Collaborative, User-Focused Teams Building Human Experiences

After leaving Athos, where I led Design for almost four years, I was craving some time for solo-traveling, writing and catching up with friends and family. Upon my return and after advising startups across different spaces, I set my heart on Handshake and their amazing team. I wasn’t planning on committing to any startup, but I connected deeply with their core mission of democratizing access to opportunity for all students.

There are more students going to college every year even though it’s getting harder to find a meaningful job upon graduation. This long-observed trend, coupled with the rising cost of a college education, has been negatively impacting the spirit of an entire generation. This is not only a challenge in the US, but around the world and in France, where I’m from.

Technology has taken over so many aspects of our lives. How can we use it to help people in one of the most stressful, emotional and transformational times in life: transitioning from college to career?

I believe that Design is crucial in transforming this rite of passage for millions of students. As designers at Handshake, we strive to make the daunting process of finding your first real job more human and helpful, more transparent and open, thus enabling more opportunities. Design has already made a huge impact - it is now easier to use Handshake and easier and more effective for students to stand out to potential employers. Our work significantly improves how 8 million students and young alumni from 400+ colleges can discover, research, and get hired for opportunities that may have seemed out of reach for outdated reasons (GPA, school, or major).

How do we do this? Since joining Handshake, I’ve set up systems to make it easier for designers to contribute on a deeper level than in most organizations. Designers get involved early in the product development cycle and brainstorm with PMs and engineers. We also work collaboratively between designers, constantly sharing feedback and challenging ourselves. This collaborative process ensures our work is not tied solely to a feature or iteration, but is part of developing a more coherent experience across all of our products.

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With the fast growth and intense time pressure inside startups, it’s common for designers to focus only on the next feature or iteration. Yet, the best design experiences are built with a larger focus. As a result, in some startups, designers don’t feel like they can fully express themselves and create a world-class experience. One of my top priorities at Handshake has been to create an organization where designers can become real leaders in shaping our product and set their talent on a long-term design vision.

For the next few months, we’re continuing to work on a major Design overhaul, including building a robust Design System Language for the overall brand and each side of our business - students, employers and career centers. As we embark on defining the future of Handshake’s design identity, we will share with you this journey from our challenges, musings, and happy moments.

Be patient with us, and send me your thoughts and feedback if you’re a user. If you’re curious, check us out at joinhandshake.com and stay tuned for this upcoming series :).

~ ~ ~ Want to be part of the Design family? We’re hiring. Message me!