If you've ever spent hours on Pinterest gathering ideas and inspiration until you've come down with a bad case of "pinner's cramp" in your hand from extreme pinning, then you know how addictive and ingenious the visual discovery tool can be.
And if working at Pinterest sounds super awesome, well, that's because it is. Just ask the company's User Experience Researcher, Larkin Brown.
Keep reading to find out how Larkin scored her sweet gig and what it's like to be a "Pinployee" (yes, that's what they call themselves) at Pinterest's incredibly cool headquarters in San Francisco.
What was your very first job?
I did double duty as a campus tour guide and a research assistant in a social network analysis lab. Both taught me about translating data and building narratives—becoming an expert at walking backward was a bonus.
What's a typical workday like for you?
It depends on what kinds of things we're launching. Some days are filled with brainstorming with designers, other days I'm working with a quantitative researcher digging through the data. My favorite days are when I'm out doing field research with pinners. It's always inspiring to see how people bring their pins to life.
Who are some of your career heroes?
My sister followed her love of horses into a career in dressage (the dancing horses sport!) despite not coming from a horse family. She is one of those people who is good at nearly everything, yet took the challenging path to pursue her greatest passion. Her fearlessness and clear happiness in her 7 day a week job inspired me to leave my safe tech company job and come into the startup world for Pinterest, a product and company I adore.
Describe your office décor. What was your inspiration?
Our space is a product of the people who work in it. Every few months we have "Makeathons" where Pinterest employees (or Pinployees, as we call ourselves) "hack" the space to make it our own. Our newest conference rooms are named after things you can collect, so during our last Makeathon I took part in decorating the Wine room with some Pinterest inspired cork art. Several hundred corks and lots of hot glue gunning later, we created a logo with red and white wine corks.
List five things that are on your desk right now.
Succulent terrarium, Android figurines from my Google days, wine bottle with a custom label to commemorate our first research team offsite, a pig with wings finger puppet, and plenty of Post-it notes.
What do you typically wear to work?
I love to be fashion-forward in the way I pair pieces, but keep the silhouette classic. I am a big time pattern mixer and drawn to all things aggressively high-waisted. Commonly in the rotation: high-rise skinny trousers and ankle jeans, bright button down blouses, French striped tops, circle skirts and a variety of Oxfords—San Francisco hills are not to be underestimated.
What are your favorite stores to shop for work clothes?
I love Madewell for their denim and their prints, Nordstrom for their continually outstanding service, and look to some local designers and shops like Mill, Loft 1513, and Onyx in San Francisco for some of my hero pieces. I also go to clothing swaps every few months where I've discovered all my favorite vintage finds.
What's the best piece of career advice you've ever received?
This one comes from my dad, who we used to tease about always giving advice in business metaphors, but now I quote him all the time! Feedback is everything. You learn to receive feedback gracefully because if you are defensive, people will stop giving it to you, and you won't learn what skills you need to further develop. The golden phrase when someone gives you feedback, "Tell me more." Then, breathe and listen.
Finish the sentence…
Today for lunch I had…a taco salad. We are so lucky that Pinterest serves their employees catered lunch—taco day is my favorite!
The first website I log onto every day is…Pinterest! In bed, on my phone –a transition between the final snooze button and hauling myself out of bed.
The beauty product you can always find in my purse is…Fresh Sugar tinted lip balm with SPF 15 in Petal, the perfect amount of color and protection that you can safely apply without a mirror.
My must-have work gadget is…my standing desk. Each Pinterest desk is adjustable so you can switch from sitting to standing throughout the day. I have a hip that gets cranky if I spend too much time sitting, so you'll always find me standing.
My usual Starbucks order is…a tall black coffee. Although, have you tried Oprah chai? Iced on a hot afternoon? Delicious.
If I need a quick break during work, I usually…pin, no surprise there. More notably there is a surprising proportion of Pinployees that play the ukulele and a few folks on the creative team have been joining me in an impromptu uke circle.
If I wasn't doing this job, I would be…a personal stylist. I actually freelance on the side! At Pinterest I translate our pinners' needs to the product team to build experiences that empower them to try new things, learn about their own taste, build confidence, and get inspired. Developed style can achieve the same thing. I put the same research skills to use to interpret my client and develop personal style that expresses their true self.
The best part of my job is…working with my fellow researchers. User research is a young discipline in the tech world, and Pinterest a great place for it. I love working my small team of talented researchers in a company that is committed to putting pinners first.