Interview with Tom Kutschera, UI Designer at WalMart Labs

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Tom Kutschera is a Nectarine Cohort alum. A former graphic designer in traditional print design, Tom came to DESIGNATION to pursue a more design-centric program that enabled him to create digital apps from scratch. Tom now works as a UI Designer at one of the world’s most well known retail corporations, WalMart Labs.

Where are you now working, and what is your job title?
I am a UI Designer for WalmartLabs.

Tell us a little bit about your new job!
I work on design team that creates an environment for third party sellers on Walmart.com. My job is to make the interface visually appealing, based on wireframes I receive from the UX Designer.

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How would you describe the DESIGNATION experience?
Harmonious. From the outset, I was feeding off of all the positive energy. It’s an invigorating feeling to be surrounded by so many creative minds with similar ambitions as yourself. I approached DESIGNATION with the mindset of “You get out of it what you put into it”, and I genuinely feel like the results reciprocated my efforts precisely.

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What was the most interesting or useful thing you learned during the cohort?
The most useful thing has to be the teamwork utilized to achieve tasks, both small and large. Regardless of the scope of the work, the amount of creativity and initiative put into a project by teammates solidified a successful final product. It was especially revelatory for me, since I have never been in such a collaborative environment prior to attending DESIGNATION.

What are the people at DESIGNATION like (including staff, instructor and fellow students)?
Everyone is very diligent and driven. The staff is always available to assist, offer advice and generally be present with students’ needs. The instructor offers useful feedback to help guide students design progression. The fellow students are such an incredible asset. They are the creative drive, the support system, and most importantly, your friends throughout the entire experience.

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What were you doing before you came to DESIGNATION?
I had a handful of years experience in the design world prior to attending DESIGNATION. I was a graphic designer for small companies like medical supply distributors and wine & spirits importers. Most of my work was geared toward traditional print design. I would design print ads, brochures, SOQ books, etc.

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How did you hear about DESIGNATION, and why did you decide to come?
I was researching bootcamps and all I would ever find was strictly coding bootcamps, but I knew I wanted to attend a design-centric program. After some clever Googling (NOTE: I actually typed “Design bootcamp”) and DESIGNATION was being discussed on Quora and Switchup, which helped lead me in the right direction. I wanted to transition from print design to digital design.

“…all I would ever find was strictly coding bootcamps, but I knew I wanted to attend a design-centric program.”

How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your new role?
I learned the proper steps required to create an application from scratch. I never really considered the process to create and develop an application prior to attending DESIGNATION. Upon starting my new job, I knew what it’s like to work within a team consisting of multiple disciplines and how they compliment what I contribute to the tasks.

What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?
The camaraderie with all the students and the validation of all the hard work put into the entire program. It’s incredibly rewarding to see your work at the beginning of Virtual compared to the Client Phase of the program.

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What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the industry?
Dive in! The best way to learn any new skill is to throw all caution to the wind. There are so many unique disciplines in the design world and you will find which one(s) suite you best. When you finally decide to immerse yourself in the industry, don’t ever forget to keep it fun! Your designs will echo your enjoyment.

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