You’re reading an excerpt of Land Your Dream Design Job, a book by Dan Shilov. Filled with hard-won, personal insights, it is a comprehensive guide to landing a product design role in a startup, agency, or tech company, and covers the entire design interview process from beginning to end, for experienced and aspriring designers. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

Before You Start

It may come as a surprise, but your onboarding starts with your first interview. Treat it as an opportunity to ask questions as if it’s your first day working at the company. Of course, you won’t learn everything here, so be sure to follow up with interviews of your own after you get the offer. When you accept the role, ask your manager if there’s anything you should study ahead of time. Even if there isn’t, this shows initiative on your part to get going fast. You want to be sure to do two things before you dive in:

  • Close the previous chapter. When you’re transitioning to a new role, take the time to rest and reflect. Even a small break will give you enough distance to close out the previous work chapter and savor the future possibilities of your new role. Don’t make the mistake of jumping right in without proper recovery—you won’t be able to start off as strong, and you may even burn out in the long run.

  • Create your learning plan. After a period of rest, plan what you need to learn and accomplish by the end of day one, week one, month one and so on. Adjust your plan as you gain new knowledge, of course, but planning now will help you keep your career priorities in mind, especially when you hit the inevitable snags. Even if there are none, this shows initiative on your part to hit the ground running.

Phase 1: Be a Sponge

During this phase, you’ll be in full-on learning mode. It might be tempting to start fixing things right away, but knowing the context, the system, and its people will help you push for change effectively later.

Key objectives for this phase include:

  1. Gather context.

  2. You’re reading a preview of an online book. Buy it now for lifetime access to expert knowledge, including future updates.
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