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  • Writer's pictureYahoo DAP

8 questions about DAs 2019

Every year, we have new Design Associates (DA) join our DAP family. Our most recent batch is the class of 2019, it's a small and mighty batch! They go by Mika, Paopao, and Dawen. The three of them joined at different months and are already integrating well and making an impact within Verizon Media Group. Let’s hear from them about their experience as fresh graduates and the early stages of their product design journey.

DA 2019, From left to right (Dawen, Mika, Paopao)


1. Tell us a little bit about yourself

Mika: Born in Japan and grew up in China. I find true happiness when I am designing. I graduated from Georgia Tech’s MHCI program, and had internships at both Didi and Google before joining Verizon Media.


My design path began 9 years ago when I was an architectural student at Tsinghua University. In 2017, I switched to the digital side of design, and started my exciting Design Chapter 2 as a product designer! I joined DAP after graduating from the MHCI program at Carnegie Mellon University last year. Fun fact - I’m the tallest(6’2’’) Design Associate during all the years so far!

Dawen: I spent my last 7 years in Seattle studying at University of Washington. Just moved to Sunnyvale a few months ago, and enjoy the sunshine so far. Before joining Verizon Media, I had internships in Seattle and South Korea.

2. What made you interested in the UI/UX field?

Mika: To me, I’m interested in the design field as a whole, not only in UI/UX. All I wanted to do was design growing up. I started drawing pictures and realized quickly that my creations bring people happiness. I learned drawing during primary school and studied automotive design in college. As I slowly pivoted myself into product design, I was given the opportunity to work fast, embrace different challenges, and impact people’s lives by using the power of design.

Paopao: I always thought it was so cool to be an architect! However, it really bothered me that the reach of my work would be very limited as an architect. I came across UIUX and after digging deeper, it was an “Aha moment.” Product design fulfills my sense of accomplishment while having a wider audience I can impact with my work.


I dreamed about being an astronaut, a pilot, a finance person, an artist, and an architect before entering the digital product design field. I found my passion in digital product design because I can work with people from different backgrounds and reach large amounts of users through my design.

3. The biggest reason DAP attracted you to join

Mika: My mission in design is to think in a bigger picture and take responsibilities for design decisions. I like that I’m able to take more ownership of the products I design with Verizon Media. Besides that, since I’m still at the earlier stage of my design career, the two year rotation of the DAP program works perfectly for me. I want to be exposed to more product areas and get extensive experiences from different platforms and eventually help me leverage my design thinking.

Paopao: To me, DAP also means “Design Accelerate Program”. Design associates get to work on core products, along with a lot of helpful resources from the team and our mentor within the two-year journey, which I think contributes to accelerate growth in early design career.


The opportunity to work on different products in 2 years, and experience different team culture in the company attracted me. More importantly, all the helpful resources and mentorship I am getting at an early stage of my career.

DA 2019 in front of Yahoo Sign, from left to right (Paopao, Dawen, Mika)

4. What are you working on now?

Mika: I’m currently working on Yahoo News app. My hope as a product designer is to decrease news bias and curate a more humanized editor voice for our readers by using the power of design.

Paopao: I'm working on two products now during my first year. I mainly focus on the mobile app experience of Yahoo Home as well as commerce-related features in Yahoo Mail. I strongly encourage you to install them on your phone and take a look (and become our Daily Active User lol)!


I’m working on Yahoo Sports for my first year and my mission is to deliver the best experience for sports fans to check game stats/updates and keep track of the latest sports news.

5. What is your favorite moment as a DA so far?

Mika: I like that we have a cohort of DAs who you can talk to, play with, learn from, work with, and trust in each other. It’s so hard for me to pick one of my favorite moments, because there are many valuable moments that I will keep in my heart forever. I can still remember that we built LEGO together on a Friday afternoon, ran to the Escape room in the pouring rain, brainstormed together to design recruiting materials, and many free lunches together. All these moments make my everyday life different ;)

Paopao: My favorite moment is when I take a walk with other DAs at the Badivuku hill near our Sunnyvale campus. It feels so sweet to have a small family in the company to talk about work, life, shiba, food, and other random stuff!


My favorite moment as a DA so far is my first day at work. It was my onboarding day, and I had lunch with all the DAPs and Leads. Everything felt so natural, and it felt like a family gathering. It feels so great and heartwarming when the relationship goes beyond friendship and work-ship in this program.

DAP lead (Talia) with DA class of 2018 & 2019 , Associate Product Managers (APMs) and our favorite recruiters!

6. Share one thing you learned from your mentor

Mika: Each team has its own culture, as each team has different people. So the best way to better work with a team is not to simply borrow what other teams do, but to communicate with teammates more often and build the culture that fits everyone first. It is hard, but once getting there, everything is becoming different.

Paopao: If I must pick ONE from so many pieces, I would say it’s “be genuine, be oneself.”


“It’s ok not knowing everything and it’s ok to be confused. As a team, we can help you get better.”

7. Share with us your favorite team photo!


Paopao: I’m sharing two since I have two teams!

Yahoo Mail: team photo with puppy!

Home (and News) team: team photo of chocolate making!

⚠️Side note: dogs cannot eat chocolate ⚠️


8. Any advice for candidates who are interested in the program?

Mika: You do not need to be perfect, but you should work hard with the pursuit of perfection in mind. It’s okay to lean on the team sometimes as other people in the program can push you to be better.

Paopao: Polish your design projects to the best of your ability. Relax and be yourself during the interview. Yes, we’re searching for the best talent but more importantly, new family members to join us! :)


It’s okay to say “I don’t know or I’m not sure”. We’re looking for someone who is willing to learn, excited to share, and eager to grow. We don’t expect you to know everything as we can work as a team and grow together in the Design Associate Program.

We are hiring!

If you are interested to be part of the Design Associate Program, apply online! :)

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