by: mathurah

joining Netflix's design technology as their first new grad

the final episode of this season

5 years, 7 internships, living in 5 different cities later, things are finally making sense. I tried a variety of roles from consulting, product, full-stack engineering, to venture capital, and worked at large companies to baby start-ups. If these past 5 years have taught me anything, it's that I still have a lot more to learn, and all the things I value out of a career and potential job.

I never thought I would be at a large tech company again, especially as I've been so start-up pilled over the past two years. But this past summer, I had the exciting opportunity to intern at Netflix as their first design technology intern, and I loved it so much, I'm coming back as their first new grad hire.

I thought I'd share some of the reasons I took the role, and shed some light on what exactly design technology is for those who are curious.

What is design technology at Netflix

"If a picture is worth a thousand words, a prototype is worth a thousand meetings [Ideo]."

Design technology sits under the product design organization at Netflix, and is meant to push the boundaries in exploring novel interactions or new ideas beyond what could be achieved through static design tools. The whole purpose of design technology is to think of outside of the box ideas and help bring those "what ifs" to life, run experimental research, and bring those visions to the broader team. It's what I would think of creative engineering in a nutshell which is so me!

Being in design technology lets all parts of myself shine

I found in previous roles I'd have to compartmentalize different parts of myself. When I was a PM, I missed coding. When I worked in venture, I loved the strategy part and talking to founders, but I really missed the experience of building things. When I was an engineer, I missed thinking about the business side and being involved in the entire design process.

What I realized is that I truly enjoyed being at the forefront of the entire process end to end - solving problems, researching, exploring creative ideas, and finally getting to build the thing. Being on the design technology team lets me do exactly that - I'm in the first meetings with the product designer exploring the vision of our prototype together, looped into strategy, getting to do a ton of fast iterations when building it out, and thinking about the business implications if the prototype came to fruition on the platform.

5 years of Systems Design Engineering is finally paying off

This is probably one of the most relevant roles I could've have chosen for what I studied in school. Things are finally clicking now. Studying systems design engineering really drilled into me on how to be a user-centric engineer, learning about things from the design process, ergonomics, designing for humans, thinking in systems, along with hard problem-solving skills - which all transferrable skills that will be extremely helpful for the design technology role. The whole point of the SYDE program was that it was an interdisciplinary program, and now I get to work in an interdisciplinary role :)

My degree finally makes sense. Phew 😅.

I'm excited about their mission

I love consumer product companies - Netflix is something I watch and even something my cousins in Sri Lanka watch. It's cool to work on a product that connects people all over the world. I also love creative media myself - and as someone who enjoys other mediums like writing & photography as ways to express myself - it's a really inspiring environment to be working somewhere with a lot of other creative people.

Everything is also very transparent, and I'm constantly learning new things everyday, and finding a new rabbithole to dive into from all the cool insights their research team publishes or seeing how all the different shows are doing.

I felt really valued for my work

The type of work and autonomy I got was to the level of a full-time employee, and I felt really valued and appreciated for the work and contributions I made while I was there. Historically, Netflix has never had experience design new grads on their teams before, and it meant a lot that they chose me to be the first. This is a really exciting opportunity I'll never have anywhere else.

Netflix is also really diverse, and one of the most diverse companies I've ever worked at. It really makes a difference in helping me feel at home, and feel like I belong. My manager is also incredibly kind, and has consistently went out of his way to find opportunities for me to grow, learn, integrate well into the team, and also my biggest advocate. He invited me to join the design team offsite in LA several months before my start date just for me to meet everyone which is so telling!

Designers are some of the smartest, and kindest people I know

Designers are literally some of my favourite people. I love how creative they are and it blows my mind the type of magic they spin up with in their Figma files. The designers I worked with there were really talented, and working this role lets me stay close to that area. Especially with AI starting to get really capable with engineering tasks, I don't think it could ever replicate the creativity and empathy a designer has. Getting to be an engineer but under the experience design org is a really fun place to be in!

I want to level up my craft

I still have a lot to learn and grow technically, and this would be a great role for me to grow my craft as an engineer, but also my design thinking and communication skills. The quality of work across all departments truly is incredible, and I can't wait to learn from all my stunning colleagues here.

Parting words

Thank you so much to my mentors, friends, teachers, past co-workers for being a part of my journey so far. I'm really excited to build and start my career at Netflix starting in August.

If you're in the bay, please do say hi! Now sit back and get ready for the next season.

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