What is your current professional role and how did you get here?

I’m a Design Advocate at Google, I help other designers create human-centered experiences on Google’s platform. Prior to Google, I led user experience design efforts to build cross-platform products for start-ups and non-profits. I also hosted Material Podcast, a show all about Google and Android on Relay FM. Being a Design Advocate requires as passion for helping people, a background in design, and being comfortable speaking in front of people. This role helps me blend my passion for design and storytelling.

 

So, how did I get here? On a whim, I took my first computer class in college, a course that taught me how to design and develop interactive apps and yes, even websites in Flash. My professor saw something in me, and encouraged me to pursue a career in tech. I started off doing web design and development, and that led to focusing on UX design and product management. It’s been a whirlwind. If you’re interested, you can hear more about my journey to Google and helpful tips for developers wanting to learn how to design.

What was the first app you worked on and what did it do?

One of the first apps I created on was Firesides, a community-ran live-interview app. Every two weeks we had a new guest, and the community could ask them anything about their career or life in general. It was a fun side project, I led the product and design efforts, and worked closely with the developer.

What went well? What could have gone better?

With each new chat, we would gather the feedback we received from the community to make it better. Hearing the pain points they had and suggestions for new features, then implementing changes based on that feedback was incredibly rewarding. That was my favorite part about it, being able to improve the experience with each new chat.

At App Camp, we emphasize that it’s important to have interests outside of tech and to take breaks from looking at screens. What are some of your interests outside of tech? What do you do when you need to take a break from work?

While I do enjoy playing a game of Splatoon with my daughter, we also enjoy riding our bikes together. We enjoy anything that gets our family out and exploring.

Why do you volunteer with App Camp?

Until my professor encouraged me to pursue design and development as a degree, I didn’t know a career in tech was possible. I think it’s important for people to see people that look like them in various roles, so they can know it’s possible. That’s why I volunteer at App Camp, I want Latinas to know they belong here, they deserve to be here just like anyone else.

What do you recommend to those who want to support more diversity in tech?

Listen to underrepresented minorities, amplify their voices. Hear their concerns and create environments where they feel welcomed and comfortable being themselves.

How can technology be a force for good?

Technology can be used to give people life-saving information. It can lead them to the nearest source of clean water, give them access to digital medical assistance when no physical medics are nearby. And in times of crisis, technology can be used to let your friends and family know you are safe. The possibilities for helping people are endless, find a problem that you’d like to change, start sketching some ideas and go out and build them.

Help more girls learn software development. Contribute to the App Camp For Girls Indiegogo fundraiser, get a cool perk, and enjoy the feeling of having helped the next generation of software developers.

Justin Miller, Software Developer
Shayla Sawchenko, Mobile App Developer