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Adina Milica, our Graphic and UI/UX Designer

21 Sep 2023 5 min read

We're enriching our team series today with another interview featuring a colleague who recently achieved the milestone of one year at XWiki. Adina has proven to be an excellent addition to the marketing team and, more recently, to the product team in XWiki. Agile and creative, Adina impressed us early on with her continuous flow of ideas, autonomous way of working, and bold approaches to challenges. If you have a new, innovative project going on, you can definitely count her in!

Let's delve into Adina's professional journey thus far at XWiki!

Adina
in 5 things
XWiki-Adina-Milica
  • Favorite artist: Hard to say, buuut… one of my favorite songs is The show must go on by Queen.
  • Best book ever read: 1984 by George Orwell
  • Dream destination: Japan
  • Quote you live by: I've kept this quote in mind since I was a teen: “Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. You just use the future to escape the present.”
  • At the office or remote? Remote for comfort, flexibility and time-saving, but at the office for the laughs and talks.

Tell us about yourself

Hellooo! I'm Adina, I'm 22 and, obvious from the title, I'm a designer.

I've been in love with the world of digital art from the good ol' days of Wattpad (a book-writing website focused on teenagers) when the only thing I wanted was to learn how to write good fiction & how to make book covers for award-winning authors. A decade later, I can say I achieved that second dream (pretty proud of it, not going to lie), finished my Mathematics & Computer Science degree and got to my first year in XWiki as a Graphic & UI/UX Designer. Big things are coming!

🌄 The journey to XWiki

What were you doing before XWiki? Did you change careers when joining our team?

I've joined XWiki the summer before my final year of university, after becoming more and more interested in the idea of building, nurturing & showing to the world digital products that are truly useful to a lot of people. Before joining the Marketing team of XWiki as a Junior Graphic Designer, I was freelancing as a book cover artist and, occasionally, on no-code app building, while trying to juggle as gracefully as possible all the equations & theorems that come with the Mathematics side of my degree. No rest for the wicked, right?

What is it like to be working in the marketing and product teams?

The marketing side of design teaches an artist to offer what the viewer wants and the UX side of design teaches an artist to give what the viewer needs. The fact that I practice both on a pretty regular basis helps me in having a very good understanding of the product, of the people that use it every day and the people we'd like to reach with our message.

As collaboration goes, it's great. The meeting regarding how to split my time between the 2 teams took about 5 minutes, the communication was always on point on both sides, learned a lot in a very short time with no pressure hanging over my head. I feel like when everyone is motivated about the things they do at work, things that usually might disrupt productivity just get taken care of themselves with very little help from us.

la birou.jpg
Adina caught off guard with an impromptu photo session at the office 😱

🔎 Open-source impressions

Was open source something you had an interest in prior to XWiki?

While I was aware of it, appreciated its values and truly respected the people that were involved in open-source projects, I didn't actively participate. It took a bit of time until I discovered good open-source alternatives to proprietary design software, so even as a supporter… I wasn't very good (- 5 points for Adina!). If I could change something in my student years, it would be to have contributed to open-source projects or to have started one with a couple of friends and the online community, for sure.

What's the open-source value you identify with most?

Transparency – and, I swear, I literally thought this instantly, no second thoughts!

A black box only protects through unknowing. I truly believe that humanity in general should strive to protect the future through transparency. This is not even just about open source and tech and software security. This is about opening the source of everything that defines our every day: true and genuine understanding of the world and its people.

On a personal level, transparency directly translates into empathy and its muscle that I try to train as well as I can, every day. When you are transparent to yourself and others, issues are easier to observe… and solve. Just like with open-source projects.

⏳ Being an XWikier

How was the integration process at XWiki for you?

To say it was great, it would be an understatement.

The people are so warm and friendly and open, and they were this way since my day one in XWiki. I'm not going to lie, before joining XWiki I didn't have the highest expectations of how much I would like to be part of a team. Truth be told, I thought I would just focus on myself, do good or great at work, but never really feel connected to a team. Don't get me wrong, I like people, but I believe what I felt was due to the impact of hustle culture on teenager-me.

The idea of “get very rich, be an entrepreneur, do everything as fast as possible to get the best financial outcome” got repeated pretty often around me and I do believe at a certain point I found refuge and power in that philosophy even though my true ideals and idea of happiness were actually pretty far from that. Hustle culture promotes success through individuality, but when you get in a context full of talented, highly-skilled, empathetic and principled people, you realize there is so, so much more in collaboration, in compromise, in debating, in sharing. 

What were the biggest ways in which XWiki changed during the time you've been around?

I've been in XWiki for little over 1 year, so I'm not sure if I could talk much about how it changed. What I can say is that 2023 was and is quite a big year for us, though. Maybe it's just me, but things got a bit more exciting throughout the last half of the year. Lots of new high-goal projects (some already announced, some in development/prototyping as we speak) and lots of new people joining the team!

What would you say is the most valuable lesson you learned during your time at XWiki?

Couldn't really say which is “the most valuable”, but I can definitely do a top 3:

  • Make efforts to increase the efficiency of your communication. If that means structuring the info before a meeting better or writing summarizations or actively making sure that you keep things simple & concise… yep, it's all worth it. People have a lot of stuff on their plate, just help them support the plate better by easing their understanding of your ideas & plans.
  • Structure information for future you. At university or at work, this lesson proved to be very beneficial. When you want to get things done fast it's so, so good that you have your stuff organized, and you know where to find everything. I've literally thanked my past-Adina countless times.
  • The devil is in the details & improving your skills is pretty to close to him. I do believe there are things that designers observe and no one else does. We sometimes find meaning or fault where there is none. It's probably part of being an artistic mind. That said, as designers, we should still let that voice dictate our art because the details that may not be observed by anyone else are what actually guides our work to become better. Move that text 2 pixels to the right if it needs to be moved, increase that border-radius by 1px if you really think it makes a difference, make that button 95% of what it is.

capra noastra.jpg
Adina enjoying a delicious beer tasting session with the team from Iași

What has kept you at XWiki so far?

The freedom of getting your career in any direction you may want.

As a person that likes to do 10 things at once, to learn and evolve every day, I need this freedom, or I'll just grow unhappy pretty fast. It may come off as a bit cynical, but I don't believe every company that says they have flat hierarchy. In XWiki, we actually do as we preach and that proved to be very beneficial to me, giving me space to grow in all the different areas that I want to master.

If you could describe XWiki's culture in one word, what would it be?

Openness.

Favorite memory up until now at XWiki?

I think my favorite memory related to XWiki was the team activity that we had at Ludic in Iași, Romania! One of the little “contests” that we had there was to keep an egg safe inside a cage of straws… in a fall from about 4 meters. We worked on teams to build that cage in an interval of 20 minutes. Because of my team's very round and compact ball of straws and paper and tape, Mr. Egg was safe from the big fall, and he was able to go back to his family!

Disclaimer: no eggs were hurt in this process (surprisingly)!

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