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SPENN Product Designer on building your skillset beyond your degree


Imagine being young and full of dreams, but feeling stuck, unsure of how to turn your passion into a real job. This is a common struggle for many young people in Rwanda. There is a saying that goes “Where there is a will, there is a way.” And one of these ways is to tap into learning new skills, relevant to the market, relevant to your passion.

In an interview we had with Nadine Sangwa, Product Designer at SPENN Technology, she shared her journey, emphasizing the importance of learning new skills and taking charge of your own path by investing in self-directed learning.

Sangwa transformed her love for design into a successful profession. In today’s fast-paced world, we are moving towards, having a degree is not competent if you are lacking the skills needed to compete in the market.

The now product designer began her career hunting in design when the pandemic hindered her plans for a career in hospitality. She started exploring other options and stumbled upon product design and something clicked.

“I was fascinated by the visual side of software,” Nadine explained, highlighting how one small encounter can ignite a passion within us.

Not having studied design in school could have discouraged Nadine, but she chose to follow her heart anyway. She combined her fascination with technology and her love for creativity and problem-solving to pursue a career in design. It wasn’t an easy decision, but she knew it would be worth it.

Additionally, She understood the importance of developing her design skills to succeed. She took online courses, like the “Google UX Design certificate,” which gave her valuable knowledge and practical skills. These experiences played a big role in her growth and gave her the confidence to excel as a designer in the Rwandan market.

Nadine faced challenges along the way. She said, “ One of the main challenges was not having a background in design, which meant I had to work harder to prove myself.” Formal education is still a great achievement, but we need to keep in mind that the skills needed on the market are increasing every day, and sometimes formal education does not teach those skills.

However, this did not stop Nadine from seeking feedback from experienced designers, practicing tirelessly, and keeping a positive mindset, which all helped her overcome these obstacles.

As her mentor Veronica Thamaini advised, “Stay focused on your goals, be persistent, and always believe in your potential.”

During her internship, Nadine had a breakthrough project. When she returned to the company, she was thrilled to see her work implemented in their live app. This moment confirmed her passion for design and motivated her to keep pushing herself and seizing more opportunities.

For young people considering learning new skills outside of their formal education, Nadine has some advice. Start by exploring online resources, tutorials, and communities. Practice, create a portfolio, and don’t be afraid to reach out to professionals and mentors for guidance. Remember, learning never stops.

Nadine’s journey in design has had a profound impact on her personal and professional growth. It has allowed her to connect with like-minded individuals, express her creativity, and make a positive impact. She gained confidence, improved her problem-solving abilities, and learned the importance of good design.

To end this, choosing to follow your passions and investing in your personal growth can help you break free from feeling stuck and create your own career paths to success. Nadine’s story is a testament to the power of determination and self-directed learning.

No matter your background, you can pursue your passion and turn it into a successful career. So, let Nadine’s journey inspire you to chase your dreams, learn new skills, and create your own path. The possibilities are endless if you believe in yourself and never stop learning.

Straight out of Twitter