#05 - Anthony Conta - Career Changer: From Bootcamp Grad to Senior Product Designer at Amazon Music

Aug 26, 2022Dianne Eberhardt

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify,  Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

In this episode of Pixelated Perfect, Anthony chats with us about his early beginnings as a Board Game founder to his time at Nickelodeon, Food Network, and Vimeo quickly climbing the ranks as an award-winning product designer and mentor.
Episode #05 of Pixelated Perfect will introduce us to Anthony Conta and his coined term “career tapas” as he tries different design experiences to learn and grow his skillset.




Dianne: Welcome to the Pixelated Perfect Podcast. Hey Anthony, thanks so much for joining us. So I am really excited to have you on board and for everyone listening: this is the Pixelated Perfect Podcast where we are diving deep in learning, more about designers career paths, what they did, how they get started and how they are currently in the product design UI UX design world. So, super excited to have them on board. Thank you so much Anthony.

Anthony: Yeah, thrilled to be here. Thanks for having me

Dianne: Of course. So what I want to do is I would love to kind of get an overview of how you got started in design, all the way up to, what are you doing now? And for everyone to know, I know you just mentioned, Anthony's. You recently got a job at Amazon music.

Anthony: Yes! Week one

Dianne: Week one. Congratulations. That's amazing. So I'm super excited to hear how you started and how you gotten to this awesome huge company doing really amazing things in the design World.

Anthony: Sure. Yeah, I'll give you like the super high level since like college graduation because it's a little important. So I graduated with a master's in like Financial economics and math. That's what I thought I wanted to do with my life for, you know, like will give me the most opportunity. So I went to a law firm to help from like an antitrust perspective and come up with various like documents that would explain these various markets and wasn't a fan of doing. It went to a financial Place, wasn't a fan of doing it there either. And when that ended, I was like, what am I going to do? And I've always wanted to make games. I've always wanted to design this thing, so I told myself. All right, I'm just gonna do that. So I ended up making games through my own company. I founded my own company. I made a board game company and that's where I really got started in design because, you know, it's a great experience for someone. And I did a lot of what you do for design thinking process and including like a ton of usability testing to make sure that game was fun and I ended up starting my own company and doing that. So I was like the start and then from there I just translated that into other opportunities. While I was doing that I was also tutoring which gave me a lot of the like soft skills that I needed to be able to continue to navigate the workplace. And then from there I was actually tutoring like three year, olds how to play chess. Which was like a really weird job but I would go to these people's homes and I would tell these stories about how, you know, like the king would move around the board. You know, he's like really hungry King and he wants to like eat all this food and then he moves one step at a time and there's other things like really scared. He moves one step at a time so these stories helped as well built a different design skill: storytelling more on that later. Probably but from there I got a job in Nickelodeon's where I was working on interactive video and I was really like the foray into digital design and from there, I went to General Assembly, so did their boot camp program, bounced around between different jobs, at an agency at Kaplan, which is an education company at Food Network, Vimeo, which is a video company. And now, finally, here.

Dianne: Wow. Okay that was amazing a lot in there. We like what super quickly. So I'm really excited to kind of dive deeper into all of that. So you have a lot of really big names that you worked with which is super, super interesting. And I definitely want to know like what it was that. Well actually, I'll just maybe talk about what was it about these big names? Like how did you I guess the first one that you talked about and then I want to go backwards because I want to talk about some of the early stuff, but Nickelodeon was like that first name. So what was that? Like, Howard's, did you make the jump from being having your own company to working at Nickelodeon? And what did you do there?

Anthony: Yeah. So it was a kind of a wild job. They hired me to do interactive video so think like Blue's Clues. But instead of a TV, you know, we have these touch devices, they became more and more popular at the time with children because they get the hand-me-downs. And the challenge was, how do you like make Blue's Clues An interactive thing instead of just like looking at the the TV and shouting at it. So it was it was a call-and-response medium which is very good for interactive. So I got that job. I applied on a whim. I think my background in games really help there because they wanted to bring in games background in children's, you know, experiences because I was teaching and tutoring with children helped a lot. And I did a good design test.

Dianne: I feel like interactive games and the metaverse and, like, everything they're doing now is just really taking off. So, it sounds like you were kind of like in the early frontier.

Anthony: Absolutely. Yeah, it's anything like Netflix has all their interactive specials around video, bandersnatch being maybe one of, the more popular ones of those? Yes, yeah. So yeah. Got in a little bit before that.

Dianne: Let's take a step back. I want to talk about what was it that convinced you to go from working and law, getting a finance degree going from there to jumping into design? You basically how you phrased. It was like, oh you know, you wanted to get out of that. You realize that wasn't it. You really liked games. So let's talk a bit more about that.

Anthony: Sure. So like even going into college like I wanted to make games like there's something I really to do a very, you know, a smaller subset of design, digital design. But I always thought to do that, you need to be a programmer. You need to like know like coding and at the time, like, maybe I did, maybe I didn't. And I just went through the rest of college saying, like, Okay, I can't do this. I don't really like the skill, I don't like to code, I still don't and I gave up on that. But then, a friend of mine years later when I was making my transition, he said, I'm just gonna make a game and I'm like, what do you mean he's like, I'm gonna make it. I'm gonna make a board game. All right, I guess I'll make one too and this is the time when Kickstarter is getting very popular. So I use that to crowdfund income for the business and yeah, it worked out. What was the game against called funemployed? It's a game about applying for jobs. So, yeah, you have to, you have to apply to jobs using, like, a bunch of different cards and like tell a story. So they can improv type of game where you have to, like, convince someone, why you'd be good for a job. But, What you have to convince them with is like things you'd never say in an actual interview so it ends up being very satirical, you know, sometimes a little dark but usually just a fun time.

Dianne: That's really cool. That's super cool. And you talked a lot about like usability testing there. So that was like, maybe one of the first times you were doing more like maybe product. Design skill set. So user testing. What did that look like for a board game?

Anthony: Um, design comes down to like finding the fun and what that's like. So that's bringing a lot of people into that process and seeing what they find fun. So that's what I did for my game as a party game. So I threw parties. And at those parties, I would have copies of the game and watch people play them at the end of it, and I'd be watching throughout all this. So maybe a little bit more, like, contextual inquiry or like you're just like observing while someone's doing something, not necessarily like interrupting their flow as they're going through that. So it's not like a task that you'd give them to accomplish, but rather just like putting something in front of them and just like walking away. And seeing, you know how interact and the very end, I'd ask them to reflect on their experiences. So I'd ask like, what you find fun, which find not fun. Sometimes I'd run surveys for the cards and yeah, you know, the things that you would do in traditional digital product design, just applied to a physical experience.

Dianne: Yes, that's very interesting and design thinking you talked about, you mentioned, which comes into play there, and I'm using design thinking what I like about what you saying it in this context is like design thinking is used in so many different, like, even though it has the word design in it, like, there's so many different companies or so many different scenarios. And so you're using design, thinking to build a game, which is is very fascinating. And I think interesting for our listeners, that are maybe more on the founder side of things, like understanding that design, thinking, can really shift ways of thinking and making it more fun. And I don't know, maybe talking, maybe you can talk a little bit about design thinking and how you feel about design thinking,

Anthony: I think it's, you know, being at the core of just thinking about like who you're making something for it. So I feel that when I'm making my designs are my products or whatever I'm working on. It's like, you know, I have my own desires. Like, what I want to see within that, but it's really for someone else to consume. So, that's kind of what you're of me for, at least my game development, thinking about how someone else would use it. And taking yourself out of that, there are things that I preferred to do with the game in playing the game. But other people use to completely differently. And designing for those people and keeping like other use cases, in mind, I'd say is probably the most important high-level thing there.

Dianne: Yeah, that's great. And then before we switch gears and talk more about some of these other companies, how was it kind of starting your own company found in your own company? Raising a Kickstarter. What was that like for you?

Anthony: Yeah, I do. Wear a lot of hats. Yeah, that's probably obvious. But the way that I structured it, I was working on what I knew I wanted to do and work. I knew I didn't want to do so I relied on strategic Partnerships to facilitate that like I don't like marketing that's just not something I want to do and something that's very important to do and finding the right Partners to do that. For me has really helped with that.

Dianne: Yeah that's I mean I feel that. So as a founder of the Design Project like I think that there's many things that I am good at and there's many things, I'm not good at and I like to leverage other people and other teammates who are better. And I think that's like a great skill. Even in the design world. Like, I think there's this product design UI, ux Some People Gear are more geared towards. You have some were more geared towards you. I am combining forces and working together, that's where you get a great product. And so like knowing your strengths and knowing where you want to grow and knowing where you want to collaborate is super powerful.

Anthony: Yeah. Building a building, a product team sport, you know, straight up. That's just what it is

Dianne: Okay, so from there. How did you what was that point of view? Deciding. Hey, I have built this game, love it. Now I'm ready to try something else and get a job.

Anthony: So for me, you know, it was fun to build the game and I built a couple others as well, but it wasn't sustainable enough for it to hit, like the life goals that I wanted. So I knew I had to like explore other things. So I ended up churring Beals to publish those games with other Publishers and you know, kind of let those things live their own lives while pursuing my career.

Dianne: So those games where can we find those games could be combined in one? Yeah like Amazon or...

Anthony: It should. So the big one funemployed is still available on Amazon the should be some copies floating out there still for that. For some of its different print editions. We had several Publishers, the other one is called emergence Genesis and that one's a lot harder. Find those any listeners are curious. You could contact me. I have a case of, like, 50 of them over there, something like that. But yeah, that one's a lot harder much, maybe a little bit, crunchier of an experience for someone who really likes board games.

Dianne: Okay? So like the Deep, the big, the big board game lovers and worth it.

Anthony: Yeah, more strategic stuff going in there than, like a party game that might be similar to Like Apples to Apples, or something like that.

Dianne: So when you sold this, are you, how does that? How did you structure that? Are you getting like a royalty fee or premiums are going too deep into it

Anthony: General board game deals or like a royalty basis or like, you sell an idea as an inventor. So if you're an inventor, you go to a company and say, hey you want to buy this idea, you have complete rights to it. You can do whatever you want with it. You pay like a lump sum or some percentage there of sales after the fact, or if you can like license a board game to or an idea to a company and then you get royalties.

Dianne: I think as a designer sometimes like design takes over our lives and some of the conversations I've had with other designers on this podcast is like that work-life balance and doing designer doing our creative something for yourself. And so that kind of reminded me of oh like you love board games you were like I'm going to create a board game and you also were making Revenue off of it or you still are percentage or something small. So it's like you can turn Hobbies into different revenue streams. Also just doing something that is really fun. That's maybe outside of your typical 9 to 5 design job. Yeah, I think I think being driven by aren't real City and like exploring different things is like really good and healthy and fun and fulfilling if you have the ability to do that and you should, you know, I like to think that I have like career Tapas, you know, like I love Tapas and it's just like a little bit everything and I kind of have that in my career. So, wierd office.

Dianne: So have you created any game sensor? Is that is that like a passion project? Do you plan on continuing board? Yeah, you know.

Anthony: I`m dabbling. I've made some other this sort of the big ones. I've made some other ones. My current efforts are much more eccentric and product design. So I'm working a lot more on, you know, my career at Amazon. Now, some some teaching that I do on the side, I do a lot of mentoring. I'm writing a book, so I'd like a lot of other stuff that is on my plate.

Anthony: Lee in addition to just life stuff. So no games. Currently in development though, thinking of a couple ideas.

Dianne: So you got a job in a Nickelodeon. We talked a little bit about that interactive video super interesting kind of at the Forefront and then you kind of bounced around to a couple of other companies. So what was that Journey? Like I really like General Assembly. I think there was yeah there's food network..

Anthony: Yes, it's still in the Nickelodeon era, you know, we're getting into ux, we understand a lot more about it. We're getting into digital but I'm not necessarily working in figma or sketch or, you know, Envision or any of the tools that you would use to do in the trenches design work. This is much more akin to maybe a digital creative rather than, like, in a tool specifically. So, once my time a Nickelodeon ended, I was contract work when that was over. I was like, what am I doing next? You know, like where am I going? And I had no idea. And I had all these different skill sets, all these different ideas, maybe I was a producer, maybe, as a program manager, maybe as a product manager, I don't know. So I went to General Assembly to help understand that for myself and I fell in love with user experience. Proper and just did that program and over the course of those. I think it's 12 weeks. Maybe 16 I forget the exact amount, but some a long amount of studying intensively every day, like 9 to 9 sometimes, 9 and 12. It was, it was, it gave me those skill sets that I would need to try to get a job, not just the hard skills, but the soft skills as well. A lot of work was like my career coach for example. So that led me to my first job in the industry. Proper if we're talking about like being inside the tool which was at an agency, that was Short-lived, three months and then I made myself to Kaplan and then from there, the rest.

Dianne: Product design. UI UX design is very trendy right now. There are ton of boot camps out there. I've interviewed, so many designers that came out of boot camps and I would love to hear more of your extensions. Like you had a great experience at sounds like it really like helped. You understand what you want to do? What would you say to some of those designers that are thinking about bootcamp currently and bootcamp about to graduate boot camp? Like how can they get to that next level and get that first job?

Anthony: So, if you're thinking about a boot camp, you should do it. I mean every situations different. But it's like, I will say it has changed my life and it's amazing. Great career, you should switch if you're thinking about it, if you're in or graduating, what I've noticed in the market and it's unfortunate is that there's and this is true for a lot of jobs, but it feels very true for this field. Is that you need to have experience to get experience. So, what I mean by that is like you know, entry-level jobs, require two years of experience. It it's really annoying, especially as a good Campground. I went through that as well. I think I applied to over 300 jobs in the three-month span and I traveled to Philadelphia and New York. New Jersey thought about some remote ones as well as all over Baltimore to try to find my first job. This is before remote was like really popular. It was there but not nearly as much, especially for a discipline. That's like collaborative and person. But yeah, it's it's so my Approach was go wide and, you know, find something because I knew that once I was in I was in when I was in I could navigate a field a lot more fluidly. I'd understand. It bore I'd have liked the ability to tell stories that helped me move further and faster and I think I've accelerate my career quite a bit once I got in. So I just need to like get past that wall. So my strategy was we buy as many lottery tickets as I could to get past that wall by applying to as many jobs as I could talk to as many people as I could go into many events as I could it was it was a real, there's some real burnout. During that time it was really hard. So what I will say is you're going through now or you're about to go through it, it's hard but if you stick with it and I've seen people fall off it, I've seen people stay through in the people who stayed through it. Their lives are different, they're just better, they are by their standards, not by a standard that I'm imposing on them. They say it's better.

Dianne: I think that's Super Wise. I mean, I really liked what you said, it's like you just need an end, you know, like in my experience. Now, when I'm talking to some of these Junior designers and maybe this is different from you, but I feel like when they go into boot camp, they're like, okay, you are sought after you're going to get a ninety thousand dollar job, straight out of boot camp, you're going to make it. And I think that a lot of them have these assumptions. That aren't real. And like it does take work and you do have to have that experience. You do just need to get something, you need to get it. And you need to not be too picky and you need to, like, like you said, like Lottery, like just get in and then you can shape. And I think that's really, really great advice for people going through boot camps graduating boot camps. I don't know if you have any thoughts on that,

Anthony: I think that's right. And I think one thing I will say about bootcamps specifically, is that, you know, University students, go through this too. They need their first looks like anyone else and they have the portfolio in the training. Sure. But you get that through the boot camp as well. And one thing that I found for people who are later stage or transitioning, you know, you've had a couple years under your belt at some job is that you accumulate all these other skills that you don't even think or skills. You know like you you just get all of these abilities to like write an email and have a conversation and be present and navigate these situations that once you're in you can accelerate your career significantly. So the people that I've seen really move a lot further. Once they make it into the industry, are those ones who are maybe in their 30s or maybe who have a lot of these like extra skills that they Discounters, don't think matter, they matter quite a lot. So if you're if you feel like you're like late to the game, you know, don't necessarily feel that way.

Dianne: Yes, I love that. And you talked about soft skills to you. So, that was something that you learned at boot camp. But I do think those soft skills in those skills that you learn early on. I think so. My degree was in graphic design. I graduated and got a job in traditional graphic design. Before product design was the thing. And I remember my first job and I was like, what? I feel like I was so unprepared from school. I went to, I was like, I do not know how to be in a business setting like it totally like threw me around, but it's like being patient and realizing that you don't know and learning. And so, I really like how you said that.

Anthony: yeah, like one of the best designers in my program, like a bartender, you know, like, But as a bartender, you talk to people a lot turns out as a designer you designed for people a lot. As a result, you can do a lot of good work there because you have a good understanding of how to have a conversation with someone.

Dianne: So important because design is not just the hard skills working in figma. There's so many other things you need to be doing in collaboratively with for sure. So, okay, so you got your first job and then you kind of work your way up, talk a little bit about what that looks like for you.

Anthony: Yes. So, my first job was very hard. I was not at all aware of what I was doing. Learning the visual skills was my biggest challenge, you know, I come from like a writing background, it's a law firm for example. So, I felt that I was able to do those types of things explained arguments, analyze problems like knowing the patterns of like, when do you use this type of button? What is this type of Icon called? I have no idea, you know, and trying to navigate those tools. So that was a huge challenge for me. And I did not think I was able to do it. To the extent that I thought. Maybe, I want to be a product manager. Maybe only UX researcher. So. So, the first job was rough. The second job was interesting in that. I was like documentation like, an expert when I got hired. So it was like, I was in the design department, but I was doing documentation for design. So maybe like, you think it's like a program manager or something like that. But after a couple of weeks, A co-worker left and an opening for doing more design, work opened up and I was like, okay, let me do that. And my managers like, sure I need to hire anyone. This is perfect. So we have a design system. I was very on Rails. So I learned a lot of how to like navigate the tool and navigate these conversations with developers and other designers and product managers. So the transition happens like, pretty organically. Once I got into an organization doing something adjacent to design in that organization and fortunately, like, they kept growing me through that way until I made it to my next role. So, I would say, like, the first one was like Junior / entry level The second one was like mid-level and then by the time I made it to Food Network, I got to senior level.

Dianne: Would you say that kind of jumping jobs was a great way to to continue to make that jump? Or do you think that it would have happened if you had stayed at the same job?

Anthony: Oh, would not have happened if I stayed at those jobs, okay? But that's more of like an individual departmental problem rather than you know the idea of staying at a job, I'm torn on this. So on the one hand, getting a new job is great way to increase your salary in your and your position. On the other hand, should you really be jumping around so much? I've jumped five times since I guess four times technique, I've had five different jobs since I graduated general assembly years ago almost to the day actually. Yeah as wild. So should you do that? It's up to you. You know, like II didn't really search out those jobs like after the second one they kind of found me. So I made the change because they offered something better. Should you do that? You know, it's up to you and you're on mileage. I think I'll offer an industry statistic to Industry statistics. So the first one is and this is as of 20 21 the average Tech employee stays in their job. What do you think average is?

Dianne: Oh, good question... 2 years.

Anthony: Two years. Okay? 15 months,

Dianne: 15 months?!

Anthony: Yeah, that's average. That is the average amount, someone spends at a tech company and you know like maybe we're pulling in all disciplines here, so is the sales? Is it? You know, engineering like how much is that? Okay, so we'll go to 2019, this is a number from Envision. What do you think? The average is for design?

Dianne: It's last for sure. I would say like nine months.

Anthony: It's a year. Yeah, it's a year. Okay. So should you change jobs often? Well, the industry average is a year. Yes. So I don't think you have to I think I've seen a lot of people Advance quite quickly at certain organizations but it's also up to you in your career. So know that there's like because of these Trends there's a lot of fluidity in the market. You know, I'd say it's like the three to six months. Mark before the recruiter start reaching out for someone who just joined.

Dianne: So what would you say to a designer that is looking to kind of up their career and continue to make that growth? Like what do you think is that ideal stage where they feel like they're ready from maybe Junior to MIT? Like, what does that look like? How does the designer know like okay, I'm ready to be a mid-level designer or what does that look like for Mid to senior?

Anthony: Yes, so from Junior and made you're probably pretty comfortable at least in the tool and like with your team. So I'd say if you're a junior like yeah, I got my God, what's happening? And then as a mid-level like, you're like, okay, yeah, this is what's happening and I can handle that and I think like you've had a, you can solve the problems in your individual space. I've heard that as people get more senior in one term, I like to use it as a force multiplier. So what I mean by that is like, yeah, at the junior mid-level. You start solving your own problems and like your team's problems. As you go up you start to like extend your sphere of influence so that you're now able to help other people solve their problems and others, so let's say you're working on a music service and you've got two types of content like songs and podcasts. Like, if you're a designer for songs, your Junior mid-level, maybe you're fully owning that stuff, you know? Like as a junior, you're learning how to in a mid-level you on and when you get to a senior, you're owning that and then also helping out on the podcast site. So now you're able to help those designers in those teams and you start operating at scale. So that's what I think and that's like the mentoring that's like setting up libraries so that other people can use them. That's like, coming up with design principles that apply to other situations outside of yourself or documentation or processes. That's how I've seen seniors in the lead level or principal level talent grow.

Dianne: That's a great way of breaking it down. I think it's a great way of breaking down, and especially in more, like, a corporate setting is like, when you reach that point where you can, where you feel comfortable for Med, and when you feel ready to kind of document and Mentor as a senior and take on more responsibilities and just be like, you're capable of doing that. I think it's a great way of phrasing it. And I think that is really helpful for people that are like, am I ready? Or what does that look like? Should I apply to this senior-level job? If I'm a mid-level right now?

Anthony: Yeah, you should always apply like for replying to things. Like if you apply to a job you're 100% qualified for then. Where's your growth in that job? You know, you're just gonna leave or there's no way for you to like improve yourself. You should apply to a job if you think your 0% qualified and it's up to them to determine if you're qualified. That's the process. So if you don't feel like you're ready, you should still apply. And to, like, do a pulse check, if you are like a, my mid, I don't know if I am or not, you should ask like the people who know, you know, your co-workers but also your, your family or friends. And just say, like, where would you put me or like, how do you see or like, where do you say? I can grow. It's a great way to get a pulse outside of yourself.

Dianne: Yeah, that's that's a great tip. I want to talk about mentorship. I know that is something that you've done quite a bit and you feel passionate about, tell us a little bit about how you got into mentorship.

Anthony: Yeah, totally. So it started with honestly, probably like the teaching and tutoring. So, I'd been a teacher and tutor for years before doing design, sat a CT chest. So, a lot of that came, pretty naturally to me, but for design specifically, I saw an opportunity years ago with the interaction design foundation. They were saying, hey, you know, do you want to be a mentor and mentorship wasn't as prevalent? This is like pre-covid. So I said, yes, and I started mentoring someone and then covid. Hit a service that became really popular out of that called ATP. So, ATP list, I think it's an answer, awesome design, people thousands of mentors on the service, and if you're listening, you should check them out and the idea of to, you know, these are good resources. And I mentioned any pills because it's very self-serve. So you can find people on Spotify. On Google Facebook wherever and talk to them. You can talk to hiring managers. You can talk to people who are in the same spot as you just left that spot, it's all volunteer based, and I would recommend checking out that list. So, I'm entered there a lot. I joined Design Lab to Mentor with them, which is a bootcamp Mentor GA for a little bit. So a lot of different places where on a volunteer basis people are, you know, willing to offer their time and help. So I think it's like my version of giving back. I know the struggle is really hard to get to the industry and to navigate once you're there. So yeah, I think that's what kind of drew me into it.

Dianne: Yeah, I mean you have that experience you can relate. So I think that's a great way to Mentor. What is mentorship look like in these programs? Is it like from a design standpoint? Are you giving like hard skill advice or you like helping them find that job helpand ing them understand how to do interviews?

Anthony: Yeah, it's a blend. So sometimes people be like, hey look at my portfolio so very straightforward if I would like, is this good as a not good and why? Sometimes it'll be like navigational of like, Hey how do I get a job sometimes I look at resumes so like, you know, very tactical straightforward stuff. Sometimes it's like I'm working on a specific design problem. Can you help me that happens? A lot more with the continued engagements. So, the list for the most part has like a lot of like one-offs. But sometimes you can find someone. You like saying, what Design Lab is you stay with someone for months, you're their coach going through. Through the boot camp experience, which is great to have like that type of Coach. So for those experiences we get to all sorts of different topics the homework but also like the career had a navigate that had. I go on interview all sorts.

Dianne: How important do you think it is to have mentorship? Especially as a junior desginer.

Anthony: Its like, cheat code really you have and that's just good for, for anything in life. If you have this person who has years of experience trying to figure it out by themselves, you get to ask them. Well, how do you do this specific thing? And they'd have the answer and then you have the answer and you get to learn from that. So it shortcuts a lot of work so you should do that. Yeah, good to have.

Dianne: Do you have a mentor? Is there someone that you talk to you regularly?

Anthony: I don't have like a specific one. I have like a bunch of different people. I ask advice for that is very like, specialize in certain aspects so I actually still talk to my career coach from the general assembly, for example. So yeah. His name is Bryant. We have a very good relationship and we help each other a lot, which is awesome. So, yeah. All sorts of different people that like specialize in certain areas. I wouldn't say, like, any of them are called mentors to me.

Dianne: It is someone you can go to reach out to you. For advice that you feel comfortable with that,

Anthony: Absolutely similar boat. It's like, yeah, and it's in the same way and in different ways.

Dianne: Okay, so we've kind of gone through. You had these three jobs, you've moved up to senior designer and I think that kind of brings us to about where you are today. So, what was this process, like to get your current new job? Congratulations again. What did that look like for you? Oh man, I

Anthony: have a special history of Amazon. So I was in the process of trying to get a job at Amazon says 2019. Yeah. Over the years. You know, various times different departments reached out. And we finally, you know, we have found an opportunity that made them a sensor for both of us and they have a very thorough process that had a high level, involves like a one-on-one conversation with the recruiter that hiring manager to go through your work. And then you end up with like doing a bunch of cross-functional interviews where a bunch of people asks you questions and it's you know, without saying too much, it's It's like those star type of questions. If you're familiar with that acronym, which is situation task action result where you'd like go through an experience and talk about the situation and then the task, you have to do the action you took in the result that came out of that. And the portfolio presentation is very common as well.

Dianne: So what's the position? Its senior designer?

Anthony: This is a senior product designer on Amazon music. I don't know how much I can say, but what I can say is Amazon, music is constantly evolving and adding new features in order to enhance its product offering and make a really good immersive experience for people listening to the audio, whether that be music or podcasts.

Dianne: Yeah, that's great. And I mean, I think it's really interesting like the investment in podcast. I know you talked about it a couple times but like music. Yes, we've all had Amazon music Spotify, all these platforms and then this like new edition of podcast and how much it's elevated. Some of this is super super fascinating. Yeah. I think that'll be interesting to kind of watch how it evolves.

Anthony: Yeah, I'm curious too.

Dianne: So, what's next for you Anthony? Like where do you see your career going in the next two years? Five years, where do you want to be? What's like, your ultimate goal?

Anthony: Yeah, I I think the next like 12 to 24 months, you know, definitely integrated Amazon maybe. Do some of the extras side hustles that I'm talking about, you know, like keeping up with a mentor and keeping up with a teaching. I teach for a boot camp in Armenia doing the design lab work. Yeah, I could talk about that one, too. It's really interesting to again. Earlier this year, we launched and it is for Armenian Tech professionals is a cross design across engineering. Cross product management sales other disciplines as well. And what they do is they take six professionals, I think they're upping it to nine for the next cohort, they just finished the first chord, they take six people who have some familiarity in these disciplines and one of each and they put them together on a team and that team of the course of four months with various mentors and subject, matter experts, they build a prop and then they launched it on product hunt and they just launched several products. One of them had product of the day, one of them. A two, and one of them had number 6. And these are like real functioning products that some of the teams will continue to build after the fact. So, it's like a very unique boot camp because it like actually build a product during it, but it requires like a little bit of, like, experience beforehand. So that actually like dovetails nicely from like someone took a boot camp and then they went to that. Yeah, yeah. Oh my gosh,

Dianne: That's super interesting. I want to do more research on that because I think that's like what's gonna I thinkyou have those skills and you learn how to like about design and you have a little bit actually building something as really like that Real World Experience. So that's like very interesting.

Anthony: It's called it's called build up boot camp. They just launched the second cohort, Armenian only for now, but I think it's like really interesting to have these like, incubators where it's like, okay, you just finished a boot camp you like experience, but you need to like actually get a bit more experienced, practical experience doing the the work day to day. For like a real client or something like that. So yeah. It's I think it's like a really interesting way to take the industry and I wonder how many services will do it, right?

Dianne: Exactly. Very interesting. Okay, that was a side tangent but going back to like where you see yourself. So you're going to continue to do your side projects. You want to continue to kind of mentor and be a part of these boot camps over the next 12 to 24 months.

Anthony: Yeah, and probably for the first table horizon. I hope in the next year to write and my book. So I'm writing a book for like it's like the roadmap for designers. So like the primary audience is like, Hey, how do I do design? What is this thing both like the, the student level, but also as an educator, how do you teach design? So it's like a dual audience. There were a lot of exercises in this book. And then the secondary guidance being like, maybe a product manager who wants to learn design or anyone really, who wants to like we've in design thinking into their their processes.

Dianne: I think there are so many creative serving designers that are so interested in learning that and need those people. And you talked about writing, is something kind of like your background where you come from. So I think it's like combining some of the history and like, where you started and like being able to implement that, in move it into product design and help teach people.

Anthony: Yeah, it's weird how well the top us have Blended together and just like a smoothie now but we're still delicious. So, you know, it's good.

Dianne: I'm very excited for this book. You have like a date. You're looking to enter. Is it kind of like a side project?

Anthony: I think we're targeting a launch of like September next year. So this is like a hero. So it's like we still have a lot of time. I mean needs to be written but yeah, so hoping to launch that sometime next year

Dianne: Well that is awesome. Definitely keep us updated on that will do the details sure but yeah so thank you so much for joining me and telling us your story. I think there's so many amazing nuggets that we got out of this conversation and just learning how you navigated, like boot camp and where you are today and where you're going and tutoring chess to making board games to mentoring. So it was really fascinating. So thank you so much for your time. And yeah, well, we'll be in touch to keep up with all of these things happening.

Anthony: Sounds good. Thank you for having me.

Dianne Eberhardt

Dianne Eberhardt

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