Listen to the Episode
From switching careers to finding the job of her dreams, our latest episode features an insightful interview with Senior UX Researcher Katie Miller. Get ready to dive into her journey from being laid off to hired in a different field. Katie shares her mindset shift and the challenges she faced while navigating the UX job market. She candidly discusses her experiences in the tech industry, the importance of working with users, and the need for inclusion and diverse perspectives in design thinking.
In the episode, Katie takes us through the ups and downs of her job search, sharing how she coped with uncertainty and stayed true to herself. She provides valuable insights on the role of LinkedIn in the job search process and emphasizes the need to take control of your own career. Speaking from her own transformation, she advises listeners to map out their goals, expand their perspective, and tell a compelling story through their resume and LinkedIn presence.
Additionally, Katie delves into her impactful work in Africa, conducting groundbreaking research that unveiled crucial insights about language support in Google products. With her expertise and passion for user-centered design, she is a true inspiration for anyone seeking career advancement and growth.
If you’re looking for practical career strategies and real-life inspiration, this episode is a must-listen. Join us as we unpack Katie Miller’s incredible journey of being laid off from her UX role and getting hired which will give you valuable insights into the world of career development and advancement.
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Discussion Questions About The Episode
- How has Katie's career journey from working in tech to non-tech resonated with your own experiences? What mindset switches have you made or are considering making in your own career?
- The episode highlights the challenges of job searching, including periods of silence and uncertainty. How do you navigate these moments of ambiguity in your own career journey? What strategies do you employ to stay motivated and focused?
- Katie mentions experiencing a negative job interview where their work with teachers and users was not valued. Have you ever had a similar experience where your unique skills or perspectives were not appreciated during an interview or in your workplace? How did you handle it and what did you learn from that situation?
- Katie discusses the importance of not allowing your job to define your identity. How do you maintain a sense of self outside of your professional role? Share any activities or practices that help you reconnect with yourself and prioritize self-care during times of career transition or uncertainty.
Sarah Doody [00:00:00]: Hey there. I’m Sarah Doody, host of the Career Strategy Podcast. Many professionals are seeking more impact flexibility, growth, and let’s face it, getting paid what they’re worth. But how do you unlock this in your career? It starts with strategy. I’m taking you behind the scenes of what’s working for my career coaching clients. You’ll hear strategy and actionable yet sometimes against the grain advice for how you can be the CEO of your career and strop dreading getting Mondays. Ready to level up your career? Let’s get after it.
Erin Lindstrom [00:00:38]: Hey. This is Erin, and I am one of the coaches inside a Career Strategy Lab. In today’s episode, I have the privilege of talking with Katie Miller. Katie has been a client inside a career strategy lab who recently accepted a new role, and her story has been so inspiring inside of CSL and her insights always have everyone commenting in the chat on zoom with and so many takeaways. So Katie decided to come on the podcast to share more about her story and the process of the job search for her. Before we hop into it, I wanna share with you a little bit more about Katie. Katie is a user research lead with 7 years of combined mixed method experience at Google and as an independent contractor championing innovation and inclusion to reach and represent the user’s voice through actionable data driven insights that support business objectives. With over 9 years of experience in research operations, Katie Delights in leading successful service design and digital product studies. She’s a former freelance digital producer in New York City Agencies overseeing end to end digital product creation in health care, finance, consumer goods, and technology sectors. She’s results driven with a fierce respect for the user and strong business acumen. and I am so excited to share this episode with you. So, Katie, thank you so much for joining me today. I’m so, so, so excited to chat with you.
Katie Miller [00:02:04]: Well, thank you, Erin. It is absolutely my pleasure.
Erin Lindstrom [00:02:07]: Yay. So will you start off, please, by introducing yourself to giving us a little bit of who are you? How did you get here?
Katie Miller [00:02:14]: Sure. My name’s Katie Miller. I am a proud fifty three year old woman was recently laid off. Well, I guess not recently anymore was laid off in January from Google with
Katie Miller [00:02:25]: 12,000
Katie Miller [00:02:26]: of my closest friends and still feels like yesterday, though it was actually 8 months ago now. I mean, UX researcher, I come from a UX research position at Google. And prior to that, I was a producer for a long time, about 15 years, but we’ll get a little bit more of that layer. I live in New York, and I split my time between the country and the city, and I’m a native northwesterner, probably from Portland, Oregon. So I still have those granola roots.
Erin Lindstrom [00:02:55]: Awesome. Like, granola roots. I love that. Alright. so throughout this conversation, I’m just so for anyone listening, I’m so excited that Katie is here and agreed to share a bit of her story and her perspective with us. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Katie inside of CSL, and the way that you kind of reflect on your experiences is always like just struck me as like, wow, like, what amazing perspective? And I know, like, your storytelling style, it just it people love it. And so I’m so glad we have the opportunity to chat with you here. Before we kind of get to, like, you know, the layoff and then how you’ve kind of dealt with that in this whole process because I know there’s a mindset component and a strategy component and all that jazz. I would love to hear a little bit more about How did you get into UX in the first place and kind of that road from Granolaville — Yeah.
Katie Miller [00:03:44]: —
Erin Lindstrom [00:03:44]: to to New York. Tell us a bit of your story.
Katie Miller [00:03:47]: Okay. Well, I’ll give you the abridged version. There’s a long version as you can imagine. First, thank you for saying that I have good interest action skills. My therapist would be really happy to do that too. We worked on that always. So I came from Portland, Oregon, Portland has a great added agency called Widening Kennedy. And, you know, not to reach too far back, but to reach back a bit, I think it was eleven, probably. And I was downstairs watching TV with my Doody, and an ad for Honda scooters came on. And I had Lou Reid and the background music, I was walking on the wild side, and I I remember seeing it. And then my dad said, this is, this ad was done by 2 guys in Portland. And I’m like, really? Yeah. And my and he was had been in advertising too, and so we talked about it. So always in the back of my mind, Widen and Kennedy, the two guys who made that commercial always there as a place I’d wanna work in. I studied journalism, advertising design, and eventually landed there as a project manager. not a creative, really good at managing, like, well, managing projects. And from there, they moved me actually from Portland to Amsterdam, where I moved to being a producer, digital producer, and I lived in Amsterdam, got married in Amsterdam, My, my husband to beat, brought our dog on a bike up to city hall to get married, and then moved to New York. and had been and was a freelance producer for 10 years in different ad agencies.
Erin Lindstrom [00:05:19]: And then
Katie Miller [00:05:20]: one day, just was really tired of what I call making making thirty four year old white dude dreams come true, which is a little pejorative, but kinda true. So I saw a, I don’t know, a plug for a design thinking watch out. we can workshop. And I’m like, yeah, I wanna do that. I used to be a graphic designer, design thinking, graphic design. That must be the same thing. I had no idea. I showed up Friday night for the intro and went, oh, this is nothing like what I thought it was. It was the best accident of my life. I fell in love with the whole idea of users being the drivers, not kind of egos of individuals who want to like influence the zeitgeist. Like what? A real person can guide product design? That’s where I want to be. So I am a big believer and the universe needs you to put skin in the game. Like if you’re gonna bet on yourself, if you’re gonna make a change, make a bold move. And so I quit. I, at that point, was in a full time ad job at a really great ad agency. I quit, and I said, okay, I’m going back to freelance until I can find a way into a design company and focus on design thinking. And it worked. I went to a really great Swedish based design company called Doberman that was opening a New York office. I started as a producer because that was where my skills were. and any research opportunity I had, I will take your notes. I will help you decipher post it. I will do whatever you need to me to do to help you so I could build up my toolbox. And eventually after about 4 years, I went off of my own briefly, and then was brought on by Google as a contractor. Again, like, okay, you’re gonna bet on yourself to contract gig. And I started as a visual designer and you ought researcher, and then they hired me after a year and a half. And eventually I moved on to the team, my last team, which was It was all UX research, global focused, not product focused, really from the foundational research based on languages. It was quite awesome. So that’s my journey. not that, believe it or not, that was a short version.
Erin Lindstrom [00:07:35]: No. I love it. You I feel like there’s a whole, like, TV series. I wanna watch these episodes in, like, the different chapters of this.
Katie Miller [00:07:43]: I just want I think it was costumes, the costumes. Right?
Erin Lindstrom [00:07:49]: so fun. In that journey, it kinda sounds like so you’ve done a blend of both 9 to 5 in office and freelancing. I know sometimes that change is like very scary for people. How did can you speak to a little bit? Like, was freelancing something that was nerve wracking for you, or did you kind of easily go back and forth? Like, How does that work?
Katie Miller [00:08:08]: You know, it’s interesting. When I moved back from New York, I had, I mean, excuse me, when I moved back to New York from Amsterdam. We’ve back to the US. I have this pedigree because I have been working at White And Kennedy, both in Portland and in Amsterdam. big clients like Nike, Coca Cola, Ian Games. So it wasn’t hard for me to find freelance clients because brand new blood, she must be good if she worked at these places. So Yeah. Let’s and I was very flexible, you know, I’d start right away. What do you need? I wasn’t exceptionally pick I wasn’t picky. had go where they had work for me, and I was really lucky to work in some great places and some really interesting projects. So then I built my, kind of, built my contact base, but also word-of-mouth because it freelancing community, no matter where you are, is a small one. So if you’re good at what you do, people will hear about you. This was really pre this was free LinkedIn. So it was all word-of-mouth, and so I get calls from people. Hey, I hear that you’re Now we have a project coming up, are you free? Yeah. Sure. I am. So in that sense, it wasn’t hard. I had I was wealthy in opportunity. I didn’t realize at the time how fortunate that was, how privileged that was, But, you know, I was enjoying it. It was fine. And I had really those contacts. They served me so well in the future, like when I moved from full time in New York to freelance so I could look for a design job. Now, I had one woman in particular who she was head of production at a big agency, and she could almost she could find projects for me. And also, she’s super connected. She was also the one introduced me to the head of Doverman design and and the one who got me in a Google. Like, she’s my shining unicorn magic person. everybody needs a shining unicorn magic person. I think and she was she’s she continues to be mine. I will say my experience, and we’ll, I think we’ll get into this more. My experience with not being employed full time, after the layoff was very different. And that’s where I realized now how fortunate I was. I think there’s something about pedigree, you know, where you come from. When I first got laid off, I was told over and over again. Oh, don’t worry about it. You were working at Google. you’ll find something right away, which was my experience, you know, 15 years ago. What’s changed? when the market’s changed, how we find jobs have changed, my age has changed, and the industry in general certainly has changed. So that whole just trust that your pedigree will get you where you need to go. That was not true for me. So it was vastly different this time.
Erin Lindstrom [00:11:15]: Wow. Wanna go into that a little bit more. So we come into the season. Yeah. So My open ended question, really, but so layoffs, I think, is something that people are very fearful of all of the time. I don’t know if this was something that you saw coming or something that just kind of happened. And then there’s a lot of, like, emotions I imagine that come with that. And then to move through the process and to what you just said about kind of realizing maybe things have changed. I need to do something differently.
Katie Miller [00:11:43]: Would love
Erin Lindstrom [00:11:43]: to hear a bit about your kind of, like, experience through that. And that kind of brings us to present day too. So, like, Where are we now?
Katie Miller [00:11:50]: Sure. Yeah. So it was a Friday morning, and I was brushing my teeth. My husband said, Google laid off twelve thousand people. yes, last night. And I said, not me. I’m like, oh, that’s really too bad. Honestly, I had no idea. so much so that when I came up to work on my computer, I went to log in, and I couldn’t log in. Went to log in again. I couldn’t log in. happen to have my manager’s email and personal email or I guess Google email, whatever, on my personal email account. So I emailed him from that. Still not knowing being like, hey, Looks like I got shut out of my email. Can you check with Textop to see what’s the problem? I had no clue. And then I went and checked And there was the email that said, we no longer have a job for you. So long story short, did not see it coming. I didn’t see it coming when it actually had already happened, and I still was like, nah. Cause there was no reason. There was no reason. It was Our team was doing incredibly valuable work. I had just won a very prestigious award for the work I had done the year before. great reviews across the board, like, for my performance, from my peers, and from my, you know, managers and managers, managers, and managers, managers, managers. So there was no there was no reason. Over the course of the day, I found out that my team of
Katie Miller [00:13:20]: 16 1612
Katie Miller [00:13:22]: of 12 of us were laid off. So it wasn’t personal at all. And there’s 12,000 people who got laid off. It’s not personal. It’s And in a way, that’s good. And you can comfort yourself and I certainly did comfort myself with that and those certainly placations I gave to other people who have been laid off. You know, it’s like it’s not personal. We can’t take it that way, but deep down. it it feels nothing but personal. I was so surprised. I sobbed I stopped because
Katie Miller [00:13:56]: 1,
Katie Miller [00:13:57]: I didn’t see it coming, but 2, I loved my job. I loved it. And I was really good at it. and I just couldn’t fathom ever finding work like that again. So That was Friday. And on Sunday, I came up. I have this giant whiteboard in my office because I love a whiteboard, and I did a mental mapping. I gave myself 10 minutes to write down everything I wanted to Doody. And I gave an an honest day, you know, very sexy of me and like, Had my Sharpie, had my post its, everything I wanted to do professionally, everything I wanted to do personally, everything I wanted to do task wise, No. And I just spread it out and then put it on the whiteboard divided it into sections. You know, career, like, home of those things that needed to get done, and then I had a category called soul. And soul category was everything from write that children’s book that you’ve been putting off, which I still haven’t. And, you know, yoga enchanting and a run 5 k and, you know, all sorts of things. And I left that whiteboard up. parts of it are still up. I’m looking at it right now. I still haven’t painted the living room, but I took things down as I did accomplish them. And that was a huge that was something I really I’m grateful I did. I did it right away when things were fresh. when people’s names were fresh, when experiences were fresh. So that career side was loaded, and I, you know, had names and projects. I used it as a catchall. And then the other was kind of out of this place of surprise, out of this place of unpreparedness was very much like, okay, what do you want? And I because I hadn’t thought about it too much, All these things came out that I’m not sure I would have even entertained a month or 2 later. So I think that was a really that was a super helpful exercise. little painful, but one you can do in your pajamas. So that’s okay. And then we’re gonna cut to a month later. I had been on LinkedIn forever. I had taken some, not classes, but it attended some, like, video tutorial things that part of my layoff package from a placement service. You know, when I was just like sending stuff out, talking to recruiters, doing the same things that I’d always done. And I went to visit a friend in Nashville. And, sitting on the couch, it was like Saturday morning, And I’m on my computer. I brought my laptop for a weekend that tells you a lot and on my computer. She comes down. She says, what are you doing? I said, I’m replying to a recruiter. And she said, oh, what’s the job? And I said, oh, I don’t know. He just I got this recruiter. He contacted me via linkedin. And she said, so what are you applying for? And I’m like, I don’t know that. He just he was interested in my background. And she’s like, how often do you do this? So at least once a day, a couple times a day. She said, let me guess your first line is, thank you so much for reaching out. Like, how did you know? I mean, she was like, because that’s what we all do. Thank you so much for reaching out. So what if you just didn’t spend your time and energy, replying to people who don’t know you, and just reply to recruiters who are actually looking for you. and what you bring. My god, that sounds amazing. So I’ll do that. I get back home, That’s what I’m gonna do. And then I quickly realized I had no idea how to do that. I didn’t know how to actually transform myself into someone that a recruiter would recognize as, oh, she’s unique. Oh, she has this collection of skills. How do I do it? So that’s how I found CSO. I’ve known about Sarah forever because if you are in the UX community and you’re in New York City, especially, she is a name that you’ve heard for a long time. I remember distinctly when she was teaching classes on UX at general assembly. And so I knew her name and I joined And right away, started doing the exercises. And one of the first ones is you go back through your career and you think about what you liked. Every job What did you like? What you didn’t like? What did you do? And I realized that in that month, say now a month and a half, since I’d been laid off. I had only been looking at the 5 years I was at Google. Only those. Like, that was my story. Google was my story, and it goes with that idea of your pedigree. Google will get you in your next shot. Google defines who you were. Google is your success. Right? And yeah. I mean, some would say Apex Mountain. I would say no, but that’s a big leap and I’m super proud of working there. And that’s all I was showing. And then once I started delving into all of the past, all of my past work, I realized I had so much more to tell. One of the reasons why I’m a good researcher is because I was a producer for 15 years. You might not Oh, I certainly didn’t connect the 2 right away, but when I started looking at the skills that I built, as a producer, whether it’s, you know, dealing with all kinds of different stakeholders who are under stress for different reasons and having to solve those problems, calmly, Doody, and objectively having a 360 view, really being a good listener and being able to distill what people are really saying behind the words that they use, those are all skills I took into research. And I was ignoring all of that experience. And so by doing the work at CSL and like doing the exercises, my not only my resume built, like it expanded but my LinkedIn presence completely expanded. You know, that about section went from this to this. because I really had no much deeper story to tell and factors that really set me apart from the many researchers who are kind of suddenly without work. So that’s my that’s how I landed.
Erin Lindstrom [00:20:26]: Wow. Thank you for sharing that. Something that stuck out to me and I’m like taking notes as you’re speaking because there’s so many, like, gems here. We talk about, like, in CSL. There’s, like, 3 types of people, clients that are coming in kind of switchers who are switching from one career into UX Launchers who are just starting a UX career and climbers who have been at UX for a while, and we’re trying to, like, plan that corporate ladder. And it’s interesting to hear kind of the way you speak about your process and going through everything because it sounds like while you’ve been in technology and like, working on all this stuff for so long, there is almost an element of switcher in there from producer into research where you’re kind of crisscrossing over and that process of looking at everything and all of the skills and how am I bringing that over, it’s still happening.
Katie Miller [00:21:13]: Oh, yeah. It happens. It happened and you were witness. You were such witness to me switching my mindset from tech to not to non tech because something I became aware that internally I was feeling less and less comfortable with the idea of working in tech. And I’m gonna be very careful to not sound like I’m blaming anyone. It’s hard because I think anyone who’s been laid off can attest to the fact that you can there’s always the fear of bitterness can always slip in there and I’m gonna try really hard not to allow that out. I, you know, I came from Google. So the it’s not a stretch to think, oh, she is very much a part of the tech process. research, design, prototype with developers, and with designers and developers, designers, developers to prototype, send it out, back out to the to users to try it out, incorporate their feedback, launch, and next. That’s truncated, but It’ll do. and so the big question was, how do you get how do you work with designers and developers? how do you do that? Tell us how you do that. Give us examples of how you work with designers and developers. And I’m like, I work fine with the designers and developers, but Should you be asking me about how I work with users? Like, how I’m working with the people who are giving us their information, who we are taking their time and really taking their experience and then using it to make money. Like, That’s where my heart is. That’s what brought me into UX in the first place, the most people. The designer and the developer you’re great. You have a hard job. I will help you in any way I can, but protecting your feelings to me is not as important as protecting the experience of the individual who really is making our jobs possible. Let’s center that individual, and that’s not what I was finding in tech. It was almost the exact opposite I was in a panel interview with, I think, eight people for a big browser comp a big company, and You know, I’m talking, I’m walking through a case study that I’m super proud of, educational product that I had worked on for 3 years doing research and really had made tremendous. It changed the product tremendously and research was a huge part of that plus great design, great really committed developing development team, like, super great. But it was pulling information from teachers who I just you know, work research with in research with teachers and realize how much they do and how little time they have, and they’re giving it to us. Right? And, you know, I’m telling this story and one of seeing little zoom squares, you know, in this eight person interview and the face of one of the interviewers just went not just blank, but just this look of strange disdain. Like, I know that face. I’ve seen that face over my career, that face isn’t I’m not getting any further in this. because and I didn’t. And it was a job that I was super qualified for. And I kept thinking, you know, what did I do wronged? you, Aaron, were the one you brought up this duality. I’m like, you didn’t do anything wrong. You could have had the best interview ever. you could have done your very best interview, but that doesn’t that has nothing to do very little to do with the decision that’s made on this side that you have no control over. It can both can be true. You can have your best interview and not get the job or and not move forward. And, you know, that That was a real game changer moment for me because when I started going through the interviews and the interactions I had with tech companies, like, you know, I keep showing up being authentically me and really touting what I am most proud of, which is the advancements I’ve made in representing users when it comes to making sure that there’s and inclusion when we’re recruiting for people for our studies, you know, making sure that the community is involved in what we’re studying and how we’re asking questions and the final product. But these are things that not everyone’s doing. I’m so proud and that’s getting me nowhere. Maybe it’s time to look somewhere else where that would be more appreciated. So, I switched still a switcher It’s always that comfortable with that idea of a climber anyway. There’s, you know, it’s like, climber, I’m still I pinch myself all the time that I’ve been able to do all the things I’ve done in my career. So, you know, I Climbing is relative, but switching always can happen, which is pretty awesome.
Erin Lindstrom [00:26:32]: Yes. I love that. It’s almost like a that’s an interesting thing to think of through just identity and how we kind of identify to your point about pedigree and, like, winning awards, like, that feels very like, oh, you’re a climber. There you go. And, like, there’s also this ability to check-in at any moment and, like, to choose what you’re doing and to kind of have that zoom out of, like, yeah. And you can climb and switch at the same time. Like, this is not all linear. A lot of times, it’s, we don’t know what’s gonna happen next. So building that self trust, seeing your career materials come together and the transformation that kind of goes along with that changes the way that we’re interacting just with, like, the choice at hand.
Katie Miller [00:27:09]: Yes. it’s been true. And when you say self trust, again, I am well aware of my privilege, but I’m also well aware that there’s something in my brain that has always allowed myself to bet on myself. And I don’t know what it is. I’m super grateful for it, but I that I do not fear. I do not fear starting something new. And I realized that not everybody has that luxury one, not to say that switching is without risk because it’s always there’s always risk, but just the confidence that I’m gonna land I’m gonna land on my feet. It’s not gonna happen right away, and I’m a big believer in taking the time as much time as you can to gain skills But, you know, I never I never went back to school to get a master’s degree, something that I plan to change right away, but I was always really proud of that that I, you know, I did it through hustle and hook my crook and all of the, like, weird idioms that I can that I am that I could think of right now of just I’ll just do it. I’ll zig and zag until I get where I wanna go. And, you know, that’s so I’m a switcher at heart, I think. Really?
Erin Lindstrom [00:28:25]: I love that. So through the switching, you know, went through a few different interview processes, and I know you’ve accepted a position that’s going to be starting soon. you talk a little bit about, like, how did you know that one was right?
Katie Miller [00:28:38]: Oh, boy.
Erin Lindstrom [00:28:38]: Are you looking at a yes for you?
Katie Miller [00:28:41]: Well, I’m There will be an element of this next little blurb that will be woo woo. some people will lose, and some people will be like, yeah. More woo. More woo. So it was in April. Things were still like I was getting a lot of calls and, well, relative. I was getting calls. There was interest. in me. I was still new because, you know, when you get back on LinkedIn, you are shown to a lot of people. Right? You’re profile gets the algorithm gets you out there. So I’m getting calls and, feeling quite chucked, like, feeling like a big deal. People want me clearly. You know? So I am one of the people had was a referral from someone I used to work with at Google. And I had talked to him via email. I’d sent over my resume, and he’s like, resume looks great. Let’s talk. And So I’m like getting in a cab, going forty blocks and, phone rings. And a lot of times I would screen, but I don’t anymore. Like when you’re unemployed, that’s just silly. So I answered the phone, and it’s Andres. and he’s like, Hey, I’m Andres. from, you know, ex company. Yeah. And do you have a second? sure. I’m in a cab. Let’s go. And so we had this chat and he was instead of asking me about my, you know, experience in terms of tell me about a time that you helped get a product through design and research. He was asking me about interpersonal things. He was asking me about about the inclusion work that I had done. He was asking me about working in a team of diverse people. He was asking me about outreach. How do I recruit? He was asking me all the questions about me. you know, what I bring, not what I can Doody. Right? And that just, like, made my heart grow. Plus we had just an awesome conversation, you know, he was open about, you know, his where he’d come from and just very. So I felt like I got to know him too, and it was lovely. I was so excited. And so 40 Blocks hung up. Then I was contacted right away for a follow-up interview with another person, and that went really well. I had gone on her LinkedIn before the interview and found out that she had gone to art center in California, and I had gone to art center in California. So we made this, like, personal connection right away. Thank you, CSO, for your how to interview a specific segment. And so that went great. I’m feeling really good, right? And then nothing. I crickets. In the meantime, all of those leads that had come, you know, I was getting, I was feeling really great, like, went to nowhere, either just disappeared when silent or, like, not good interviews. And I was left. I was just, what am I gonna do? And this and I have this ambiguous nothing like silence. Is this am I being dosed or is it just time? So I did something that was very uncharacteristic of me because Andres had called me. I had his number and I texted him directly. At this point, there was no recruiter even on this job. So I didn’t have anyone else to reach out to, and instead of being like, oh, I can’t. I don’t wanna seem too eager when I am eager. So I’m gonna text him. Hey, you know, just checking in. Still really interested in this job. And he texted back right away. So glad you reached out. Yes. The job’s still happening. There’s just some things going on in the background. So glad you’re still interested. essentially don’t give up. Yeah. And that pattern kind of happens a few weeks later, another interview with two people this time that was I’m not presenting a case study, but they had a, you know, they had a case study for me to complete real time with them on the phone. That went super well, best interview in my life. I had really prepared for it, and I felt great. And then silence, you know, for a while, and I my emails were like, hey, I’ll dress my voice get a guy because, you know, opportunities were still coming, but they weren’t moving forward. And this is the only opportunity where I was still excited about it. I’ve super stoked about the job itself and, like, how everyone I met, and then you know, there was a recruiter finally. I had they posted the job. They posted the job online, and so I had to apply for it online. and and she’s like, it’s between you and one other person. Like, I’m applying for it right now. Okay. We’re good. And then one last interview. And then everyone on vik went on vacation all the time. Yeah. Like, and I’m just like, what am I doing? And, then I got the call that they were making me an offer. And I it was a yes. It was a yes you know, months before, but, you know, it was absolutely a yes. So that’s how it happened. It took a long time but a lot had to happen behind the scenes on their end for, you know, before it ever even. I first talked to him in April. The job didn’t post until June. And so there’s a lot of time in there that I was so quick to take personally. I was so quick to say it was my fault. something I did had nothing to do with me. In fact, this isn’t proven. This is just my, like, take, but I think that the reason there was so much time that lapsed is because they had to make arrangements for the job to open in New York. because, you know, before I think it was gonna be somewhere else, like, the headquarters somewhere else, and they made arrangements to make it possible for me.
Erin Lindstrom [00:34:44]: Wow.
Katie Miller [00:34:45]: To get this job, but all of that takes time and they and the company can’t tell you that, right, especially a big one. They can’t show you what’s behind the curtain. So you have to just trust the hardest thing in the world, but trust that You’re good. Like, you are you’re bringing you and you are valid, and you have great things about you, and they’re recognizing it. It just doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. So it’s hard to do, though.
Erin Lindstrom [00:35:12]: Yeah. That’s very hard to do. I think the mental gymnastics that kind of happened during that process where you’re somewhere in between, like, oh my gosh, they’re making a position for me in New York, which is huge. And also, like, maybe there’s no interest here. Maybe there’s someone else, like, that’s a very big discrepancy between possible outcomes. Yeah. And I know it’s challenging to maintain the mindset there of trusting, and also it sounds like you were taking steps forward that you’re still having other conversations. Like, you’re still moving. Yeah. And all that jazz.
Katie Miller [00:35:42]: Yes. There was definitely no putting all the eggs in that basket. In fact, strangely, the in that last month in June, the job description for the job, like, the best, most wonderful, beautiful job description I’ve ever read came online. for ideal. I mean, come on. It’s in or a foreign company that we will not name the most beautiful, like, Oh, this is the job and they were so respectful. This they were very like this job description will be open until the 31st. These are the things that was so user centered. It was so community centered. It was so heart centered. I loved it and I’m like, okay. This is if this doesn’t happen, this is I’m gonna I’m gonna really work for this because this shows me that there are companies out there who want researchers who are heart centered and, yes, able to, like, distill business needs and have a good business acumen, which I think is crucial, but are led by community led by individual like, really respect for the user where we all come from. Right? And that does exist. So I was really ready to just say that’s where I’m going is I don’t know who they are yet. I don’t know who those companies are yet necessarily, but I it’s not tech. It’s somewhere else. It’s another realm. So I was, and I was really preparing for not getting this job because I knew that it was always a possibility. And to be clear, they didn’t make that position in New York for me. I mean, no one’s ever said that to me. I love to believe they did, but that is more than I don’t give myself that much credit.
Erin Lindstrom [00:37:35]: Yeah. Yes. Anything if you have any behind the curtain, right? Yeah.
Katie Miller [00:37:38]: I mean, yes. Things took time. Yes. But Yeah. I, like, I was really prepared. And part of it was because this it had taken so long, and I talked to these people, but I felt a certain way. I felt seen. I felt hurt. I felt valued. Like, that’s what I wanna take from this. If I don’t get this job, yes, I will be bummed. Super bummed. But I’ve learned a lot from this process, mostly I want to feel like this going into my continuing with my job. So I want to feel valued continuing with my job search. So I’m gonna I’m gonna take those feelings and really center them and stop just acquiring is really what I was doing. I was acquiring interviews and acquiring portfolio reviews. All good reasons. Like, I got great experience. but I was Doody to stop doing that and being much more, like, pursuing. Yeah. Does that make sense?
Erin Lindstrom [00:38:37]: Yeah. That does make sense. I have one more kind of, like, big question than a couple lightning questions for you if that’s okay. So as you’re navigating that, can you, like, if you’re open, share just a little bit about, like, how did you manage that, like, mindset wise? I’m thinking for people who are also kind of going through the job search process and know, navigating the, like, I don’t know space. Like, maybe something’s happening, maybe not, like, any tips or strategies that you kind of use to keep your head in the game because it can be hard to keep going when you also are in that, like, unknown. You’re in the tunnel and can’t really see the light.
Katie Miller [00:39:11]: The tunnel. Yes. So I think one is give yourself space to have bad days and give yourself space to not work on finding, you know, like, just give yourself breaks. Breaks are super important, and you can’t keep up a pace. of having job search be your full time job. I tried, and I think a lot of us try. And maybe for short bursts, I think you can when I think sometimes you have to, but then when the opportunity comes to take a beat, take the beat, And so that’s my first because your mental state, it’s I think it’s impossible to stay in this ambiguous place forever, but your job is not you. You know, your job search is certainly not you. I was really fortunate to have booked a trip to a place called Ghost Ranch. It’s a retreat in New Mexico. I booked it in January before the layoff, and it was happening in April. It was all done. So I went, and I was unemployed, and I texted Andres from there and being like, how’s that? How’s it going? And it’s completely different. You know, it’s Nothing like New York City. It’s the most beautiful remote part of New Mexico. You know, you have no cell service except for very, like, limited spaces. and I just scoped it for a week. Again, privilege, and I get that. And I, if I hadn’t booked the trip before my layoff, I would have never done it. That the cracks of what I’m trying to say is I would have kept myself from experiences because I would have felt like I didn’t deserve them because I’m unemployed. I’m unemployed. I can’t possibly go on an artist retreat. I don’t deserve it. I don’t And, you know, I have to be smart with my money, which is true, but still, you know, I had booked it beforehand. So the money was already spent. And it was such a the wealth of just feeling like I’m reconnecting with myself that had nothing to do with my job was priceless. And at the end of the week, you know, we had written out wishes or prayers, if you will. And we, you know, group of women, we, you know, said them out loud and put them in the fire, a very burning man. of us. And, my wish was, you know, essentially I wanna thank Google for giving me such amazing experience, and I will never allow my job to become myself again. And throwing that in the fire, I still have goosebumps right now. I just was like, oh, that’s it. I will never allow my job to be myself is outside of what I Doody, and it’s certainly outside of trying to find the next thing to do. I know it’s incredibly hard. to hold on to that belief when, you know, you have so many shoulds. You have so much ambiguity. You have so many disappointments. and frustrations. It’s so hard and sometimes it’s just a tiny kernel, but, like, you have to just hold on to that kernel and believe that yourself is what is most important. And if that meant, I bought a new red lipstick to make myself feel better because that was the level of a treat I could give myself. That’s what I Doody. Or I really retook up art again and, you know, started painting, did sculpture, like, really trying to express myself through different medium and, you know, for no other reason than it was outside of the job search. It had nothing to do with the job search. I couldn’t do I couldn’t do at night. And, you know, if it was for 10 minutes a day, at least that was keeping me grounded in myself. And so that’s the best advice and probably the hardest advice that I could ever give, and I realized that, but It’s really true.
Erin Lindstrom [00:43:17]: Thank you for that. I got goosebumps when you were talking about throwing it in the fire. It’s like, yep. Yeah. It’s hard in a capitalist society to sometimes to separate those things because survival is so wrapped up in jobs Yep.
Katie Miller [00:43:31]: Yeah. Yeah. My lowest point and lowest point of the whole job search was crying over my baby zucchini plants. I’m just coming to the reality of, like, the realization that capitalism’s gonna win again. And I couldn’t take the, you know, I couldn’t take this job that was a dream, but it wasn’t a courier. It was just it was a part time job. And if I took that, I would have to get many other part time jobs, and I’d be in beach community beach community economy again. Nothing wrong with that, but I’m not ready. I haven’t planned. So if I wanna do that, then okay. Plan for that. But for now, Capitalism still wins and It was as lowest as I’ve ever been. You know, my my baby zucchinis, which are now, like, fully fledged, christened with my unemployed tears.
Erin Lindstrom [00:44:17]: I’m sure they’re delicious.
Katie Miller [00:44:18]: They are delicious. But, yeah, I mean, Capitalism, the reality is We still have to I — Right.
Katie Miller [00:44:27]: —
Katie Miller [00:44:27]: I still have to do this. I I have to go take a full time job. I have to make a certain amount of money. I have to pay my mortgage. I have, you know, like, not ready to be able to let that go, but I can see Getting ready now, which I could have never seen before this experience, and it’s made that very real for me. So that’s the next 5 years is getting ready for that.
Erin Lindstrom [00:44:51]: Yeah. And doing it in an environment that sounds like it’s gonna be great for you professionally, which I think is so important. And, like, if that’s something that we can do, while we’re figuring everything else out, then that’s a win.
Katie Miller [00:45:02]: Oh my gosh. Completely. It’s, you know, and I’m really gonna take advantage of the education benefits that they offer because as I said, one of the things in this job search, I don’t have a master’s. I don’t have an advanced degree. before I was always able to custom my way around that with my experience, my jobs, and all that. And it became increasingly clear that I wasn’t getting past a first screen because I don’t have an advanced degree. Not to say that I want to work in a place that would screen me out strictly because I didn’t have an advanced degree that says a lot. I think — Right.
Katie Miller [00:45:34]: —
Katie Miller [00:45:34]: about the company. However, I want 1. I want a master’s. I’m and so that’s my one of my first things is to enroll in a master’s program in either psychology or behavioral science, and because I want to, not necessarily for my next job, but it’s just like, it’s something for me to build out my, just build out my knowledge and maybe, you know, who knows what that will lead to. But again, as a switcher, as a builder or climber, it’s like you when these opportunities come to add to your toolbox. It’s like to take those opportunities is super smart because I am a testament. You never know where you’re gonna end up
Erin Lindstrom [00:46:15]: Yeah. Wow. When you said because I want to, I like, immediate, like, goosebumps because that’s so powerful. I think there’s always that question of, like, do I need more education? Will that get me in the door? And so being in a situation where there’s the room to choose, I think that’s just so important. And then to do what you want to do and not necessarily the thing that will get you the interview. Like, There’s a little freedom and that, yeah, it’s beautiful. Yeah.
Katie Miller [00:46:36]: Yeah. Thank you.
Erin Lindstrom [00:46:37]: alright. I know I could, like, ask you a 1000 more questions. We could do a whole series. So I’ll have to kind of like the lightning round ones. And I would just say as someone who it’s very hard for me to choose favorites, I will ask for, like, in this moment, what is true for these answers, and it’s okay if they’re not true forever. So first one, favorite project that you’ve worked on.
Katie Miller [00:46:58]: Africa. So my last project at well, no, excuse me, not my last project, but my most major project was in 2022. I just started on a brand new team. 1st week, my manager says, we have this big project in Africa. Do you wanna do it? Yes. Of course, I do, but you realize I’m brand new. Like, nobody knows me. So it was 2 stakeholders. one language, one kind of support activity, originally in 3 markets in Africa. Took 9 months. We grew I grew it from 3 to 8 markets. 1st study that Google did in Native African languages. was massively influential in terms of realizing what we were who we were not supporting. by not conducting research in native languages. So we had some monolingual groups, some very large monolingual groups who weren’t being weren’t showing up in Google products. We weren’t using that language, their the native language in UI. So that uncovered it really fast. Also, you know, being able to stop markets from not getting support because, oh, they speak English. English is very, you know, is so common. We don’t need to support native language. While another market that uses that same native language, it’s exactly the opposite. English is almost not never spoken. So if we had scraps Swahili, a whole market would have been left out. We wouldn’t have known that without the research. Wouldn’t have known that without doing research. in native languages. So I’m so proud of that work. It’s so much my favorite one because it was huge. was complicated. It was messy. Lots of levels. An awesome external partner that was, you know, they were the conduit to the research on the ground. And, yeah, it was a research project of my dreams. And when I could have never imagined being able to do, and I did it. And it was a success.
Erin Lindstrom [00:49:03]: Amazing. Love that. Thank you for sharing. Alright. Next question is a UX tip for people working in UX. So this might be a tip. It might be something they know, but, like, a reminder, what is that message from you?
Katie Miller [00:49:19]: Okay. This one’s controversial.
Erin Lindstrom [00:49:21]: So — Okay. We love a little controversy. Yep.
Katie Miller [00:49:24]: I think, you know, there’s a great, I would urge everyone to put in design thinking and white supremacy in a search bar and see what you get. There is work that is being done by organizations in the US that is so important and I think not I’m just gonna say create a research lab. That is it’s just not well known. It changed everything for me. I attended some virtual workshops that they offer. I encourage anyone to do that. And it, you know, it breaks apart this idea, you know, as as UX people. We get the information, you know, so you hope that your researcher is inclusive. You hope that your researcher is like really doing their own work to identify who you talk to and make sure that it’s including all sorts of people, you hope that. You get your data, and then as designers, you know, you work on solutions, you may or may not bring the community in, you may or may not make that process open. Most of us don’t. Most groups the designers and the researchers and the developers who tend to be educated white, been in women, mostly men, but women too. We curate out solutions. We curate research report data that we want. we make it agree with us, right, and our point of view, and our point of view, as we know, is not necessarily representative of our users. And so it’s an opportunity for us to check our privilege, check when we curate out solutions that may not fit our version, but best fit the community’s version of what works. That’s my tip. It’s controversial, but I believe really strongly in it. It’s changed really the way I look at that, the design thinking process. Absolutely.
Erin Lindstrom [00:51:32]: Love that. Thank you so much for sharing. Okay. 3rd and final question, probably. One one tip for people who are navigating the career search process, career building process, depending. Sometimes it’s job search. Sometimes it’s more, I’m thinking about my career or what needs to happen. But anything that comes up for you around that?
Katie Miller [00:51:51]: Absolutely. I that was a lot. That was a lot. Absolutely. I have feelings about LinkedIn, actually. I really do. I think that we put. We also collectively We put a lot of emphasis on LinkedIn to do a lot of work for us. Right? But it was a helpful reminder to really think about who owns LinkedIn, who’s benefiting from LinkedIn, what LinkedIn’s Like, why are they existing? They are not existing to help me. They’re existing to sell ads. I mean, they’re moneymaker they are and, you know, no one, no tech company is completely altruistic. I don’t feel like that’s such, like, lightnings can strike me down for saying that. So you’re not seen necessarily by the people who you want to see you. Right? You can do all this work. Right? Get your about section, get your profile, like really good and with luck, the person with the job that you want is going to see you. but the chances are, I don’t think you I don’t think you can ever bet on that. You have to do the work. Like it still comes down to you being your own salesperson and being, like, you have to be the one that reaches out you have to be the one that identifies the people who you wanna talk to or the companies where you wanna work. And LinkedIn can be a tool for people to see, you know, quickly scan your resume, scan your about get to know you outside of your resume. That’s awesome. It’s an awesome place to drive people too, but to depend on it, to do that outreach for you. I feel like I know I, when I started this job search, I thought that, oh, LinkedIn will do this job because I’m getting these, like, inquiries from LinkedIn of people who don’t know me and don’t care. Like, they’re not recruiting me as an individual. They’re recruiting the Katie Miller who worked for 5 years at Google as a researcher, which, again, tiny part of my story. I think that’s the thing is you’re gonna have to the outreach part, the sales part, the coffee is for closers part is still up up to us, and I think that’s no fun. I think, like, for me, that’s I don’t wanna have to do that. That’s why I wanted a program to do it for me. but that’s not the way it is. And so it’s like it’s like yourself up, you know, because you tell your story best. And if you’re in control of that who sees your LinkedIn, then you have something to follow-up on. Did you see it? I answer any questions for you. then you’re in control. And so don’t seed your control over to an algorithm and a platform that in the end of the day, is not working for you. They’re working for their shareholders. Controversial.
Erin Lindstrom [00:54:58]: Controversial. I appreciate the perspective, like, overall here in that too is just like owning the you part of this. And, like, some things are out of our control. There are tools we can use, but at the end of the day, like, It’s gonna be a relationship. If someone’s saying yes to someone else, unless, you know, maybe cut to 10 years from now, and it’s just the algorithm choosing that we’re not needing a person. But for this moment in time. The human piece is still there, and so strengthening the human part of your connection and relationships and all of that. Like, yeah, it makes sense to take it around it.
Katie Miller [00:55:28]: It is not lost on me that the job that I’m starting came from a phone call taken in a cab. Right. It had nothing to Doody. We hadn’t even got on LinkedIn. Like, it it wasn’t a job that came through LinkedIn. Wasn’t a job I had seen and then, you know, found people connected at that company and you know, sold myself through. None of those. This job was a recommendation from someone I used to work with and a phone call in a cab. as human as it gets could have been the same thing that happened 20 years ago 40 years ago.
Erin Lindstrom [00:56:01]: Right.
Katie Miller [00:56:01]: You know? And yeah. So be ready to answer the phone, I guess. It’s gonna be.
Erin Lindstrom [00:56:08]: Yes. And it’s so interesting too because yep. sorry. I didn’t mean to speak over you. It’s just so interesting to me too. Like, the, yeah, the phone call in the car, like, it’s so basic. And, like, you did all the work of going through your career materials and looking back, like, all of that work that doesn’t it’s not the resume that necessarily it’s the a at the end. It’s you, the human who then is having a different conversation and being able to express and articulate, like, your story, which is, yeah, it’s incredible. Yeah.
Katie Miller [00:56:34]: That, I could not have had the successful conversation in the cab without doing the work, without being very aware of what my story was, redefining my story for who I am now, and, you know, practicing and writing it down. And so I was able to say I was able to be very clear and enthusiastic. this confident person before you wasn’t always this way. I used to, like, I was a big giggler. I was a big, like, demure, like, this kind of hair behind the ears, like, I’m being deferential. In Dutch, I’d say ex of our, like, no way. Like, it’s just that confidence comes from practice and from really like thinking about who you are now, what it is you want, what it is you like, what it is you don’t like, and the story you wanna tell and then practice telling that story, that makes confidence. It’s not a magic, like, one moment it just happens. It takes work to do it, but it’s worth it because that’s the, you know, that’s the person that someone’s like, oh, I wanna hear more about them, or I want someone else to meet them. Right.
Erin Lindstrom [00:57:47]: Yep. It’s the investment that pays off. It’s hard. It’s the goes back to that non linear, like, just don’t know where it’s gonna pop up, but when you start to carry yourself like that, it becomes easier to recommend you. And it’s not something we can necessarily point to as like, here’s what’s wrong, but the energy matters that confidence matters.
Katie Miller [00:58:03]: Right. It’s super true. It’s super true. And it has nothing to do with age. has nothing to do with experience. I mean, I would love to say it did, but I look back on the person I was when I was, like, tucking the hair and being demure and giggling, still had a really kick ass like portfolio. I was in the middle of my like pedigree working with like massive clients, huge budgets, Making things land. Like, there was no reason for me to be small. There was no reason for me to be like, please hire me. None. but that’s I didn’t believe that’s for myself. If I’d done this work, if I was in the mindset of doing this work back then, Who knows where I would be now? Because it is truly it’s it’s a process and it’s just it’s the work that we do, but we can do it at any time and redo it whenever we need to. So that’s my plug for, like, don’t sit don’t sell yourself short if you’re in the early career. It’s you’ve already done things. Right. You can build your story on in a way that you should be really proud of.
Erin Lindstrom [00:59:21]: Yes. I think that’s so important. And that’s part of the transformation of working with getting your hands dirty while they’re you’re working on your resume or your portfolio, but then the after effect of like, oh, wow. That was really good. I didn’t even realize I have all this experience. I’ve done so much stuff. It’s transformative.
Katie Miller [00:59:36]: Yeah. Yeah. And you guys really help with that too. I will say. I mean, When you’re in the depths of it, you may not be able to recognize the things that the skills that you’ve acquired or the story you can tell So that’s where having third party, people who care about your journey, but aren’t like part. They weren’t there. Right? We’re not your they’re not your best friends, spouse, co worker, or brother. They, you know, coaches like you, Erin, like, be able to say, have you thought about that? Or, oh, that’s really interesting. Like, have you thought about putting those things together? It’s super helpful. We all need that kind of that agnostic third party, but also from a professional point of view, we need that advice. That’s why, like, mentorship is super important. Having a resource like CSL is super important, and that larger community is really important. to be able to give you that, you know, 360 view when you’re just too close to it. And the people who, like, the people closest to you in your life that they may be too close to it too. Right.
Erin Lindstrom [01:00:40]: Beautiful. This has been such an amazing conversation. Just thank you again so much for sharing your time and your knowledge and your wisdom with us. Really appreciate it. and we’re so grateful that, you know, we got to have this experience with you.
Katie Miller [01:00:52]: Oh, it’s been this is absolutely my pleasure. I love talking about myself. And but I am also a big believer in this program, and I Anything I can do? And I just also just want to, like, give support to people who are out there looking for work. It’s not easy. No. It is not easy. So that is just that sentence just sits by itself. It’s not easy. We’ll up.
Erin Lindstrom [01:01:20]: So Exactly. There’s simple steps, but that does not make it easy by any. No. It’s a — By
Katie Miller [01:01:25]: any means.
Katie Miller [01:01:25]: —
Erin Lindstrom [01:01:26]: a challenge. Yeah.
Katie Miller [01:01:27]: Thank you so much for asking me to do this. It’s really my pleasure.
Katie Miller [01:01:31]: Thanks for listening to the career strategy podcast. Make sure to follow me, Sarah Doody, on Twitter, instagram, YouTube, or LinkedIn. If anything in today’s episode resonated with you, I’d love to hear about it. Tag me on social media or send me a DM. And lastly, if you found this episode helpful, I’d really appreciate it. you could share it with a friend or give us a quick rating on Spotify or review on Apple Podcasts. Catch you later.