Interview with Kelly Perry,
User Experience Designer at Walgreens

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Kelly Perry, Obsidian Cohort

Kelly Perry is an alum of the Obsidian Cohort. Raised on a blueberry farm in Arkansas, Kelly was designing tshirts on the side before coming to DESIGNATION to learn UX.

 

Where are you now working, and what is your job title?
I am working as a User Experience Designer for Walgreens, (and loving it!)

KP Portfolio

Tell us a little bit about your new job!
The project I’m currently on is a service design program. It has it’s own unique challenges, because there isn’t a lot of room to be creative when what you’re designing is all about accuracy and efficiency. I’ve learned so much already, and I’ve only been here for a couple of months. I was afraid that working in-house would not give me a lot of room to grow my skills and learn new things, but I was wrong. I’m getting great experience and working with great people who are constantly teaching me new things.

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How would you describe the DESIGNATION experience?
The DESIGNATION experience is intense. The long hours, lack of sleep, and tight deadlines are hard to get accustomed to, but I’m glad I fought through. It’s really hard to absorb all of the information that you’re being presented with, but I took as much as I could out of each assignment and have been able to apply that knowledge in my current job. I also learned that it’s ok to ask questions. I think learned more out of class than I did in it. DESIGNATION has professionals from the field that can give feedback and support during the immersion phase. Knowing that these industry experts were not only willing, but excited to travel and help out with student projects after working a full day made me feel like I had made the right decision in choosing DESIGNATION.

What was the most interesting or useful thing you learned during the cohort?
I had a bit of a revelation during DESIGNATION. It seemed like everyone had an idea what direction they wanted to go in their careers. I was more of a lost puppy trying to figure out what exactly what it was that I wanted to do. I went in to the program to get experience as a UX Designer, but really thought I would end up working in UI. Through the projects I worked on, I found out that I really loved the research aspect of UX. Although the program is short, I had time to experiment and figure out what I really wanted to focus on.

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What are the people at DESIGNATION like (including staff, instructor and fellow students)?
Most of the staff and instructors are wonderful. I had support through the entire program, which was amazing. I definitely clashed with one of the instructors, but working in such a difficult environment for part of the program was also a learning experience. I had an amazing mentor from the cohort ahead of me who not only helped keep me grounded, but also filled in the gaps when I needed help. My design partner during the virtual phase of the program was a tremendous help during immersion. It’s funny now to think about going from awkward Google Hangouts to close friends.

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What were you doing before you came to DESIGNATION?
Before DESIGNATION I was working in a Special Education classroom. Although the work was immensely rewarding, I felt like I needed to find a career where I could utilize my creativity. I also had a degree in psychology that was going to waste, and I had heard that it would definitely be helpful in a UX career.

 

“The projects I worked on definitely forced me to think critically and solve problems in new ways. I feel like I received a well rounded education in the design field.”

 

How did you hear about DESIGNATION, and why did you decide to come?
I had applied to and been accepted to the Interaction Design master’s program at Kent State. I was ready to start the program when a friend working in the UX field suggested trying a boot camp instead. I researched different boot camps online, but DESIGNATION was the only one that had only positive reviews. Not trusting what’s written online, I flew from Arkansas to Chicago to check it out for myself. I sat through a lecture with Will and talked to some current students. Everything was very positive and it just felt like the right move.

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How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your new role?
DESIGNATION is the reason I have the job that I do. I do a lot of work in Axure, which is a program that I had never heard about before I started the program. The projects I worked on definitely forced me to think critically and solve problems in new ways. I feel like I received a well rounded education in the design field. UX and UI are used interchangeably and the whole industry seems to be confused about where responsibilities fall.It has been really helpful having experience in both UX and UI even though my job title is strictly UX.

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What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?
I had fun during the program, and there are several instances I could speak to, but I have to say that the feeling I had when everything was over was my favorite part. Knowing what I had accomplished, and that I was able to get through such a rigorous program felt really good. I definitely had a sense of accomplishment that I hadn’t felt before.

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What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the industry?
Ask a ton of questions and reach out to every resource possible. The UX community is very friendly and you never know who has an opportunity that they are looking to fill. Go to DESIGNATION, learn everything you can, and land a sweet a job based on the real world experience you’ve gained.

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