Life at Newsela: Jordan Bradley, Product Designer
When Jordan started at Newsela as a product designer in 2016, he joined the Newsela’s product team to design prototypes for new features and more recently, support content production for Newsela’s instructional platform. Whether helping to design new products or building interactive prototypes, he’s passionate about the potential of his work to unlock confidence in young students of color, especially since he credits reading with giving him the confidence to pursue new fields like design and technology. Outside of work, he’s also a songwriter who enjoys building apps and eating pancakes.
How does your team and individual role at Newsela help contribute to the company’s larger goals?
I’m a product designer on the Wire Team at Newsela, which is responsible for designing, developing, and maintaining the tools that our staff and contributors use to produce Newsela’s content. We’re currently revamping our entire suite of tools so the company can bring new, unique content products to schools and students.
As the design lead, I’m responsible for outlining a vision for how those tools should work and establishing the conceptual frameworks that support them. Since our team’s work is to enable content production, we influence how the company strategizes around its core offering—content that promotes student engagement and learning.
What does a typical day look like for you?
On a typical day I might be workshopping conceptual models to ensure they’re accessible and flexible, fine-tuning user journeys, or collaborating with other members of my team. In my experience at Newsela, as long as you’re available, honest about what you’re up to and where you stand with your projects, and do your best work, you have the space to be a human and not a 9-to-5 robot.
For me, that means that every once in a while on an afternoon when the calendar’s clear, I don’t have to worry about dipping out early to hit the gym or catch up on laundry. When it’s a slow start to the day, I can work from home in the morning, then join my team at the office later in the afternoon. If I’m in need of a break, I can take it freely without worrying about my PTO balance. Trust is key, and I’m grateful to work on a team of people who trust each other.
Why is education and Newsela’s mission important to you?
Reading, and more broadly, the ability to seek out and accumulate knowledge is an incredibly empowering skill, especially when developed at a young age. Growing up, reading was a required free-time activity for me, and trips to the library were a routine weekend getaway. I think reading gave me confidence and expanded my mind. It showed me that I could learn a ton about something completely new, and I could use that knowledge to form my own ideas and inventions, ultimately commanding my own experience.
As a young person of color who works in design and technology, I'm the product of confidence instilled early on, largely through embracing the written word. Not to sound cheesy, but working on a product like Newsela gives me the opportunity to help unlock that confidence in other young readers, especially students of color, so they too can be empowered to own their experiences and bring new ideas into the world.
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