Fellowship Experience: Muskan Jain

We caught up with Muskan Jain to find out more about her latest exploits in the world of design, her current job role at Havells and about her experience with the Product Design Fellowship.

Muskan graduated from one of the most prestigious design institutes in India - the National Institute of Design. She is also a Fellow of the 4th Cohort of the Product Design Fellowship. Muskan has been a Visual Designer for over three years at Havell’s Ltd. Her sketchnotes on the sessions she attends at ownpath are a pleasure to observe!

Muskan came to ownpath when she found herself wanting to upskill in her field, and also foray into the UI/UX space.

This is her story.

“I was always a design aspirant since school. I knew then I wanted to get into design. I did some coaching and sat for a few entrance exams. Fortunately, I got through NID. That was my first introduction to the design space in India. There I met great professors, attended workshops, conferences and happened on a huge design community, which later turned into a solid support system.

One of my biggest learnings as a designer was that there are no exams: It’s very important for a designer to have observation skills. A true designer observes the world, and how people are. All the products we work on require a good observational power.

I’m from a science background so there was slight hesitation about the field of design. But then I was introduced to the community and there was no turning back! The design community is very open and encouraging, always ready to help, and I eventually found my way through. I graduated from college in 2018, after which I worked for a publishing house called Katha, where I got introduced to UI/UX while working on a reading app for children. My main area of work had always been graphic design & visual communication. Then I joined Havells (my current place of work) as a designer. I mainly do the iconography for their products & apps.

After a long time at Havells’, I realized I wanted to concentrate on upskilling. I also wanted to make a transition from visual design to UI/UX. That’s when I came across ownpath. The workshops and masterclasses in the Fellowship have helped me really build that confidence to design and explore this field. When I left my design community back in NID, I was a little downcast, but the Fellowship gave me the support I needed to get back into the design community.

It also helped me learn continuously. Even now, whenever I go back to the program, I keep reading the resources available. They have helped me immensely in addressing many challenges and gaps. Of course I’ve also met some great designers who were my mentors, others who were in the Fellowship with me. I became friends with Aishwarya, and am working on a project with Tony. The Fellowship became my vista to learning like I’d never known before.

The conventional Indian education system encourages an environment of rote-learning, but here we had to get our hands dirty. We had to learn, make mistakes and change our approaches with each iteration. Even at NID, I was able to learn a lot from my peers, and the ability to learn from those working with you is essential to a designer. There are a lot of similarities between the two programs - we were encouraged to analyse our work, never told that this was the right way to do something, and focussed on strengthening fundamentals.

When I was considering the Product Design Fellowship, I was very hesitant. Because I wanted to switch to UI/UX from visual design, I lacked the confidence of having a background. But the team here was incredibly helpful - they were patient with all my queries, and they were just so supportive. Pursuing further education while holding a full-time job comes with its own challenges, but the team did everything they could to ensure a smooth experience. I never felt any pressure in any of the classes, could always approach the mentors for feedback and I could do it in a way suited the best for me. It’s been a wonderful experience.

Interesting story about my sketchnoting - So I wanted to interact more with mentors during my sessions, and I lacked the confidence. They were very friendly, but sometimes, you just have difficulty in shedding that awkwardness. And you should know that my favourite part about being a designer is definitely doodling.

So I started doodling about my sessions at ownpath. I did Arnab’s Visual Design, Koel’s Design Research and Akshay’s Interaction Design sessions and then I just kept going. I think I have a doodle from almost every single session/workshop I attended. Great way to combine a little fun and intense study at the same time!”

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