Next Steps: Why a BuzzFeed manager quit to design her own career path

“Should I make this a permanent move at BuzzFeed? Am I good at this? ... I don’t want to do this permanently at BuzzFeed, but it did make me think about doing something like this outside of BuzzFeed, or in general.”

Sabrina Majeed started her design career at Venmo, Intuit and startups on the West Coast. Her most recent job was at BuzzFeed, where she was the product design team manager for a year and a half before starting an editorial fellowship on the BuzzFeed food and travel desk. A few months later, she left BuzzFeed to become an independent designer, focus on her own content projects and travel the world. Poynter spoke to Majeed about learning how to navigate big and small organizations, figuring out what you want from a job, and the importance of building relationships outside of your team.

Define what you want to learn from your current job so you can learn what you need for your next job.

During Majeed’s time at BuzzFeed, she knew there were different skills she wanted to work on that weren’t necessarily on a well-defined career track. While she was a product design manager leading the mobile apps team, she expressed interest in working on editorial. By talking to her manager and other people within her company, Majeed was able to start an editorial residency working on the food and travel desk at BuzzFeed to see if it was a track she could see herself doing full-time. “I was coming up on my three-year mark [at BuzzFeed] and I knew I was probably only going to be at BuzzFeed for so long … there’s certain things I knew I wanted to do before I left, and writing was one of them.”

While she didn’t quit her design job to become a writer, it helped Majeed realize that she had an aptitude for writing, gain editorial experience, and eventually guided her decision to quit to pursue her own design and content projects, including Innbox, a newsletter featuring unique and affordable places to stay around the world.

No matter what your role is, developing interpersonal relationships outside of your team is an important skill.

When Majeed was starting to look for editorial opportunities at BuzzFeed, she heard about the food and travel residency from a co-worker in another department and was able to reach out to the right person. She saw that the best ways to partner with people who have different skill sets was to create strong relationships with colleagues who don’t necessarily work on your team. Now that she’s an independent designer, she advises that paying more attention to the business side of media organizations, rather than being fully immersed in your own department, provides more lessons for people who aspire to run their own business and work with their own clients one day.

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