Pou Dimitrijevich, Product Designer
Tell us about yourself and what you do?
Talofa, my name is Pou Dimitrijevich I am a Product Designer, living and working in the epicenter of tech: San Francisco, CA. I was born in Pago Pago, American Samoa, but grew up in Southern California.
As a woman of color and as a first-generation Samoan woman, where I would go ‘next’–after high school or post-college–wasn’t always so perspicuous. I never thought I’d end up in Tech. I was raised by a single mother, in a two-bedroom apartment with seven siblings and my Tutu. Growing up I didn’t have a computer at home or a lot of space, so I found solace in things that didn’t require either: books and journals. It is from that experience that I decided pretty early on that I wanted to be a writer. Storytelling is at the heart of Samoan culture: it is how we record our genealogy, it is in the songs we sing to honor our ancestors, and it is even in the tatau on our thighs.
In college, my stories migrated from paper to canvas, and I received my BFA in Fine Art. Fast forward to today, I am still telling stories, however, now they much more interactive. As a Product Designer, it’s my job to tell a good story; whether I’m pitching an idea, or creating an experience, I’m always thinking about how the story unfolds for the user.
Currently, I work for the music app Smule. I lead a small design team on our Growth Squad that focuses on the user and social engagement, as well as monetization growth. What I love most about working at a start-up, particularly one with an international audience, is that there is always something new to learn.
How and why did you get involved in tech?
To be honest, I stumbled into tech. One of my first jobs out of college was designing responsive web pages for small businesses. It was 2012, and not yet uncommon for a print designer to transition into a web/mobile design role without any prior experience.
What I loved about designing digitally, that I didn’t find in print, was the discourse between designer and user. As an artist and as a print designer, my work felt very much like a monologue. As a web and mobile designer, metrics made it clear; I was having a dialogue.
Seven years later, I am still surprised by my design learnings. Even the best user experience can and should be challenged.
What is your experience being a POC in Tech?
Living in San Francisco and working in tech I am often the only Polynesian person in the room, if not in the entire building. That in itself can feel very isolating. Over the years, I have learned to see it as an opportunity to educate my peers about my culture and use my seniority/privilege to advocate for women and POC in more associate roles. You’d be surprised how little people know about Samoa; it is after all US territory.
What advice would you give to a young person who wanted to enter tech?
If you want to get into tech, the first thing I’d tell you to do is talk to someone doing what you want to do. If you can, talk to a couple of people, learn about their process, how they got started, the mistakes they made. There is a great program called Out of Office Hours that will connect newcomers with people in tech.
Where can we find you?