Where to Grow a UI / UX Designer: Distance Abroad
Sooner or later, a designer thinks about the future in his profession. There are many ways: get a job in a corporation, go freelance, grow in breadth (learn code, motion, 3D, etc.), grow up (become the leader of the design team, product manager, etc.), build your own project, or get a job in a foreign project. I chose the latter option and decided to share my experience of finding a remote job abroad.
Who am I?
Hey! I’m Nikolay Posvezhny, I’ve been building interfaces and riveting animations since 2014. First, he worked with Uprock and Softwear Finance studios, and then with small and medium-sized Russian companies such as Amagroup, 1312.io, BitClave. In general, I make design for solving business and client problems.
Why did I choose the overseas market?
At one point, I wanted to break out of the local career: to learn how to work with an English-speaking team so that in the future I could participate in international projects. Also a good motivation was the potential income is 2-3 times higher than in the Russian labor market…
How did I prepare for the search for a foreign project?
1. Website, portfolio and CV. Translated personal website, portfolio and resume. Left only relevant projects. Fortunately, some of them were originally done in English for Western audiences.
2. Social networks. Translated pages to LinkedIn and Behance… Registered on AngelList… Everywhere I filled the section “work experience” with relevant projects from the portfolio.
3. Self-presentation. Prepared for the classic questions of recruiters in the style of “Tell us about yourself”, “Who do you see yourself in 5 years” and “What did you dislike at your last job.” Examples of questions and answers are easily googled. The result is a three-page Word document.
4. Articles. In the selection process, the partner will look at your expertise. I wrote a couple of articles in English for design sites in Mediumto stand out from competitors without such articles.
5. Recommendations. Collected and translated positive recommendations from previous project managers. I used them in my portfolio and on social media pages.
6. English. On the recommendation of a friend, I turned to an English-speaking teacher on Skype. In 10-15 lessons, he taught how to speak more confidently and helped to correct mistakes in the texts of portfolios, cases and articles.
While recruiters and customers do not know about you, you need to apply for vacancies and write to attracting companies yourself. In this regard, the process is no different from the first steps in Russia:
1. We are looking for sites with vacancies and contacts of companies you are interested in.
2. We respond with a convincing letter on the topic “Who am I and what value I represent for the project.”
We carefully read the text of the vacancy, as often in the response they ask for answers to specific questions.
3. If you are interested, we go through an interview, perhaps we do a test task.
I was looking for projects on WeWorkRemotely and AngelList, as vacancies with remote work appear there every day. I applied for 10-15 suitable vacancies and unsuccessfully participated in interviews with two companies.
The third attempt went with a Canadian startup. To my surprise, they offered to talk in a voice in Telegram, not in Zoom or in Skypeas is usually the case with Western companies.
I was terribly worried, but the interview went well and I was asked to do a test task.
It was then that I showed myself in all my glory, delighted the leaders and flew to Seoul to get to know the team and learn more about the project. South Korea was chosen for the meeting because neither I nor the Canadians needed a visa. And fly about the same. Direct flight from St. Petersburg and back with hotel accommodation was paid.
I have been working for the 6th month, but so far I can not share the name of the company and the details of the project. I am glad to receive experience of international communication and the salary is 2.5 times higher than the previous one ($ 2000 + → $ 5000 +)…
If this story inspired you to try your luck in the global market, perhaps these commonplace tips will help:
0. Decide what you need. Corporation or startup? Big or small team? Remote or office? Areas of the company? Payment amount? My choice fell on the usual small-medium-sized companies with a distributed team (remote).
1. Practice English: watch movies and TV shows in the original, read articles in English, study on Skype … the more channels for pumping English, the better.
Pay special attention to the spoken language. Skills and knowledge are useless if you hesitate to speak and defend your position in front of foreigners.
2. Feel free to seek advice from those who have already achieved a similar goal. The Internet allows you to contact anyone on this planet and, most likely, they will be happy to answer you! For example, they helped me with tips Denis Nevozhai (moved to the US to work at Google) Danil Krivoruchko (popular motion designer from New York), Alexander Ovsyannikov (designer at Badoo’s London office) and even Victoria Borodina (leading a popular blog for IT pros).
Now I am ready to help with advice, write to direct: https://www.instagram.com/kelsnoopy/
3. Translate portfolio into English, profiles in LinkedIn, Behance and Dribbble, create yourself a website and CV… Leave only the best works. If you are aiming for the role of a product designer, tell us more about the cases and your role. Be short and focus on the results in numbers: there are more customers by X%, behavioral indicators have doubled, user ratings have grown from X to Y, the percentage of good reviews has increased by X%, etc.
4. Open an individual entrepreneur with a foreign currency current account. Any adequate bank for entrepreneurs will help you do this, as well as teach you how to issue invoices, go through currency control and pay taxes. In fact, all this is easier than it seems.
5. And in conclusion: improve and don’t give up… As they say in New York, finding a job is a job in itself. If you are confident that you can handle it, ignore rejection and ignorance. This is part of the process. Every bad interview sheds light on your weaknesses – next time, be ready to cover them up or present them correctly. For some, your weak side may be an advantage.