Jeff Shin is a lead designer on the community team at 500px in Toronto. After his first year of University he made the decision to drop out of school and pursue a career in design. After three years being out and working in the “real world”, Jeff shares what he learned from taking that path, the main challenges he faces in his work today and his role at 500px. Talking to Jeff he has this confidence about him that is rare, especially amongst young professionals. He has great points to share about sticking with your decisions and learning how to handle discomfort.
Tell me about what your current role is and the work you’re doing?
Sure. I'm the lead designer of community at 500px. The community team at 500px builds consumer products that millions of people use. The photographers, the photo lovers, the curators, and the people that just like looking at photos.
We oversee the main website, the iOS and Android apps. We also get to work on some smaller projects like an app for Roku or for Android Wear. I'm the lead designer on this team, which is made up of three people.
What does your role look like within that specifically?
I try to do a lot of designing, but it's definitely a lot less than it used to be. It's now a lot more of helping the other two designers and making sure that they are given the right priorities and product direction from the product managers and the executive staff.
Though I do still design quite often. In startups, given the resource constraints, you have to be a generalist. So I wear a lot of hats within product design, like defining a product, wireframing, mocking it up, prototyping, to even writing a lot of production code. All of our designers are great at being generalists, so we all help out where needed.