Joseph España - How a pandemic layoff turned into a career payoff


Joseph España shares his advice on how to get a strong start in product design and stand out from the crowd of new product designers. Read the blow below and listen to the full episode for more great product design career advice!

🎯 Prioritize work / life balance

No one ever said, “I wish I got the CEO like 10% more on their return on investment!” at the end of their life. Remember what is most important and prioritize from the early stages. Learn to stand up for your boundaries so that you can maintain the balance you desire in your career.

💡 Do not limit yourself when it comes to inspiration!

No matter your industry, it is valuable to find inspiration in design systems from other industries. You never know when or where you will find the best solution for the problem at hand that you are trying to solve.

📢 Don’t forget to work on your soft skills.

Asking the right questions, collecting pertinent feedback, and staying in line with clients and your team will make you a stronger product designer that will succeed in any industry.

How a pandemic layoff turned into a career payoff

In episode 18 of The Product Design Podcast, Seth Coelen interviews Joseph España, a Senior Product Designer at UX Cabin who lives in California. Joseph has worked at UX Cabin for over a year now and brings many gifts and talents to the design team.

Joseph shares valuable advice on what to learn when you are getting started in product design and how to find your way to a high point in your career, even as you may experience bumps along the way.


How Joseph found his way into product design

Joseph became fascinated with the web in middle school when he used to ask to borrow a computer from his older sister to play on. He created his first website for a skateboarding blog and then would use HTML code to create a rad MySpace profile with background music and cursor effects. Eventually, Joseph took a web design class in high school that helped him see that this could turn into a career. He majored in graphic design in college and started his career at a startup where he initially focused on print materials and landing pages. The startup began to shift to product design and asked Joseph to help develop their product. He began to teach himself UX and product design to build on his graphic and visual design fundamentals.

Joseph has worked in several settings, from startups to Fortune 500 companies, so he has learned a lot about adapting to different types of work environments.

The low that led Joseph to the high of his career so far

During the pandemic, Joseph worked for a company in the cruise line industry, which was hit hard. In June of 2020, they had a layoff that included Joseph. Joseph is typically a very laid-back and easy-going person, but when he was laid off during a global pandemic, the stress brought on anxiety about how he would take care of his family.

Luckily he was working as a mentor for a product design BootCamp which brought in some income, but he quickly started to reach out in Slack communities, Twitter, and his product design network to find a new job. Reaching out helped him get a bit of freelance work, and then he connected with Seth in a Slack community and was an excellent fit into what UX cabin needed during a period of remarkable growth.

Joseph believes that he is currently at a high point of his career and is glad that everything worked out in a way that allows him to work remotely and gain so much time back into his life while avoiding that infamous Los Angeles traffic!

“Interesting enough, the low kind of led to the high in a way. From a career standpoint, I think I’m in the high right now.”

A day in the life of a Senior Product Designer at UX Cabin

Joseph loves working In a remote position because it added back over three hours to his day. He is an early riser with an established morning routine that includes a workout followed by a quick shower before starting his workday between 7-8 AM his time. He splits his day between the East Coast clients he works on and priorities based on the deadlines established in each project. His day can include sketching, working on wireframes, prepping for user interviews or a design review, grooming sessions, client or internal meetings, or working on high fidelity designs.

He has enjoyed the last year with UX Cabin because of working remotely, which has helped increase his energy levels because he is not stuck in his car for so many hours a day. He also really enjoys working with the talented and supportive UX Cabin team.

“I definitely have team members that are very, very talented that I can work and learn with.”

Advice to anyone getting their start in product design

Joseph has worked his way into a Senior Product Designer role throughout his career. He has some advice that will help you set yourself up for success early on that you will want to consider as you move into a product design career path!

🔥 Work smarter, not harder!

The deadlines never end. Learn how to balance your work and your life. Establish healthy boundaries that prioritize your family over your work so you can look back with no regrets.

👉 Establish strength in the fundamentals!

Familiarize yourself with design patterns that are common in iOS apps, regardless of the industry the product may represent. This practice will help you recognize the fundamentals that will lead you to the best solutions for different products you may work on.

🎯 Don’t forget the importance of the visual side of product design!

Look for sources of inspiration from top apps and recreate them for practice. This practice will help you become stronger in visual design while you continue building on the fundamentals of product design.

📢 Don’t skip on the soft skills!

1. Learn how to ask the right questions at a kick-off meeting and follow up with clients on questions you may have.
2. Communication is key! Remain transparent with what you are working on.
3. Ask for the feedback you need from the entire team to move forward. You never know when someone outside of design will provide the feedback you need to improve your technique.

Thank you use much, Joseph!

This episode with Joseph was filled with excellent advice on starting strong in your product design career. Listen to the full episode on The Product Design Podcast, which includes more tips on getting started strong and continuing to improve throughout your career. We are thankful that Joseph joined us on the show and shared his journey to help you learn what he has gained during his path!

Don't forget to follow Joseph and watch him keep improving in his craft and discipline. He is exceptionally talented, and we are so happy to have him on our team! You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and his website!

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