When I thought being a product designer is about getting into the big leagues

Riel M
4 min readApr 3, 2021
photo from: https://sofietokorea.com/2017/09/08/slow-down-reflect-and-learn/

It was 2019 when I moved out of my home, packed my bags, and took the plane ticket from the Philippines to Singapore to work as a product designer in a decacorn startup.

It was a dream come true.

I can still remember gazing at Singapore from the skies above as we landed at its airport. I remember myself beaming with a smile as I walked past the immigration, knowing that this is real. I’m in! And I won’t forget that first day at work, where I came 5 minutes late for I got lost in the streets of Singapore’s CBD 😂

Those were the exciting and glorious days.

But things changed when June 2020 came.

The company has to go retrenchment due to a pandemic.

I was part of it.

When I received the email, I felt the world just crumbled down before me. The reason that brought me here will also be the reason for me to leave. And so the thoughts of “should I just go back to my country? maybe this isn’t it for me?” came into my mind. Maybe, I’m just not really for this. I’m not good enough.

Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.— Michael Jordan

But I have to climb the wall, and so I started applying and preparing myself for possible interviews, as my days to stay in Singapore as a tourist is flying fast. And since I’ve worked in a decacorn startup, I had this mindset that I deserve to be in the same environment, or at least, in a product company that is well known in Singapore, SEA, or across the globe. I got a few interviews from these companies, but it always turns out to be a.) I didn’t get through the final round or b.) I got through the final round but they didn’t come back.

All hope was lost, as I see the expiration of my visa coming to an end and I still got no job. Until a small 5-man team startup opened up and accepted me. But even though I got the job security, I still had the thoughts of “why am I here? shouldn’t I be in the big leagues?”.