19 - Helping UX Professionals through career change with intention, mindfulness, and confidence with Amy Santee

19 - Helping UX Professionals through career change with intention, mindfulness, and confidence with Amy Santee

Recording Note: A lot has happened since our conversation was recorded a few months ago, so some observations may not be accurate today.

In this episode, I speak with career strategist and coach for UX professionals Amy Santee.

Amy is a champion for UX professionals who want to design their careers with intention and bring their good to the world through a practice of self-research, self-respect, self-advocacy, and strategy.

With all the uncertainty and recent tech layoffs, it is good to know that we have amazing people like Amy on our side to guide and support us through change.

Amy’s coaching philosophy is to help her clients navigate change by being strategic, mindful, and intentional.

Top insights from our conversation:

On Career Change

  • Be intentional and strategic with your job search.
  • Before searching for a job, figure out your why, your values, and how you want to work and live.
  • Identify the limiting beliefs and behavior patterns that are not serving you well.

On Career Coaching

  • A career coach can provide an outside perspective and validate or challenge your thoughts.
  • A career coach can help you do your job search more effectively and strategically to help you stand out from the crowd.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques can be used in coaching to help overcome the inner struggles we face so we can reach our potential.
  • If you want to work with a coach, identify what you need help with and research coaches by reading their blog posts and newsletters and talking with them to see if they are the right partner to guide you in your career.

On Self-Discovery For Your Career

  • Collect data about yourself, such as your thoughts, behaviors, actions, and emotions, to understand yourself better so you can find a work environment that fits your values and supports you.
  • Check the stories you tell yourself. Validate them instead of blindly believing them.
  • Check your assumptions about external events such as the tech layoffs and make sure you're resume, portfolio, and presentations are all buttoned up and ready to go.

On Networking

  • Always be open to new opportunities.
  • On LinkedIn, turn on the feature that privately lets recruiters know that you are open to new opportunities
  • Network, network, network.
  • Start networking now, not when you need it.
  • Find people at companies you are interested in and make mutually beneficial connections.
  • Start interacting within the UX community to share your comments and thoughts.

Networking isn't only for new people you meet; you can reach out to people you have worked with in past jobs as well.

Listener challenge:

Amy shared a great personal development challenge to help you identify areas of opportunity and how begin working towards them one intentional step at a time. Make sure to listen till the end!

Connect with Amy

Website - http://www.amysantee.com
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/amysantee/

About Amy Santee

Amy Santee is a Career Strategist and Coach for UX professionals who want to design their careers with intention and bring their good to the world.

As a personal growth and career development nerd, she has partnered with hundreds of individuals to implement a practice of self-research, self-advocacy, and strategy, so they can make decisions with confidence and effectively navigate the complexities of life and work.

Prior to coaching, Amy built a career as a UX researcher and practicing anthropologist, working on product development and strategy for e-commerce, health care, automotive, retail, consumer technology, civic design, and small business.

In her free time, she enjoys weight training, birding, gardening, and exploring the Pacific Northwest. To learn more about Amy, find her on LinkedIn or visit amysantee.com.

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Unleash Your Mindset! Podcast Ep. 19 - Amy Santee

Amy Santee
And there's a million ways to say approach a job search, right?  And figuring out how to spend your time and what to put effort into, and working through all of the mythologies and misinformation about how to go about this process and you know, all of the different advice out there. But  actually taking a step back and really getting a true understanding of what's required tactically, but also how all of those different activities can work together towards your goal. And yeah, you have to be much more intentional. You have to do some foundational work of who am I as a professional and a person?  What are my values? Like how do I want to live my life?  Which of these potential opportunities is going to allow me to live the life that I want to live? And so foundationally really doing some thinking but not dwelling on things for so long that you don't take an action, however small, to move forward and again, test a hypothesis about a possibility that you might be interested.

Rizwan Javaid: Hi, I'm Rizwan. Welcome to Unleash Your Mindset, a podcast where I talk to creatives to learn actionable strategies that can help you achieve your creative potential. In each episode, my guests also share a listener challenge to help you take action and make a positive change in your life right away. So make sure to stay till the end.

My guest today is Amy Santee, a career strategist and coach.

Amy is a champion for UX professionals who want to design their careers with intention and bring their good to the world through a practice of self-research, self-respect, self-advocacy. And strategy. With all the uncertainty and recent tech layoffs, it is good to know that we have amazing people like Amy on our side to guide us and support us through career changes.

Rizwan Javaid: Welcome to the podcast, Amy.

Amy Santee: Thank you, Rizwan. I'm so excited to be here and chat with you on your podcast.

Rizwan Javaid: I've been looking forward to this day. I've been visiting your amazing website, and I'm just in awe and how beautiful it is. , I don't say that a lot, but your website it makes me want to redesign my website. .

Amy Santee: Thank you. I've had a website professionally for, I don't know, a decade, and it's gone through so many iterations and now that I'm doing a completely different job than I was previously as a UX researcher, it was important for me to do a total redesign and it's the first website of mine that I've actually really loved whereas the other ones served their purpose, but I didn't love them in the same way. Thank you for the compliment.

Rizwan Javaid: Speaking of. Career. Can you introduce yourself to the listeners?

Amy Santee: Yeah. So as you mentioned I am both a career strategist and a career coach, and I work with UX people specifically. So designers, researchers, content people research ops managers. I work with a wide variety of UX professionals who, have one thing in common, which is they want to make some kind of change and feel really good about it.

And it could be a job change, it could be deciding to leave a company where they make a lot of money, but they're burned out. Could be transitioning from academia into user experience and how to go about that process through being really strategic and mindful and intentional. It could be people trying to figure out other types of professional development things, challenges in the workplace promotions whatever it might be. So people who are looking to make a change, but who want to make sure that it's the right decision, that their decision making lens is refined enough so that they can feel confident. And it's like ux, right?

We want to de-risk decision making in product design. So it's kind of the same thing where, you know, if you're about to make a big change, do the research, collect the data, test hypotheses, and feel good so that you make a decision with confidence and know you're going in the right direction.

Rizwan Javaid: I feel like your approach is more intentional and Thoughtful instead of going, full blast taking a step back and doing it methodically systematically and with intention to get the results you want.

Amy Santee: Exactly. And that's what helps you do that in a more accelerated way.

And there's a million ways to say approach a job search, right? And figuring out how to spend your time and what to put effort into, and working through all of the mythologies and misinformation about how to go about this process and you know, all of the different advice out there. But actually taking a step back and really getting a true understanding of what's required tactically, but also how all of those different activities can work together towards your goal. And yeah, you have to be much more intentional. You have to do some foundational work of who am I as a professional and a person? What are my values? Like how do I want to live my life? Which of these potential opportunities is going to allow me to live the life that I want to live? And so foundationally really doing some thinking but not dwelling on things for so long that you don't take an action, however small, to move forward and again, test a hypothesis about a possibility that you might be interested.

Rizwan Javaid: We live in our heads a lot and it's hard for us to get over our own thoughts and take action. Is that something that you've experienced?

Amy Santee: Absolutely. It's such a common human mindset generally, but I do see that amongst my clients and UX people we have a certain way , of thinking, right?

A certain way of seeing problems and coming up with solutions and ideas and executing projects. And all of these different characteristics I think can be applied to this kind of work as well, where, you know, where it's like take a human centered, iterative research and design type approach to figuring out things for yourself and yes, part of it is, I think getting more clear and identifying self-limiting beliefs or behavior patterns that might not be serving you. you have used for coping mechanisms in the past for whatever reason. Or even just getting an outside perspective. That's something that people want is for someone else to validate how they're feeling or to challenge it or to present other ways of looking at things.

And oftentimes I do just play the role of really trying to encourage people and help them maintain motivation and build some confidence. And confidence is a practice and a mindset. And you can read articles about how to build confidence and whatnot. But unless you actually start to implement little practices, you're not gonna know what it, it feels like and you're not gonna know that you can have a different reality compared with how you have existed in the past.

I talked to and work with a lot of academics and. , everyone basically feels that academia's a very toxic environment. And I just spoke with someone today who was talking about how it takes away any confidence that you have as a person. In academia, you're made to feel like you're not special in any way.

That you always constantly have to be working your ass off to achieve the highest accomplishments and be like your peers and all of that. And that also exists in industry to some extent as well, but it can really degrade the confidence that people have. So if they're trying to move from academia into UX research, for example, that can be an area for improvement because if you don't have the confidence that you are qualified to make that transition, That you do have something special about you and your point of view to bring to the table that you deserve more money that you deserve a different kind of work environment and life you, you need to build that up to get that job and to just do your job search more effectively.

Rizwan Javaid: Yeah, I feel like it, a lot of it comes down to the mindset. Everybody has skills, but , the mindset can set you apart from everybody else. Having that confidence and speaking from my own experience not having that and seeing how it kind of kept me in a, in the same spot, same place through a long part of my career. I can see just how limiting that is, but when you're in it, it feels like that's your reality. This is how things are. There's no other way around it. But once you say work with a coach or you get that external feedback, you realize, okay, this is not right. I can achieve my potential. I can achieve the same success as other people. I have the same abilities. So I'm a big believer in coaching and getting that external point of view.

Amy Santee: Yeah. And it's it's not just in the workplace that we might be instilled with these kind of beliefs, but in our life experiences and our childhood experiences and like we can carry that stuff with us over the course of our lives and it can continue showing up. And I try to get people to think of this idea of does this thing serve you? Actually this behavior that you have or this decision to take the first job that you get, right? deserve the job you want. , and yes, I think that confidence to know that, you know what, I can turn down this job offer because it doesn't meet my requirements knowing that I will be successful in finding another job offer. That's a pretty big deal. And I see some people do that effectively, and then some other folks, it takes a little bit more effort. But really try to work with people not just on their resume and their portfolio and their LinkedIn and interview prep, but also this mindset piece that is just so important.

Rizwan Javaid: I feel like you were in my head just in that moment, like don't, don't go for the first job that comes up. And that's the mindset I used to have. And now I feel like I'm in a better position to find the right fit for me and the company. And so being okay with getting a no, having that job that I wanted or all those things that come into play.

I'm able to handle the those much better now than I was before. Before he was just go for the first thing and, and just be happy with it. That's, and you're lucky

Amy Santee: to even get that offer, yeah, exactly. Because you're an imposter and you don't actually know what you're doing, and so you're getting this job and thank goodness someone I was able to trick someone into thinking that I'm qualified.

Yeah. That's how people think. But you know, I would say imposter syndrome as we discuss it, is one thing, and that is I'm qualified, but for some reason I feel like I'm not, or other people will not think I am or I'm like making it up. Right. But you actually are qualified and competent. This other side is I'm new to ux, I'm new to research in a business context versus research in an academic context.

And those are different things right there. There might be both of those things happening, but there's just a lot of stuff to learn for any kind of job that you might want to go into. And so, , it's nuanced and we have to like work on teasing out those sorts of differences.

Rizwan Javaid: Do you think it's like a 50 50 split between mindset and skills

Amy Santee: There's always a mindset component. Like with every client, I feel like there's always gonna be that component and it could be just minor things every now and then. Or it could be some like underlying challenges that someone has beliefs about themselves or what they think is the truth, right? And kind of going with the flow of how they've done things.

So sometimes it's a much bigger component and coaching is not therapy. So you can go to a therapist to specifically address mental health challenges or whatever it may be. But cognitive behavioral theory is applicable in coaching. Mindfulness type stuff is applicable. Confidence, talking about stuff that's very emotional, that's all very relevant to coaching and it's something that a lot of people need.

So just having studied that kind of stuff as part of my coaching training, I've been going to therapy for over 10 years myself. So I have a lot of personal experiences with regard to that. And just having worked with so many people and seeing how they experience these sorts of things just makes me, I think, more effective in helping with that mindset brain portion of this work.

Rizwan Javaid: Now I'm realizing it, I think culture plays a big part in the mindsets as well being from, Pakistan originally you know, just the mindset that, that happens as you grow up in families.

And then if you immigrate and all those things they add up to challenges that you may face, later

Amy Santee: and I have worked with a significant number of people who are not originally from the united States, and who have really interesting. Really cool, but also somewhat challenging cultural origins when it comes to this sort of thing.

Expectations, right? From parents, for example. Which get instilled. Also the added challenge of trying to find a job with a visa and that pressure, right? Like I need visa sponsorship that adds so much more pressure and time constraints. And just another challenge into the pot. So yeah, that absolutely does come up.

And I think another mindset shift that is really helpful is letting go of perfectionism, and I'm a recovering perfectionist. I have like done so much to get rid of that and to. Not caring and to just kind of remove that from my life. Not that I'm sure it doesn't it still comes up every now and then, right.

Because that's just how it is. But I do see that a lot, especially from academics again, who you know, they have a PhD, took them seven years, they had to write a giant dissertation. Just always being scrutinized and being made to feel like they have to do the absolute best possible and there's no such thing as good enough.

Like nothing is ever good enough. Right. So that's a big thing that comes in too. And let's say you're working on preparing for some, interviews. You could spend infinite amount of time trying to prepare for every possible question. And I remember I did this once, kind of earlier on in my career. A job came up and I was so excited about it, and I spent the entire weekend from Friday evening to Sunday evening preparing for this interview, on Monday.

And I totally screwed up because I was just so overwhelmed. I was so worried about having the perfect answer for every possible question. And I have a vivid memory in my mind visually right now of sitting in this room and just like talking super fast and not totally making sense, and just kind of a vague memory of the person interviewing me.

And I could tell. , they probably kind of felt bad , you know, due to the, the performance. And then you know,

I finished and I, I just knew that I had bombed it, but it's because I did that and I had that mindset. And even for podcasts, like when I first started going on podcasts, I would spend so much time like thinking through what should I say?

What can I say? How do I introduce myself, all that? And now I just don't even prepare. I looked at your list of questions briefly. I didn't think about them anymore. And to be able to make that shift to not preparing at all because you feel confident to know that it'll go well versus spending inordinate amounts of time to prepare for every possible thing. That's a huge shift. It's been really beneficial.

Rizwan Javaid: I can sense that shift as well. instead of worrying about what other people will think you just say what you want to say and express yourself instead of overthinking, what other people may think or how you come across and just do what you need to do instead of worrying about things that are out of your control.

Amy Santee: Exactly. I try to take that approach generally in my life and professionally and whatnot. Cause that's a really important value of mine is integrity to myself. And don't get me wrong, there are moments where I focus too much on what other people might think. , but as much less common than it used to be.

Rizwan Javaid: Yeah. I don't think we ever get over any of these. They all show up in different ways. And just when you think you are over it, it's gonna show up in a different way where you hadn't expected. So there's always work to be done.

Amy Santee: The practice to implement there is to just be observant and notice when you're doing it and then call it out and be like, oh, okay, I'm seeing things in this way and that's because I have this inner voice that's saying that, and that's kind of part of me. But then you just learn to handle it better, manage it better, move on more quickly.

Rizwan Javaid: Are there any techniques or strategies you suggest to practice that, to, to become comfortable with just who you are?

Amy Santee: Yes. , I think it could start with collecting data on yourself. If you notice that you react in a certain way to certain triggers or there are certain types of people that you just can't be around dig further into why that might be, explore it, collect enough data on your experiences, associated emotions.

How do these things conflict with your values and self-expression? Right. So for example personally speaking, when I worked as a UX researcher, I worked in several companies and there were times where I internalized workplace toxicity as my own fault. and why can't I handle working in this kind of environment?

Why am I not good enough and what can I improve? Why am I going in the bathroom every week crying , right? I knew these things were happening and I internalized the toxic work environment as somehow my problem and my fault, and that I'm not good enough to be in this type of work environment.

And it took several years and lots of therapy conversations and just kind of moving on from this experience earlier on in my career, I wanna say this is about 10 years ago where I worked at this place to realize wow this was a toxic work environment and it was abusive. No wonder I reacted in the ways that I did.

Just kind of reflecting on experiences to find patterns and then take a step back and go, is this actually about me? Is it about something else? And instead of saying I'm not fit to be in a work environment like an agency or a corporation or whatever, turn it around and say that I, yes, while I have things that I can improve in my interactions with people, just as everyone does.

And while I can understand other perspectives, I now think that those environments are not suitable for me, just based on the way on who I am and what I care about and the kind of I don't know, just the, what I would prefer to experience in a workplace is perhaps not as common. And I've tried every possibility to deal with things and manage things.

But there's only so much you can change and control. And so ultimately you know, later on I made a choice to just remove myself completely from working inside of companies and be a consultant, and then become a coach. And this totally suits me. It gives me the lifestyle I want it, I feel happy and I don't go wow, I'm not good enough to work at such and such company. It's more of the opposite.

Rizwan Javaid: That's a common thought pattern that comes up, but, oh, I'm not good enough to work at this big company or that big, that agency. And when you're in those toxic environments I'm just thinking back to when I was in one and I thought this was it.

This was my lot in life. This is how things are because maybe I'm just not good enough and this is what's there for me? But now that I look back at it, I realize that I'm glad that I was able to get out of it, get out of it, and that not every place is toxic. There are good places that you can work in, who care for you, who, who want you to succeed.

But when you're in that moment it's critical to not internalize things and not get down on yourself because the environment is bad.

Amy Santee: I'm curious for you like, what was the main moment of realization that you needed to leave that job?

Rizwan Javaid: I think it was just the interpersonal struggles with the management and just the way they were thinking and And I think right at that time I think UX was just starting to become more of a field.

And then I realized that at that before that I was a web designer. And so was like, okay, I'm to dive into this and take a chance. I was , ready to move past that environment and.

Do something. But but I knew it it was going to be good for my career so luckily it worked out .

Amy Santee: Yeah. And good for your mental health and your general wellbeing, which I see that people don't prioritize that as much as I would like them to.

And the more aware you become of that, the more you see it ubiquitous around you. So many people, even in my personal life, I just see how they. Complain about something and there's a very clear path that they could take, but it's so uncomfortable and it's so scary, and they're afraid of what people will say or do or think that they just continue to deal with this very unfair situation or burden or whatever it might be.

And there's only so much that I can do as you know, a friend or family member, whatever, or even as a coach. But I do try to highlight those sorts of things when I see them.

Rizwan Javaid: That's a great point. Have you experienced big changes now that they're a lot of layoffs and a lot of changes happening in, in companies and careers.

Amy Santee: Yeah, it's interesting because the media and LinkedIn news headlines, it's layoffs at this company, layoffs this company. And so when it's constantly in our face, we're gonna, we're gonna have a bias, an assumption that it's just this thing that's just happening everywhere to every company and there's not gonna be any more jobs tomorrow.

And so it's definitely a trend and I expect the trend to continue, but there's more to it than that. It's which people are getting laid off. What kind of companies? Right? It's big companies might have like freezes more than layoffs and some have layoffs, right? But then I'm seeing a lot of mental health startup.

So many mental health startups that are laying people off. And my opinion is that it's because they don't have viable business models, right? That's a huge thing that I see amongst a lot of the places laying people off is, well, there's something about their business model, right? That is not viable in this moment.

your question was a bit different, but I wanted to preface it by saying that if someone's worried about that, to just take it with a grain of salt and to look at the details and see like, how would this really affect me, right? If I'm in a senior role, I'm probably golden to find jobs.

Like I'm not gonna have trouble finding a job if I'm an entry level person who just finished a design bootcamp. Yes, it's still possible for me to find a job. It's generally very hard for that group of people and it might become a little bit harder you know, moving forward, right? Like it, these things will affect different people in different ways.

But to answer your question, one thing I do see come up is people kind of grasping onto these headlines a little bit more than is helpful. Kind of just making assumptions about, well, if there's layoffs and there's fewer jobs, then I'm not gonna be able to get a job. And that's just such a generalized conclusion, , about the situation.

Maybe it's harder to get a job if your resume isn't in a great place, or if you don't know how to tell your story or if you're not strategic. And I try to remind people that your job search is gonna look totally different from this other person's. And they may be just all over the place with what they're doing, and you are gonna be a lot more intentional and you're going to know how to position yourself and you're gonna build up the confidence to make this happen.

So therefore, it will be more likely for this to happen to you.

Rizwan Javaid: Looking at the headlines and this is the first thing you think about you, you go to that negative space okay, things are really bad. Your mind goes to the negative places that if it happens to me tomorrow. And all those things come up. And I was actually thinking that just yesterday that if I was laid off, how would I react? How would I would I be in the right mindset to, to not go in a downward spiral or would I be able to look for a job with intention, and be thoughtful about it.

Amy Santee: Yeah, you're right. And you can prepare. You can think about that, right?

Okay, if that happens to me, what does that mean? How do I prepare so that I'm not. Scrambling. Maybe it's just keep your resume up to date. If you haven't worked on your resume in two years, just update the resume. Spend a day this weekend. Right. Or update your LinkedIn if it's out of date, job searches.

Should not just be people looking for jobs proactively. Your LinkedIn should always have the open to work thing on the backend. So like there's the open to work banner on your profile and it's the green circle and it's just a public indication that you're looking for a job. And there's a backend version that you can turn on that recruiters will see if they're searching through people.

And everyone should always have that turned on. And everyone should look at their LinkedIn messages and see what comes through. because jobs will come your way that you didn't seek out, that you didn't expect. It could be your dream company. And that's why it's important to have that profile up to date because you know, it's up to date, it's accurate.

People know where you're at. And so I guess my point being that you know, if I were in your position, I would kind of preemptively do something like that just to make sure that opportunities could come through my inbox.

Rizwan Javaid: That's a great point to be proactive and be ready for if it does happen.

Because nobody knows it will happen to them or not, but we can take the steps to be prepared and prepare our LinkedIn profile resume portfolio, have those things ready.

Amy Santee: Yeah. And you know, prioritizing, right? So, . If you have your resume and your LinkedIn up to date and you have a website that has just enough info, it's fine. And then if you do decide to pursue some interviews, then yeah, then get into gear and work on your portfolio presentation.

Right. So I think, yeah, some stuff is good to prepare for. I also think too, like pay attention to what's going on at your company. Like kind of step back and assess like what is our business model here and is it similar to other companies that have had issues and any like signals within the company, like budget cuts.

Budget cuts are a predecessor to layoffs sometimes. So just being really aware and yes, getting yourself into a spot. So that, and also networking. This is why ongoing networking, not just when you need a job, but ongoing networking over the course of your career is important because we find jobs through our network, we get recommended or referrals from people we meet.

They think of us even though they chatted with us a year ago, oh, I heard about this job. Are you interested? Right. So I think that's why that's beneficial as well. Do these things consistently enough rather than just when you're looking for a job.

And when I decided to leave in-house work and go into consulting, which I did for two and a half years or so I didn't have a hard time finding clients because I had a network, because I know people, because I meet people and go to events and I do talks and I go on I do all this stuff that just builds up my presence and my network and my credibility and reputation and so I didn't really have to work all that hard to find people. You can just share that you're looking for a job or share that you're a consultant or share that you've switched into some totally different job and then people will come to support you.

Rizwan Javaid: That's a great point that everybody should be putting their thoughts out there and have a voice instead of just being on the sidelines but constantly just find opportunities to share your brand, share yourself whether it's starting a meetup or any other way that you can just be part of the community and network. You never know when somebody can help you in your journey.

Amy Santee: And you said the key word, which is community. And I think that's a better way of thinking about all of this, which is be part of the community and communities at their core are a group of people with something in common who want to help each other. Yeah. That's it. And who understand each other. And so if you're part of a community, then that will just naturally occur.

And being part of it isn't just plugging in and looking and observing, but also participating.

Rizwan Javaid: That's the key. Whether it's on social media or even meetups or any type of community event. It's good being comfortable with communicating with others whether it's in person or online actively engaging with people and it is difficult online but it's once you get into the habit of it, it becomes easier, I feel.

Amy Santee: It's the confidence thing. Take baby steps, post something, comment something, and then you become comfortable with it. And case in point, you found me through one of my LinkedIn posts.

Rizwan Javaid: Yeah. You did a presentation on how to show up on LinkedIn.

Amy Santee: Yeah, exactly. And it was using that framework of creating and participating in community to benefit others and yourself, essentially. For your professional development

And LinkedIn is a tool that your network uses hiring managers use and the industry uses.

So if there's one place you need to focus in on LinkedIn would be a great place. Yeah. I've seen it really work wonders and it can, if you use it intentionally like that, it's not an outlier or a rarity for people to use LinkedIn as a platform to engage with others and get a medium and long-term benefits.

Rizwan Javaid: Speaking of networking, just having the confidence that you can talk to people who you haven't met it's something that can help you in your career.

Amy Santee: Yeah. It's not this old fashioned version of networking from 5, 10, 20 years ago. Right. It's, yeah. The image of, and I know this sounds very old-fashioned and novel, but going to an in-person networking event and there's a hundred people there and you don't know where to start, and you walk in the door and you're like, , everyone here looks really cool, and I'm not, everyone here looks like they know what they're doing and I don't.

Yeah. And then who do I talk with? And it's awkward. And then the random exchange of business cards, whether or not it actually is based on a good conversation. Yeah, that's, I've been there, done that. I'm sure you have. I'm sure lots of other people have. But yeah, this is like the new model. And that's the nice thing about these platforms is they help us do that more easily.

Start with people that you have affinities with. If you come out of an HCI program, find an HCI person. If you come out of criminal justice, find a person with a PhD in that. If you're wanting to work at a particular company, see if you're connected to someone who works there. Someone listens to your podcast Rizwan, and then they message you and say, Hey, I love your podcast. I really liked this guest and I found this insightful. I just, I would love to connect with you and stay up to date. How would you respond to that? ? Yeah, that'd be flattered. Yeah, it's flattering, but it's also they actually put effort into it.

And it's not just a random and you can message people randomly, that's fine too, but it, there's more meaning to it. And people who you share an affinity with, I think you're just more inclined to wanna help you or answer questions. So if you start with that, I think that's a lot more comfortable than kind of random reach outs.

Right. And then just to make it more comfortable, have very specific questions that you wanna ask. Say it's an informational interview, or you wanna send a message. Very specific questions. Not can you help me understand how to get a job in ux? Yeah, no, like Google that shit, right? Ask me like, Hey, I saw you went from anthropology into UX research and I have that background too.

And what do you think was most helpful in communicating the value of an anthropology background for application and UX research? Okay, I can either answer that question or send them a couple resources or whatever it may be. And then there's this other idea of don't just jump in with some request immediately without some kind of rapport.

So, hey, can you look at my resume and tell me what you think or my portfolio? You can find some people like that on mentoring sites, but you have to balance it and try to. try to make it reciprocally beneficial. Yeah. Even though you're networking in order to gain knowledge for yourself.

That's just a known factor and people shouldn't feel bad about it. That's just the nature of this type of thing.

Rizwan Javaid: That's a great point to start off small even maybe even reaching out to people you worked with before and just getting into the habit of reaching out to people and talking to them.

And one thing I realized that just the other day is that networking doesn't have to be new people all the time. It can be people you've worked with and to reconnect with them.

So it's take the opportunity to make it low stakes and reach out to people you already know. And so you build up the conversation skill and being interested in the other people.

Amy Santee: That's a great point. And it doesn't occur to me to say that, but it is absolutely true.

You know, I talk about networking with people. It's usually in the context of folks trying to get into UX research. That's it's for everyone, but especially important for them. And so that may not be quite as relevant for them if they don't have like past UX colleagues per se. But to your point, yeah, we should all maintain relationships with a selection of people that it really makes sense to you.

And usually those are the people that you just wanna hop on a chat and you have no agenda and you're just catching up. And then you probably start to talk about work and this and that, and, Those are just, they're enjoyable, but you're kind of rekindling a connection just enough to maintain it. and it's mutually beneficial.

And that's a really great point.

Rizwan Javaid: Thanks. That's something that I've started practicing is just reaching out to people who I've worked with or who've who are in my network. It's, it is not, it's not easy because like you said they need to be a select group of people. People who you feel comfortable with reaching out to you from your past.

This would be a good LinkedIn post for you.

Yeah, good point.

Amy Santee: I'll look for it on LinkedIn sometime soon.

Rizwan Javaid: Yeah. On social media, people like one of your posts and reach out to them they like what you're sharing find these opportunities to meet people and connect with them.

Amy Santee: Exactly.

Rizwan Javaid: Because you know if you don't do it in your regular life or if you don't do it consistently, You're not going to do it when it counts. And so building that curiosity into what other people are doing and having conversations with them and learning about them, practicing your listening skills, all those things that UX professionals do at work, but outside , outside of work, it's also applicable.

And yeah, that's, I think that's more a note for me than anybody.

That's a good note for me too. Just the importance of doing that to make sure I'm doing that to some extent. Yeah.

One question I just realized I wanted to ask around values is, do you see people clients who have never looked at their values, like they haven't done any self-reflection or anything like that, and where would you recommend people how would you recommend people start to do that work?

Amy Santee: Yeah. As humans, we're all driven by and make decisions based on emotions and values and things like that. So who we choose to vote for and how that person matches our values to. Who we choose to date or what we buy at the store. Just anything that has to do with living our lives.

Right? There's some value, some underlying values with regard to those decisions. But that doesn't mean people have actually sat down to make their list of values or they don't quite know the words. They can describe their preferences. They can describe how they might make decisions in some way or why they like someone or not someone else.

Yeah. But if you can whittle it down to a single word, like accountability or integrity or financial security, right? If you can actually make your list of say, your 10 core values Yeah. And operationalize them so you know what they look like in practice. How you wanna practice the values and then how you want other people to respect the values in their own behaviors.

It's just, yeah, a really great way to clarify. And if you go through an exercise of like articulating your values and reflecting on positive and not so great experiences and what that says about your values and which ones are being honored and which ones were not being honored.

And that's an exercise that I have a lot of my clients do if I feel the need for that sort of thing. Because it's a huge part of making a right decision for yourself, right? Is this path I'm taking, does it align with my values? Right? So I have them do that exercise and the outcome is that list.

And then also just some reflection on those sorts of things. And imagine you have your list of 10 and you write it on a sticky note and you just post it on your wall or something and you can look at it and go, Okay. Like you just start to, it just starts to become non-negotiable.

Yeah. Just because you've thought about it a little bit more. And again, it's really important to operationalize them. So if you really care about autonomy in your work, what does that actually mean? Okay. Now that I know what that means and how I want autonomy to happen, for me now I can decide if this job I'm considering is going to provide me with that.

Or if I'm in a job and I feel like I don't have as much autonomy as I want and people are just telling me what they want me to do, and I don't have a choice. That means my autonomy value is being trampled on, and I have to make a decision as to whether I want to continue putting up with that. Maybe it's worth it for some other things, or maybe it's just too much of a compromise and I need to find something else.

Rizwan Javaid: Yeah. I feel like values is the foundation that. Everything is built upon that the, your career strategy and your your mindset. It all kind of starts with understanding your values. And I actually, I did I did a similar exercise and I found I believe it was James clears values list.

There's 50 words on there. And just like you said, find the 10 and I actually found five. And just, you just sit with those think about them see how they show up in your life, what's more important to you. So you kind of start living them and then they become part of you. And I think that's a great idea to put them up where you can see them and be reminded of what they are as you're making decisions throughout the day.

Amy Santee: I think it goes back to your question too about if you're having certain experiences in the workplace are you having, is there tension and frustration there because it's causing you to compromise your values or they're not being respected? That's a good way to assess oh, this place is not right for me. So again, it's like data collecting and then comparing it with your list of values, whether it's your current situation or past, or even a vision for what you want the future to be based on those values. Yeah, you're right. It's a cornerstone.

Rizwan Javaid: What do you love most about coaching? What excites you about coaching?

Amy Santee: It's just I get to constantly learn . I've always been a lifelong learner type person and I. Spent a lot of time in school and just always kind of observing new ideas and interesting things. And I'm a history buff. And then I went into UX research and my job was to learn stuff and then help other people learn stuff.

And coaching is the same thing. It's kind of like doing research with individual people on themselves. And so helping my clients gain insights and make decisions, and then I get to learn from them. I learn a lot from them. I learn a lot just through coaching conversations. That helps me improve future coaching conversations constantly learning and working with people, a variety of people.

It also requires that I'm learning more about topics that are relevant. So I really need to stay up to date with ux. I need to learn about the perspectives of. Recruiters, right? I've never been a recruiter, I've never been a manager. So I have limited personal experience and I cannot base all of my coaching just on my own stuff.

I base it on what I see with all of my clients, and then I base it on this recruiter on YouTube or on LinkedIn, learn from them, following them, understanding their perspective. And now I have new information and even more refined, accurate information that I can provide. And I go to events do all of that.

So that's still, I still need to stay plugged into all that stuff and make sure that I'm keeping abreast of changes and in, in order to have conversations about the job market and how recruiters think about stuff or whatever it might be. So I think really it's the learning and then I think it's also the scope of impact that I'm able to have.

I have a hu I have a hundred percent impact through my work. I don't have 30% impact from my work. Like when I worked in companies it's th and I'm just making up a number. I don't know what it was, but it wasn't as high of an amount as I wanted it to be. But you work on projects and the project gets canceled.

You work on a bunch of stuff and you're like, we, your team knows what the team needs to do. But then an executive is just no, we're gonna do this other thing. Whatever the case might be like, that's really frustrating for a lot of people. And it was so frustrating for me to be in that environment and not see my really hard quality work go anywhere.

And now working with individual people, there's always an impact. The impacts are significant. Helping people get a job, helping people get more money, helping people just feel better like that. I love that. And I love, that's very validating for me. And one other thing I'll say too though is reflecting back on working in companies, if I could go back, I would change the way I think about impact and I would try to just care about a lot less.

I would try to not care about the stuff that I can't control. Sure. As in the organizational culture, I can't change the toxic organizational culture, right. Of a giant corporation. I can affect my little team in this corner. I can work with those people, make their work lives better, care of only about what they think of my work and how they incorporate it and look at all this other stuff and go, I can't control the fact that some decision maker.

Wants us to go in another direction, right. Or that this product manager doesn't value the research or see why it's useful. Right? I did my best. I can't control it. And so I, if I could go back again, I would try to think a little bit more how I do now, which is let's just have a very focused scope of impact and then the rate of impact is just going to naturally be higher

Rizwan Javaid: Sure. Yeah. Good point. Would you also look at the relationship with the company a little differently looking at as a partnership instead of, employee and employer? Would that change as well?

Amy Santee: Probably not because. I kind of hate companies. I am very jaded about companies and capitalism and they exist to make money for people who already have money, essentially.

And if you're an, if you're employed, you're there to provide value through your labor and you're not, you're never going to be reciprocated fairly within businesses that profit off of you. Right? So that's my beef with companies in general. What I would have changed is, again, just like not caring if this person was being an idiot or, you know what?

I don't agree with the company strategy. Well, I'm just gonna do my job and this is just a job. And that was part of the shift I had to make too in the past several years is not. Be fully tied in my personal identity to my career. And that was a really hard nut to crack, to not take all of that personally.

And if I do work and I'm not validated and I see my self inextricably linked with my career and my self worth, then of course I'm gonna get burned out and feel crappy and hate my job. So that was also a big change that I had to make.

Rizwan Javaid: I remember last time I was in the layoff and it really hit me hard because I was so I identified so much with my job. If somebody asked me who was I was a UX designer, . And so now that I, now, after a few years, I realize just how much that led me into the downward spiral when I didn't have a job and how much inner struggle that causes. So now that I've created a little bit of distance I feel like I have better control of that.

And so going back to that thought that if I was laid off today, how would I respond? And I feel like having that separation is important to be able to to not feel down on yourself and not be depressed and everything that comes with that

Amy Santee: right our jobs don't define our humanity, even though in our society. You're not a worthy human unless you have a job. That's how our society is. If you are a high school dropout or if you got laid off or fired, or you can't hold a job or whatever you can't get one in the first place. Or you have a drug addiction and you lose drop, like all of these factors, right?

If you don't have a job, then you are not worthy. That's why we call it like earning a living. We sh we have to literally make money to live and exist and that's wrong. And so I think if we can like, do some self-care in terms of reminding ourselves that we are not defined by our job and our value and our worth as a human, ha should have nothing and has nothing to do with a job and contributing to some company's bottom line, that can be a game changer as well. And just a way of resisting and protecting yourself.

Rizwan Javaid: I think that's where like real confidence can come in as well. That okay, I am not my job. I am not just a UX designer that's not I'm myself, I am a parent I'm other things besides just my job or my role or my title.

Amy Santee: Exactly.

Rizwan Javaid: And that can help you show up with confidence, in interviews, in your conversations with others as well.

Amy Santee: Exactly. And we do have to play a game though, right? It would be nice if we could just show up to an interview and they're like, well, why do you want this job? I want money , I want a paycheck so I can like, pay my bills.

That's not often acceptable. That's like usually not acceptable. What's acceptable is to perform some kind of response that may be true, right? You want a paycheck and you really align with this company. You want a paycheck and whatever other things. But oftentimes some people who really just do need a job, they are pressured to make up some story, to have an answer to that question that is acceptable in that person's eyes.

Rizwan Javaid: Yeah. So if I haven't ever worked with a coach what are some things that I need to keep in mind some suggestions for people new to coaching?

Amy Santee: I think coaching, just like therapy and personal training and like any kind of self-centric, self-focused, self-care, personal growth type activities.

It's, it falls into that category. Right. I've had coaches in the past, Most of the coaches I know, hopefully all of them have also had coaches. It can serve a lot of purposes. Coaching is its own actual discipline. You can get training and certifications and it and that sort of thing.

And really the goal is to just help guide people towards their own insights and everyone has the answer inside themselves and yada, yada. And that's true. The way I practice coaching is a mix of that and strategizing and advising and that sort of thing. So I have more of a blend.

But you will find coaches out there who either have more of a blend or they're a little bit more traditional. So you know, if you're looking for a coach identify what kind of change do you wanna make in your life or what are you struggling with that you could use some help exploring.

In conversations or maybe in a course some coaches offer like workshops and courses if you wanna do more of a group thing or kind of an asynchronous thing. So identify like some goals that you have and start to look for coaches. And not all coaches are equal. We have our different flavors and approaches and backgrounds, and the people that I work with pretty much all come to me for various reasons, but one of them being that I have a career in UX and that's gonna be different than a career coach who maybe they're a great coach, but they don't know anything about the field.

And that is it, it's just better I think to have someone who knows the field, right? Or maybe you wanna look for a coach because you're like you're a person of color, you're a woman of color, and you wanna find another woman of color coach who has a shared. Life experience and perspective as you.

So I would say start to think about what you really want out of a coach and who would you align with and look at how they talk about themselves on their website and have a conversation with them just to learn a little bit more about their approach. And so that's really what I would start with. And then the coach is there to have kind of a semi-structured plan in mind, but it's always the client's agenda.

Like it should always be about what that person is seeking. And the coach is there to again, guide that person towards their own insights and decisions and self-reflection working towards. Ultimate goals that person has.

Rizwan Javaid: Doing your research on the coach, reading their blog posts, newsletter, sign up for it and just get a feel for how they think, how they communicate, and if that aligns with your goals, like you said.

That's the key. Make sure that those paths align so that you can get the most from the coach.

Amy Santee: Exactly. It's just if you're looking for a personal trainer what does that person focus on?

How do they think about body image? Do they work on nutrition stuff? Whatever it might be. It's the same sort of thing where you wanna find the person who really suits what you're looking for and who you can relate with. It's just a much more effective relationship for that reason.

Rizwan Javaid: We're coming towards the end of our conversation and I ask my guest to share a challenge with the listeners on the topic that we talk about. Do you have a challenge in mind?

One thing I would like to encourage people to consider is what muscles do they want to develop? So if you go to personal training, and the reason I keep bringing that up is because I do weight training.

It's a hobby and I really enjoy it. And it's a perfect metaphor, right? Your goal is, I want to feel generally stronger, right? I want to compete in tournaments, I want to run a 5k, whatever. Like you have these bigger goals, but then you need to break 'em down into sub goals or smart goals, right? Some of us are familiar with the framework of smart goals, specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely.

And it's the same thing, right? Like you want to work with your trainer or your coach to identify what are the steps that we need to take. , what are the actions associated? So you start lifting eight pound weights and then you move up to 10, and then you do more reps of 10 and then you can move up, right?

So there are ways to build these muscles up and then overall build up your strength and do these other things. So I'd say it's the same thing for really anyone working on, I don't know, personal or professional growth that they might want to achieve. So if it's something related to confidence, thinking about what is it that I wanna be more confident in and how can I start to build up that confidence muscle and do little actions and practice, right?

If it's building up confidence to post publicly on LinkedIn start just by making a comment on someone's post and see how that. And getting past any kind of fear around what other people might think and do that for a bit. And then you might at some point feel ready to share your point of view on something in your own post and invite people to have a conversation.

So I think there's just like little practices we can do for any of these goals that we might have that are again, about intentionally and systematically building up a muscle. Towards a goal.

Nice. Yeah, I think that's a great way to, to tackle any challenge that we have, is to start small and build up that confidence.

And sometimes we forget this because we're so focused on that moment and we can't see, we can't take a step back. First identifying what you want and then. Figuring out the small steps that you need to get to that point. And that's a great way to create goals that you can actually achieve and are meaningful and and will help you get to where you want instead of being so generic that they don't have any effect.

Amy Santee: You can't jump from an eight pound weight to a hundred pound kettlebell.

Rizwan Javaid: I think that's a great challenge. So thank you so much for that. How can the listeners learn more about you and your coaching services?

Yeah, my website is amysantee.com and people can learn more about my focus areas, my approach. I have a blog on there where I post about different career topics and whatnot. And then I'm on LinkedIn, people can just search for my name and follow or connect. And if they do and they found out through your podcast, I'd love to know that.

Just out of curiosity's sake. But I always love to meet new people, so either one of those is fine.

Yeah, I can definitely vouch for you on LinkedIn. I love seeing the post that you've liked because they helped me see things from a different angle and make gloss over and we take for granted, but they affect people and they can do some damage to people's lives. So it's good to keep those things in mind. So I appreciate you bringing all those things to light and and making me think about those things. And realizing that everything isn't all about work and business, there's a human element to, to it as well that we need to.

Amy Santee: That is my goal with LinkedIn. I wanna constantly learn, but I hope to engage with content that will get diffused out into my network in order to present some different. Perspectives on things that people might not have considered. And same for you, right? You're doing this podcast, you're talking with people who are providing some different perspectives and you're using that to help other folks with their own challenges and goals.

So thank you as well.

Rizwan Javaid: Thank you so much. Yeah. If you If any of this resonates with you, please reach out to Amy or me and just let us know. A lot of times I feel like I'm speaking into the void, but, but you know, just meeting people like you, Amy, and just learning each conversation, I learn a lot just like you do in your coaching.

You almost like level up after each conversation. Because there's some insight that made you think differently. Same here. Each, after each conversation I have with my guest, I feel like I've leveled up and I keep repeating this on every episode that this is also therapy for me too. It's a good to just talk about the challenges that we have and share our challenges and learn from each other.

Amy Santee: Yeah. And I think you could probably go into coaching at some point in the future too.

Rizwan Javaid: Oh, thank you. Yeah. That's one of the goals and confidence

Amy Santee: that's great. Oh yeah, that would be wonderful.

Rizwan Javaid: Yeah. So thank you so much again for joining me today.

Amy Santee: Thanks. Rizwan.

Rizwan Javaid: So that was career strategist and coach for UX Professionals, Amy Santi. I love Amy's approach of being strategic, mindful, and intentional with any type of career change.

Another great idea Amy shared was the importance of networking for your career. I used to be afraid of networking myself cuz I had some old versions stuck in my head and plus being introverted and it. It showed up as anxiety, so I would, avoid it at all costs, but now I've learned to be more comfortable with it.

To understand the importance of it and to use it to my own benefit. So if this sounds familiar, know that networking is a secret weapon you can use in your job search and in your career in general. You can network within your company as well as, outside to grow your network, to learn from others, to meet new people, and to gain insights and fresh perspectives. both Amy and I would love to know if there are any insights that you learned and if there are any questions that you have, please reach out to either Amy or me on Twitter or LinkedIn. If you have any questions about coaching or finding a role in the UX field, please feel free to reach out to Amy and I will share.

The links in the show notes and yeah. So I wish you the best in your career search, and I hope you enjoyed the conversation. This has been Unleash Your Mindset, a podcast for creatives. If you enjoyed this show, please be short to subscribe to the podcast for more insights on how to unleash your mindset.

Thanks so much for listening. Until next time, stay strong.