Stephanie, Lead Product Designer: from Tindership to Leadership

Posted on:
January 5, 2023
For those who have been on the #TinderTeam for 5+ years, we asked them: what keeps the spark alive? Here's what Stephanie, Lead Product Designer, said.

What do you remember about your first few months at Tinder?

I started at Tinder as an intern my senior year of college. The biggest thing I noticed was how empowered I was at Tinder when compared to my experiences at other companies. While I loved my managers at [my other internship], they didn’t really let me do anything. I was a notetaker and I followed people around. My internship at Tinder kind of blew my mind. My very first week was our first hackathon. One of the senior engineers pulled me aside and said “Hey, we need a designer on our team and I’d love to get your input.” I was like, “You want to know what a measly intern thinks?” The fact that they wanted to hear from me was incredible.

What is the most interesting professional experience you’ve gotten to have at Tinder?

Definitely working on Swipe Night. During the first season, we had a table read with the writers and got to see how the process on the entertainment side works. Seeing the whole thing come together, from our original brainstorm as a team, to actually seeing all of the episodes we aired, was really fulfilling. On launch night we had a big screen in the office showing all the tweets going on about Swipe Night. It was one of the features where I really saw the impact it had – you could see everyone responding. One of my favorite tweets was someone saying “Don’t tell me your astrology sign, tell me your Swipe Night decisions.” And I love astrology!

How would you describe how the company and the product have evolved throughout your time at Tinder?

I feel like in many ways, Tinder grew up with me! I started at Tinder when I was fresh out of college, and at that point Tinder was very much the college dating app. Now we’ve really seen, outside of Tinder as well, how dating has evolved for people and why other products have also become popular. As people have gotten older, they might want more serious relationships or stronger connections.

How have you yourself evolved throughout your time at Tinder?

Starting on a smaller team but being able to work on large projects that touched so many people gave me the experience to acquire more leadership skills and grow as a person and as a designer. I’ve been able to work on so much while I’ve been here. Other companies, especially big tech, take much longer to push anything through. 

I started out as a graphic design intern on the marketing team. Now I’m a Lead Product Designer. After I joined full time, I had a lot of fun working on product-related projects. At that point there weren’t many product designers on the team. I had worked with a lot of projects with the VP of Design and the CPO, so we had already built up that trust. They said if I wanted to join the product team, they had an Associate Product Designer role available. Over the years, as I got the experience, I was able to level up my own career, going from associate to mid level to senior, and I was just promoted to lead this last cycle. 

What makes you proud to work at Tinder, and what does it mean to you to be able to say you’ve worked for the same company for so long?

Whenever I talk to people about my job, there’s always a little light that shines in their eyes. They always want to learn dating tips, and I do love talking about that, especially with my girlfriends. I love hearing about their own dating experiences – and I probably still would even if I didn’t work for Tinder! People just want to talk about their dating lives. It’s a topic where you can really get people to open up about themselves and be vulnerable. Being this tenured, it helps to know all the previous features that we have sunsetted, and the learnings from that. There’s always a new feature that I want to see through and see launch. 

What would you say to the version of yourself that just started working at Tinder?

I feel like when I just joined, I was really shy and insecure and constantly overthinking everything. Any time I would have to speak, my palms would get sweaty. I would just tell myself to take a deep breath, you’ll be fine. Tinder hired you for a reason. You can do this job and you’re going to do it really well.

What advice do you have for the newest members of the Tinder Team?

Be proactive! Early on, I just really wanted to do a good job, and that turned into me asking a lot of questions and trying to get on a lot of projects. I just wanted to learn a lot. One of my old mentors taught me a lot about how to use animation and interactivity tools. Because he taught me that way of thinking and about how you build things, whenever I pick up a new software or tool I can learn it so much faster.

Finish this sentence: “Remember that time when…”

…we had a whiskey tasting club? When we were a much smaller team, we would have little happy hours at our desk after a long day of working. It was to end the day, but also to talk and get to know each other outside of just being coworkers. The little whiskey tasting club eventually evolved into a wine tasting club. Having that kind of atmosphere helps you develop a friendship with people you work with.

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