Written by: Kylie Wilson
To finish off our “Women of Chegg” mini-series, we interviewed Nancy Qian, marketing designer at Chegg. We interviewed her to learn about where she started her career, some of the personal struggles she’s encountered, and what tips and tricks she has for other women in business.
“Rather than being reactionary, be proactive. Share your vision and inspire your co-workers.” –Nancy Qian
What does your current job involve? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
I’m a Marketing Designer for Chegg. I’m responsible for developing creative assets for various campaign needs. My day to day involves photo shoots, learning about design trends that speak to students, collaborating with the copywriter to execute designs, and cranking out designs and deliverables for marketing campaigns.
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
I started as a design intern at an advertising agency. I applied to a position posted on Craigslist with a portfolio of works from college. As an intern, I got to ask lots of questions since you aren’t expected to know everything. I learned the design process for different projects from start to finish and worked as a production artist. I collaborated closely with the designers and art directors to execute the designs.
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
I didn’t speak up much as a designer in my early career. This resulted in people thinking that a designer’s role is to ‘make things pretty.’ In reality, designers are also problem solvers. As a designer, I spend countless hours to make sure we’re effectively communicating our ideas through visuals. When presenting my designs, I learned to support it with research showing the reasons behind my design choices and why specific design elements such as color or font communicate the marketing goals.
What’s one important piece of advice for young women entering the business force?
I believe that many of my prior leaders just accepted the fact that I’m quiet. It wasn’t until I began working at Chegg that I was encouraged to get out of my comfort zone. I learned the importance of speaking up when I have ideas to contribute and I found that my coworkers were more supportive than I first thought. If you speak up for yourself, your coworkers will listen to your ideas just as they’d like you to listen to their ideas—we’re here to collaborate and make a greater outcome.
Have you ever had to deal with sexism as a woman in the business world? If so, how did you deal with it?
Yes. Sometime people assume that you are suited for a particular role or task because you’re a woman. While I don’t mind doing it, I encourage my male coworkers to also undertake these traditionally female responsibilities. You’re good at something from practice and hard work, not because of your gender.
What’s something women can do to get ahead before getting their first job in a business environment?
This is something I have to constantly remind myself because it’s not easy. When you have ideas, make sure you’re heard. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and let them know that you’re willing to contribute and make a difference as a team player. I think we can get comfortable in our roles. Instead, rather than being reactionary, be proactive–Share your vision and inspire your co-workers.
Ending Note from herNetwork:
Speaking up helps you gain confidence. It can be especially hard for women to speak up, but the marginal benefit of speaking up far outweighs the marginal cost (potentially getting a wrong answer). Speaking up also breaks negative assumptions and sets a positive path for women to follow in the future.