Interview with Maggie Hunsaker, DESIGNATION Alum and UX Designer at Kahoots

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Interview with Maggie Hunsaker

Maggie Hunsaker, an alum of Gold Cohort. Coming out of the food service industry, Maggie joined us in order to connect with a more creatively fulfilling career, ultimately landing at Kahoots Creative Group after a variety of freelance projects after graduating the program.

 

Where are you now working, and what is your job title?
I just accepted a full time position at Kahoots Creative Group, a digital marketing agency based here in Chicago as a UX Designer.

Tell us a little bit about your new job!
It’s been pretty amazing so far. I work with a small team of smart and driven designers and developers to create products that help companies grow their business and brand online. I love being in an agency setting because it provides opportunities to work on a diverse range of projects across many different disciplines. There is always something new to discover and learn. I admire that everyone I work with is passionate about giving back, we are currently working on a project for Gilda’s Club, a cancer support group. It’s wonderful being able to work for a company that is excited about paying it forward.

How would you describe the DESIGNATION experience?
DESIGNATION was an incredible experience. I love how hands on the program is. I learn best by doing, and from day one we jumped right in and got our hands dirty. I learned an insane amount of new information in such a short time. My computer conked out once the program was over, I guess I worked it too hard.

What was the most interesting or useful thing you learned during the cohort?
AT DESIGNATION you’re not just learning the fundamental technical skills of UX/UI Design; you’re learning how to push yourself. When I first started I didn’t know a lot. During the virtual prep I had a mini meltdown trying to learn how to use the pen tool in Illustrator to create a self-portrait. I refused to accept that I couldn’t figure it out, and pushed myself outside of my comfort zone to tackle that gosh darn pen tool. DESIGNATION taught me how to gain the confidence I needed to learn anything.

“I am constantly blown away by the enthusiasm and support of the DESIGNATION community.”

What are the people at DESIGNATION like (including staff, instructor and fellow students)?
The people at DESIGNATION are awesome. When you are going outside of your comfort zone and attempting to do something you’ve never done before it can be scary and intimidating. I couldn’t have gone through this experience alone. Luckily I was surrounded by a community of people who wanted to help me succeed. I am constantly blown away by the enthusiasm and support of the DESIGNATION community.

What were you doing before you came to DESIGNATION?
Before I came to DESIGNATION I was slinging cocktails at Three Dots and a Dash, an upscale tiki bar in downtown Chicago.

How did you hear about DESIGNATION, and why did you decide to come?
I was ready for a change. I knew I didn’t want to serve tables for the rest of my life, I didn’t feel like I was improving or gaining any skills. I needed a better path. My husband had recently graduated from an immersive code bootcamp, so I knew a bootcamp style program could help me develop new skills and transition into a new career. I hit the web researching immersive tech programs and came across DESIGNATION. I had some great conversations with the instructors and other alumni to learn more about the program and before I knew it I had quit my job and was preparing to embark on a new career. It was such a huge decision but I just knew in my gut that it was the right move.

How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your new role?
At DESIGNATION I learned the value of teamwork. In my new job, I work very closely with just a few other people and it essential that we collaborate and work well together to solve problems and get stuff done. The learning environment at DESIGNATION is all about communication. You collaborate with your fellow students on a daily basis; whether it’s on exercises presented in class, client projects, or reviewing each other’s work. It provides a wonderful opportunity to learn from one another and get ideas on how to best solve problems. Having experience working with different types of people is invaluable.

What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?
My favorite part of the experience was celebrating with my cohort after we graduated. We all worked so hard and it felt good to take a step back and congratulate each other on how far we had all come and how much we had achieved.

What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the industry?
Believe in yourself, work hard, and never stop. Never stop trying, never stop exploring, and most importantly never stop learning. After graduating from DESIGNATION, I had the skills and I had the portfolio but I still lacked professional experience. I didn’t let that slow me down. I interned at Vibes, a Mobile marketing company, straight out of the program and learned so much. From there I went on to do some contract work with Land of Nod, which was a lot of fun. And now I’ve landed my first full time gig as a designer! It was trying at times not knowing what would come next, but I gained a ton of wonderful experience all because I never stopped pushing myself. Be confident that you can do whatever you set your mind to.

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