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Muslim Woman
In Tech

Nasrien Youness – People Are Willing To Help You. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask

Imagine you’re sitting in your university lessons with an uncomfortable feeling that you can’t ignore anymore. You’re realising that what you’ve spent the last few years studying, the life you planned for yourself, isn’t actually what you want for yourself. How do you move on from that? Do you ignore that feeling and keep going or do you try something else.

That’s what’s happened to today’s guest, Nasrien Youness. In the middle of university, she pivoted away from International Development and learned how to build a career out of her love for drawing. Now a product designer at Uhubs, Nasrien tells us how she taught herself design skills, built up her portfolio, and her experience as one of the first scholarship recipients to the Love Circular Bootcamp through Muslamic Makers and The Aziz Foundation.

Listen to Nasrien’s Story

Key lessons from this episode

  1. Deepen your learning by putting your lessons into practice (4:00)
  2. Product design is just iteration after iteration. There’s no end point. You just keep improving (10:56)
  3. Reach out to people, get involved in the community and make sure that you are building real case studies rather than just conceptual ones and redesigns (16:38)


This transcript was auto-generated by Descript and is not 100% accurate

Nasrien Youness

[00:00:00] Grace Witter: As Salaam-Alaikum, you’re listening to tech sisters stories. tech sisters is a community that connects you with other sisters who share your story experiences and goals. So you no longer have to feel like the only one like you on your team. My name is grace and I get to interview the amazing women in our community, share their stories and the lessons they learned.

[00:00:22] Grace: Today on Tech Sisters Stories, we are very excited to have Nasrien Youness. Nasrien is a product designer at uhubs. She’s an inclusive design advocate, lover of classical literature and a plant mom, welcome to Tech Sisters stories Nasrien. So happy to have you,

[00:00:37] Nasrien: thank you very much to everyone listening. Yeah, excited to be here and having a chat with yourself. I’ve heard loads about you and tech sisters, so happy to say that I’m part of the Tech Sisters community and even happier to be on this podcast and chatting with yourself.

[00:00:55] Grace: Flattery right at the beginning. . But it’s so wonderful to have you on, and I think this is gonna be a really great opportunity for a lot of tech sisters members to hear your story. So let’s start, how did you first get into tech?

[00:01:07] Nasrien: So the way it started off was actually quite unconventional, so. Initially I studied at university of London, L s c. I studied international development, which was completely from what I’m doing now. So I, you know, I, from a young age, I think being grown up around parents who were social and political activists, I’ve had this tendency to sort of go, make a change, do something big in the world. So I thought, what better than to learn about the world? We would live in politics and economics and all of that jazz. And although I, I really enjoyed the study of it, by the second year, I had realized that, wait, this isn’t something I wanna dedicate half my life to, and, you know, pursue my nine to fives in.

And that’s when I started looking around. I was to be very honest, my second year of uni was a, haze, I was very confused then. I was applying to all sorts of miscellaneous things while I was working two jobs that I, I didn’t particularly enjoy. Tutoring was lovely. I had all these lovely kids from year two all the way to a level, some of whom I’m still in touch with.

But I was also working you know, some days of the week I was working for NHS test and trace harassing people. Get your covid tests, everyone. So it, it, it wasn’t, it wasn’t the best thing in the world, but I luckily I had some friends who worked in tech, so I spoke to them and I am a sporadic artist drawer, I dunno what to call it.

So I like to draw. So they were like, Hmm, maybe, you know, maybe UI UX is a good way to go. And the way I kind of went to it was because of the sort of artistic appeal and the creative side of it. So that’s how I stumbled upon it. And towards the third year was when I took a leap of faith and I was like, Hmm, enough is enough.

Let me fully dive into it. So January, I basically started all these Udemy courses and I went right into it and by August I was ready to build my portfolio, do case studies and jump into projects. So, yeah, that, that’s, that’s how I started.

[00:03:12] Grace: What stood out to me from that story is you must be a very resilient person to be able to pivot to so many different disciplines and still find something that is at your core, something that you enjoy. So, It sounds like you’re somebody who really likes solving problems in a non-traditional way, in a creative way.

Is that right?

[00:03:31] Nasrien: Yeah, that’s, that’s exactly it. I, I wouldn’t say I’m resilient, but I’m patient. So if, if I get bored of something or if I, if I feel like it isn’t going anywhere, I’ll try to find an alternative solution that that works. And for me finding a career in UI and UX design, it’s that that was something that worked for me. But yeah.

[00:03:55] Grace: So you said that you kind of grouped in a couple of major things. At the very last sentence there were you saying you’re taking courses, built your portfolio and got your job. If you wanna expand on that little bit.


[00:04:06] Nasrien: So taking courses. I guess one of the good advisors that I got from some of my friends was that you don’t have to splurge a lot of money to get into tech. You don’t have to, you know, you don’t have to. Pursue a whole degree you know, and leave a hole in your, in your pockets and wallets. So I literally did like three or four Udemy courses that, not to mention I probably even got on sale.

may not have caught.

[00:04:33] Grace: Yeah,

[00:04:34] Nasrien: buys you to me at full price?

[00:04:35] Grace: exactly.

[00:04:36] Nasrien: It’ll go on sale.

[00:04:40] Grace: And yeah, and it, I was like, Hmm,

[00:04:41] Nasrien: $12 that, that works. So, yeah, I don’t think I’ve spent anything more than a hundred pounds on udemy, even though it’s an overstatement. And I literally did a couple, and while I was learning, I made sure that I was practicing. So it was never theory and then jumping into Figma, it was from the offset, it was, you know, learning.

And then also making sure that I’m actually putting the learnings into practice and kind of following video tutorials, doing mini projects. Until I was ready for the big project,

[00:05:16] Grace: This is something that’s really important and is a very difficult mindset shift for a lot of people to make. When you are doing your courses and watching video tutorials, it’s really hard to then pivot that into building your own thing because you just get so used to just copying whatever they’re doing in the video.

A common question a lot of people have with this is they don’t know what to. So how did you kind of figure that out? Were you doing something, did you have a project in mind while you’re doing your lessons, did it just kind of come to you?

I actually, so

[00:05:48] Nasrien: I’m a notion girl, so , I make loads of lists and checklists and things like that. So I had a couple of things in mind, and now that I look back at it, I’m like, Hmm. Some of those didn’t make sense. When you are starting and when you’re building a portfolio, you can get really ambitious, like.

I wanna build an app that does something Absolutely.


groundbreaking. And then, you know, if you have at least one engineer look at it, I’m sure they’ll have a mental breakdown. Like, what is this?

This is a meme. Yes.

[00:06:18] Grace: right?

[00:06:20] Nasrien: Yeah.

and, yeah. So it’s, it’s, you can get really ambitious, but one of the things that I, I like plants.

I call myself a plant mom. I feel. The more I say it, maybe it will become true. I keep killing plants, so I don’t really know where it’s going.

[00:06:35] Grace: Plants. Yeah. And I was like, Hmm, a plant app that works. So I actually, so while I was following video tutorials, I was literally replicating what was being done in the video tutorials


[00:06:48] Nasrien: own application.

yeah. So the tool I use is Figma. so I love Figma fig, Monique, big time. And basically I, it, it’s really important to know how it works, to know the basics.

So in order to sort of lay that groundwork, I was replicating what other people were doing so that I kind of know how, how to use the tool itself. So I guess it was less UI and UX C at that point. It was just learning how to use a tool tool And then once I’d learned that, I went ahead and started planning for.

[00:07:20] Grace: Um,

[00:07:21] Nasrien: Master mastermind of an app called Planty. a very original name.


didn’t think of that plant. Um, And then, yeah, so it it, that was a sort of big project. I. To be very honest, there was a stroke of luck that I was interested in plants. I, there wasn’t any critical thinking or anything groundbreaking that went into it.

My advice for anyone listening would be pick a problem that people actually have, so, you know, it could be the most minor thing in the world. For me, it was like identifying the problem that exists, you know, with, with my plant like the leaf is going yellow, for instance.

So how do I identify the problem and how do I find solutions for it? So it’s mainly me Googling and fiddling. And then the apps they existed, they were just really annoying and, you know, loads of ads and I’m sure you’d know how it is

Yes, yes, yes, yes.

So yeah, so my, that was my problem that I, I identified and then I worked out a an app solution for it.


[00:08:22] Grace: Yeah. mashAllah, I think that’s really

sound advice. Usually what I do you know, it’s the very same thing is I’ll write out the things that I’m very frustrated with during that day. So I think when I was learning how to, to code, I was doing lots of meal planning apps and lots of family habit things like chore chart type stuff for apps.

I also advise my mentees to duplicate something that they think is really cool that already exists. So if you are trying to learn, c s s tend to duplicate a website and try to see how that all fits together. But then do a remix about something. So change some small detail to make it something that’s yours.

And it’s a lot easier to think about it in terms of. A small piece that you’re going to change or a very concrete problem that you’re dealing with, rather than something that has to be amazing for my portfolio. Right?

[00:09:13] Nasrien: Exactly. I, I think one of the things that I realized once I got into product design, settled into my full-time role, aside from the freelance projects. Was that there’s this misconception that you constantly have to reinvent the wheel, come up with like, you know, cutting edge brand new techniques of doing things.

Whereas a lot of times you have to stick to traditions and come up with solutions that you know that, that are intuitive. People are used to, people don’t need to think about. So something that doesn’t take much of a cognitive load on your users. And that’s, that’s something I wish I could go back and tell myself, like, you don’t need to create a fancy carousel component.

Just go for the basic.

[00:09:58] Grace: Yeah, this is it. Yeah. I mean, everyone likes the idea of like a flying car or something, whatever. But people are much more comfortable with a bike or a regular car, something that they already know how to drive, but make it a little bit better. Right.


Here’s another misconception when , this is a funny question the way I’m gonna phrase it.

When you’re doing your design, do you feel like you’re inspired all the time and that genius strikes, or do you go through lots and lots of iterations?

Oh, I’m not da Vinci guys.

[00:10:33] Nasrien: yeah, that’s like

I’m just reading a nurse.

[00:10:36] Grace: Um,

[00:10:36] Nasrien: Yeah, no, definitely the latter. I initially, I thought it would be the former, I thought. It requires, I think, yes, there are some designers and there are some some artists generally who, who have the stroke of genius that comes by. Dawns upon you. And maybe every now and then you’ll have it like a a stroke of genius.

But really it’s product design is just iteration after iteration. And then in the end you realize that, wait, there’s no, there’s no end point. You just keep improving, which is both.


you’re never done

No, a vicious cycle. And it’s, it’s, also really beautiful and I, I think I’ve, I’ve tweeted this so many times complaining that like, I made something last week and I’ll look at it and I’m like, Ew, what is that?

[00:11:24] Grace: Well, this is the thing about, you know, portfolios. You were just saying that you wanted to relaunch yours. I had to just take my portfolio down because I was always so annoyed with it. I was like, my LinkedIn is good enough,

[00:11:36] Nasrien: Same , mine is down too currently.

[00:11:39] Grace: Yeah, that’s it. So you’re talking about Figma and. This might, this is kind of a, a question that I find very funny. Observing how people use Figma and how people use it when they’re sharing it with teams. Are you somebody who likes to make so many components and will have everything like auto layout and really maximizing the efficiency of the tool?

Or are you somebody who kind of recognizes that the other people on your team are scared of that and will just kind of not use components?

[00:12:14] Nasrien: I oh God. Don’t hate me. Oh,

[00:12:23] Grace: So, are you doing it the right way, Nasrien, or are you doing

[00:12:28] Nasrien: I hope so, I guess the right way is open to interpretation,

[00:12:33] Grace: Yeah, I’m, I’m I’m being cheeky here and

[00:12:35] Nasrien: I I, I’m very much, I love auto layout. It’s, it’s my weak point, my fatal flaw. The thing is like, there’s, there’s the balance of, you know, coming up with designs that other like devs can use without being like, what the hell is going on in this, like, art board, but then there’s also being able to maintain scalability in, in the Figma.

I, I actually work at a startup, so it’s, it’s an early stage startup and when I went in we had only one lead designer. So naturally things, you know, we have. I think they created the product a year ago. So it is very, very sort of early stages and they didn’t have a design system. And I, being the design systems geek, I went in and I was like, we need a design system to be scalable and accessible So I, I’m literally that person. So, you know, that was an initiative I took on. And every day, I think with the, with the Figma, I do loads of housekeeping cleanup, making With the handovers, like everything is in place. There are loads of components and that it’s, everything’s sort of familiar to, particularly to the engineering team.

So if there’s absolutely any something new, we come up with like a new file or a new structure for the Figma, for the design system. You know, we have like, even if it’s a 15 minute call, we onboard everyone. We are like, this is how it works before, you know, un unraveling and unleashing every everything upon them.


[00:14:09] Grace: I, that was a bit of a gotcha question, so apologies for, for springing that on you. But I think the way you answered that also illustrates the difference between what you’re doing as a product designer. So a huge part of that is communicating the designs to the rest of the team engineers and other stakeholders in the business in a way that’s really accessible for everybody to understand, really keeping in mind the scalability of the product and that it is going to change, like you said, it’s never done.

Yeah, and keeping that in.

[00:14:39] Nasrien: Exactly. Exactly.

[00:14:42] Grace: So we branch off a bit. So you’re talking about how you’re building up your portfolio and then how did you get from that step to getting jobs? I think you said you were doing freelance work for a while.

[00:14:52] Nasrien: Mm-hmm. . So yeah, so initially it started off soon as I had my portfolio built. Massive shout out to Dean developers for trusting me with some major projects at the time. At the time one of the things that we decided was a website redesign.

[00:15:08] Grace: It’s a nice looking website. mashAllah



[00:15:10] Nasrien: It alhamdulillah, like what they have is actually the initial website

[00:15:14] Grace: Oh, okay.

[00:15:15] Nasrien: the redesign was still pending. I think now it

[00:15:18] Grace: Sure it looks even better. Your designs will look amazing.

[00:15:21] Nasrien: Thank you so much. You’re too kind. But now I look at it and I’m like, oh God, what is that? I just, I have a fear of looking at that Figma file. But alhamdulillah, like I was, I was very lucky to have the support of a community. Really, like fosters good relations within the community and also does something good for, you know, for the world generally.

So one of the major things that we worked on and are still working on was notice. So notice is a project it’s basically a platform that connects tech talent to meaningful causes and project owners. So project owners who are looking for volunteers within the tech community can basically go in put up their role and say, oh, like this is what we do.

This is our mission. Are you on board? And people like myself at the time, even people who you know, who want to get into tech or people who are much more senior and just want to do well for the community, will basically go on there and apply and expand their portfolio and open up a world of opportunities.

So I was lucky enough to get onboarded with that project. So I, I had a couple of projects in my portfolio and this, again, this is another advice for, you know, designers, perspective designers, actually reach out to people, get involved in the community and make sure that you are, you will building real case studies rather than just conceptual ones and redesigns.

[00:16:47] Grace: Mm-hmm.

[00:16:48] Nasrien: So once I had a couple of projects you know, under the belt, I, I started applying and like I said, notion girl, I started documenting every single application name of the role you know, level of seniority. Cause I think it’s okay to apply for more senior roles. It’s. It’s worth trying. And then sort of having like a whole column for like the state of my interviewing.

Is it done? Da, da da. And yeah, I was documenting the whole process. Loads of, loads of setbacks. Loads of rejections and all of those, you know, like

[00:17:21] Grace: No reply. Just nothing.

[00:17:23] Nasrien: that’s, that’s the worst, isn’t it? It’s like, oh, you weren’t even worth like me responding

even the auto-generated email is good enough for you.

[00:17:32] Grace: exactly. Or even worse are the ones where you just apply it and they’re like, Nope.

Like it five minutes later, it’s bam. No

[00:17:43] Nasrien: Although I, I actually kind of appreciate those. It’s, it’s better. Just kind of close that. Change your notion status right away.

[00:17:50] Grace: quick feedback. That works

This happens to so many people and it’s something that we don’t really talk about. Especially just the volume of, of jobs that just don’t say anything to you. And you might think that you’re really hot stuff coming in. I, it is a senior role thing.

[00:18:05] Nasrien: Mm-hmm. exactly.

[00:18:07] Grace: I think one of the benefits of that is that it teaches you what you should be aspiring to what are the qualities that jobs are looking for in your role at that level.

And so, you know what you, you have a clearer idea of what you can work towards. So even if you aren’t, are not really ready for a higher level role or even if you’re not really ready to leave your current job, it is a really, really good practice just to, to do these interviews and practice ’em and just get ready because you will eventually be in that position where you’re applying to be a senior product designer or whatever, and you know, you’ll, it’ll be a lot easier once you have those interviews already done.

And you know what you can expect.

[00:18:50] Nasrien: That’s very true. I feel like In my first round of interviews, I was so outta loop. I feel like if, if you do more interviews, you get into the sink of it. So first and second interview, absolutely horrid, atrocious, don’t even wanna go there. freak outs and mental breakdowns. You know? You know the rest.

Oh, there’s

And then in the third and fourth it kind of, it was a bit more conversational, colloquial for my current job.

You know, one of the reasons as to why I chose to work with them over then over a sort of big corporate corporate setting was mainly cause things were so conversational and they were so personal from the, from the offset. I was constantly speaking to people and it felt more like a conversation.

It was more human. Whereas with some of the big four interviews that I did was it was just like six, like five rounds of just like automated processes. I think it was for one of those companies where I did the video interview.

So it’s literally questions jumping out at you and you just have to answer. At one point, I just sat down, took a deep breath, and just hit next, next, next, I was like, I can’t be asked. It was terrible.

[00:20:04] Grace: Well, it did its job that screened you out cuz clearly you’re a terrible fit.

[00:20:08] Nasrien: believe it or not, believe it or not, I got to the final stage and then by then I had an offer and I was like, know what? At this point I don’t want you.

[00:20:15] Grace: Yeah, man, that’s true. subhanallah. No, we’re very much, very similar then because I feel really allergic to those types of interviews. I am by far happiest when an interview can turn into a conversational thing from both sides of the table. Like when I was interviewing candidates for something, whenever they’re able to, to get beyond just question, answer, question, answer, and we’re able to have a two-way conversation where they’re asking me questions and I’ll ask them just like we’re talking now. That is so much better than an interview. It tells me so much more about a person and how likely they are to fit in and how likely they are to jump onto a role than to just some memorized answers. And the way to get into that conversational head space is by doing lots of practice interviews so you can kind of get over yourself and, and be more comfortable during the interviews.

[00:21:02] Nasrien: Yeah, exactly. And I feel like having a script is so important, but also remember that, you know, people wanna work with humans, people wanna work that, you know, they

connect. Yeah. And it’s , you know, it’s, we can like, we can have a script and we can have a very, you know, metric driven answer to like, oh, I had.

That many number of sales in this time span and this and that. Like you have all these cool numbers. But at the end of the day, if you know you don’t come across as likable and more human than you know, you, you’ll never get through the cultural fit.

[00:21:36] Grace: Yes, definitely. I feel like, to be fair, each role has its own requirements, and that’s something that you’re gonna be discovering as you do practices, as you interview at all these different companies. So it might be that the, the role that this our tech sisters listeners is applying for might be very metrics heavy, in which case you’ll, you will find that out by practicing.

Yeah. but we don’t have to do that

So nasrien, what is next for you? What do you hope to do next? So right now you’re working at a startup, you’ve just started there and you’re revamping all of their design systems, creating them. What would you like to do next in.

inshAllah for me, the next step is to become more involved in the Muslim tech community. Take on and lead some projects in the community, find problems and come up with solutions for them inshAllah. And Use, use my skills for something good, something more meaningful, and actually work with more Muslim women in the tech space.

The place to be. Yeah,

[00:22:40] Nasrien: I feel like I’ve had you know, I’ve met some very, very lovely, lovely people. Some very talented women in some of the dean developers hackathons in

[00:22:48] Grace: um,

[00:22:49] Nasrien: muslamic makers community in, in love circular even. And, you know, it’s, it would be my pleasure to work alongside. Alongside them. So that’s next. Then hopefully securing the senior product designer position

Mm-hmm. at this startup or somewhere else.

But yeah, we’ll look forward to it.


[00:23:09] Grace: inshAllah may Allah make all of that easy for you, and I love that where we have like this triangle between muslamic makers and dean developers and, and us and alhamdulillah. It’s just really nice having, there’s so much overlap between the three groups, but each one had its own kind of specific niche and, and focus area and alhamdulillah.

I’m so happy that you’re involved in all three

[00:23:32] Nasrien: Thank you very much. Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s very nice, I think. You know, just meeting people from all three and seeing the way they, you know, we, I wanna say they, but then we seeing the way we solve problems in, you know, across all three different groups. It’s, it’s quite interesting.

[00:23:51] Grace: I think the core theme of all three groups is that we are. All motivated by the same basic interests for the dean. So whenever we’re doing something, we’re proposing a project or an initiative for our communities, or if somebody is asking a question or is looking for help, we’re all motivated because we share that same faith and identity which is something that is really beautiful subhanAllah.

So you’re talking about the Love Circular Bootcamp and I know that was a big deal and that came out cuz that was the first kind of big partnership that Muslamic Makers had with love Circular. So do you wanna talk a little bit about that experience going through that bootcamp and also maybe, I think it was kind of, I remember seeing you on social media quite a bit during that time, so maybe doing a bootcamp in a very visible way,

[00:24:38] Nasrien: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I I was actually one of the first in the aziz foundation and muslamic makers . So for love Circular and I, having self learnt all of those things, it was a very sort of isolated experience. And I was at a point where I had my portfolio ready, I was applying for jobs and, but I was still scared.

I was scared. I hadn’t received proper mentorship or proper validation, basically. You know, someone just, You know, in this room you’re doing this right or you’re doing this wrong. So I can’t get that from udemy.

yeah. And , you can’t get that from, udemy, no . That’s, that’s, I guess that’s the downside that I forgot to mention. That’s where I was like, yeah, I, I need to actually get involved in a community. So, you know, I spoke to a couple of people. One of the people that definitely deserve the shout out is Shabana Ahmed, who is also a mentor in muslamic Makers.

Just a love.

[00:25:36] Grace: She first, very first episode. shabana.

[00:25:40] Nasrien: Oh, good to hear.

She’s absolute loveliest. We’ve spoken a couple of times and I remember when I first spoke to her, I was so frazzled and she was like, calm down, don’t be frazzled. It’s just me. And I, I remember that, and that, that was just a really good memory that I had from her. And, you know, she gave me the sort of confidence to, to keep push.

But of course it like being within a community, it’s, it’s also, that’s also a different experience that I hadn’t gotten a taste of at the time. So I basically applied, went through two stages of the interviews, spoke to some people, muslamic and aziz Foundation eventually got through. So I was, I was lucky to be a part of a lovely cohort a lovely instructor, Paloma.

And there there’s much to learn. There’s much to learn, particularly on the UX side of things. You know how to brainstorm how to yeah, how to come up with solutions before you get onto the UI side of things. And I was actually lucky because I had started, I kind of had a head start. I was applying already, so I think I was midway in my.

Course where I got a couple of job offers and then I made a decision to go ahead with uhubs. But yeah, it, it was, it was a lovely experience. And you know, the, the fact that they do all the handholding you know, they, they make sure you get your portfolio done. There was some sessions with Kirin Tisbury who, you know, who taught us the art of negotiation.

And you know, just taking the upper hand in interviews that I found extremely useful. And I’m pretty sure everyone else in the cohort would, would agree with me on that regard. So yeah, it was, it was love. lovely.

[00:27:16] Grace: which is really lovely to hear this. So you’re coming to this bootcamp from a slightly unique perspective where you’re not coming in as a raw beginner. You’ve already done a fair bit of work, you have a fair bit of knowledge already set aside. You’re already interviewing and applying.

but there’s still a lot of benefit in that bootcamp, and it seems like most of the benefit was coming from the community aspect, having mentorship, having feedback on your work, and being connected to other people, other speakers, to kind of push you a little bit further. Right. That’s wonderful.

What is the thing that you are most proud of?

So this can be a particular project or something that you’ve achieved that is something that’s really close to your heart.

[00:28:03] Nasrien: Mm-hmm. . I would say the thing I’m most proud of would be, Two things. So one is at my current job, the, you know, pushing for the creation of a design system, I feel like I’m still at the sort of early, early stages of my career. I’ve only been a designer for a little bit less than a year two years, sorry. And yeah. So, you know, pushing for that at such an early stage is something that I’m really proud of, and it’s something that we’re building every day. And it’s basically our baby in the company, in the design team. And, you know, we cherish it, we foster it, and every day it’s getting bigger and bigger and more complex.

And that’s something that I’m, you know, that’s, I look at it and I’m like, oh, I did that . So that’s a really good feeling. And then another one is much more of a team effort. Working on a notice project with the Dean developers team. It’s been an absolute pleasure one, you know, meeting all these talented individuals working side by side with them, and I think mostly it’s the fact that it will be delivering so much impact.

So it’s, you know, it’s, it’s a very empowering project. Giving the ability for project owners, for people who don’t necessarily have the budget to splurge on a developer for so-and-so time, or a, a designer or a pm but for them to be empowered to sort of come and actually have like the best tech talent come to them and say, Hey, we wanna volunteer to you.

And, you know, together they come and they, you know, they, they come up with all these meaningful solutions for, you know, to make the world a better place. I. That’s something that, that deeply resonates with me and my values as a person.

[00:29:39] Grace: Yes. It goes back to the very beginning when you wanted to be politically active because of your parents, so you can definitely see the connection there. Maybe a basic question, but is notice live or is it still upcoming?

[00:29:52] Nasrien: It’s coming very soon, very soon. We’re basically almost there.

[00:29:58] Grace: Okay. Yeah. alhamdulillah. I was thinking like, because I remember when Ibrahim put it on the slack. I was thinking, did it come out yet? I don’t remember

[00:30:07] Nasrien: It’s definitely coming out. There is a waiting list, you going to, you can join the waiting list and as soon as it’s live, you’ll have your notifications.

[00:30:17] Grace: Awesome. I’ll put that link in the show notes for anyone who is interested in doing it, because that’s clearly something that really resonates in the tech Sisters community as well. So definitely something that we wanna amplify inshAllah.

What is something in your journey that you regret or you wish that you might have done differently?

[00:30:34] Nasrien: I would say being scared and skeptical about reaching out to people. I think our first couple of months as a beginner was a very isolated experience. Yeah, I, I did reach out to Shabana a couple of times, had the pleasure of speaking with her, who was very lovely. But I was, it’s very much me and udemy.

And I think I didn’t speak to enough people about what the day-to-day life of the designer is. what it’s like, and I also think that this is a key part of applying to different jobs. So, you know, literally a message on LinkedIn or Twitter. Just saying like, Hey, do you have 15 minutes in your calendar this week so we can just talk about, you know, what, what your day-to-day is like, or you know, on, on a particular project that you’re doing, something that you are


a challenge that you’re facing and you’d be surprised by the number of responses you’ll get and the number of lovely people out there to be very honest.

You know, on my, this design systems initiative, I actually reached out to Louis orac, who works in Figma on LinkedIn. He responded and he literally, like, we had a 45 minute session and he literally spelled out the ABCs of design systems for me during that call

That’s wonderful.

Yeah, and it, you know, it, it caused like, the knock on effect is incredible because that 45 minute call was what led to me coming into my, you know, head of product saying, Hey, like let’s do this cool new thing.

And now, like, we’re scaling this design system every day.

So it, you know, I feel like had I done this at that stage while, while, while I was learning, I could have built some really meaningful friendships and connections and possibly even leveraged that, you know, to my benefit during the interview stages, you know?

Some people, like in companies that I was applying to I feel like that that would’ve been a really easy and quick win.

[00:32:22] Grace: Yes, definitely. Do you feel like anytime when you reached out, like it’s just a cold message on social media that it was not worth that time? Like you got a bad response or something that wasn’t helpful?

[00:32:35] Nasrien: Maybe I’m really lucky, but no.

[00:32:38] Grace: So you’re not lucky because I, I think this is true. Cuz I’ve talked to a lot of people on You’re Not Lucky


so from my own experience and from a lot of people who’ve been on the Tech sisters podcast and just in general, people are very willing to help. And if they’re not, they’re usually not going to reply. So you do not get any negativity back. No one’s gonna be like, that’s a stupid question. Don’t waste my time.

And I think we’re so worried that someone is going to, they’re not gonna say that

[00:33:14] Nasrien: Yeah, exactly.

[00:33:15] Grace: usually people are very, very helpful.

[00:33:17] Nasrien: That’s super true. This reminds me when I was learning how to drive and, you know, being, having the L plate, my instructor would literally say, oh, don’t worry if you’re being tailgated. Like, don’t worry. We were all learners once.

I guess that principle applies right in, in, in the world of tech as well. Like we do need ones, we are all entry level ones. People aren’t gonna like bash you for reaching out and asking for help unless you want to sell them something. You are most likely , you know that that’s a different case, but you, you’re just saying, Hey, I need help.

Can I have some time? If they don’t, if they don’t wanna speak to you, they just, they’ll just ghost you.

[00:33:51] Grace: yeah. Which, you know, is its own thing. Like we were saying before, the job interviews, but you’re not gonna get a negative reply. It’s okay. It’s just a neutral thing. Yeah.

what is something, or is someone in your tech journey that you’re most grateful for Nasrien?

[00:34:06] Nasrien: Something and someone. I would say the, again, I go back to community quite a lot because feel like that played a massive role. In my, in my journey as a, as a designer, and I’d say I’d give that credits to Dean developers for just generally trusting me as a junior designer. I, it’s like, I look back at my designs now and I’m like, wait, that, that is terrible.


[00:34:35] Grace: um,

[00:34:38] Nasrien: And I, you know, I, I look back and I look at the support, you know, the, all the flattery, like, oh, you’re doing well. All the validation that, that’s really what you need. Right? That’s,

[00:34:50] Grace: saying it’s so undeserved,


[00:34:54] Nasrien: Get to be more generous with yourself.

[00:35:00] Grace: I’m working on it.

[00:35:02] Nasrien: Little bit more self-confidence. Okay.

[00:35:04] Grace: Self-compassion is really important. Please do. Please don’t be like me,

[00:35:11] Nasrien: I am sure they’re really good. Okay.

No, it’s receiv. A ridiculous amount of encouragement from them and you know, it, just having that, you know, having like someone that you can go to like a rock and you know, just ha them having your back and then being entrusted with notice that that was a, that was a big deal for me and. Apart from that, just having the opportunity to work on something that really matters, I think that’s something that I’m really, really grateful for.

And I’d encourage absolutely anyone who is applying and who’s, you know, in, in a similar stage of their journey to, to get involved. You know, people are just so nice and why not?

[00:35:50] Grace: That’s it. Why not? It’s not hurting you. It’s, it’s only gonna give barakah to you. You’ll only improve from it even if you’re not like eating anything that you feel like is directly related to your field or. To your skillset. You’re getting experience, you’re getting stories, you’re getting something to talk about during your interviews.

Very nothing else. So It’s all something that’s leading you to the right direction, all something that is building up to where you’re meant to go. inshAllah,

so that’s all the questions I have tonight. Is there anything that you feel like you would like to add or anything that you wanna elaborate on a little bit further?

[00:36:27] Nasrien: There is a lot of help out there, and even if you have loads of pride or if you are just, if you’re like me and you find it difficult to ask for help, don’t worry about it.

You know, we’ve all been at the same stage and a lot of people are willing to help. So take that help. And for designers, particularly like your portfolio is your first impression that you make on everyone. Like I mentioned earlier as well, I, you know, I flopped the video interview. I literally pressed skip without answering the questions, and yet I managed to get into the last stage of that interview process.

And, you know, I had the upper hand until then. And the, the reason was because people liked the portfolio. It’s basically your second ID card in the world of design. definitely invest time into that. As much as you can, try to reach out to small startups, to individuals organizations and volunteer your time.

Show them your work, you know, some conceptual studies and you know, show them what you’re capable of so that they can entrust you with projects that you can put on your portfolio. And yeah. I wanna say something cliche like, don’t give up and keep pushing, but you guys know, the drill

[00:37:37] Grace Witter: And as always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen today. If you liked it and you like what we’re doing at Tech Sisters consider following us, leaving a review, sharing this episode with any friends or even supporting us on Patrion. All of those really help us a lot. This is a completely non-profit organization. We’re just doing this for.

Sadaqua , so anything that helps more Muslim women find us and discover us and hear the stories is immensely helpful. And if you are a Muslim woman in tech, please go ahead and check out our community. It is completely free and fun and very supportive. You can join by going to our website and filling out the membership form, and you will get a link right away into our slack. So it’s really, really easy.

And that is all for me. And I’ll see you next week. As Salaam alaikum.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Nasrien. Jazakallahu Khair! You can connect with Nasrien Youness on LinkedIn and visit to join the waiting list.

If you liked this story, be sure to check our other Tech Sisters Stories and get to know the amazing talent we have in our community.

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