Andi Azry is a graduate of the Sapphire Cohort. Prior to joining DESIGNATION he had recently graduated from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco with a BFA in Architecture.
Where do you work, and what’s your job title?
I work at Devbridge in Chicago as an Associate Product Designer.
Tell us briefly about your company.
Devbrige is a digital product design and development company that specializes in providing agile solutions for enterprises in the financial, manufacturing and technology sectors.
The design team in Chicago is now up to 10 designers in two cross-functional teams of designers, and product managers dealing with specific client sets. We’re also growing our Toronto office, which now includes three designers with whom we’re in close communication.
Tell us briefly about your job.
One of the best things about my role at Devbridge is the flexibility I have to explore the things that interest me. I’m always encouraged to get exposure to different parts of the design process, from initial research to final visual deliverables. At the moment, I have three clients who are all at different stages of the project timeline. Depending on the priority at the time, I talk to our devs about the details of my interface design, have meetings with clients to discuss our strategy for user testing, or whiteboard a user flow with the other members of my design team. This has allowed me to gain a lot of experience in a short amount of time.
What did you do professionally before you started at DESIGNATION?
I had recently graduated with a BFA in Architecture from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
How did you hear about DESIGNATION? And why did you decide to attend?
I searched online for design bootcamps, and my research led me to a lot of different resources where alumni spoke about their experiences. The general consensus was overwhelmingly positive. I also looked for a program that offered a wide spectrum of design experiences and one that deals with real clients—all of which I found during my time at DESIGNATION.
How would you describe your DESIGNATION experience?
Comprehensive and rewarding. There was something special about being in a room of people who all made the same decision to take the huge step to find a new career path. It created an immediate bond with the people in my cohort. The commitment of time and effort was challenging, but I also felt a familiarity comparing my experiences in DESIGNATION with those in architecture school, where we spent hours in the studio sharing ideas and bonding over all the work we had to do.
As designers, communication both visually and verbally is also an important tool, and this is a skill that we practiced every day at DESIGNATION.
What made your DESIGNATION experience unique?
The people in my cohort made DESIGNATION fun, and I suspect that most graduates from other cohorts say the same thing. Even though there were times where I felt overwhelmed, it always made me feel better to know that I shared the experience with others. I could always depend on my cohort not just for advice but as a way to get my head out of work mode for a minute.
What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?
Hearing the experiences of other designers through guest lectures and presentations. I’m always interested in the day-to-day life of designers, especially at a time when I had little work experience. I appreciated it when DESIGNATION alumni stopped by to speak with us, because it was great to see their personal progress after completing the program.
What did you find was the most useful skill, tool, or experience from your time in the program?
How to speak confidently about my projects or ideas with people I didn’t know that well. Finding people to interview or test my designs on was a little daunting at first, but by the end of the program I felt pretty confident about my ability to present.
Getting exposure to real clients during the Client Phase was also incredibly helpful as I transitioned to a professional environment. Speaking to clients is something that I do every day at Devbridge, and my experiences at DESIGNATION allow me to feel comfortable with my ability to communicate with them.
How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your job?
Exposure to the various parts of the design process was very helpful for me. This industry is always evolving, so there are a lot of definitions that can seem ambiguous. Being able to get firsthand experience with the entire design process and with clients made me a lot less anxious when I first started my job. As designers, communication both visually and verbally is also an important tool, and this is a skill that we practiced every day at DESIGNATION.
How did you stand out from the competition in applying for, interviewing for, or getting this job?
Being in DESIGNATION immediately lets you be part of a large network of designers and this was an enormous resource for me as I was looking for and applying for jobs. I made sure to reach out to as many people as I could within the DESIGNATION network to hear about their own experiences as designers and for general advice. This process led me to a lot of different opportunities, including my job at Devbridge.
What advice can you give to someone trying to start in the design industry?
Have an open mind, don’t wait until it’s perfect—it’ll never be—and take advantage of all available resources. There will be many times where the answers to the problem you’re tackling aren’t clear and you’ll have to lean on your own intuition and research to reach resolution.
The best thing about design is that there are always multiple ways to solve a problem. Take advantage of that and explore new avenues, even ones that you’re uncomfortable with.