I’m nearing my 1 year mark at YouTube, a video platform that is a subsidiary company of Google (which is now actually a subsidiary of a newly formed umbrella called Alphabet as of a few days ago), and wanted to take the time to reflect on where I’m at in my career and my journey up until this point. Not only is this reflection an output from my anniversary timing but also because I’ve hit a great stride in my career by achieving goals that I had set for myself.
Prior to YouTube, I had taken several months off to focus on myself and filter my next potential opportunities down to those that I truly believed in and could see myself at for a decent amount of time (with ‘time’ meaning at least 2+ years). I had just completed a number of stints at various startups which were amazing experiences but shorter tenures that I had hoped. I wanted to aim for my next company to be a longer commitment from myself and so I aimed for that by clearly indicting my career objectives through my online extension. Once that was published online, I was fortunate to have many of the companies I targeted reach out to me. Eventually, I settled on YouTube but ultimately I was cautious because of recent experiences.
Typically when I interview at companies, there are 3 high level areas that I cross-examine to great lengths to see if those can be satisfied. Those 3 areas are the following:
Do I believe in the product? Do I believe in the direction that it is headed? Is it something that I personally use and something that my family and friends can use so I can talk to them about it and be proud of my work? Is it something that impacts people and the world in progressive ways?
Is the role clearly defined? I’ve experienced unexpected requirements before in certain positions which is very likely to happen but when it becomes exceedingly beyond the scope of what I had initially imagined is when its overbearing. Is the role satisfying my core to create as a designer? Are there avenues that can help me grow and expand my skillset?
What is the makeup of the team? What are their talent levels? What is the sense of their personal goals and career ambitions? Rest and ‘vest, pompous and arrogant, or unambitious individuals have always been difficult to have on previous teams. What is their work process and output level? How well do they collaborate? What expectations do they have of me? On a more human level – are these people I can envision working long hours with? Can I envision hanging out with them as friends beyond the office?
While no company will ever fulfill 100% of anyone’s expectations, its always important for me to understand if its not 100% – then what is it? I’ve joined companies with the perception that these buckets are filled up at a decent level but later discover that they are leaking substantially, whether it a team with no chemistry or me becoming more of a project manager than I expected. There have also been many instances in startup situations that are amazing for short while but because they are a startup, they also evolve rapidly – what may seem like great venture quickly dissolves due to an executive shakeup or product pivot. The point is that its always been difficult to gauge the company setup that you join until you’re actually there. These 3 principles that I focused on during my search helped me realize where I should move next. It was a long process that required me to be patient until I felt it was the right fit but ultimately it ended up working in the long run.
Its been an interesting transition going from startups to a big company like YouTube but things have finally started falling into place the past few months. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with my immediate team, my growth as as a designer, and especially the work which has been extremely fulfilling. My focus has been on developing markets that are starting to come online and while its exciting from a product perspective because its a new space, my incentive and desire pushes beyond achieving product successes. I actually feel empowered through what I like to call philanthropic efforts because ultimately we are helping lower the barriers to online access for users in these markets. These users include those from the Philippines which hits home to me because that is where my family is from – they understand that opportunities that exist online and desire that access. I’m striving to get that to them 🙂
Overall, my career has been an amazing ride and I’ve had the chance to work on many interesting products. Jot down your life objectives, make efforts to steer yourself in that direction, and filter out the noise that hinders you achieving that destination. In time, determination and patience helped me get to where I am at now and hopefully it can work for you too. Keep moving forward and upward!