Jenny Lin is a graduate of the Quartz Cohort. Prior to joining DESIGNATION she was a photographer and graphic designer.
Where do you work, and what’s your job title?
I work at a small startup called TixTrack, in sunny Santa Monica! My design title is UX/UI Engineer, but really I’m a UX designer.
Tell us briefly about your company.
My company creates tools that help manage ticket sales. They have two products: TixTrackPro, which is data analytics, and a new product called Nliven (pronounced en-liven), which I’m currently working on. My team is small but cozy. I work directly under the Director of Design and am leading the way for our UX process. It’s been a lot of push and pull with stakeholders in the company, butI’m glad they know they need a new process in place.
Tell us briefly about your job.
My job is to redesign Nliven and make it easy to use. Currently, our product was built to function but wasn’t necessarily for users’ needs and workflows. At the beginning, we got to interview our target audience on site. This helped tremendously because we were able to see their everyday lives in context: large whiteboards, four-month calendars, and 20 unique map printouts were all common scenarios. I give presentations at milestones of our progress to help keep our company up to date on our latest ideas and prototypes.
We’re currently aiming to design something interactive for a large conference this January. Much of my day is at my computer, but I do get to talk to various people throughout the company for feedback and ideas.
What did you do professionally before you started at DESIGNATION?
I was a photographer and graphic designer, mostly doing freelance work with a variety of smaller gigs. They range from art institutions like the Museum of the African Diaspora to small startups and nonprofits. I lived in San Francisco for two years prior to DESIGNATION, and Los Angeles for five before that.
How did you hear about DESIGNATION? And why did you decide to attend?
I heard about DESIGNATION after doing all the research I could on various UX bootcamps. DESIGNATION stood out not only because of the high success rate, but because reviews from past students online glowed about the passionate teachers and the depth of material covered. It was 1) the most comprehensive, 2) the most realistic due to real clients, and 3) the most cost-efficient. And they had the best designed website. I mean, why would you attend a school to learn UX if they have a terrible online presence?
I decided to attend because knowing photography and graphic design wasn’t enough to be competitive in the job market. Plus, a lot of my work was done alone. It required long hours of isolation, and I decided that wasn’t the type of work life I wanted to have. I had a cousin who did UX, and after taking an intro class, I felt like its mix of creative problem-solving and artistic nuance was exactly what I was looking for.
What did you find was the most useful skill, tool, or experience from your time in the program?
Axure! Without DESIGNATION, I would not have sat down through all those tutorials by myself (10+ hours) and had enough opportunities to practice building prototypes. I’m the only one who knows Axure at work now and it’s been a great advantage. It’s a steep learning curve, so I’m very appreciative of DESIGNATION for providing time, space, and extra workshops to teach us this tool. Companies love when you know this stuff!
What are the people at DESIGNATION like?
The staff and instructors are top notch, and there are enough people that if someone’s teaching style doesn’t fit you, there are 10 more people you can contact. Nobody’s perfect, but there are so many resources. You just have to spend the time finding what works for you. I utilized this a lot during my time there, asking many different opinions at any time.
My fellow students were all amazing! There were still times where I would cry, stress out, or spend two hours arguing about a color, but everyone in my cohort was passionate and had their own skillset. I’d say it’s up to each student to be responsible for their own communication needs. Be prepared: you are NOT going to be babied.
How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your job?
DESIGNATION really, in all aspects, is a bootcamp. You’re expected to perform quickly and efficiently while being exposed to many new things and people. Above all, DESIGNATION taught me how to navigate the difficult process of making decisions. It doesn’t really matter if you have a fabulous idea; you need to convince your team it is. Also, the information you can groom from stakeholders and interviews depends on your people skills, and DESIGNATION just throws you in a boiling pot. You have to learn quickly to survive.
How did you stand out from the competition in applying for, interviewing for, or getting this job?
My portfolio. It helped demonstrate my UX, UI, and coding skills. I made at least five versions of it; it was a very painful and personal process, but I eventually got there (shoutout to my professional mentor Emily Ryou!) Just as folks told me, I was asked to walk through my case studies to talk about my work. After much grooming I was able to pull out aspects of my projects I felt most passionate about, and it allowed me to tell my story and my thought process. I also wouldn’t have been able to do it without getting so much support during DESIGNATION and from my fellow peers.
“Don’t expect to learn anything if you don’t apply yourself. You have to be creative about your approach and execution.”
What advice can you give to someone trying to start in the design industry?
Don’t expect to learn anything if you don’t apply yourself. You have to be creative about your approach and execution. You’re always going to learn something new, because other people are usually going to be learning with you (engineers, bosses, users). How you go about your work will change depending on who those people are.