Our look at the Capital One Digital team continues this month with the talented multidisciplinary designer Arneice Hart. She works as a senior product designer at Capital One, and her work involves reducing people's financial anxiety and helping change banking for good. Arneice talked about how she approaches new creative projects, and shared insights she learned from early in her career, advice she would have given herself as a young designer, and spoke about how her passions helped drive and inspire her to where she is today. According to Arneice, there is no linear path to becoming a designer, and her journey as a designer proves that!
Our look at the Capital One Digital team continues this month with the talented multidisciplinary designer Arneice Hart. She works as a senior product designer at Capital One, and her work involves reducing people's financial anxiety and helping change banking for good.
Arneice talked about how she approaches new creative projects, and shared insights she learned from early in her career, advice she would have given herself as a young designer, and spoke about how her passions helped drive and inspire her to where she is today. According to Arneice, there is no linear path to becoming a designer, and her journey as a designer proves that!
Get your tickets today for "The State of the Internet 2019", a live conversation with Glitch CEO Anil Dash, Matt Mitchell of CryptoHarlem and Tactical Tech, and Maurice Cherry of Revision Path! (It's also the night of our 6th anniversary, so come out and celebrate!)
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Big thanks to Capital One for sponsoring this month of Revision Path.
The Capital One Digital team is a diverse group of people who work together to build great products for the enterprise and to disrupt how people interact with their money, their bank, and their financial lives.
Curious about what they're working on and how they're growing?
Check them out at capitalonecareers.com or at their Medium community at medium.com/capitalonedesign.
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Maurice Cherry: All right. Tell us who you are and what you do.
Arneice Hart: Hey, I'm Arneice Hart. I'm a product designer at Capital One Bank. I'm currently based in Washington DC. I identify most with being a multidisciplinary creative from Brooklyn, New York, mainly because throughout my 10-year career I've been exposed to traditional graphic design for print, fast pace advertising, branding, packaging, and quite recently videography, and of course my work in product design, and so the environment I've created of creativity is essentially my second birthplace. I feel like I do it all, or at least I've tried.
MC: Okay. Now, people may not think of design and banking really going hand-in-hand in a way. I'm curious to know from you, what were your biggest surprises working for a bank?
AH: I didn't realize until I moved down here from New York that Capital One has such a presence in the DMV area, and they really marketed themselves to the design community as a tech hub. I thought I was gonna come up in here and it was just going to be like outdated technology, sterile, and it was almost like I was at the Google office, to be honest. I worked at Google for a little bit and I was very surprised at how laid back the overall culture was and that we had so many resources at our disposal. It was kind a wake up call and I was like, "Hey, so there's actually some things happening. Some things are popping over here on the bank side." I'm like, "This isn't in your usual credit union, which is pretty bland." It's been fun. It's been two and a half years I've been here and each day is an exciting one for me.
MC: Well, speaking of that, what is a regular day like at work for you?
AH: My days are rarely typical. It really depends on the project and who's involved. The Capital One design organization has nearly 600 associates. We're all spread across from different lines of business. I am particularly in consumer bank. There's auto loans, card, commercial card, and a bunch more across the United States. We're in DC or New York, Richmond, tons of places across the United States, but it's really difficult for us to even pretend to operate like a startup despite the feel being similar to a startup, and thankfully I don't need to talk to everyone. I don't need to talk to all 600 designers, I pretty much stay in my line of business and with the people in my pod, that's through product, of course my design partners and in tech. Our sole goal is to essentially reduce financial anxiety by equipping users with the best kind of transparency, specifically in their checking accounts and transactions.
AH: My week usually consists of rituals that span across our partners, the sprint teams. My day is usually conversations with product, spending time to iterate and get our devs to push on what we think is feasible or what may not be feasible, and meeting with content strategists to align on tone, just to make sure that we don't sound like a bank. Again, not having that sterile feel. We want to be very approachable, and Capital One's tagline is, "Changing banking for good," and so we really want to change the emotions that people have toward the banks, which is usually like, "Oh, they're greedy. They're going to put me in debt," which, that's been the narrative since the dawn of time. But I definitely try to spend my time doing the work, and really owning it, and I take a lot of care in my calendar. I take a lot of care in my day, and the company gives me so much autonomy to just navigate all of those pieces the way that I see fit, and so each day is different, and depends on my mood, but I get a lot done, so it's cool.
MC: You mentioned when you first started working there that it kind of reminded you of a tech hub. What other ways has that design environment been different from other places that you've worked?
AH: I mean, with the exception of Google, the sheer size of it. I'll tell you about my journey, but I pretty much navigated the New York tech startup scene, and a lot of those companies I was the sole designer, and my perspective was the only perspective, as a creative. The fact that I have potentially 600 people that I can reach out to that influence and elevate our thinking as a creative is new for me professionally. Just environment-wise, our headquarters is actually in northern Virginia, but the proximity to DC is very close, and so coming from New York City, DC isn't as fast as New York, but I guess is kind of close to it. The environment here in the office, it's still fast-paced. I feel like we're definitely contributing to a lot of the patterns that we see in the design community, and that makes me feel like we're definitely on the front running.
MC: What are some of those patterns?
AH: I'll use an example, and not just because I contributed to it. I will brag, humble brag. When I first started here, I was on the account management team, so essentially that dealt with projects like, "Hey, I lost my debit card," and I essentially owned a lot of the debit card servicing features, getting you that new debit card, making sure you change your address and it's going to the right spot. Other things, but one in particular that really is about the industry, the financial industry specifically, was the debit card tracker, and transparency at a bank is unheard of, which is why people don't trust banks a lot.
AH: The fact that we are telling you what's happening with your card as it's getting made, it's getting handcrafted for you, we kind of jazzed it up a little bit, but we really let them know, "Hey, you're going to get it on this date, so that way you can have access to your money as soon as possible. We want you to know that we are putting you first, and that you are a priority, and financial wellness is at the forefront of our, our goal." Our debit card tracker was definitely something that other banks don't have. You don't know when you're going to get your card if you're with Bank of America. I don't know.
MC: Shots fired.
AH: Yeah. Shots fired. I know, I know. But yeah. I think that was probably one of the best examples, and it was such a fun project. It was one of those things where we did so much research from companies outside of the financial industries to really inform how we're going to do this, and it was built beautifully and the response to it is amazing.
MC: Are there other products or designs that you're proud of having worked on at Capital One?
AH: Yes, and I can talk about the space that I'm in now. I've actually transitioned to a new team, or not really new anymore, but I'm in the decisions and money space, and essentially that's working directly with transactions, whereas before I was working more of account based stuff. Account management stuff, excuse me. One that I'm super proud of, and there's a lot of companies ... You got Venmo, you've got CashApp, got these on-demand money sending apps, and all of the banks have Zelle, and internally this is a win because when I got put onto this new team, I was pulled directly into this and I was able to pump out the experience in less than a month. Once I did that, we had almost three sprint teams working on it at the same time to make sure that we get it out on desktop, mobile, and iOS and Android, and we pumped that out in another month, and then it was launched to everybody, and it was just such a huge win because despite all of the constraints that you have in such a large organization, time debt, just not being able to prioritize the right sprint teams at the right time, it was such a unprecedented success to get that out and have people using Zelle to send money to their friends. It was such a dope moment.
MC: Now, you said earlier that your typical day is hardly typical. It just kind of depends on what it is you're working on, et cetera. I'm curious kind of just about your creative process, like how do you end up approaching a new project at Capital One?
AH: I've definitely gotten to the point where the designing part isn't the heaviest lift, so the traditional design process that you see, starting with empathy, going into iterations and wire framing and whatnot really isn't my process anymore, particularly for the work here. I know that we can execute a great design. I trust my partners on the tech side to follow my direction and work with me through QA, and it's all of the pieces that support that design to make it a holistic success. "Have we tagged our feature the right way so that way we can get the metrics to inform our designs later on?" And basically contributing to a realistic roadmap that multiple sprint teams have to align on. "Have we allowed room to possibly test this feature online, or bring people in?" It's those smaller moving pieces underneath the design that my process has evolved under.
AH: I definitely work with our product team much closer than the traditional designer. We crack the intent together. We read the feedback from our customers. Oh, god, are we reading the feedback. We're doing it every single week, and people are angry, because guess what? This is sensitive. This is about their money. They want these features to make things easier. If we're going to solve the huge problem of financial anxiety, I need to know what causes you anxiety. It's going to cause me anxiety, because that's a lot of responsibility, because I want you to live an easy life. I want to equip you with the right tools to be able to manage your money properly, and have the competence, to do that and have the confidence in us. The start of the process is really to just understand those type of mental models.
AH: Like I said, we're pretty collaborative despite our size. I make sure I talk to anyone who may be related to the MIN goal. Maybe there's some work that I can leverage, some research that I can leverage, to pull in someone else that may be doing something similar. Maybe we can jam on that, and this is where the autonomy bit comes in, because I can handle this sort of any way that I want. If I want to do testing, like I said, to inform those questions, I can. I can get six people in here, and put a wire frame in front of them. I can write the script, and I can moderate those sessions and synthesize late that later on.
AH: It really isn't until I've done a lot of the groundwork, the conversations that I really hop in to sketch, and I pump that stuff out. It may be that I contribute to our design patterns like I did with the debit tracker. It's something that doesn't exist on the website or in the app right now, so something like a slider, or just some specific type of interaction that other people in the design organization can use for theirs, for their features. In that way, it's pretty rewarding. As I was saying, a lot of my days, it's not really the same, and so my process really just depends on the type of project, but that's pretty much how it goes. Design isn't at the forefront. The customer is always at the forefront, and that's how I approach everything.
MC: It's good that you are taking that feedback and doing the research before just hopping in and just making changes.
MC: I think that's important for people that are listening who are not designers, who can sometimes look at the design process as being maybe a bit, I don't know, shrouded in mystery in a way.
MC: I think it's good for them to know that there's actually a lot of research and things that go into it. We're not just getting in Photoshop or Sketch or something-
MC: ... and just creating without any sort of intent.
AH: Right. And a big part about being user-centric is, like I said, just understanding where they're coming from, and just being able to just not make assumptions. Making assumptions is the death of user experience. You don't know who you're designing for until you know what's up with them, until you talk to them. Earlier I spoke about the resources that Capital One has in particular. I can go to Wilmington, Delaware or Richmond, Virginia, where we have a lot of our call centers, hit somebody up there and say, "Hey, I'm Arneice. I work in DC. I'm doing something for upcoming transactions." And for people out there, coming transactions may be like your Netflix subscription or Hulu subscription, and you know that this money's going to come out of your account because it's logged at the top of your account, and you know that's going to come out later on.
AH: I can hit them up and I'll be like, "Yeah. I'm doing this work. Do you mind if I shadow you and listen to a lot of the phone calls that you're getting?" I don't do that all that often. I try to get in there maybe like once a quarter to just listen to, maybe a feature isn't working the way that we think it is. Maybe the customer doesn't know that we've done this great feature, and is calling about it and they're pissed, and so we know that we have to do a little bit more work maybe to get it to reach out, or we're taking a lot of the frustration that we hear to craft some new intent. Yeah. It's really fascinating. I'm telling you. Never did I think in New York City, working for the cool startups, the real flashy ones in New York City, that I'd think I'd be at a bank, happy as a clam.
MC: Well, let's go back to New York. I'm curious to kind of know about the early moments of your career. You said you worked at Google, you've worked at some other places. What were those kind of first work experiences like for you?
AH: Professionally, I guess my story began in college, age 19, and working for a friend of the family. His name is Tony Risson. He mentored me early, and had me working at the Empire State Building at FUBU. That's with entrepreneur Daymond John from Shark Tank. I got a firsthand look at Tony's own creative business. I was exposed to the culture that I've always known, hip-hop, just like that urban culture that I grew up in, but as an intern I ultimately knew that I wanted to work in advertising, and so after a while, I didn't pay attention to what was right in front of me, and the opportunities that I could create for myself, working for such a big figure like Daymond. I felt like I needed to expose myself to other work environments, and that was my main priority. I guess I really jumped off with working at this startup in Bushwick. They're going to try to tell you it was East Williamsburg, but any Brooklyn girl knows that it was Bushwick, and stop trying to make a new neighborhood. The startup in Bushwick, it was in a loft space. I found it on Craigslist, and the selling point was like a ping pong table in the office. This was basically the hipster era of the traditional look of a design.
AH: The hipster era of the traditional look of a designer was a white guy with a flannel shirt, glasses and a mustache. And I knew I didn't fit that profile, but I felt like I had this flavor that a lot of these companies didn't see before. I had a particular style where my colors were pulling from somewhere nice and refreshing and I really thrived on being able to immerse myself in any environment and shine, and a lot of that is I attribute back to my upbringing and having my mother being in the military and traveling a lot and not just living in New York but in Virginia and Texas and Germany and Jersey and everywhere else. And so I like to pull from those experiences of traveling. It made it easier for me to come in somewhere new and just try to own it.
MC: So it sounds like, I guess creativity was kind of a big part of your childhood. Being able to, like you said, travel and be in these different places. Did that help influence you as a designer?
AH: Absolutely. Like I said, we're from Brooklyn and I grew up loving graffiti. I figured out how to draw and the family is like, "Aw, she knows how to draw." And by the way, if my mother ... Probably until like last year, like 10 years in the game to know, "Oh, my daughter doesn't draw for a living." And she now knows that I'm designing for the digital space, which is pretty wild.
AH: But like I said, very early, I had a affinity for music and basically the lifestyle of hip hop was probably my first point of reference as inspiration. My mother and my father, they were young parents. So, culturally, anything that a young 19 year old was interested in early nineties, late eighties, I was right there with them. Like, mom's was bumping the hot new Mary album "What's the 411?", and my dad's sat me down and we both listened to Wu Tang's "Enter the 36 Chambers" and he's explaining RZA's sampling technique to me and relating it back to Rakim.
AH: And it's just like, I knew that my family was from Brooklyn and I knew exactly what that meant for like my identity, you know, and so if I related working at FUBU and working with Tony and Damon, that was the first home for me, you know what I'm saying? Like, I really made the connection through my childhood, through being a child of the Internet and knowing how to operate Google whenever it launched. Designing for message boards and downloading Photoshop on the sneak tip and just, like, paying attention to like these album covers and wanting to design these album covers. It just, it just opened up a whole new world. It was like, "Yo, I can actually make money doing this." And it just evolved from there. And once I discovered the digital space, you know, past the traditional graphic design, is just really when I started to come into my own.
MC: Now, you've been in the design game now for 10 years, you know, like you said, you've done work in New York, are doing work now in DC with Capital One. When you look back at your career as a designer, what do you wish you would've known when you started?
AH: Oh my God. Like, it's so crazy. I see these cats coming out of school knowing stuff that, you know, it took me five years of working to figure out. I'm so envious. But I think the biggest one, and I'm not going to call it a regret or anything, I just wish I knew how to one, sell myself better. I know how to interview. I knew how to speak to people. I knew how to let people know that you know, I'm an artist and this is what I do and I'm sensitive about my shit, you know, but I didn't sell myself in the way that you really knew what I was about in terms of ...
AH: I was doing some really dope stuff. Like I was 19, 20 years old working at this agency, designing for Vita Coco and designing for KIND Snacks, which are packaging stuff that's still exists right now. I was a little shy to talk about that. I knew how to build relationships, but I didn't know how to build on those too much for ... I'll use working at FUBU, I was in the same office as Daymond John at 19 years old.
AH: I should have my own company at this point! I really sit back and think and I was like, yo, I had the opportunity to pick his brain in the best way. And he definitely taught me some things and it was so electrifying to be in that office. But if I had the grind ... I mean, I was definitely on the grind then, but like if I had just the longterm thinking and strategic vision that I have now when I was 19, like who knows where I'd be right now.
AH: I'm definitely happy and I love my journey. I love the things that I've accomplished. Even the bad things that has happened that I've learned from. Those the relationships that I had at an early age in my career, I wish I had just paid a little bit more attention and not just let them become a relationship on Facebook. You know what I'm saying? Still cool with a lot of people, but not in the way that we could have built something together. We could have done a lot more and I wish I'd paid a lot more attention to that then.
MC: I'm so glad that you mentioned that about kind of selling yourself better because I'm finding that this is an issue that ... So, right now, I'm hiring for positions and I've done this-
MC: I think ... Oh, okay. So for people that are listening, Capital One's hiring. But even back when I had my studio and I was hiring for designers and such like that, I would find that it was, it was just so hard for people to be able to sell themselves outside of just kind of being a set of hands that can do the work. It's like, instead of being a designer, they almost would talk about themselves as if they were a mechanic. Like, "Yeah, you know,, I can do the Photoshop things. I've got these skills, I can do this, I can do this."
MC: But like, so can a dozen other people and probably for much cheaper than whatever your rate is or whatever your salary is like. What makes you stand out in the crowd when it comes to looking for a job, when it comes to interviewing, even when it comes to putting together your portfolio site, like, how do you sell yourself?
AH: Right. That bio needs to go the distance. You need people to know the range of your expertise. Like, it wasn't until probably year seven for me that I was just like, "Oh snap, I'm an expert." You know what I'm saying? In visual design. I could actually teach people what's going on. Like I said that wake-up call came seven years too late.
AH: I feel like I agree with you. There's definitely ... Like, that artists, they hold back a little bit. I guess unless you're real, real arrogant and cocky and you out there and it's like, "I could do everything!" You definitely, people definitely do hold back a little bit and I don't know if it's them wanting to be modest. I'm just like, "You know, I do the design thing a little bit, you know, I do video a little bit." It's like you can actually ... Like this is ... The things that you do can be your business and I think people are definitely a lot more in tune to it now.
AH: With people on social media, you have the influencers who are like, "I am my brand!" And Gary V. saying, "You know, anybody can be an entrepreneur and anybody can, you are your business." They're much more aware to it right now. But in the digital design space, I'm especially passionate, especially now, about teaching people how to interview and letting them know people like me working at Capital One are looking for. You know, people are definitely doing their best and they're putting together these decks and showing us their work, but they're not going the distance in a way that really gives us an idea of what it is that you can do.
AH: You know, we see the talent. There's tons of tons and tons of talent out there. We want to see some excitement. You want to see some curiosity and those are the things that I think people are sometimes missing. It's not just black and white, "I can do the job." It's, well, what are you gonna learn from us and what do you want to learn? You know, what we want somebody to be curious and, like I said, you know, just being a little bit more inquisitive and essentially be a sponge.
MC: Do you think it's like imposter syndrome or something that prevents people from putting themselves out there in that way?
AH: Absolutely. Like I said, took me seven years to be like, "Oh snap." I even felt guilty sometimes on my resumes saying, "multidisciplinary", like, you know, being from the era where traditional graphic design was you had to do photography at an agency, you had to do web design, you had to do ... When apps came into play, help somebody to design an app. These are a lot of different industries within the space, right?
AH: And I just felt guilty putting, "multidisciplinary" because I'm just like, "Well, can I actually do all this stuff? Like I'm doing it for work, but I don't want nobody to call me out if something goes wrong." I don't really know what the fears are, but I feel like now, you just got to throw that stuff out the window and just do it. You're not going to learn how to get better until you constantly do it. And build up the confidence to know. It's just like, "Well, I'm the ish and I'm going to do this and let's work together to make this happen."
AH: The younger people are definitely much more braver than I was when I was younger, like I said.
MC: You think so?
AH: I think so, yeah. You got 14 year olds on Instagram, like, producing content, talking about, "I'm a content creator." Which is dope. They're doing it.
MC: It's definitely changing the conversation in that way. I know I'm finding ... I don't know, I'm just finding this kind of reticence for people to try to step outside of, I guess, what they think a company is looking for when it comes to a position. So, I'll give you an example that is not Glitch because I work for Glitch. I don't want to put anybody out there, but I'll give you an example. So back when I had my studio, I was always kind of looking for designers to work on, you know, as projects come along we might need an extra set of hands or something to help out with things. But, it wasn't just so much about them being able to do the work, it's also just somebody that I can, sort of, count on and depend on because if more work comes in the future, I'd like to not have to do this again.
AH: Copy and paste and add the other company's name in it.
MC: "To whom it may concern", "Dear Sir/Madam", I'm like, "Where are you getting this outdated information from?" And so I guess I'm curious, if someone were to come to you, like say someone is applying at Capital One, we're just saying hypothetically, what advice would you give them to kind of get them to step outside of that basic way of representing themselves to kind of get to a level where they might be more attractive? And I'm saying as a candidate in terms of employment, but I just mean kind of as a designer period. Because I think certainly the people that go out there and get the opportunities are the ones that present themselves with personality. They show that they are more than just a 2D designer. They are someone that can think outside the box. They're engaging, they can speak, they have ... They are passionate about certain things, you know, what advice would you give for someone like that?
AH: Not just attached to Capital One, but I think just like my own personal advice as a creative who's [inaudible 00:26:40] design and loved design since I was a child, I want to see what your other passions are. I think pulling from inspiration, I don't want it to just be, "Oh I go to Dribbble and that's where I pull from inspiration."
AH: I know what it feels like to have an experience like traveling to Morocco or going to Cuba and staying there for 10 days and then coming back and feeling mad energized and like that showing in your work and showing in how you present yourself at at work. So, I guess the first piece of advice would be to find a passion outside of design. Like even if that is your jam and that's your calling, wanting something else to like supplement that drive, right.
AH: Get inspired on a different kind of level. Also on the more professional side, just take your time. Intentionally apply to these positions. I know what it's like to be unemployed or itching to get out of one company and go to the next, because that next company is going to be bomb, right? Just shift your focus away from just about salary and like, "Oh, I'm going to get this money and I'm going to get this position and this title." And really pay attention to the culture.
AH: The culture can tell you a lot about how the company's going to treat you. You have to align your goals with that company, do their morals match yours? And if it doesn't, you need to get out of Dodge and you need to find a company that is going to take your talent and elevate that, not just as a practitioner, but as a partner and someone who's going to be on this journey.
AH: Do you trust your company? Do you trust that they're not going to leave you out to dry? That way you know how to navigate if something goes wrong. Those are the types of things I want people to pay attention to. And like I said, I can speak for working at Capital One because I feel like this was the place where I was able to flourish the most because they saw my potential.
AH: I feel like I was popping when I got here, but they saw my potential and, you know, and really, really took it to the next level. A, because they had them resources and B, because I attune myself to be able to take advantage, in the best way, of the opportunities that they had here aside from the work that I was doing daily. That's trainings ... Even on a smaller scale, not just being dazzled by if they have a ping pong table or, you know, if they're going to happy hours every other week or if you could drink in the office after 6:00 PM, you have to pay attention to the things that's gonna make you a better creative and a better person. And, overall, just understand your business more.
MC: And I would even wager that if you see a place that has those kind of ... I'm loath to call them perks, but we'll just call them perks. If there's a company that has those kinds of perks. Personally, I would be wary of that because one that's like old like, 2000 startup culture. The whole ...
AH: Yeah, like 2012, you know what I'm saying? We're past that.
MC: Yeah. Foosball table, drinks on Friday kind of thing. I'm like, "I don't want to work around drunk people."
AH: We are so past that.
MC: Especially, I think, because the conversation in the whole industry, not to say that it's shifted away from alcohol, that's a whole other thing, but like it shifted away from the workplace as, like, a frat house. It's like, we do work here, so we want to come to work as adults and do work.
MC: Kristy Tillman who's a-
MC: ... and do work. Christie Tillman who's the ...
AH: Actually feel still fulfilled in that as well.
MC: Right, exactly. Christie Tillman who is the, I think she's the Director of Global Design at Slack, back when she was on the show a few years ago she referred to perks as filters sometimes. Like what might look good to you might not look good to someone else. Like that perk might be the thing that filters you out from actually wanting to work there. I think it's important to just spend some time, like you said, to get to know the culture. For people that are applying to jobs, please do some research.
AH: Absolutely. Walk into that interview knowing the company and not read the paragraph that's attached to the job description. Go in and challenge the people who are interviewing you to let them know that hey, I'm serious and I want to know what's going on behind these walls in the best way because I want to know how I can come in and make positive change, right?
AH: Like I said, or elevate the environment. So it took maybe like the first year and a half and I was very, very happy and I still am, but now I'm much more vocal because I'm like, hey, you can't make culture happen. Culture is entirely the people that you hire and that you have around you, and so I feel like we have a very positive culture. We have diverse voices. We have people who come in here and it's not just an environment where we're all agreeing with each other.
AH: We're also not completely disagreeing with each other, but we all are here for the same mission, and that's to change how people view banking, right? I think aligning on that particular goal sets us up for success at the beginning because I wouldn't necessarily hangout with everyone like on the week [inaudible 00:31:40] what the goal is for real, but I'm definitely learning from people who I wouldn't have. It's very unique because I think about my young self and the people that I associated myself with and thinking I'm like oh snap, I need to hang around this person because they did this and they can teach me this.
AH: Here at this company, Capital One, I'm being bombarded with all of this great knowledge from so many people, like I said, over 600 designers that I can reach out to and I've just grown in so many ways. It's amazing.
MC: So yeah, for people that are listening, read the about page, look at the social media. Get a sense of the tone and the voice of what the company is. Don't just say stuff because you copied and pasted it from ... I cannot stress that enough. Do some basic research. You're talking about the interview. I'm talking about like the cover letter.
AH: Oh, of course. Of course.
MC: Basic research, I cannot stress that enough. Yes, you want to ...
AH: Attention to detail.
MC: Yeah, that attention to detail is so familiar I think because I think for some companies depending on the size, like Capital One sounds like it's pretty big, for a small company for example like a startup I would say that's even more important because they're really super concerned about making sure that you're a good culture fit. Yes, of course they want someone that has the skills, but also can we get along with you?
AH: Right. There's only 10 of us. Right.
MC: Right. So instead it's on a day-to-day basis, do we like you? The culture fit thing is something which transcends gender, transcends race. Granted, those are parts of it I think, those kind of access points on the spectrum of diversity, but just be able to sell yourself. Do a little bit of research. Put forth your best possible self ...
AH: Of course.
MC: ... when it comes to this.
AH: You're not doing yourself any favors if you come in like you say with misspellings in your cover letter or generic cover letter or come into the interview without a presentation during a portfolio review or you weren't prepared to answer those basic questions about crucial parts of a project that you're presenting to us. Those are the things that I really want a lot of the junior designers or even just people who are new to the UX base, come in very passionate but just not really sure of how to approach and like we said earlier, sell themselves as experts. So I'm committed to that work. I really am.
AH: I've participated in a number of interviews where, like I said, we're hiring all over the company and so I've seen people come in who have blown me away. I'm just like, "She's in. He's in," and people who I'm just like, "Wow, this is not the [inaudible 00:34:24] around the corner. This is capital One. I want you to [inaudible 00:34:28] in."
AH: I want this person to have done this and sometimes it's a shame. Other times you can tell that they just don't know and I see an opportunity there to really just like elevate my own expertise. I guess it took a while for me to even form that sentence and look at myself as an expert through the imposter syndrome, which I can relate to. I'm here and I'm keeping my eye out on people, especially in the D&D area to help them get to where they need to be creatively.
MC: Yeah. I would say for any designer that's listening, if there are juniors that are working under you or you just know junior designers, just take some time out and help them, please, because there's not enough, and this is I think across the board, there's just not enough mentorship in this community from ...
AH: Of course.
MC: ... older more experienced, I won't even say older but just more experienced designers to less experienced designers. That pipeline of helping each other out is not really there. Do what you can, reach out, try to help the next generation. Just make it better, make it easier, you know?
AH: Inside of the community. If you work with these people they're on your team and you want to help them be successful so that way you can possibly learn some things from them. So I feel like everybody has potential, like I said, you want to go in with a high level of curiosity for a new place and be open and be a sponge and take in things. That way you can translate it and output the work with your own flavor and see how that goes, so it's very interesting being on this side of I guess the 10 years.
MC: What are your thoughts on the lack of hiring and retention and promotion of black women in this industry? You're a black woman in this industry. You've been in it for 10 years. Certainly I think you've probably seen your fair share of other black women at Capital One or just throughout your career. What are your thoughts on kind of how the industry seems to be lacking on that as a whole?
AH: I'll raise you one. Being black, female and gay is disappointing because it's taking such a long time to get to this conversation just on an industry level. It's definitely buzzwords like diversity and inclusion are just what they are, buzzwords for a lot of companies. It's just a little frustrating. It wasn't until I went to Afro-Tech that I had this moment where I was just like yo, there's like a 9,000 black folks in this space and I'm finding it difficult or have found it difficult in the past to see someone like me. Or even just mirror a type of experience that I've gone through as a black woman in this industry.
AH: I think it attributes to the people who are leading a lot of these companies. They hire the people that they recognize and that they know, like a lot of whites, like you said, frat people from the early days of startups and the early days of designing. It has a lot to do I think with the fact that up until recently with these bootcamps [inaudible 00:37:30] that are coming up now and people deciding to change careers enter this space, it wasn't very accessible.
AH: I can speak for myself and say that my dad was a little tech nerd and in '97 we had a laptop and he showed me how to do X, Y, Z. I had [inaudible 00:37:50] Photoshop. I had that access, right? That's why I was able to do it a little bit earlier. A lot of people don't have that. It's really up to the businesses that are in organizations that are existing now to have a level of outreach to the communities that probably don't have that access.
AH: I'm not just saying it's just a community of black folks or a community of immigrants. It's everyone, and that's how you really open up the pool. You go to those schools and you say, "Hey, this is an actual industry. This is how ..." For that kid like me who was doing graffiti in school, this is how you can translate those visual skills. This is how you can elevate your craft. It's opening up programs. It's doing campus recruiting the right way to really make yourself visible to those types of people so that way you can, like I said, hone and elevate their own skills based on their experiences.
AH: I think there's just not enough of that. It's not a lot of investment and like I said, taking those people with loads and loads of experience and potential, life experiences I mean, and potential to then bring them into the space so then that way they can excel. Therefore, the entire organization excels because you have those different levels of perspective. I don't know.
AH: Like I said, at the moment it just lies on those organizations and specifically for Capital One, I'm having really tough conversations with my leaders, my VP. We're definitely holding people accountable to have those really tough conversations about yes, we're here and we have for example senior manager positions, but what are we actually doing to reach out to the junior people or people who don't know what's going on? Or if they don't know that Capital One is a tech company and not just a bank, are we doing our due diligence, you know?
MC: Yeah, because sometimes I think when you're working at a company you can be so close to the product, so close to the mission, et cetera ...
AH: It's a bubble.
MC: ... you really ... Yeah, it's a bubble. You really don't have an idea of how you're perceived outside of this bubble of what you're company is so you have to get out there and talk. You have to sort of meet the people where they are.
AH: Of course.
MC: Yeah. What advice would you give to somebody that wants to follow in your footsteps?
AH: Just anybody? Young kid or like what in particular?
MC: Well, say if there's a young, gay, black woman out there listening and they want to follow in your footsteps.
AH: First I would say, "Hey fam. What up?" I would say something that I didn't do when I was much younger is to find your tribe, right? Instagram has made it so much easier to find people with similar interests. The same people who are going to the same events and parties in your city, like Brooklyn for example. Find a tribe. Find your clan of people who are going to inspire you and you're going to learn from.
AH: I think I mentioned earlier about like I didn't have a lot of the guidance and I wasn't able to ... I didn't have my own tribe until much later, a group of creatives that I can look at and just say, "Yo, these are my people and we're doing this thing," right? So do what you can to really build those relationships and talk to these companies. Everybody's on Twitter now. You can reach out. Like for example, don't bombard my DMs now, but reach out to somebody. You see people on LinkedIn. You see where they work. Now reach out to them.
AH: Ask them a question. Just say, "Hey, Arneice, how's working at Capital One? You're black and I'm looking around and I'm not too sure about working at a bank. What do you think? What's your perspective?" Kind of just go from there. That's really the I guess the short answer. There's loads, loads of things that you can do to break into this industry. Internet is nice. I do a lot of reading. People are pumping out articles all day long. You can learn how to be in Sketch on YouTube. Just really be out there. Just use every type of free resource that you can because it is out there, but yeah, but the big one is find your people.
MC: Well, just to kind of wrap things up here, where can our audience find out more about you and about your work online?
AH: My website is Arneice.com. That's A-R-N-E-I-C-E. You could hit me up on Instagram or Twitter @ArneiceHart. Go to my website, look at the work, hit me up. Like I said, I live in DC. I am from New York, I go there quite often. I'm always down to have lunch, talk to people. Just like I said, build a network or community rather, people who care about the same things that I do.
MC: Sounds good. Well, Arneice Hart, I want to thank you so much for coming on this show, really for sharing your story. I think we did spend a good bit of time of course talking about what it's like at Capital One, what it's like for you and hopefully by describing that maybe it will break some stereotypes people have about oh, what's it like to work at a bank?
AH: How so?
MC: What's that about, you know?
AH: I'm having a ball.
MC: Also just sharing your personal journey starting as a designer in New York and then now coming to DC and really kind of putting everything into your work I think is really inspiring. Certainly hopefully for folks that are listening they can see something in your story that they can grab onto and hopefully emulate in their own career.
AH: That's the goal.
MC: Thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it.
AH: Thank you, Maurice. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it and thank you for having this platform, honestly.