Interview with Alex Simmon, DESIGNATION Alum and UX Designer at IBM

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Alex Simmon is an alum of the Emerald Cohort. Coming off a career as an industrial designer, Alex came to DESIGNATION with the hopes of transitioning into a more UX-focused role, and landed a gig at IBM in Austin, TX shortly after graduating.

 
Where are you now working, and what is your job title?
I’m working at IBM in Austin as a UX Designer. My official title is Software Designer, but I was hired to do UX and Research.

IBM Design Studio

Tell us a little bit about your new job!
Right now I’m in this three-month training program called Designcamp, which is very similar to DESIGNATION actually. Except it’s 8-5 M-F and it’s all about Design Methodologies and learning IBM’s Best Practices in a real environment. I work with Front-End Developers and Visual Designers, and we pair-design a lot. It’s really great, and prepping us to work on the team we’ll be deployed to.

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 9.22.20 AM

What was the most interesting or useful thing you learned during the cohort?
The most useful thing I learned was how to work with other people. Even in the “real world”, you wind up collaborating with people with a variety of skill-sets. Sometimes, there are personality conflicts, and fidelity conflicts, but knowing how to be respectful AND collaboratively-productive is a skill that is definitely required.

What are the people at DESIGNATION like (including staff, instructor and fellow students)?
The people at DESIGNATION are great- the instructors really want to help. The staff wants you to get the best experience possible, even when they switch things around. The thing about students at DESIGNATION, is they come from a variety of backgrounds. I only work with people who have a Design background, but DESIGNATION had me working with people who had Communication backgrounds, and Accounting, etc.

Gigscout Prototype by Alex Simmon

What were you doing before you came to DESIGNATION?
I was working as an Industrial Designer at a consumer products company in Chicago.

How did you hear about DESIGNATION, and why did you decide to come?
I heard about DESIGNATION by chance; my friend had just started a similar program in NYC, and I was complaining about my job and how I felt like I wasn’t learning anymore; she told me to get out of physical and look into UX bootcamps. I found DESIGNATION, which was the only one in Chicago at a pricepoint that I wanted, and I immediately asked to be contacted.

Industrial Designs by Alex Simmon

How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your new role?
DESIGNATION gave me credibility that I might not have been able to express had I not completed it. I was hired because I have an (Industrial) Design background/degree, but they also really liked my portfolio. Being able to talk about my past with UX terms and processes, really helped to prove my knowledge in the UX realm.

“DESIGNATION gave me credibility that I might not have been able to express had I not completed it.”

What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?
My favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience was probably the classes with [UX Instructor] Zeke. There was a lot of useful information I learned just sitting in those lectures and absorbing the day-to-day tasks he talked about. The readings they recommend are great, learning those sites to go to for industry-news is also so helpful.

What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the industry?

1. Gain credibility: The only thing distinguishing you from someone else is your portfolio and what’s on your resume.
2. Absorb everything
3. Read everything
4. Get involved in the community
5. Reach out to random people on LinkedIn
6. Get your portfolio done- give people something to judge you on
7. Don’t be stubborn or closed-minded
8. LISTEN TO FEEDBACK
9. Don’t have an ego
10. Know how to collaborate respectfully

“Gain credibility. The only thing distinguishing you from someone else is your portfolio”

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *