Made By Ziqi Chen

Hi! Remember me? A few of you might remember me as the girl in the Adobe Made by Students campaign as the girl who did the 10 days of UX Design challenge.

While that video showcased my love of design and how I challenged myself to become a better designer, it didn’t showcase an entire backstory to where I got to that moment.

Growing up in the bay area, there’s an expectation for students to pursue STEM and a misconception that people who pursue the arts are because they are not as intelligent. I always loved art and design as a child, but I often tried to suppress the idea of being too serious about it. Three years ago, I entered college as a Chemical Engineering major intending to work in pharmaceuticals because I thought that was the right thing to do.

However, after freshman year, I was unhappy. Suddenly, I felt lost. I realized that the major I had been studying for the last year wasn’t something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Some of my favorite memories as a kid was from drawing and painting, and something that had been on my bucket list for my first year in college was to get into digital design. I feel like my whole life up into that point, I had prioritized school work, chemistry classes, physics classes, and engineering classes over art and design because I thought those classes were more important and that was the way to be successful.

One of the Earliest Illustrations I made while I was still a Chemical Engineering Major.

The next year, I made it my goal to learn as much digital design as I could, in addition to improving my skills in graphic design and UI/UX as much as possible. As a full time college student, it was difficult for me at first to justify prioritizing my creative personal projects as much as my classes, but I simply did it because I realized I truly wanted to.

Redesign of a portfolio site. One of the earliest projects I did when I was learning UI/UX.

The summer after my sophomore year, I was fortunate enough to be contacted from Adobe with an opportunity to be a part of their Made By Students Campaign. I was really excited because I had learned all I knew about design from online resources, and I was excited for the opportunity to pay-it-forward and encourage other students to also pursue art and design.

It’s been another year since the campaign, and here’s what I’ve been up to:

At school, I joined a student-run design consultant agency where I’ve done product design consulting for two local startups, one for healthcare and the other for virtual reality. I’ve also put my graphic design skills to good use as a publicity officer for the CS Honor Society. I created brand guidelines for all the publicity material and designed apparel, flyers, and event cover photos. In addition, I’m also still actively trying to encourage others to gather interest in design. I’ve hosted a few design workshops, and next semester I’m going to help teach an introduction to web design class on campus at UC Berkeley, where I attend school.

Brand Book for Design Guidelines for the CS Honor Society at UC Berkeley.

Professionally, I discovered a way to fuse my love for design with my love for computer science and programming. I just finished an amazing summer internship at LinkedIn as a front-end engineering intern. I not only gained real world experience to how engineering is done at a huge corporation, but I also learned how my interests and experience with design can be utilized even in an engineering role.

Me at work this Summer in LinkedIn's Sunnyvale Campus.

Lastly, I won’t forget that the entire reason I started doing design is because it’s fun! I’m still doing a lot of personal design and illustration projects! I’ve designed cards for friends and coworkers, artwork for my apartment, and still create random illustrations whenever I feel inspired. I’m excited to share that one of my pieces will be hung in my school’s Library throughout the next school year.

A print of this piece is currently hung at the fourth floor entrance of Moffit Library at UC Berkeley.

Two years ago, I was feeling lost in college and was unsure of what to pursue. I constantly struggled with doing what I thought was right and fulfilling other’s expectations for me, or making time to do art and design which I really enjoyed. I also often battled between my conflicting interests in science and technology and my love of art and design. Looking back, I feel so fortunate to have kept pursuing my interest in art and design and for finding a possible career path that will fuse my different interests together. What I’ve learned in the process is that there is no right way to do things. There’s no set formula to build a successful life, and sometimes you need to prioritize your own interests above expectations of others. If you follow your interests, everything will eventually fall in place.

Thanks for reading!


If you’re interested in more, follow me on Instagram at @zchendesign

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