Michael Riddering - How a self-learner became a course creator


Michael Riddering shares advice on how to get the role you want in the next stage of your career and so many topics during his chat with Seth. From how to stand out to hiring managers to the things he thinks could have benefitted him earlier in his career, this episode includes many tips to strengthen yourself as a product designer in this industry. Read the article below and listen to more of Ridd’s great advice in the full episode!

📢 Be unconventional!

Stand out from the noise when you are applying for a new role. Create a Loom video or think of other unconventional ways, as Ridd did, to make you stand out from the rest of the crowd when applying for that position you want!

🚫 Don’t hold back - share your ideas!

If you have ideas between discussions during the interview process, send them along to the hiring manager. You will show the value you have to bring to the company, but you will also show your dedication to the role and company.

🔥 Start sharing your journey!

Sharing your journey online gives a hiring manager another way to see what you are like and how dedicated and involved you are in the industry. By taking action, again, you will show that you are willing to go above and beyond!

How a self-learner became a course creator

In episode 26 of The Product Design Podcast, Seth Coelen interviews Michael Riddering, Founding Designer of Maven and Creator of Figma Academy. Many of you may already know him as Ridd!

Ridd has worked for his own startup and spent time building more experience through freelancing and agency work. He currently lives in Michigan and started working remotely for Maven last year. He spends his days thinking about online course platforms, marketing, and teaching design.

How Ridd accidentally backed into product design

In college, Ridd pursued a major in economics but realized he did not want to go into finance halfway through, and he was more interested in tech, startups, and building businesses. Initially, Ridd jumped into a code academy to learn how to code and quickly decided that was not for him, but he also knew he wanted to be able to get his hands dirty and contribute to the product.

At this point, Ridd took his learning into his own hands. He spent time watching YouTube tutorials and building prototypes to learn. He also began learning on the job with his startup, where he was the only non-technical person. During this time, he worked on sales and customer success while also doing all of the designing. He uncovered the frustration that arises when designers do not understand code and work with developers. Hence, he passionately feels about bridging that gap between designers and developers from an educational standpoint.

Tips to stand out when you find the role that was made for you

Ridd shared how he successfully applied for and landed his current role at Maven. It is essential to consider the hiring manager and what may stick out for them in the sea of applicants for any function. Taking the extra time to show how invested you are in the process with them will tell them how dedicated you will be once they hire you.

📢 Get specific and don’t copy and paste or mass apply to every job you find.

Going all-in on 2 to 3 companies and roles and then tailoring your portfolio and application information to those specific roles will go much farther than mass applying using the same portfolio and application information across multiple companies and positions.

🔥 Find ways to introduce yourself beyond a link to your portfolio.

You could have an extremely engaging portfolio that can still fall through the cracks. Think of ways to introduce yourself to give the hiring manager a feel for who you are as an individual. Some options to consider could be through a Loom video or other unconventional methods like creating a page on your website dedicated to that specific company. Think of how you would want to be approached by a potential candidate!

“Don't underestimate the power of appreciating other people's work. If you use a product you like or see a landing page that catches your eye, find that person and send them a DM.”

💡Do not wait for structured interaction points to share thoughts and ideas.

If you have made an impression and gotten your first portfolio review or interview, keep the communication open with the hiring manager. As you have new ideas, send them to the hiring manager between interviews to show how you would be able to provide value once you are hired. Taking this extra initiative will demonstrate how invested you are in the company and the role.

Actions to take at any point during your career

Ridd has a proactive approach to going after the roles he wants, which has helped him immensely along his career path. He also shared some things that he wished he would have done earlier in his career or that he has seen the impact of long term as he put them into practice. These tips will help you expand your knowledge and your network!

👏Put yourself out there!

From sharing our work and asking for feedback to sending a DM to someone when you appreciate their work, you control how much exposure you give yourself to the industry.

👉Share your journey.

You don’t have to be an expert to share your journey and inspire others on the same path as you. People like to follow and learn from the experts, but there is also something so valuable in finding your peers and having a shared experience with someone to learn from as well.

Don’t close yourself off from learning more about code.

Coding can be intimidating for many product designers, but understanding what happens on the development side will help you communicate better and improve your relationships with the developers on your team.

“When I think about how I want to impact design education as a whole, so much of it comes down to this idea of, how can we make it way easier for designers to effectively think like developers and strengthen that relationship as a result.”

Thank you so much, Ridd!

We had such a great time chatting and gaining insight from Ridd on this episode. Hearing his opinions on what to do when you find the perfect role offered some excellent tips that product designers looking to land their first role should consider. We are so thankful that he shared so much valuable advice with us.

Listen to the complete episode on The Product Design Podcast, which includes a deeper dive into Ridd’s career path, how he decided to create Figma Academy, and how long it took to create his own course. Don't forget to follow Ridd on Twitter, LinkedIn, dribbble, and keep an eye on his website as well!

Where to find Ridd

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