Fellowship Experience: Aishwarya Khoche

Senior Graphic Designer at 9133 Design Studio, Aishwarya Khoche has explored multiple disciplines in design. She joined the Product Design Fellowship to build her skills and grow alongside her company.

Fellowship Experience: Aishwarya Khoche
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Placement stories


An industrial designer by degree,  Aishwarya Khoche has explored many disciplines in design over the years. Currently a Senior Graphic Designer at 9133, Aishwarya wanted to hone her skills, be more at ease with product design, and grow alongside her company. The Product Design Fellowship helped her work towards these goals. Recently, she joined the Design Residency at ownpath, which has opened up new exciting opportunities for her. It allows her to fully concentrate on the creative process, rather than dealing with communication, contract management, and fair pay concerns.

Here's her story:

"I am a product designer by degree. That’s how I like to describe myself because I got a degree in product design - industrial design, more specifically. However, very early on in college, I had a sincere realisation that I did not want to continue in industrial design. So, I made a change that stuck - I shifted to graphic design and started working these odd jobs, mostly in communication design.

I got into a company named Futuring, an award-winning industrial design firm that also had a communication design team. The role was perfect for me to learn communication design while also keeping in touch with industrial design. It was a very good learning experience and it helped me build my foundation.

Eventually, I worked with another studio in Pune as a graphic designer and further strengthened my fundamentals. But when COVID-19 hit, it led to me leaving the company very hastily and finding another role. It also led to a certain re-think of what I wanted from my next job. Getting into a company that actually valued my skills was a priority.

Thankfully, I found my current role via LinkedIn at 9133 Design Studio, where I now work as a Senior Graphic Designer.

It’s been a great journey! We’re a small team of five people. I believe in the company and understand that if I want it to succeed, I must also succeed. I must build my skills and get better at my job. If I do well, the company does well - so it’s important that I keep learning and growing. I completely believe in my boss’s vision, and my boss believes in my growth too.

Briefly, that’s how I ended up in graphic design. I mostly work on branding, packaging, and illustration. Eventually, I started foraying into UX and product design. That’s when my friend and one of ownpath’s earliest Fellows, Mudita, recommended the Product Design Fellowship to me. Shortly after, I applied to the program and I haven’t looked back since!

The Fellowship has been quite an experience! It has assuaged my fears of UX design because I’ve had some mental roadblocks in my own head. There is always the fear of the unfamiliar. User experience is, of course, a little different from graphic design and similar is the case with product design. I was worried about the transition, and it’s hard to convince yourself to begin learning about something completely new and so vast. However, once I was able to come out of my comfort zone and really take the plunge into educating myself, my life has definitely changed for the better.

Especially with regard to user research, the Fellowship has helped me think about consumers much better. An important point to note is that the program hasn’t bothered my graphic design practice. In fact, it has improved my daily work as I now consider everything from a psychological perspective. The foremost question in my mind at all times is, ‘What is it that my consumer/user will want?’ The Fellowship has informed my practice in a way that I’ve become more confident in thinking of solutions for the problems I face at my workplace.

There have been some challenges as well - finding the time for the program was a bit of a hurdle. But I suppose it’s all about reprioritising your life - once I did that, I was able to handle the Fellowship seamlessly. Another initial concern I had was how my company would react to my decision to join an upskilling program, but they were so supportive! They were quite keen to observe what I would learn, and how I could translate it into my work at 9133. Most organisations are slightly apprehensive when they think of their employees gaining more skills because they’re worried about losing them to bigger companies. However, my boss has been incredibly supportive and that has given me the confidence to continue on the path I’ve set for myself.

Coming to the changes I’ve seen in myself before and after the Fellowship - I’ve developed more soft skills. I’ve learned how to articulate my design decisions a lot better, and I’ve learned to change my perspective to approach problems in different ways.

My favourite parts of the Fellowship have been the masterclasses and workshops with the mentors. ownpath mentors are a class apart - a league that’s far from what I’d call regular educators. They’re all at the tops of their fields, and they’re insanely talented. A chance to learn from experts like them has just been a dream come true.

My favourite sessions would have to be Behavioural Psychology with Shivani Gupta, Usability Testing with Mahima Chandak, and Interaction Design with Akshay Verma. I also loved the UX Writing session with Anjana Menon from Spotify, and Design Ethics with Navneet Nair, PhonePe’s Director of Product Design. All of these sessions have blown my mind and opened up doors to a world that I had no idea existed before.

I’ve also had a great time working with Surya, one of my peers from the Fellowship!

I joined the Design Residency recently, and the experience has been amazing so far! I'm grateful to have clients who understand design and are willing to pay well. The support I've received has been incredible, and I'm able to focus on the creative aspects of my work without worrying about the logistics of client management. Design Residency has helped me learn the inner workings of freelancing, which has given me the freedom to work without having to worry about anything. ownpath provides support in a way that allows me to focus on the creative process, without having to think about communications, managing contracts, or fair pay.

All in all, the ownpath Fellowship has been quite a transformative experience and I would tell everyone to not walk, but actually run to sign up for the Fellowship as soon as possible. I did, and I haven’t looked back since!”

Applications are open for the next cohort of the Product Design Fellowship

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