Daniel Lee is a graduate of the Sapphire Cohort. Prior to joining DESIGNATION he designed and developed medical devices after studying bioengineering at University of California, San Diego.
Where do you work, and what’s your job title?
I work for BL3NDlabs as a product designer. Our work is focused on product strategy, design and development.
Tell us briefly about your job.
Each designer has a project/client that they get placed on with a project manager, who scopes out the project and design sprints for us. We have two design reviews each week, but since all the designers sit together, we’re always reviewing each others’ designs and working collaboratively.
What did you do professionally before you started at DESIGNATION?
I studied bioengineering at University of California, San Diego and worked for a couple years designing and developing medical devices. I had strong analytical and process skills, but delivering a medical product took years; that got me interested in UX/UI because it would let me quickly ship products and iterate. I’m a wedding videographer on the side, so creative work was something I got interested through that. It’s allowed me to travel all over the country; I actually had to miss a weekend of DESIGNATION to go shoot a wedding in San Francisco.
How did you hear about DESIGNATION? And why did you decide to attend?
I debated between coding and design, but ultimately decided to trust my creative skills. When researching different design programs, DESIGNATION got my attention for their alumni data and making job placement a priority. Having the interview call with Will was also helpful since I came in without design experience.
How would you describe your DESIGNATION experience?
It was definitely a crucial part of my career change. For anyone debating about doing a program like this because you want a career change, it definitely is a risk. DESIGNATION has a process to help you get a job, as long as you put in the effort. It’s kind of crazy that the things I learned in the program are actually used in my current job; when I worked as an engineer, I wasn’t really applying what I learned in classrooms.
What made your designation experience unique?
My cohort. A majority of us were from outside Chicago, and being there during the summer made us hang out whenever we could. It was great to focus all day on design work, but to be able to take breaks together really helped us stay so close. Even after the program, we all gathered to work on our portfolios and reviewed them together.
While interviewing, people were always impressed to find out that my portfolio had actual projects and clients.
What did you find the most useful experience from your time at the program?
I found incredible growth through design critiques. Being able to take feedback on design and even speak up for it wasn’t easy to do. But not taking feedback personally and being vulnerable helped me design a product that ultimately was best for my users.
How did you stand out from the competition in applying for, interviewing for or getting this job?
While interviewing, people were always impressed to find out that my portfolio had actual projects and clients. Being able to say that I worked with clients, designing, presenting, and iterating really goes a long way to showing that you’re able to work well with others as a designer.
What advice can you give to someone trying to start in the design industry?
I think it actually helps to come into DESIGNATION without design experience! You’re likely to come in and be more open about all the things that the program’s going to teach. And when you start applying the skill sets and seeing what works or doesn’t work, you’ll be able to create a process that works best for you.