Interview with Jeff Kloosterman,
UX Specialist at General Growth Properties

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Jeff Kloosterman is a graduate of the Nectarine Cohort, and is currently working as a UX Specialist at General Growth Properties. Coming off a background in architecture, Jeff came to DESIGNATION to develop his skills in UX and digital design.


Where are you now working, and what is your job title?
User Experience Specialist at General Growth Properties

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Tell us a little bit about your new job!
General Growth Properties is the third largest mall management and development company in the U.S. We own luxury malls throughout the U.S. including Water Tower Place in Chicago. As a User Experience Specialist, I work with a team of eight UX/UI designers designing and updating the GGP Malls app, website, and in-mall digital experiences. I mostly focus on interaction design and visual design, but now and then I get to do research, aka people watching. GGP is a great fit for me coming out of DESIGNATION because it is a company invested in being at the forefront of technology, and giving customers the best user experience whether it is digital or shopping.

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How would you describe the DESIGNATION experience?
DESIGNATION was an intense and fun experience. Students work 60-70 hours per week. I learned UX design, visual design, and coding, first from lectures and daily assignments and then through projects. Within five months, I went from having no UX/UI experience to a professional.

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What was the most interesting or useful thing you learned during the cohort?
I liked learning IDEO design methodology and industry-standard best practices, which I incorporate into my work. My two favorite projects were a flight search application and a concussion detection application. While working on the flight search application, I got to watch people use and interact with my designs. The concussion detection application made it to the top five on the show American Makers.

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What are the people at DESIGNATION like (including staff, instructor, and fellow students)?
My cohort is amazing, with people from all different disciplines. We geek-out over design and still get together. The staff is supportive and tough. They made us back up our decisions for everything and showed us ways to improve on our designs. The mentorship program at DESIGNATION got me my current job. My mentor needed help with a short-term project at her company. After contracting, I was offered a full-time position.

“The mentorship program at DESIGNATION got me my current job. My mentor needed help with a short-term project at her company. After contracting, I was offered a full-time position.”

What were you doing before you came to DESIGNATION?
I received my B.F.A in Architecture from Miami University and worked in the field for three years in the U.S. and Israel.

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How did you hear about DESIGNATION, and why did you decide to come?
My friend was looking up tech bootcamps for coding, and I knew I was interested in UX design. I googled UX design bootcamps and DESIGNATION came up. I found out it was only one train station from where I worked in Chicago.
I decided to come because Architecture is a tough field, and I didn’t have the creative freedom I wanted. Some of my friends had gone into UX Design and loved it. Everything lined up, and I decided to go for it.

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How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your new role?
DESIGNATION helped me translate my experience in architecture into digital design. I learned technical skills such as coding and it gave me a foundation in UX UI best practices.

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What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?
I would say the client projects. I got to apply all the skills I learned in real situations.

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What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the industry?
Understand why you want to be a UX designer and how your background aligns. Then start talking to people. UXer’s are always willing to network and help.

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