Bekzat Sadykov – a full-time freelance product designer for companies from Silicon Valley and Australia. He studied management at Narxoz University in Almaty but after working for a national company in Kazakhstan, he decided to pursue his passion for web design.
He is currently based in Da Nang, Vietnam with his family. Beka is active on Facebook, he has over 10k followers. We talked to Bekzat about self-education, strong dedication, and social challenges.
In the midst of finding myself
I was born in a village in the Almaty region and until age twelve, I spoke no Russian. I thought at that time, moving to Almaty would be my biggest achievement in my life – studying in a former capital, having a stable job where your paycheck is higher than in any other city. After graduating from Narxoz, I got a job in a national company where I could see how people practice corruption. I literally hated it. Working there would definitely bring me a high position, money but it didn’t match with my own values, principles.
At that time, my family was going through huge financial problems, and for a man in most of the Kazakh families, you are expected to do what is socially set a “successful” job. It was one of the most stressful times in my life – being afraid – and the fear was mostly coming from my family and relatives, of them not understanding. Luckily I had some people who believed in me and supported, so I could balance the uncertainty.
Hobby as a new career.
I was jobless for a year after resigning. But this year was not just about being jobless – it was about venturing into a new career. Web design was my hobby. I was doing some websites for myself, and I just simply wanted to understand what was is it to create a website. In 2009, we didn’t have stable internet and every day, I went to a computer club with a memory card, downloaded relevant books in the product design, videos and studied at home.
After a while, my friends referred me to one project. I felt so happy and fulfilled that finally, I am doing what I like. I’ve been working as a Web Designer and later as Creative Director for 4-5 years. One of the clients from Upwork offered me to move to Asia and open our own incubator to work on projects for the world. I didn’t think much and agreed.
The incubator was acquired by an Australian company. Since then, I am a full-time freelancer. I enjoy working with startups on the MVP stage or the series-A stage startups. Currently working for a company in Silicon Valley and hope that we are going to release the product very soon.
Everyone has different paths, someone starts from 0 and someone from negative. Each one of us has own dreams and goals to achieve. What would I say to myself 10 years ago?
The most important thing in life is people. Choose people who you are going to work with. If you have something in mind, you need to have people who can do it together with you. It doesn’t matter the size of the company, what project or how much are you going to make. As you are just starting your career, it is important to have people around you who you can learn from.
Even now, before accepting any project, I look at who are these people who work for the project. I try to talk to as many people as I can from the team to understand should invest my time in it.
If you are a designer – be more than a designer.
Working for more serious projects, I realized how it is important to know related fields to product design. It is always good to know the basics of programming or layout. You don’t have to be a software developer, you need to continue doing what you are doing. I have a lot of friends who are developers, and by mingling with them, it helped me speak on the same language with them. Right now, working for international projects, this skill is my competitive edge
Moving to a new career can be a challenging journey. You have to be ready for hard work and make sure if you can sustain yourself during this time. I believe it’s your thing, you will be able to make it happen. I started as a hobby, and you are surely going to find time for it. If my current job at any time will not bring me joy or I see it’s not perspective anymore – I wouldn’t think too much to venture into something new, at least as a part-time.
How to find your thing = how to find your love
I don’t compare myself to the rest. If you see someone doing data science or UI/UX design, you think it’s cool but do you really want it? – Maybe you want to bake or make kites. Someone else’s path is not your path.
I always stay as a kid, being curious. My curiosity led me to where am I right now. I don’t lie to myself, I just do everything for myself. If you can invest/spend more time on something new, maybe it’s something that you really want to do? No need to be shy about it or be afraid of it. If it brings you joy, it will be your thing.