Comfort zone: the nemesis of every junior designer

When you spend months perfecting your portfolio instead of getting your first job, something's wrong.

Szymon Mółka
Mixology expert

We've all been there. Hours upon hours polishing our already perfected designs just because it feels good — and easy. Like a cruise control, that keeps our vehicles at a steady pace while we relax, our comfort zone creates the illusion of well-being and security.

But, like an old-fashioned auto pilot, this control is, more often than not, false.

The same routine

When I look at some of my friends, I see how they urge to make their day-to-day work a habit. To fly through those 8 hours is their main (and only) goal. And once they're back at home, they just feed their lazybones thinking about which new crypto to bet their savings on.
This bad habit is what could've killed their potential. Don't get me wrong, I realize that our priorities differ. Not everyone wants to bust their ass off on a side hustle, reach the top of the corporate ladder or get most likes on Dribbble. But we've come to accept this comfortable stagnation as a default while it blocks us from making our first serious moves in the industry.

Nobody is blameless

When I graduated collage I spent all of my free time learning design. I read every major blog on Medium and scrolled through thousands of inspiration websites. My goal was to create a perfect portfolio that, one day, will get me a job.
It seemed that I was developing new skills every day when, in fact, I didn't leave my comfort zone for one minute.
I wasted half a year like that. Yeah, it took me 6 months to understand that my portfolio had already reached its peak. I thought that all those tiny tweaks I had been doing made my projects a WHOLE lot better. But really — I was standing still.
Instead of reaching out to a design agency that would give me a real-life experience, I was carefully studying The Design of Everyday Things. Great book, but it gives no advice about how to get a job!

Little, giant steps

Once I realized that, I finally brought myself to accept my portfolio as it is and started applying for a junior position. And, just after a week, I joined tonik! Back then, they weren't even hiring — but impressed with my idea for an app, they saw my potential and picked me.
It's funny how I was worried about that idea being not good enough. I actually wanted to spend more time on it, while it didn't have to be perfect — but just good enough.

It didn't have to be perfect — but just good enough.

Get (un)comfy

Today, I'm much more aware of my comfort zone. I know when it's time to leave it. And while it's still stressful, I can appreciate how it helps improve my career.
So if you relate to my backstory — don't let your comfort zone stop your growth. If you spot an opportunity, take it. Even if it feels uncomfortable, scary and reckless — you will benefit.

Takeaways

  • Polishing your already perfected portfolio is an excuse for not applying for your first job.
  • It’s easier to read about working than actually working. But it doesn’t improve your skills that much.
  • While it's tough, leave your comfort zone sometimes.

Szymon knows a couple things: how to mix cocktails and design superb products. And he's damn good at both.

Szymon Mółka
Product Designer
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tonik here — a design studio focused on early stage startups, helping founders define, design and build products.

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