EPISODE #88 || Hwanghah Jeong, Experience Designer at Airbnb


Hwanghah Jeong, Experience Designer at Airbnb, brings early lessons from her career, a desire to give back, and wisdom beyond her years. Hear about how she ended up at her dream company, deciding between taking an internship vs. a full-time job, advice on getting feedback on your portfolio, learning to be vulnerable and asking for help, and how she’s working on building confidence as a young designer.

Topics Discussed

  • Realizing she had to step up for herself and her own happiness vs. her parents’ expectations, leaving Asia and living in the US for the first time while going to SCAD, and improving her speaking skills through TED Talks on YouTube.

  • How she ended up at Airbnb (her dream company!), her decision to accept an internship and forgo the security of full-time offers, and what she does in her role as Experience Designer. 

  • Learning your coworker’s working styles and preferences, and why communication and your ability to speak English are two completely different things.

  • Her advice for putting together the best portfolio, including the importance of asking for specific feedback and having multiple mentors.

  • The most challenging thing about being a young designer, learning to be vulnerable and ask for help, and her method for building confidence as a designer.

Mic Drops

“During that phase, I definitely thought about the worst case scenario. And for me, the worst case scenario actually seemed okay. Because even if I was back on the job hunt, it would mean that I would learn more from the job hunt phase. Because for me, I think I grow exponentially every time I have an interview. I learn more about the job, I learn more about myself,  and I learn more about how to prepare for the best interview. So actually, I was like, that means just more opportunity for me to learn and grow.”

“To get the best feedback possible, I thought it’s important to narrow and scope down the type of feedback for the person you’re asking. For example, as opposed to asking something like, ‘Hey can you see anything in my portfolio that could be improved?’ It could be something more along the lines of, ‘Hey, could you focus on the coherence of my portfolio and see if it comes together as one from your perspective?’ Having realized this for myself, I got way more responses from cold messaging these people on LinkedIn, because I think that it specifies a starting point for the people looking at the portfolio and makes their jobs so much easier and less ambiguous and stressful.”

“I think it’s really hard for us as junior designers to open up and seek help sometimes, but I think we also need to remind ourselves that we are these freshly planted seeds that need water, help, sunlight, and support from other resources.”

Keep in Touch

About Hwanghah

Hwanghah is currently an experience designer at Airbnb, a recent grad from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She has numerous design accolades including the Red Dot Award, and a SXSW award finalist, and also was recently named as one of the most influential women in UX by Invision. She is striving to become a better person everyday by exploring new things, places, and activities. 

On the weekends, she works on side projects, while also taking the time to for photography and videography.