Interview with Laine Henry,
UX Designer at LearnVest

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Laine Henry is a graduate of the Umber Cohort. Prior to joining DESIGNATION she was a fashion designer in New York.

Where do you work, and what’s your job title?
I work at LearnVest in New York and I’m a UX Designer.

Tell us briefly about your job.
As a new(ish) employee, I’m still getting my bearings in the fintech space. I’m working on a redesign project and it’s been really gratifying so far. There’s a ton of collaboration, room for growth, and freedom to explore different UX methodologies and software along the way.

What did you do professionally before you started at DESIGNATION?
I was a fashion designer in New York. I worked on big brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Juicy Couture and also had a stint at a startup, KidPik. Following that, I started my own company, Five | Six Textiles, where I got to explore how physical products live in a digital world. Transferring my physical product design background to digital design was so invigorating.

How did you hear about DESIGNATION? And why did you decide to attend?
I did a massive amount of research (spreadsheets were involved), both about options outside of DESIGNATION, and by cold-emailing graduates on LinkedIn about their own experience with it. I found it helpful to collect all the data I could before making the final choice. I talked to hiring managers, and industry professionals too. DESIGNATION felt the most comprehensive and inclusive so it was a no-brainer.

What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?
The people, hands down. For the most part, you’re in a situation where everyone around you wants you to succeed and you want everyone to succeed in return. That’s so rare. I found that dynamic to be so integral to building confidence, even to this day. The hours were long and things got hard at times (and awesome at other times); being surrounded by people who got it was icing on the cake.

What did you find was the most useful skill, tool, or experience from your time in the program?
Seeking out the experience you want is wildly important. I didn’t really understand the “you get what you put in” perspective before first learning that I absolutely am in the driver’s seat of my own destiny. Success at DESIGNATION isn’t guaranteed, and I don’t say that to sound threatening. I say it because you can easily take a back seat and get less out of it. I really don’t recommend that approach.

There is so much to learn, which can feel daunting. DESIGNATION helped me conquer that though. Starting somewhere is a huge part of it all but it doesn’t end at the end of a day, week, month, or project. Embracing the idea that I’ll always be learning has been pretty cool.

“I’ve found the industry to be incredibly welcoming and I love being a part of a community that is open about sharing resources and experiences.”

How did you stand out from the competition in applying for, interviewing for, or getting this job?
Being assertive, putting myself out there, and showing my personality has been really helpful. As an introvert, I had to muster up a lot of energy to continue to pound the pavement at times.

My portfolio got me a long way, and so did passion and enthusiasm. I only interviewed for jobs where I really felt that I’d be jazzed to work with such talented people. Oh, and I had to make sure I knew the company and their mission enough to align myself and my work with it. That was very helpful too.

What’s your favorite thing about being a professional designer now?
I’ve been a professional designer for 9 years, but working in the digital space is a related but different animal. I’ve found the industry to be incredibly welcoming and I love being a part of a community that is open about sharing resources and experiences. There is so much growth potential for knowledge and I love that it feels endless.

What advice can you give to someone trying to start in the design industry?
Talk to as many people as you can, read as much as you can, practice as much as you can. Know the software, know the methodologies, know the process, build a community. Try to implement your work in client settings, even if only at a small scale for a friend or family member. Practice, practice, practice!

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