AMA: I'm Justin Edmund, the first product design hire at Pinterest.

almost 6 years ago from Justin Edmund, Product Designer at Pinterest

  • Tierney CyrenTierney Cyren, almost 6 years ago

    Did you graduate? If so, do you think your degree has helped you land your jobs? Why? If not, do you think you've missed out on opportunities because you don't have a degree? What are those opportunities? Either way, what are your general thoughts on having a design degree?

    0 points
    • Justin EdmundJustin Edmund, almost 6 years ago

      I did graduate.

      I don't know exactly whether my degree helped me land my jobs, but it definitely helped expose me to them. I only considered being a product designer when I saw what fellow alum Lee Byron was doing after graduating at NYT and later Facebook. If I didn't go to Facebook, I wouldn't have met Evan Sharp, so I wouldn't be at Pinterest.

      I think design degrees are more useful than people make them out to be. Of course, all design schools are not created equal, and many of the better ones will cost an arm and a leg, but I think that the salaries of the jobs that you can land as a consequence of having a good degree are proportional to tuition costs. This is especially true for product designers and engineers.

      Carnegie Mellon taught me what Design is, with a capital "D," where previously I thought of it as little more than applied art. Granted, at the time, there was no iPhone and Facebook was a budding website on the internet, but Design has implications beyond posting status updates and designing lickable icons. Designers have the ability to solve problems that actually will change the world—its just that many of us either can't find those opportunities or choose to make photo apps instead. I think this is something that is very easily missed without having been in design "academia," if you will. My personal opinion is that letting those opportunities pass us by is worse for the profession as a whole.

      There's lots of other little skills that I learned in school that I don't often see in self-taught designers, like learning how to work on teams, learning how to give and take feedback, how to work on a deadline, how to communicate effectively in low-fidelity, and so on. That being said, self-taught designers are usually better at execution because they dive straight into the work. It's a trade-off. Of course, those are all anecdotal observations.

      I wouldn't trade my experience at CMU for the world. I don't think I would have been a designer, or nearly as good of one, without it.

      3 points