Happy Thursday Reigners! I met Mihika at the Sequoia Start @ a Startup Conference where she was one of the primary organizers – not a small task on top of classwork and having a social life! I also love designers and Mihika is interested in User Experience. Love the colorful gifs she sent me!
Tell us a little about yourself along with a fun fact.
I am a UX Designer and an aspiring entrepreneur from New York. I love design, coding, TechCrunch articles, food, and taking pictures of food. The innovation and creativity inherent to Computer Science has led me to pursue this field at Princeton University. Now as a sophomore, I leverage my visual design skills and contribute to the tech world around me. My biggest strength is my ability to blend my technical skills with my creative and artistic flair. This allows me to have a multidimensional perspective when pursuing a problem and enables me to think outside the box while devising product solutions.
Fun fact: My guilty pleasure is molten chocolate lava cake. If a restaurant offers one, then this dessert will surely be on my plate.
What # would define your life journey?
Favorite website / app:
Functionally, my favorite app/website is Yelp. As a foodie, I have used it to discover some unreal tucked away spots. The first time I used it to find a restaurant in a new neighborhood I unearthed a restaurant that served 12 different types of guacamole. I have never looked back.
Aesthetically, my favorite app is Instagram. I love the clean look, the brevity of text and the emphasis on dynamic visuals. It’s an app that intrigues me, but still gives me room to be creative and have fun. Crisp colors overwhelm my screen in the fall and cherry blossoms glow under my thumbs in the spring. Not to mention, who doesn’t love a good food insta? 😉
Inspirationally, my favorite website is Rent the Runway. It epitomizes the model of a lean startup, of a product that was able to succeed due to dedication to the consumer and constant pivoting. Further, it is a company started by two women, which is something I really admire given the gender imbalance in the tech world today. Having heard both cofounders speak firsthand about their experience with Rent the Runway, and about their overwhelming success in disrupting a business, I am inspired to make my own mark on the tech industry.
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
I am incredibly inspired by social entrepreneurship, and one of my role models is Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America and Teach for All. Through persistence, confidence and dedication, this female leader not only gave prominence to non-profit jobs, but made teaching underprivileged children a competitive, impactful and rewarding career path. I experienced this while volunteering for over four years at a village school in India, where I designed a sustainable energy initiative. I helped build and install solar panels to power the school’s computer room and witnessed firsthand the power of education and technology in bridging disparities present in the world.
Coincidentally, while Kopp was at Princeton herself, she was actively involved in Business Today, which is an organization that I spend a huge amount of time with on campus. As Director of Design for Business Today, I am able to aid in its mission to bridge the gap between undergraduate students and business executives. Last year, I heard Kopp speak give the closing remarks at Business Today’s 40th Annual International Conference. She gave two pieces of advice that really resonated with me, given their pertinence to impacting people via attacking a specific industry. The first was to be an enabler of change, rather than a critic of the system. The second was simply to act now and not wait until the end of a career to tackle the problems in the world.
On a different note, if it’s ever a late night, and I need a short burst of inspiration I watch Apple’s 1997 unreleased Think Different Ad, narrated by Steve Jobs, titled “Crazy Ones.” While black and white clips of Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King Jr. and the like flash by, it begins as a toast: “Here’s to the crazy ones, the rebels, the misfits, the round pegs in square holes.” Notwithstanding all the TED Talks and commencement speeches I have watched, this Apple campaign contains some of the most influential lines I have ever heard. It celebrates different, diverse minds. It praises pure ingenuity and inspirational sparks. The last line is “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” In my mind, these words capture the essence of true innovation.
Song that makes you want to dance:
1985 by Bowling for Soup
A technical challenge you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome it:
This past summer, I worked as an intern at a New York startup, called Citymaps. The app is striving to convert mapping into a social experience. It hosts beautiful graphics and a dynamic interface. Its main functionality is that it allows users to discover as well as curate maps full of their favorite restaurants, museums, galleries and more. However, Citymaps wanted to improve the user retention of the app. I was given the task of developing a new set of emails for Citymaps users to expose them to exciting hotspots around the world. I was shown a series of past Citymaps email templates that were mainly used for notifications, and had to keep the same design style. The original templates I made were approved. Though I faced an internal struggle – I knew that what I had designed was in keeping with the current email style. Yet I was confident in my conviction that the existing template would not really excite a user. It simply didn’t live up to the vibrant experience of the app itself. Although already tasked with a new project, I wanted to make a substantial improvement. On my own time, I went back to the new templates and executed a design overhaul. I altered the color scheme and made the most prominent aspect of the email a large eye-catching gif that boasted some of the city’s most spectacular views. I took a risk by simply forwarding this new email to executives in the company without preface. 10 minutes later, I was called into an office and, to my utter shock, was told that this new template would be ”the one.” The design ended up revolutionizing Citymaps’ entire email marketing strategy, and even through the school year, I now continue to design content for what have become weekly Citymaps emails that exhibit features from the most amazing locations across the globe.
Technology has the unique ability to play a critical role in bridging gaps across various demographics. It further has the ability to simplify life and to connect people to information, education and entertainment. Ultimately, I strive to innovate, generate and execute entrepreneurial ideas that can address an unfulfilled need in society. I love working with other people and thrive in the collaborative nature of a tech company’s work environment. The creative vibe, the constant buzz of energy and the palpable dedication that each person in the tech industry brings to their work excites me.
My ideal position would be a UX Designer. I think designers have the unique ability to define how users interact with a product. They influence informational hierarchies and not only create graphics, but create an experience for the user. I have always loved the visuals of a product and am excited by the prominent position design has assumed in defining a product.
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Never be scared to enter any industry, and never doubt the impact you can have in that industry. I truly believe that women bring a unique perspective and outlook to situations. They can succeed in business, tech and any other field, and make the world a better place because of their multi dimensional approach. All women should stay confident in the fact that they can make a difference. This is a belief that I go by, as I navigate my way in a male-dominated industry.