Desiree Garcia ’08 (meet Desiree on IrishCompass) is the Product Design Manager at Loom, a video messaging company that aims to improve workplace communication.
Can you provide a quick background of your ND experience and how that led you to your current role?
I studied psychology at Notre Dame and had a winding road to this work as a designer. My well-rounded liberal arts and science education helped me be successful in the roles I have had. I did a lot of research in the psych department, setting up experiments on computers in an effort to understand peoples’ behaviors, reactions, and attitudes. A lot of what designers do is making products and understanding peoples’ motivations, behaviors, and needs. I also did an internship with the Notre Dame Web Group and got some hands-on experience. This internship, plus the research, set me up for a design job down the line. I now lean on my psych major a ton — how you think about and approach problems. Having a liberal arts education helps you anticipate how your work impacts others. I feel very fortunate to have studied in an environment that encourages that type of thinking, and there is a support system if you have those ideas.
What drew you to Loom?
There are three reasons I work at Loom after 10 or so years in the industry. Loom emphasizes enabling remote or distributed work. I live in Austin, Texas, and I feel like I can work just as well as when I lived and worked in the same city (Ed. Note: Loom is headquartered in San Francisco). This benefits society. We inflate salaries, which increases the gap between the rich and poor in a given area, so allowing people to work remotely helps that and allows people to be more involved in their communities. It also encourages more equity on who can take on tech roles — you do not have to pick between work and family or other interests. Third, it is better for the environment.
I am a product design manager. I lead about four teams of designers who work closely with engineers and product managers. This triumvirate of roles is what you will find across tech companies to create products, features inside of products, or offerings for service. I used to make a lot of the work but do less of that now. I design the user interfaces that you see in apps, but I also help figure out what those user interfaces should be — what the value is. It is also my job to understand how people are using them, if people are using them effectively, and how we can improve them.
What are the top skills your company looks for in ND applicants?
First, being well-rounded. We are interested in your prior experiences. Because design can be such a broad job, it is helpful to know where in that range you feel the strongest. We look for practical skills, as well as critical thinking to understand how software impacts society. You need to be able to anticipate impacts. This is why critical thinking and intention are important. I would also add the ability to communicate because we are remote.
What is the value of hiring Notre Dame talent?
The Notre Dame education challenges you to think about society and encourages the use of heart and mind. If you feel that it is important to include a service opportunity on your résumé, that says something about you as a person. We want people who look out for others.
When you have posted a role on IrishCompass, were any applications received or hires made?
I posted a while back when we were hiring for a lot of roles, and we got a lot of applicants. The first round of interviews was for data science roles. I have a close friend from Notre Dame who earned a Ph.D. in physics but is now a data scientist. Even if your major is not directly tech-related, you can still work here.
Do you have any advice for ND applicants applying to Loom?
It always helps to hear why people want to work for a tech company. When people apply from a university in the Bay Area, they don’t ask why they want to work in the tech industry. It feels more implied. I encourage ND alumni to talk about themselves and why they want to work there.