Interview with Amanda Samy, DESIGNATION Alum and UI/UX Designer at Uptake

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amanda-samy

Amanda Samy, an alum of the Hazel cohort. Coming off a previous gig as a Design Engineer, Amanda joined DESIGNATION to learn more about digital and UX design, and landed a job at hot Chicago data-mining startup Uptake.

 

Where are you now working, and what is your job title?
I work at Uptake, a data analytics startup, as a UI/UX Designer.

Tell us a little bit about your new job!
At my job I have the opportunity to get involved with all things UX and UI related. That includes creating user work flows, wireframes, prototypes, user interface designs, iconography, participating in design sprints. I’m encouraged to do and learn as much as possible.

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How would you describe the DESIGNATION experience?
Life changing! It sounds dramatic, but for me it’s true. I was in a field for 8 years which was not emotionally fulfilling and left me drained and unhappy. Six months after leaving my job I now have a brand new career that I love and a huge amount of smart and amazing new people in my life.

What was the most interesting or useful thing you learned during the cohort?
I learned to constantly ask myself “why?” when making any design decisions. An interface is not just something someone is going to look at and be pretty, it’s a tool which is used to achieve a goal and it’s a form of communication. A great user experience focuses on user needs at its core, and a wonderful interface design will enhance that. But if you ask yourself “why did I make this decision?” and the answer is not for the benefit of the user, you need to rethink your approach.

What are the people at DESIGNATION like (including staff, instructor and fellow students)?
Staff and instructors don’t hold back. They teach and guide you whole heartedly, giving you the positive feedback along with the negative. Learning to take it all in as constructive is the key to becoming a better designer and getting the most out of the experience. I’m an introvert and can be a loner, so I didn’t anticipate making many friends along the way, but that could not be farther from what happened. Your cohort becomes your social life, your shoulder to cry on, and your comrades throughout the whole program.

“Your cohort becomes your social life, your shoulder to cry on, and your comrades throughout the whole program.”

What were you doing before you came to DESIGNATION?
I worked as a Design Engineer, creating various manufactured products via 3D modeling and drafting.

How did you hear about DESIGNATION, and why did you decide to come?
I’ve always been interested in digital design and had heard about design bootcamps through my husband, who is a UX designer. After a lot of research I decided to quit my job and enroll in DESIGNATION due to the high job placement rate and the opportunity to work with real clients. But the biggest reason was that while observing a class on a site visit I found the instructor to be very engaging and the class material extremely interesting.

How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your new role?
Even though I have a background in design, I never could have made the jump into UX/UI without having gone to DESIGNATION. Besides learning all of the necessary software to become a designer, it’s also about learning this brand new language that I didn’t quite understand before. It’s a whole new realm of design which I felt completely prepared for after graduating.

What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?
Being brought into the Chicago design community. Everyone is extremely friendly and always happy to help one another. It really is a small community where everyone knows everyone, and it’s a great network to be a part of. They all really want you to be successful.

“DESIGNATION was life changing! It sounds dramatic, but for me it’s true.”

What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the industry?
Design anything and everything possible. You only get better with experience, so keep trying and iterating. Really put yourself out there and reach out to people in the industry. Ask for their feedback and learn as much as you can from it.

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