Interview with Rob Stone,
Mobile Designer at Jibo, Inc

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Rob Stone is a Boston-based graduate of the Nectarine Cohort who joined us coming off a career in motion graphics and video editing. Rob currently works as a Mobile Designer at Jibo, Inc, a company that’s currently building “the World’s First Social Robot.”

Where are you now working, and what is your job title?
I’m working as the Mobile Designer for Jibo, Inc. We’re a robotics company building the first social robot for the home. Our robot, Jibo, involves voice, computer vision, touch and mobile interactions. He’s conversational, smart and most importantly, he is a full character with his own personality. This is an incredibly interesting concept and I can’t wait to see how people interact with him.


Tell us a little bit about your new job!
As the mobile designer I’m concentrated mostly on the companion app to the robot. The job is incredibly challenging and exciting because the design of the app is focused on assisting, and sometimes including, the robot. This means the app experience needs to be designed to not only be usable and clear, but also to enrich the experience of using an external device.

We’re also a start-up, and that means that the pace of work is incredibly fast. As a design team we have to iterate rapidly to keep pace with all the deliverables engineering needs. I’m very lucky to be working with some world-class designers making something that feels truly unique and ahead of its time.


How would you describe the DESIGNATION experience?
I love learning and I’m extremely competitive so DESIGNATION was perfect. The instruction was not only impressive in scope, but the instructors refused to take sub-par work, forcing me to quickly improve at each phase. Luck was also on my side that I was able to join an insanely talented cohort. My fellow Nectarines pushed me just as much as the instructors.

I’ve also heard that a lot of people find the pace and commitment to be a major challenge of the bootcamp culture. I never felt that way. I loved the work, I love my cohort, and there is an energy you get being surrounded by those passionate about the same things as you. Don’t be scared, the 80 hours a week go by in a snap and you’ll be begging for more.


What was the most interesting or useful thing you learned during the cohort?
Easily the most important thing I learned was to lean on my peers. My cohort was full of people with a wide variety of skills. As a team we taught each other an incredible amount. Now in my job, I’m leveraging this to quickly improve designs and find ways to accelerate my workflow. You won’t get the full DESIGNATION experience unless you’re working closely with your classmates every day.


What are the people at DESIGNATION like (including staff, instructor and fellow students)?
Have I raved enough about the Nectarine cohort yet? If not, let me say once more that I wouldn’t be the designer I am not without this group. Even now, months after completing the program, we have daily participation on Slack and meet up regularly. Unequivocally the best DESIGNATION cohort ever; challengers welcome.

That being said, the entire staff is pretty great. The first thing you’ll notice about the program is that the instructors are very candid. You don’t get better because people high-five over garbage work. You get better when people are honest and clear with their feedback. The instructors are going to treat you like a professional designer, and sometimes that mean telling you that your work isn’t good enough. When that happens you say “Thank you,” and make it better. Trust me, it’s worth it.

“Easily the most important thing I learned was to lean on my peers. My cohort was full of people with a wide variety of skills. As a team we taught each other an incredible amount.”

What were you doing before you came to DESIGNATION?
Prior to DESIGNATION, I was a motion graphics designer in Boston. I worked mostly smaller, corporate jobs for events like national sales meetings or product launches. It was a pretty good gig, but by the time I found DESIGNATION, I was definitely ready for a new challenge.


How did you hear about DESIGNATION, and why did you decide to come?
Heard about DESIGNATION from my buddy, Google. I knew that I wanted a more formal design education so I did some research and found that UX design was the most rapidly growing design job in my area. As a career switcher, this seemed liked the best direction for me. From there it was only a matter of time before I discovered DESIGNATION and realized it was the best opportunity out there.


How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your new role?
I learned nearly 100% of my current UX knowledge at DESIGNATION, which is a pretty big component of my current role. That being said, I also learned a lot about handling critiques, presenting and defending my work, working within a team, and, probably most importantly, how to get this great job in the first place. Nothing can prepare you for the pace of a real design job and the need to deliver on a very regular bases, but the DESIGNATION timeline comes pretty close.


What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?
I think this may be obvious by now, but my favorite part was the team of designers in Nectarine with whom I got to share this crazy experience. I can’t stress enough to prospective students the importance of coming together as a group and trusting each other to learn and grow together. My second favorite part may be the incredible luck I had in being able to participate in a project that eventually became a finalist on the TV show America’s Greatest Makers; Go team NWTN! Third has to be a shout out to a pair of primary instructors, Won (design) and Mike (professional) who were, amongst an already incredible staff, the most influential on my personal experience/success; thank you, both.

Finally, I assume my future favorite moment will be the first ever DESIGNATION Design Decathlon for Cohort Supremacy (the name could use some work), which I’m sure will be happening when they finally get to the end of the alphabet. It’s on the blog now, you have to do it!

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