My Fellowship Journey - Atisha Kudesia

Atisha is a developer turned designer that started her design journey back in 2020.

Since then she’s worked at multiple startups and companies, joining the ownpath Product Design Fellowship as part of the 3rd cohort.

She is currently placed at Jiva as a Product Designer.

Q. Tell us briefly about yourself and your journey so far.

A. Initially, I was in cyber security. After six months, I knew that it was something that was not going to work out for me. Then I got placed as a product analyst through college placements. And that’s when my first introduction with product design took place. Around then, I made the decision to pursue product design. \ \ After a few learning boot camps, I got placed with some early stage startups. Meanwhile, I was also a part of a design booth. That was when I first touched base with product design. Before that, I had a very engineering background and knew how to code, but design was a far-fetched idea for me. I’m a computer science engineer, so I didn’t really know anything about designing.\ \ I found the idea of even tinkering around with designing software very intimidating. After a varied set of roles where I got to work with brands like Sangeetha Mobiles, Ikea & Decathlon, and lead a design team, I reached a stage where I wanted to acquire more skills and be a part of the design community. I wanted to have mentors since I did not have an educational background in design. And that’s when I crossed paths with ownpath! 

Q. So what finally convinced you that this is the program you want to pursue?

A. My journey of discovering ownpath has been unconventional, I would say. I got to know about ownpath through Twitter, back when they were starting their first cohort. I was supposed to be a part of the first cohort. But around that time, I had a lot of reservations and the idea of a Product Design Fellowship was very new to me.

I wasn’t sure how that was going to work out. So, I chose not to go ahead with it due to multiple reasons. But I stayed in touch with a lot of people at ownpath. I had tons of questions regarding the course. It was hard to wrap my head around it, but luckily, the mentors and other Fellows I interacted with at ownpath really helped me make that decision. Finally, in cohort three, I joined the Fellowship.

Q. Looking back, what gave you the confidence to finally join the cohort? 

A. Aside from the success stories (of Fellows from previous cohorts), I combed through the work of the mentors, diving deeply into what they’d previously done. I asked myself if I was interested in being a part of such a community. For me, the mentors were very strong grounds for choosing the Fellowship. 

When I interacted with other Fellows they said that the experience was amazing for one to learn but also that one to be proactive. So, I was extremely sure of my decision, though it wasn’t overnight.

Q. Let’s deep dive into your experience with the cohort - be it classes, or solving assignments or just interacting with mentors. How was it?

A. To be honest, it is unreal how much I’ve learnt as a designer in the past few months. 

The assignments, the community, the designers I interacted with, the mentors - everything has been absolutely phenomenal. I mean, now in retrospect, the reservations I had don’t make much sense. The assignments were really nice. But what was even better is when we were able to get in touch with mentors and they were able to provide us with feedback. I think that is something that makes actual sense.

I also met a lot of other designers. Working as a part of a team really helped me understand how to build on each other’s ideas, rather than working in your own domain. What mostly helped me was the one-on-one sessions I had with the mentors - especially with Arnab. You could just sit and talk about one topic. There was no hurry to just figure it out and get your doubts cleared in a few minutes.

So, I think those particular conversations really helped me grow as a designer in the past few months. Had it not been for ownpath, I do not know who would have actually sat down to hear the problems I was facing.

Q.You’ve joined ownpath through the Placement Track. Can you tell us about how you went about choosing the Placement track and what your experience was as an apprentice at the company you were working for? 

A. The reason why I chose the Placement Track is primarily because around then I was pursuing this Fellowship full-time. And I also wanted to have hands-on experience for whatever I was learning at ownpath.

Luckily for me, I was able to honestly use everything that I have learned during my fellowship as a part of my apprenticeship - which was pretty cool. During the fellowship, I had a chance to do a little user research. And then that’s where all my learnings (at ownpath) made a lot of sense.

Q. Did you like the concept of working alongside the Fellowship? Would you prefer this to being a full-time fellow? 

A. The apprenticeship really helped me out a lot. The connections I developed during that period were really impactful. The conversations I had helped me develop a better understanding of how the processes work.

Considering I was an apprentice at an early stage startup, it was really great in that particular sense.

Q. Let’s talk about your placement at Jiva. How did you go about the interviews? What helped you get into Jiva?

A. Even in the beginning of my fellowship at ownpath I was very clear in my mind that whatever I work on was to be translated into my portfolio as soon as possible. There was never a delay from my end. For example, our first project was something related to anger management. So I made sure that it was translated into the portfolio within the next week. That was a practice that I’ve followed since the beginning of my journey with ownpath and it’s something that helped me a lot.

So when I heard from ownpath about any roles or open opportunities, there wasn’t a lag. That was one of the reasons I was actually quite confident because I kept updating my portfolio simultaneously. And Arnab helped me with it, for example by considering  the POVs of hiring managers when they look at the portfolio.

Having a very creative, wonderful portfolio is one thing, but it is equally important to use the same portfolio to summarize and provide an overview of your design process, contribution to different projects etc in an effective way that facilitates understanding with ease. I learnt all this during my time here, and tried including that in my portfolio too. 

I also had the confidence to be able to explain the reasons behind my decisions during my projects. At any point I made a connection, or received an email from anyone at ownpath, I made a point to get back to them instantly rather than get back to them at my own comfort. That helped me a lot during the interview.

Initially during the interviews, I was a little nervous and it was a little intimidating to imagine how they would go about. But mostly every possible interview and every conversation just made me more confident. Luckily, around that time, Nav Pawera (Head of Design, Jiva) was at the Obvious office in Bengaluru for a talk, and I got an opportunity to meet him. We had a great chat.

That is something I’m really grateful about because most of my interviews that took place are where you’re just sharing a screen and you don’t really get to understand the entire picture clearly. But I feel very grateful that I was able to have that conversation with him and was able to see the bigger picture very nicely. We covered what to expect, what not to expect, what they were looking for, and how Nav’s journey had been so far. That was when my interest in Jiva really accelerated. Later I was also able to get in touch with another fellow at ownpath who was working at Jiva. I learnt of their journey at Jiva as well. 

My interview with them went very well. There wasn’t any hesitation and they were really proactive when explaining how they were going to go about the interview. 

Q. What are you looking forward to, right now? What do you expect from your new role?

A. Jiva is in the agri-tech domain, and that happens to be completely uncharted territory for me. So it’s a new problem statement that I’m really excited about. I would really want to explore and understand all the nuances around agri tech. 

Had it been FinTech or any other product I’d have known what to expect. My exposure to the field of agritech is a little limited so I’m fairly excited at this new opportunity. 

That’s one thing that I’m completely looking forward to at Jiva. I’m also excited about the team. I have learned a lot about them while speaking with them during the interview processes, and also since then.

Can’t wait to see how this new chapter turns out!

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