I know what gives me energy, what drains my energy, and what helps me stay focused. That helps me prioritize and schedule my day. I block out my time - have times for heads-down work, running, etc where no one can schedule meetings. I don't respond to non-time-sensitive messages right away if I am in a flow state. I also listen to music or podcasts depending on what kind of work I’m doing as it helps me stay focused.

How do you stay motivated?

A lot of my initial motivation came from being bullied in school and not fitting in. People told me that I’ll never accomplish anything, and I believed it at first. It then became a chip on my shoulder and motivated me to work harder to prove them wrong. It was the motivation I needed at the time, but I no longer do things out of spite.

These days, my long term goals and seeing the impact of my work motivates me. I also take breaks to avoid feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.

Which tools do you use the most?

UX/UI design: Figma

Drawing & illustration: Procreate & Illustrator

3D modeling: Blender

Building websites: Webflow

Notes & content management: Notion

What resources helped you the most in your career as a product/UX designer?

Design: Design Buddies and sharing my work online and being open to constructive feedback.

Product thinking: Browsing Product hunt daily and analyzing what user experience & business trends are bringing the top products to the top

I also have a blog article that answers all the common questions I get asked about learning design from an unconventional path / becoming a designer without a design degree with more resources here.

How is it like working at Electronic Arts and what do you work on?

It’s great! As both a full-time designer and past intern, I’ve gotten to work on a lot of projects with high impact. I also like how EA has a lot of programs to help educate and get involved in diversity, inclusion, equity, and allyship.

I’m currently working on products for player experience (events) and design systems. In the past, I designed the ecommerce, and experiences to help people find help easier. I can’t share the details of my work due to NDA.

🐰Community Building

What is your story and experience with community building?

I never imagined myself as a community builder. In fact, I used to be shy and scared of networking events.

I attended the Grace Hopper Conference in 2018, wanting to get my first internship in tech. I noticed that people really put themselves out there in the career fair expo. I thought I had to be super extroverted and out there to get a job in tech. I worked on talking to new people to get used to it.

At GHC 2019, I randomly planned a meetup the day before. I made a Facebook event and posted it in the conference Facebook group. 400 people RSVP’d, and about 100 from all over the world and I didn’t know prior showed up. I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to plan with me, so I did it myself. I needed to “warm up” before talking to recruiters. That experience was so fun, that I brought it back to the Bay Area after the conference.

Around end 2019 - beginning 2020, I hosted weekly work/study sessions at local cafes with the Facebook community, Subtle Asians - Bay Area. Each time, I’ll meet someone new and learn their story. It was fun until the pandemic happened. We had a 24/7 Zoom call open for months, and then I shifted my attention to Design Buddies as it was taking off.

What is the story of Design Buddies?

I wanted to pivot my career to product/UX design shortly after graduation. I found the online design communities I was in at the time intimidating and elitist based on my personal interactions there. I wanted to just be chill and make some buddies in design in April 2020.

I didn’t expect Design Buddies to take off. As Design Buddies continued to grow, I realize there’s a huge opportunity to help a lot of designers. As of Jan 3rd, 2020, we have 31,000+ members and hosted close to 100 events. The impact motivated me to keep working on it.

If you'd like to learn more about Design Buddies, you can check out our website (which contains all our social media links, too) and join us on Discord.

How did you scale Design Buddies?

I focused on the user needs and tested out different solutions to solve the problem. I also collect feedback, make mistakes, learn, and iterate. I repeat and keep going. The particular user needs we focus on are: learning design, finding resources, and human connection

I also find natural ways to promote it. For example, when people ask me about how to get a job in design, I share Design Buddies. We have a lot of resources there to help them, and hiring managers regularly post jobs they’re hiring for there. I also welcome anyone to share Design Buddies with their community as a resources to help them out, too.

Design Buddies also won’t be where it is today without our teams - Admin, Community, Product Design, Graphic Design, Content, Events, Public Relations, and Focus Group. I try to find ways to give others opportunities, too.

☀️‍Running

How did you start running and what’s your running story?

I never imagined myself running for fun before I was 13 years old.

My mother started paying me $6/hour to go to the gym with her. At the gym, there were TVs on the treadmills, so I went on those. After running consistently (a few times a week), I discovered I was fast in my middle school PE class.

Within a few months, my mile time dropped from about 8:00 to 6:36. I joined the middle school track team, then continued to run competitively in high school and college. I continued to improve a lot throughout high school, and ran at several national meets and placed (awards).

In 2015 during my senior year of high school, I got my first stress fracture. Then, about 6 more after that in the next 2 years. I have not been able to compete since.

In college, I was impatient and tried to run before my injuries were fully healed, desperately to compete on the Division 1 level. This led to reoccurring stress fractures during my first 2 years of college. I stepped off the team during my junior year to focus more on my career. I stopped (and didn’t think about) running completely from 2017, and then picked it back up again mid 2020.

What are your personal records?

1600m: 5:08

3200m: 10:54

5000m (cross country, course with hills): 18:08

This was all done in 2014 when I was 16 years old, before my many injuries stopped me from competing in college.

What are your running goals now?

These days, I’m working to build up my mileage and speed to race (and work to win) 10Ks, half marathons, and maybe even marathons. My other goal is to not get injured and work on being patient (not running when my foot doesn’t feel right). I’m also working on not comparing myself to my past.

What are your favorite running shoes?

I get this question a lot, so I’ll answer it - Asics GT 2000.

However, take this with a grain of salt - everyone’s feet and biomechanics are different. I encourage you to visit a running store, have an expert analyze your running biomechanics to help you find your shoes. It’s important to find shoes that work for you to help prevent injuries, too.

How do I start running?

Disclaimer: I am not a certified coach or trainer. Everything here is from my own personal experience and what I learned from my coaches and doctor.

The most important part about running is making it a habit but taking a balanced approach. The most difficult part is starting. It may feel unappealing at first but as you build up your fitness, it will become easier. Also, don’t run too much too soon, it may lead to injuries and burnout.

Make a little progress every day (or week), it will all add up. When I started running), I increase my mileage about 10-20% each week, build up from there, and scale back if needed (ie. feeling an injury).

Staying motivated: Join a running group, join running online communities, and sign up for races
Injury prevention: Have the right shoes, run on softer surfaces (ie. trails, rubber track), stretch, ice, and sleep well

Additional resources: RunnersWorld (magazine/blog) often has running plans made by professionals (ie. couch to 5K/marathon) on their website

📚Favorite Content

I generally enjoy business, tech, and finance in non-fiction content and action, mystery, and adventure in fiction content

Podcasts

Robinhood Snacks, Founder’s Journal, The Quest, Invest Like the Best, Web3 Breakdowns, Entreprenurs on Fire

Books

Rich Dad Poor Dad, The Making of a Manager, Zero to One, Hooked, Lean Startup, The 10X Rule, 4 Hour Work Week

Newsletters

Morning Brew, The Hustle

YouTube channels

Colin and Samir (creator economy), The Futur (business and design), Polygon Runway (Blender tutorials), MrBeast (entertainment), Tiffany Ferb (internet analysis), Graham Stephen (investing), Invest with Rose, femke.design (design), Figma

Anime and manga

The Promised Neverland, Attack on Titan, My Hero Academic, Sword Art Online, Fairy Tail, Death Note, Erased

Gaming

Genres: role playing, simulation, puzzle

Games: MapleStory (PC and mobile), Animal Crossing, Pokemon, Sims, Neopets, Harvest Moon, Hay Day, and Candy Crush

Recently, I’ve been playing Pomodoro mobile games - Focus Plant and Focus Quest.

Music

Genres: JPop/Anime, Punk Rock, Emo

I also have a playlist here with some of my current favorite jams.

👀 Requests

Can you speak on my podcast or be interviewed for my content?

Yes, I would love to! Please send me an email at graceling08@gmail.com and we can plan.

Do you do freelance, consulting, or commission work?

It depends on the requirements and scope of the work. Please send me an email at graceling08@gmail.com and we can discuss.

Can you speak at my event?

It depends on the requirements and your audience. Please send me an email at graceling08@gmail.com and we can discuss.

Can you give me a referral to Electronic Arts?

Yes if I know you well, worked with you, or know your work. No if I don’t know you. We also have a #paid-opportunities channel in the Design Buddies Discord community. I hope that helps!

If there is another questions you’d like to be included here, feel free to email me at graceling08@gmail.com or message me on LinkedIn!