Eglė Zaleckienė is a designer at Zyro, and it’s her dream job, but she didn’t take the conventional route to get there.
It took little luck and a lot of skill and determination to make the changes in her life that would bring her to where she wanted to be.
Changing careers is tough; finding the perfect one is even tougher. But, this is how Eglė made it happen at Zyro.
Even as a teenager I knew, I wanted to be a designer.
The story goes back all the way to 2003.
When I was a teenager, I browsed random websites, looking for anything I could find. And once, I remember seeing a website that really impressed me.
It was from Eduardo Recife, a Brazilian artist working in typography, collage, and graphic design.
His website had hidden easter eggs in the background with clickable elements that hid quotes or additional illustrations.
Bear in mind; I was thirteen years old. So, it was really impressive for me back then. But, the important thing is that the web had genuinely inspired me, and I wanted to be able to create something that amazing.
I became interested in the structure of websites themselves, but I always felt that you had to be super smart to do anything with computers, which made me doubt myself.
Back then, there wasn’t as much educational material online, and I didn’t even have the internet at home.
So, for a long while, the dream of becoming a digital designer was just that – a dream.
My first break came from an unlikely source.
I worked as a sales and marketing specialist in a pharmaceutical company, and we had ugly promotional materials that I decided they had to change.
It wasn’t my responsibility, but I just wanted to make them better, and that meant showing a little initiative of my own.
So I started to sketch my ideas and then I suggested my thoughts to the team, which resulted in me cooperating with the designers working on new materials.
It was a great feeling, and that experience gave me the self-confidence in my design abilities that I had always needed.
But things really began to materialize on maternity leave. I had the time, and I used it to watch design tutorials, and I started to try out different design tasks on my own.
I created all sorts. There were logos, leaflets, web designs, social media posts, and illustrations.
A little later, I had the chance to enrol on a full-stack course in a coding school.
That’s when I realised that websites were what I wanted to continue with.
That first coding experience gave me a good understanding of website structure, and I can say that it is really a benefit when designing these days.
When you are on your own, you don’t get any feedback.
So, I started to look for a job.
I didn’t know any designers that could help me, advise me, and make me improve.
I’m sure you know what it’s like. Whenever I show my work to my husband, mom, or friends, everyone says it’s beautiful, even though you know deep down that you need to improve.
If you want to progress, you have to get honest feedback on your work. It’s the most effective way to improve.
So I started to search for an internship or a junior designer role because I knew I needed professional feedback.
At the time, my portfolio was relatively thin, and I was rejected a few times.
Then I found Zyro.
And Zyro believed in me.
In my interview, I was told that they admired my confidence and how passionate I was about my work.
Zyro believed in my potential. I say that because my portfolio was kind of light, but Zyro saw something in me and hired me.
In that interview, I was told that I would have plenty of opportunities to learn.
Zyro would invest the time to teach me and coach me, and that it would be based on two principles of freedom and responsibility & learn and be curious.
I would be the owner of my time, and I would be responsible for using it to my advantage. And that since I had the opportunity, I should further my learning wherever I could by talking to my colleagues, taking learning days and courses.
Honestly, when I got the job, I thought that I was a good designer. But then, when I actually started working, I had a reality check.
I simply was not at the level I thought I was at professionally. So, it was a pretty hard beginning, and I had to learn a lot.
It takes confidence to step out of your comfort zone.
I started with templates, but I quickly moved into a lot of different areas.
User interviews, marketing designs, social media formats, UX design, and more.
After my first year, I started working with the Product Team, and I was actually creating new features for the website builder itself.
I couldn’t have known how it was going to progress, but I’m glad. If you just have one thing you wish for, you are still in your comfort zone.
The difference is that now, I have colleagues that encourage me from a professional perspective.
It’s always something new, and it’s not that hard to learn. Of course, when you are on your own, it’s natural to have self-doubt, but when you work as part of a team, you have the confidence to try new things.
That’s why I think sharing your work is absolutely essential. You need the advice of an expert, someone who works in your field.
So, if I had to go back to the situation I was in before Zyro took a chance on me, my advice would be to ask for some help.
I would maybe even hire a mentor or save some money for professional feedback.
Yes, it’s scary at first, but if you genuinely want to learn, it’s the best thing you can do.
Naturally, you don’t know everything, learning is a journey, and there is no shame in admitting when you don’t understand something.
On day one, I realized I still had a long way to go
It all started with my first task. Creating a wedding invitation template.
Sure, it seemed easy at first, but then it hit me: I didn’t really understand.
I didn’t have a feel for the sizes of fonts. I didn’t really know what sizes of buttons to use. I didn’t know much at all.
So, I started learning.
Since I started designing with Zyro, I always showed everything I did to my colleagues. As a result, they gave me feedback, and that’s how I learned.
I had to realize that I was doing a lot of things wrong.
Learn & Be Curious is one of the guiding principles at Zyro, and in the early days, I was watching videos, doing tutorials after work, and reading books all the time.
Zyro gave me a few books about grid systems and also on UX. It was a very early stage for our product, and we were encouraged to take time to read books.
On a regular workday, I would take my book and spend a few hours reading after lunch.
It is part of the learning culture, and alongside practice and getting feedback from my colleagues, I found that I was learning and improving fast.
My growth with Zyro has been enormous.
After two years, the difference between where I am now and where I started is vast.
But the best part?
I’m 100% sure that I’ll be able to say the same thing about where I am now in two years.
I’m pretty comfortable right now, but I’m sure that many things are waiting for me in the future.
Feedback was a massive part of my growth as a designer, and now I’m not just the one receiving it. Zyro has helped me feel confident giving feedback too.
These days, another colleague takes care of the templates, and I know I can help because I’ve been there, I’ve made the same mistakes.
But it isn’t just about templates. It’s across the board, and it’s part of the environment at Zyro.
You quickly learn that every comment is there to help you improve, and speaking to your colleagues comes naturally, and often it ends up in really insightful discussions.
Sometimes those discussions prove you right. Sometimes they prove you wrong. But it always, always, moves you forward.
Now I’m learning in different ways.
Experience comes with the tasks you do.
Our product is very dynamic. There are always a lot of things happening and a lot of different features.
It’s not like you are working on the same task every day.
Sometimes, you get a task, and your first thought is: ‘This will need some deep research.’
Once you do that research, you might realize that you just don’t know something, and at that point, it might be better to ask for help from your colleagues.
That’s how you broaden your horizons.
Right now, for example, I feel like I need to deepen my knowledge of data analysis.
I know I’m not very good at it.
So, what do I do?
Well, I start by asking my colleagues who are better at it. Then, we discuss the things that I’m reading, and they help me fill in the gaps.
I’m so proud of the things I’ve achieved with Zyro.
Maybe it’s cliche, but when I look at where I started and where I am now, I’m really proud of my progress as a professional designer.
I’ve been involved in so many different tasks.
Which one is best?
I really have no idea. They are all so unique and complex.
Recently, I’ve been working on the UX for Titan Mail, and I have been responsible.
That was a big step for me. When I started in UX, I had a mentor that I relied on to answer all of my questions.
He was an excellent mentor, but he recently left for a new challenge, and since then, I have had to step up.
When he left, it flicked a switch inside me.
I understood that I could do it independently, and I’m proud that I have managed to work on all those processes myself.
Now, we’re almost at the point where this project has come to life, and even though we have to make a lot of corrections, it’s working out, which makes me very proud.
What’s next? I want people to find their success with Zyro
Priority number one is to make Zyro website builder the best that it can be.
If you asked me when I was younger, I would have said that I want to make something beautiful.
Now, I think it would be nice to create something that can impact people’s lives.
And Zyro is an excellent example of a product that can actually do that.
We can help people reach their success by making that tool even more comfortable, intuitive, and user-friendly.
It’s very achievable, and right now, it’s precisely what I’m focused on trying to achieve.