Unplanned Journey: My career in design at a fast-growing startup
I entered college the same way many of my peers did. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do with my life. I built a strong foundation in art during high school and graduated hoping I could somehow blend my passion for art with the fast-growing world of technology.
That led me to Savannah College of Art and Design where I received a degree in animation. Although, I value my education, my degree isn’t exactly the right combination of art and tech that leads to success at a startup. (Important life lesson: having an interest in something isn’t the same thing as being passionate about creating it.)
Jump-Starting My Career
After college and a year living at home in Evansville, Ind. — again, trying to figure out what to do with my life — I decided to take a leap and move to Indianapolis for a marketing internship at SmallBox, a local creative agency.
There was no guarantee that the internship would turn into a full time job, and I didn’t have a single friend in Indy. It felt like I was taking a huge risk. Little did I know that it would turn into a five-year career, and I would eventually come to consider Indianapolis my home.
It was there at SmallBox that I started to forge a career path for myself. I was blessed to be able to take what little relevant experience I had and nurture it into a diverse skill set. Working on a wide variety of projects — marketing, branding, web, etc. — I started to learn design and web development and a number of other things you pick up in an agency environment. Among all that, I had great interest in design, finding it to be a great way to channel the artistic foundation I built in high school.
Finding the Right Path
Five years later, I came to the decision that it was time to move on, and I ended up leaving without having another job lined up. There I found myself in a familiar predicament — what do I do now?
Do I look at other agencies, become a freelancer, try the tech startup world, shift my focus to development, move to another country?
In a stroke of serendipity, High Alpha venture studio was looking for a candidate for their Designer in Residence program at the same time I left SmallBox. I didn’t know much about the software-as-a-service (SaaS) world, but I saw a great opportunity, decided to go for it, and I got the job!
My four months with High Alpha turned out to be an amazing experience. I got a glimpse into the world of SaaS and product design, and it gave me the opportunity to meet and work with some really talented designers.
Blending Design and Tech in a Startup
I was also introduced to Zylo, the leading SaaS optimization platform and one of the High Alpha portfolio companies. Long story short, I joined the Zylo team as soon as I finished my time with High Alpha.
As marketing designer at Zylo, I work on designing and developing creative projects to support nearly every aspect of the business including marketing, sales, and customer service, all while upholding and progressing the Zylo brand. The mix of everything I do might be, as I’m finding, just the right blend of art and tech.
From day one at Zylo, I was inspired by the energy, excitement, and fast pace that’s so unique to a fast-growing tech company. Similar to previous employers, Zylo is still small but with plenty of room to grow. And even though I’m just over four months in, I already feel at home and I’m excited to contribute to the growth of Zylo and continue to build on my career with a dynamic and savvy group of people.
About the Author
Nick Klooz is a designer based in Indianapolis, Indiana. After receiving an animation degree from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2011, he shifted his focus and found a career in design. Nick is currently marketing designer at Zylo, an Indy based tech company.