Career Journey

Lessons from a Product Designer

„I started my first job at 15, and the most important thing that I’ve learned so far is that when you put in the effort, pay attention to details, and love what you do while having fun… you become good at it.“

Kamelia Hristova, Product Designer at VMware

Ever since I was a little girl, I enjoyed art. I had the most fun drawing so I started taking drawing lessons at a very young age.  When I got my first computer in 3rd grade, I switched to digital drawing with the one and only Microsoft Paint.

Illustration: Carlotta Notaro

In high school, I already knew that I wanted to be a designer. But I wasn’t quite sure what kind of design I wanted to work in. So, I decided to try Engineering Design at the Technical University of Sofia. This is a major that combines a lot of different design disciplines into a single program. However, I did have a second option, just in case I failed, and that was psychology. I am curious about people and their behavior and I love reading books on psychology-related topics.

I went back and forth, wondering whether I should choose interior or product design. Turned out I didn’t even have these options—I had to choose between graphic design and industrial/automotive design. I opted for the first one.

The first job

My first months as a junior graphic designer were a rollercoaster of emotions because of all the deadlines and last-minute changes I needed to make. It was great fun working for big brands like Visa, Coca Cola and Ferrero, but I wasn’t entirely sure if my designs were actually working. Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting any data or feedback on the performance of my designs.

I worked for BTL and ATL advertising agencies designing prints, billboards and outdoor campaigns. However, my preference was digital work—banners, landing pages, etc. Being able to track how people react to them was fascinating to me. I was curious to look “behind the scenes” when it came to this kind of work because I understood some HTML/CSS, and it was fun to change stuff at the front end.

Meanwhile, I was still thinking about psychology. I love talking to people and hearing their stories, and I was always curious about human behavior and body language. So one day I asked myself, is there a job that combines design and psychology?

Upgrading my skills with the UX/UI Design Program at Telerik Academy

I enrolled in the UX/UI Design Program at Telerik Academy. Before the classes began, we attended a meeting with alumni from the previous edition. I have to mention Hristo Andreev, who came to that session and shared his experience of joining VMware a couple of months after completing the course. His story had a big impact on me. Thank you, Hristo!

The program began in February 2020, only a couple of weeks before the first official lockdown. Everything went online. I wasn’t sure if the training would be as effective. Today I am grateful for that experience because it helped me get used faster to the home office reality. It was difficult at times because the training was very intensive, but it was also a lot of fun, and totally worth it. I loved it!

Applying  for a position at VMware I felt underqualified for

After graduating, I started searching for jobs on LinkedIn. I found an open position for a Product Designer at VMware. The description said 5+ years of experience as a product designer. Initially, I thought that I cannot apply. I didn’t even have a month of experience as a product designer. But a dear friend convinced me to give it a try and apply. So I did. And here I am.

Changing my career

I was nervous because I was changing my career. I didn’t know if I would like it or if I would be good at it. I wasn’t sure if I could manage a new job with a new team and new software remotely. But I didn’t let my discomfort stop me.  This is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

After eight months at VMware, I found out that I like my job way more than I expected, and that working remotely doesn’t stay in the way of learning from my colleagues.

Thank you End-User Computing (EUC) Design team, for making me feel that I am in the right place from day one.


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