Where are you now working, and what is your job title?
I am a UX/UI Designer at Fake Crow. We are a product design and development studio based in Los Angeles. In addition to working as a creative agency for tech companies, we have our own SaaS product, Xtensio, a powerful toolbox for startups, designers, entrepreneurs, marketing professionals, and everyone in between. You can check it out at xtensio.com.
Tell us a little bit about your new job!
Fake Crow is a flat organization — most of us stretch far beyond our job title. So in addition to designing, I’m working with developers, writing copy & content, QA-ing, diving into site analytics, the list goes on. It’s a very collaborative environment in which everybody is helping out on multiple projects at all times. Xtensio has a whole different set of demands too. We’re rapidly growing the user base (right now, just passed 25,000 users), so there’s constant need for QA, customer/user support, and technical maintenance. All in all, I’m being exposed to so many facets of this world — it’s truly an awesome gig.
How would you describe the DESIGNATION experience?
Exactly what I wanted. Great people, great vibes, great instruction. Other descriptors? Long hours, lots of coffee, tons of laughs. I learned the theory and technical skills, while making great friends along the way. For those looking for a career transition into the world of digital design, DESIGNATION allows the space to learn a whole new set of skills in a very short amount of time.
What was the most interesting or useful thing you learned during the cohort?
Probably how to collaborate on such cerebral tasks. In previous work experience, so much of the collaboration was just being another body in the room to help out. Product design is much more than that. You have to get the best out of your teammates by being mentally present and asking the right questions. By no means am I an expert, but DESIGNATION was a great start to learning the motions.
“DESIGNATION taught me how to teach myself. While the instruction was amazing, there was always a reminder to scavenge the Internet before asking someone.”
What are the people at DESIGNATION like (including staff, instructor and fellow students)?
Passionate. I think the bootcamp model in general attracts a certain type of student. To want a career change and act on it is an expensive risk that requires a lot of work. Additionally, most of my cohort was not from Chicago, so the fact that we all packed suitcases and rented apartments to be there spoke volumes of our commitment level. Also on the instructor side, most of the instructors don’t have to be teaching (and could probably be making more money designing instead). Yet you have these teachers that do it because they want to be there. Whether it’s the nighttime instructors who work day jobs too or the day-time instructor Won You who could definitely get any full-stack designer/developer job in Silicon Valley, the passion is palpable on all fronts.
What were you doing before you came to DESIGNATION?
I was running a growing doughnut business in Arizona. In one year, we went from zero to 5 stores and over 70 employees. I held just about every job title you can imagine — supply chain manager, director of marketing, head of HR — you name the vertical, and I was deeply obsessed trying to perfect it. This is when I started teaching myself Illustrator to be able to design better systems and processes.
How did you hear about DESIGNATION, and why did you decide to come?
Like most students, I had decided I wanted to do a hard career change. I had designed websites before on WordPress and had always been very interested in UX, so I began to look into bootcamps. Once I saw the reviews for DESIGNATION and spoke to a few former students, there was no question in my head. It was pretty much a done deal.
How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your new role?
I think more than anything, DESIGNATION taught me how to teach myself. While the instruction was amazing, there was always a reminder to scavenge the Internet before asking someone. I came out of the bootcamp with that self-sufficient mindset/muscle very developed.
What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?
Definitely the instruction phase. The combination of lectures and exercises was perfect. DESIGNATION knows how to deliver the curriculum in the most effective way. JJ, Michael, Zeke, Maria, Won — these are all top-notch professionals in their field. It was great to learn from such knowledgeable sources.
What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the industry?
Obviously, if you have have the time/resources and limited to no experience, I highly recommend the bootcamp model for an initial pivot.
As far as then securing a job thereafter, there’s so many tips. If pressed to say just one, it’d be do your research on each company and write compelling cover letters specific to that company. And then supplement each application with Twitter and LinkedIn reach outs. Whoops, that was two.