Today marks my first year as a Senior UI Designer at 23. Do I have impostor syndrome? I might. But I read somewhere online that you decide whenever you’re ready to become a senior — so that’s what I did, I guess.
I started my career as a UX/UI designer in 2020 in Beirut (Lebanon 🇱🇧), as I was still graduating from college with a B.S in Computer Science. I then thought I wanted to become a software engineer or a flutter developer — which would have made sense.
I learned design at first on my own using online resources. But that’s not what kicked off my career. What did was collaboration and partnership. Design is a collaborative field, and great design is made within a team.
Once I got my first design job, I immediately became friends with the only designer on the team who was also at the beginning of his career. We hit it off really well. There was this positive competition between us, and we started helping each other out and pushing our limits to become great designers.
We set a collaborative routine that we stuck to for around 6 months.
Every day, we would wake up at around 5 am to hit the gym at 6 am before work, have breakfast at work at about 8, and be yelled at by our office manager (he was a dick, but it was kind of funny). We used to start work at 8:30 am and finish our tasks by 11 am by being focused. Then from 11 am till 5 pm, we used to sit down and absorb everything our eyes would handle.
Articles, books, podcasts, design inspiration, NNG, Google UX certification, design principles, videos, books, books — a lot of books… My eyes were burning, but my vision stayed intact.
The amount of content was humongous. I remember that one book that changed the way I designed. A simple UI guide called “Designing Beautiful Interfaces” turned my design from meh to okay.
After 7 months of hell, I quit my first job, and my colleague did too. We acknowledged our progress, and we were proud of ourselves. I started consulting for a fintech startup, working on some designs, and looking for another full-time role.
2 months passed, and I got multiple interviews — around 5, I guess. One of the interviews was for a senior position, and to be honest, I was surprised I landed that. At that point, I considered myself a mid-level designer, and I kept asking myself how a mid-level designer could get an interview for a senior-level role.
During the interview, I was in a “fake it till you make it” state of mind. The HR manager asked me why I’d consider myself a senior. I started stating things like accessibility, tools, processes, and experiences. Turns out I was doing okay. I got the job.
One takeaway is to become a great designer — never stop learning, lose your ego, and find yourself a design buddy. Even if you have 20 years of experience, you should think of yourself as a newbie eager to learn every day.
Fun fact, my friend got the same job at the same time for the same company, and we’re still working together to this day.