Hamza is a UX Designer at Capital One who is currently working on Acquisition and Welcome Experiences. He has been assigned to me as my ‘buddy’ as I have recently accepted a position at Capital One. This was our first time meeting and I was able to ask him questions about his past, present, future and everything in between.
Can you tell me about your past in terms of what led you to become a UX Designer?
My background has directly influenced who I am as a designer. I immigrated to the US from Pakistan as a kid and grew up in New Jersey. Having been raised in a cultural melting pot, I see design as something that brings communities together. I started my design career in architecture and when I found out about UX design I slowly transitioned into the field. I was able to obtain my Bachelors in Architecture and Human Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
What made you want to work for Capital One?
During my last year of undergrad I started applying for several jobs. To be honest, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to work or what exactly I wanted to do in the field of UX but I knew that I wanted to work for a company that valued its employees and that provided a great work life balance. After applying to the Design Development Program at Capital One, networking with current designers there and interviewing, it hit me that Capital One was where I would be able to check all of my required checkboxes. I saw Capital One as a bank/finance institution but actually, it’s that and more. Capital One is also considered a Tech company.
What does your day-to-day at Capital One look like?
No day is ever the same. For the most part however, aside from working on your projects, there are a couple of meetings during the day to check in with your team. Capital One is really good at letting you plan your day as it best fits your needs. There is no one micromanaging you but leadership will expect you to get your work done. One of the best things about Capital One is that they want you to network, they want you to ask questions, they want to see you succeed. You never feel like you can’t ask questions because of fear of looking a certain way. Also, if you have some downtime, you are encouraged to reach out to other designers to grab coffee and get to know the Capital One family at large.
What are some of your biggest challenges as a UX Designer?
I focused a lot on Visual and Interaction Design, so those things come easier to me. The research part is what has been my biggest challenge I would say and solely because of the fact that I focused more on the visual aspect of UX design. I think that when you see something that you find challenging, you should definitely jump on the chance to work on projects that will put you in an uncomfortable position, as this is how you grow. Although you are assigned to a team at Capital One, if you see another team working on a project that really interests you or that you want to try, you can always ask leadership if you can participate in some way in that project. This really helps you become a well rounded designer.
How do you measure success in your work/projects?
I think this is both subjective and objective. Subjective because we have personal goals in terms of success. So if I am trying out something completely new and I am able to learn it and put it into practice, I find that successful. However, Capital One is also expecting you to deliver on your projects to a certain standard and that also contributes to measuring success. Success isn’t linear, especially in UX design, there’s so many ups and downs but it’s all part of the process and expected.
How do you collaborate within you team and with other teams?
Collaboration is the essence to UX design. You really have to be able to communicate your ideas and also listen to others. We have daily meetings to check in and ask for help/advice. By keeping everyone in the loop, collaboration comes easily.
How do you strengthen not only your UX skills but your leadership skills as well?
In terms of my UX skills, I feel like I get better daily by doing my work, speaking and learning from others, and researching/staying up to date with the latest news in UX design. Capital One pushes you to be the best designer you can be by putting you to work on projects that may be out of your comfort zone and by providing workshops and other activities to help you grow. This is also where leadership growth comes into play. Capital One will put you in positions where you have to lead a team or a project even if there are other more senior designers on the team. This is to help you grow and shape you into a better designer.
What is some advice you can give to (myself) incoming designers not only at Capital One but to the UX industry as a whole?
I say don’t stress the little things. No one expects you to know everything and you will learn so much on the job. Come prepared, know your tools but don’t come in with the expectation that you have to be a master at everything. Bring a good attitude, be excited to learn and participate, and just enjoy the work you are doing.