In this interview, we talked to Rodrigo Medeiros, a student of the MID program, who shared how he got his first role in UX as a Product Designer in Lisbon, Portugal.
After 12 years working with Design in Brazil, Rodrigo decided to explore the tech industry in Portugal, and he says it's booming!
He noticed that there was a shortage of UX professionals in Lisbon and found the opportunity to start his career in UX /UI Design abroad.
In order to land this position, Rodrigo tells how important it was to redo his portfolio focusing on UX, and today he gets many offers from recruiters on LinkedIn.
Rodrigo, please tell us a little bit about yourself
I'm from João Pessoa, Paraíba, where I've spent most of my life. I also lived for a short period in Joinville, Santa Catarina, where I was working.
I was already following Felipe's work at Aela when I began looking for opportunities in UX Design outside my city.
When the MID program was launched, I thought, "Oh, this could shorten the path to what I need!"
After spending 12 years working in design (including front-end, interface design, art director, and digital design), there came a time when I realized that this was not what I was looking for.
I noticed that there were no challenges in my career anymore, and that was the reason I decided to pivot to UX Design.
Nowadays, I'm a Product Designer, and I've been living in Lisbon for 7 months.
How did you come across the UX Design field?
I was already skilled enough in UI but lacked UX-focused knowledge. What I did in UX was a lot of guesswork.
I realized that there were not so many UX Designers in my field, and their opportunities were different. Bigger agencies demanded knowledge of UX/UI Design professionals.
I found out about Product Design when one of the leaders of a company I used to work for started a new business. He invited me to work on Design Thinking consulting projects, and I saw a good opportunity.
Reading Tip: Design Thinking: Creating Innovative Solutions
How did you get the opportunity to work as a Product Designer?
It was a process. The owner of the company I worked for in the consultancy projects moved to Portugal.
I decided to spend my vacation in Europe to understand more about the design industry, and eventually, a recruiter contacted me.
I came to Portugal intending to serve the design market, with no job offers yet. But with career perspectives.
I sent my resume for a few job openings and got a job offer from a digital agency. However, this company had the same profile as those I've worked for before.
Although the role did not align with my expectations, I took the job. I saw it as an opportunity to understand the Design industry in Europe.
After 6 months working there, I searched for other opportunities and was offered a position as Product Designer in a big company, OutSystems, where I am today.
OutSystems is one of the 3 biggest tech companies in Portugal.
I've been working there for over a month, and it's new to me because I only work with one product and deal with it in stages.
And the challenge of working with a product specifically in UX Design is to keep implementing, researching, and identifying what can be improved in it continuously.
How was the selection process for this Product Designer position?
The company's selection process was via a recruiter. It was a resume evaluation and a conversation about Design with this recruiter.
Afterward, there was another interview with the designers who evaluated my portfolio, saw that I had the capacity, that things were straightforward, and hired me.
Tell us about the UX process as a Product Designer
The current company I work for has a well-established UX department and also has a UI team focused on aesthetics, components, and design system. Besides these teams, there is a research team and other areas.
The company has a product that is a low-code development platform, which captures developers and makes their experience with the product faster.
For example: inside the platform, what a user would do in 3 months using another common platform, they would do in 3 weeks with the project we developed. Once this product is purchased, it's up to the whole team to think of tools to optimize this platform for the users.
In the UX part, our job is to identify customer needs and possible new customer profiles and develop solutions and tools that will work within this platform.
So, there is an environment, like an Apple Store, to hold the tools we produce. The tools become available to the user, and he integrates this product into the main platform he has purchased.
Reading Tip: UX Design In High Demand
And what have you learned from the industry in Portugal?
What I understand about the labor market in Portugal is that specialized labor is leaving the country because the Portuguese can easily go to other nearby countries with better quality of life.
So, there is a shortage in certain areas in Portugal, technology is one of them. And there are a lot of consulting companies hiring developers and product designers.
If you speak English and have the skills they need, there will be no shortage of jobs. And the difference in salary between smaller companies and international companies is huge!
How did the MID program help you in this process?
It helped in the idea of knowing what a methodology is and knowing that it is adaptable to projects, that is: each case is a case.
Talking to people and mentors in the projects also made me realize that many times you will have to cut 70% of your methodology because there is no time, no money, or something like that.
And there is also that methodology that you will rush, do it again and again, and chase after information. So, this maturity of knowing how to be flexible with projects helped me a lot.
Another point that Aela helped me with was the answers in the selection processes! In Portugal, I took part in two selection processes, and because of the MID, I had a level of maturity to know how to act in each step of the project.
The recruiters asked, regarding the projects in my portfolio, how I split my time, and why I followed this path, and I knew how to find a solution.
Ninety percent of the answers were based on UX processes: research, what data I have, what decisions I made on what was real and what was a hypothesis. This was all knowledge I gained at Aela.
In my portfolio, I have two projects that I developed in the MID program and a real consulting project that helped me a lot when it came to applying for Product Designer jobs.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself before pivoting to Product Design?
Don't be afraid of the international market, just go!
Sometimes we believe we can't handle it because we think it's a market that will swallow us up, and it's not. It's just clients with different budgets and different contexts.
So, if you have the courage to face a big project, do it!
What extra tip would you give those who want to go to Portugal?
First, I would say to be organized. Financially and in terms of documentation. There are many openings, many opportunities!
Also, adapt your portfolio to the job positions you want and check other portfolios to see if yours are in tune with people pursuing the same goal as you, so you can also create a repertoire of projects.
We learn from examples, and you can build a wider repertoire with projects from others. This will make you a better designer, much faster!
Portugal is a good first step for Brazilians to understand life outside their comfort zone and in another country!