My Product Design Fellowship Journey - Yashasri Sadagopan

Yashasri was part of cohort 1 of the Product Design Fellowship where she has been working on projects in the design hiring and speculative design domains. She has been mentored by Somya Hastekar (UX Lead, Microsoft) and Kenneth Dsouza (Senior Design Manager, Gojek) during the Fellowship.

\ Just before Covid-19 hit, I received admits from a few top Masters programs in the field of Human Computer Interaction. I was ecstatic about it and felt that it would be the best way to accelerate my career growth. Despite the fact that I was already working as a UX Designer at a global multinational, I somehow kept getting hit with Imposter Syndrome, probably because I kept feeling that I come from a non-design background and needed an official Masters to prove my ability in this field.

As the year progressed, the pandemic situation made me feel stagnated because my admit got deferred and my learning journey halted.

Hearing about ownpath at that stage simply felt like perfect timing. At first, it felt like a platform where I could hone my product design skills and collaborate with talented fellow designers in the cohort, which could act like a stepping stone before going for Masters. But ownpath for me, turned out to be so much more, for which I’m truly grateful!

Personally, the fellowship was a rollercoaster ride. While doing a full-time job led me to staying up late nights to complete the fellowship activities and sacrifice weekends for a couple of months, the overall learning experience was truly worth it. While the fireside chats helped us gain perspective and evolve how we think as designers, the masterclasses enriched us with practical knowledge by having us perform hands-on design activities related to our projects.

The Fireside chat with Janey Lee, a Product Designer at Spotify was really helpful as she explained the importance of working in sectors that appeal to us rather than following the path that other designers seem to take.

For me, healthcare design is my calling and the Fireside chat with Daniel Burka, who spoke about his work in the Indian healthcare system was really affirming to me. Further, the Fireside chat with Karthik Mahadevan, the founder of Envision, a company helping the visually impaired was truly inspirational. He also gave me valuable inputs on my case study of how the problem of light sensitivity while looking at digital devices can be tackled while crafting experiences for people with migraine.

The detailed Masterclasses on User Research by Rikta Krishnaswamy helped me dive into detailed research methodologies which proved to be immensely useful in my first UX research project on mitigating the problems faced by designers in the hiring process.

The research approaches taught in this masterclass coupled with the Storytelling workshop held by Manali Mitra made me see the design process as a journey of discovery and communication. In my second project, I explored how families could preserve the emotional bond when they are geographically apart. This was a super interesting project as we got to consider approaches like speculative design, facilitate co-creation exercises and envision a concept that moved beyond traditional screens.

The truly holistic experience at ownpath is reflective of its mission to help us become designers who craft impactful experiences.

Right from having on-boarding sessions before the fellowship commencement, receiving the opportunity to have stimulating conversations with imminent designers to helping us be a part of a rich design community even post the fellowship is indicative of how it is a differentiated learning model that emphasizes on continuous learning.

Post the fellowship, I feel confident to put forth my viewpoints and present my design process with conviction. The incredible fellows in the cohort have turned into my friends, program facilitators (Hey Phalguni 😄) have become my mentors and the designers I used to think about approaching have now become solid connections.

I have also received an employment opportunity at a leading design strategy consultancy (Frog Design) and I am so excited about this new venture!

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