Interview with Sam Kanan,
UX Designer with Narrative Science

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Sam Kanan came from a background in law before before joining the DESIGNATION Nectarine Cohort. After graduating he landed a gig as a UX Designer at hot Chicago startup Narrative Science.

Where are you now working, and what is your job title?
I’m currently a UX Designer with Narrative Science in Chicago.


Tell us a little bit about your new job!
I’m on a small design team, and part of a greater product team working on the upcoming iteration of our Quill platform. Quill is an advanced natural language generation (NLG) platform that is powered by Artificial Intelligence. The overall purpose of Quill is to analyze data and create perfectly written narratives to convey meaning for any intended audience. It really is a fantastic organization with brilliant minds around every corner. With the next iteration of Quill imminent, it is a very exciting time to be part of this team!


How would you describe the DESIGNATION experience?
First and foremost DESIGNATION is intense, but I feel like this is one of its biggest strengths. I don’t think a program of this nature could turn around the success ratio that DESIGNATION continuously does without a very intense and aggressive curriculum. I really didn’t know what I was getting into when I joined, and I was definitely one of those people who had skepticism about “bootcamps.” I thought the promise of being able to transform yourself and embark on an amazing new career in 18 weeks seemed almost unrealistic. Amazingly here I sit just months later employed by an incredible start-up, armed with not only a vast skillset, but the confidence in my abilities and desire to want to keep learning.

You’re going to work hard at DESIGNATION, maybe harder than you ever have. But if you truly want it, you are going to walk out a transformed person. Between the passionate instructors and staff, and the cohort who become your family for three months, the experience was one of the most rewarding of my life.


What was the most interesting or useful thing you learned during the cohort?
Design is not just a skillset, but a lifestyle. In order to stay competitive in this field, you need to live and breath design. In order to be successful if taking this route, you need to not only commit yourself to 18 intense weeks, but also need to commit to continuous learning and being part of the greater design community.

“Design is not just a skillset, but a lifestyle. In order to stay competitive in this field, you need to live and breath design.”

What are the people at DESIGNATION like (including staff, instructor and fellow students)?
Passionate and driven. Everyone genuinely wants you to succeed, and they do everything in their power to make it happen.


What were you doing before you came to DESIGNATION?
I worked as a Case Manager at a law firm. Specifically I was involved in providing visa services and consulting for a range of companies from startups to large scale corporations.


How did you hear about DESIGNATION, and why did you decide to come?
When I decided that I wanted to pursue a career more in line with my passions and values, I started doing a ton of online research. I had preliminary interest in joining a coding bootcamp, but through my research I discovered that similar programs exist for design (specifically UX). After interviewing with a few different programs, it was pretty clear that DESIGNATION was the right choice for me.


How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your new role?
DESIGNATION helped to reinforce the belief (as cliche as it may be) that if you are driven and have a desire to succeed, you can achieve things that at first glance may not seem possible.


What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?
There are so many, but being part of the amazing Nectarine Cohort was the highlight. I can truthfully say that I enjoyed my time with every single person in the cohort, they are some of the most incredible people that I have had the pleasure of being around. In fact, we still hang out and chat quite a bit. You really do become a family for three months – these are the people you are going to spend all of your waking hours with, eat with, take the train home with, and go out with on the weekend to celebrate wrapping up an intense project. So if you’re reading this and are thinking about taking the leap, just know that building cohesion with your cohort is really going to enhance the entire DESIGNATION experience.


What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the industry?
If you want it and you are ready to put the work in, stop procrastinating and go for it. The hype is real, I believe that nearly my entire cohort have found new amazing jobs, and we only graduated a few months ago. That statistic alone tells the story in my opinion.

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