Interview with Kim LaGesse, UX/UI Design Intern at Nansen

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Kim LaGesse is an alum of the Fire Cohort. Having worked in corporate training, Kim was looking for a pivot to something more creatively fulfilling, and managed to score an internship with an awesome agency before her cohort even officially ended.

 

Where are you now working, and what is your job title?

Right now, I am working as a UX/UI design intern for the Stockholm-based digital agency Nansen.

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Tell us a little bit about your new job!

I am loving the internship and have been learning a lot, for sure! Nansen has a one-of-a-kind culture. The agency really shows a lot of appreciation toward employees and provides an incredible work-life balance. Also, the work environment is very open and collaborative; everyone works really well together. I have had the opportunity to work on some exciting projects, from information architecture for a large IT client to wireframing for a fan engagement platform. I’ve also been able to help out with some internal projects, including mocking up the UI for an internal mobile app.

How would you describe the DESIGNATION experience?

DESIGNATION is a true immersion experience. The program provides a unique opportunity for students to fully focus on and immerse themselves in digital design. For four months, you are surrounded by experts and people who are equally passionate about the field.

“DESIGNATION is a true immersion experience. For four months, you are surrounded by experts and people who are equally passionate about the field.”

What was the most interesting or useful thing you learned during the cohort?

The most interesting and useful thing I learned is how research and data can build consensus around design decisions and goals. In particular, Zeke (our evening UX instructor) emphasized backing up your design decisions with research findings.

What are the people at DESIGNATION like (including staff, instructor and fellow students)?

The instructors are all talented professionals that make each class engaging and provide thorough, thoughtful feedback throughout the program. The staff is always approachable and continuously provides helpful career resources and advice for students. The students themselves are passionate and hardworking. Everyone is there to build an exciting career and make a difference.

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What were you doing before you came to DESIGNATION?

Before DESIGNATION, I worked in corporate training for two law firms and then as an instructional designer on a public health contract. It was great to be able to carry learner-centered design principles into studying user-centered design at DESIGNATION.

“Do not overlook the importance of soft skills: collaboration and communication in this field are key.”

How did you hear about DESIGNATION, and why did you decide to come?

I initially came across the DESIGNATION website through a Google search for UX design programs in Chicago. I realized that I knew a girl in the website photo and reached out to her, and she had nothing but awesome things to say about the program and so I decided to apply and just go for it!

How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your new role?

I have solid knowledge of design principles and processes as well as tools and resources that have helped me to be successful in my first UX role. At work, I am better equipped to ask informed questions and provide insight around design decisions.

What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?

Overall, my favorite part was the team project phase. I really enjoyed being able to work with real clients and dive into a full design process. My teammates were all great and I was able to learn a lot from each of them.

What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the industry?

Focus on building a solid portfolio and telling a story that really demonstrates your skills and knowledge. Also, do not overlook the importance of soft skills: collaboration and communication in this field are key.

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