Pat Hwang combined his love of tech with his passion for design, and is now a product designer at Atlassian
From playing with MS Paint when he was three years old to getting his first Android smartphone and building computers when he was in high school, Pat has always been interested in technology. “But I was also creative as a kid. I loved drawing, painting, photoshop and editing videos,” he explains. “I even completed Visual Arts as one of my HSC subjects. I feel like UX and product design is the perfect synthesis of my two passions for tech and creativity.”
In his current role at Atlassian, Pat designs User Experiences (UX), User Interfaces (UI) and new features for software products to ensure that it’s super useful and intuitive for their customers.
“My job is a blend of technical problem solving, visual design, and talking to and understanding people. Some of my common tasks include conducting customer research, running workshops, creating paper sketches, designing UI prototypes on Figma, and collaborating with software engineers, product managers and other designers.”
Pat is also working within the DevOps group at Atlassian, designing products for developers and software engineer customers. “We want to solve the challenges that come with using multiple tools,” he explains. “We also want to empower software development teams to be set-up with all of their tools fully connected and integrated, so they can focus on what’s most important: getting stuff done.”
Pat says one of the most awesome things about his role is the chance to collaborate with other tech companies from around the world on integrations with their products. “Despite challenges with timezone differences, it was really cool collaborating, running design workshops and presenting to teams in other countries.”
He also believes that diversity is important in order to create great software products. “Our customers range from all sorts of diverse backgrounds and we don’t want to ship products that are exclusive to any group of people,” he says. “Having a team full of diverse backgrounds and life experiences ensures we are able to think with greater perspective, come up with more creative solutions, and make sure our designs are representative of our entire customer base.”
Pat’s STEM journey
Landing an epic gig at Atlassian doesn’t happen overnight. Throughout Pat’s STEM journey there have been challenges.
“My biggest hurdle in my journey was just before I decided to transfer out of engineering to design school,” he says. “I was definitely interested in technology and building things, but I felt that what I was learning in an engineering degree and career paths didn’t align with my passion for creativity. After discovering UX design, I realised that it was a great blend of both my passions for tech and creativity. I was really apprehensive at first because there’s a perception that creative careers aren’t as lucrative or ‘safe’ as purely technical careers, but now I realise that that’s definitely not always the case! After transferring to design, I’ve absolutely loved it and never looked back.”
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Advice for getting into STEM
If you’re excited to work in tech + design one day, you’re in luck. Pat feels there’s an increase in demand for creative and non-technical roles in tech. “Tech companies or firms with digital teams are hiring more and more interns and grads in areas such as UX design, product design, content design, visual communication, product management, marketing and sales,” he says. “There are so many career opportunities within STEM or tech, other than being a programmer.”
And his main advice for people wanting to learn about or pursue a career in STEM? Explore the industry and become more aware of career opportunities early on in uni.
“Your uni isn’t going to share all of the insights, so it’s important for you to check out things like societies and networking events. Like me, you might never know what your dream job is until you’ve really explored and discovered it.”
RELATED: What STEM design job should you do?
Pat’s STEM study and career pathway to becoming a Product Designer at Atlassian
- Bachelor of Engineering, UNSW (transferred out)
- Bachelor of Design Computing, University of Sydney
- Experience Design Intern, Deloitte Digital
- User Experience Analyst, Triniti Studio
- Design Tutor, University of Sydney
- Product Designer, Atlassian
Looking for more awesome reads on STEM pros doing their thing in tech? Check out our technology career profile hub. We’ve spoken to software engineers, technical architects, pen testers and other product designers like Pat!
Author: Louise Meers
Louise is the production editor for Careers with STEM. She has a journalism degree from the University of Technology, Sydney and has spent over a decade writing for youth. She is passionate about inspiring young people to achieve their biggest goals and build a better future.