Youโ€™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.

Envisioning Different Futures

When we think of career paths we might think of a linear, incremental line steadily progressing as weโ€™re improving a little bit every day. But oftentimes progress is not linear. Sometimes you hit a plateau and stagnate, other times you break through and grow fast. Imagine how your design career and your life can unfold in the next five years. You can look at this from a couple of perspectives.

Here are a few futures to experiment with:

  1. What would your future look like given the current trajectory and if you stayed in the role that youโ€™re currently in over the next few years?

  2. What if you specialized in a specific domain, for example healthcare or e-commerce design, over the next few years? What would your path look like?

  3. Imagine everything you wanted to do in design came true. What would a day in the life look like in your wildest dreams? What would you need to make happen to get there?

In addition to these questions, add your own criteria as well. Map each scenario out over each year. How does your current trajectory look in year one, what happens in year two, and so on?

These thought exercises are useful, and as youโ€™re going through the criteria and thinking about trade-offs, it also helps to do some research to start exploring companies and roles. This will help you understand whatโ€™s out there and how these opportunities could translate into your own career vision. Feel free to experiment and try out multiple scenarios to see how they fit and feel.

Additional Resources

If you want to learn more about applying design thinking to your life, take a look at Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. If youโ€™re interested more in futures thinking, check out What the Foresight, by Alida Draudt and Julia Rose West. We commonly think about the future on a linear scale, where things improve gradually over time. This book challenges this notion by introducing multiple futures.

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