Interview with Venkat Murali,
Senior UX Designer at American Medical Association

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Venkat Murali is a graduate of the Peridot Cohort. Prior to joining Designation he was a software engineer for a telecommunications company in Chicago.

Where do you work, and what’s your job title?
I work at the American Medical Association as a Senior UX Designer.

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Tell us briefly about your company.
The AMA is the largest association of physicians and medical students in the United States. A lot of publishing goes on here in the form of medical journals, articles, and physician specialty codes. Along with publishing, the association provides resources for all types of healthcare professionals. We have a small team that’s expanding quickly because the need for design support increases by the day.

Tell us briefly about your job.
As a member of the design team in a 170-year-old organization, my team’s biggest responsibility is to ensure that any digital touchpoint the user comes into contact with is truly best-in-class. A lot of effort goes into maintaining digital standards and ensuring that the organization’s digital presence is ahead of the curve. In a given day, I do everything from conducting stakeholder interviews, producing wireframes, providing visual design feedback, and combing through analytics reports. I like it because it’s a broad spectrum of work, and it’s different every day.

What did you do professionally before you started at Designation?
I was a software engineer for a telecommunications company in Chicago.

How did you hear about Designation? And why did you decide to attend?
After having written software for a number of years, I came to a point where I really just wanted to understand the bigger picture. I spent months moonlighting on design projects after work, and confirmed that UX was what I really wanted to do. I started looking for a means where I could devote 100% of my time into making that transition professionally. A good friend came across the Designation website and suggested it to me. I always valued his advice so I looked into the program more. The rest is history.

What was your favorite part of the Designation experience?
I love working on projects, so for me it was the opportunity to do just that. I worked on multiple projects in an environment where I was allowed to make mistakes with little consequence (and learn form them), around people that were learning with me. It was a great experience.

What did you find was the most useful skill, tool, or experience from your time in the program?
The network. Its pretty crazy. The day you join you’re exposed to a network encompassing just about every Designation alum ever (a.k.a. A LOT of design professionals). Everyone is looking to help each other out. I gained insight into a lot of jobs, sourced great numbers of survey and interview candidates, got project feedback, career advice, and everything in between all through that network. It’s pretty invaluable.

The day you join you’re exposed to a network encompassing just about every Designation alum ever (a.k.a. A LOT of design professionals). Everyone is looking to help each other out.

How did Designation help prepare you for your job?
Designation provided an environment for me to learn the design process, design presentation, and a fair number of design tools that I still use today. I was able to develop the hard skills and confidence necessary to design my own portfolio, present it to various employers, and subsequently get hired.

What’s your favorite thing about being a professional designer now?
I’m never bored. I do something different every day, and get to dig deeper into different disciplines at the same time. One day my conversations will be psychology focused, the next day business focused, the day after technology focused. It gets really cool when I get to take the insights from all these conversations and wrap it together into a viable solution that can be built and actually help the business grow. Then I get to do it all over again. It’s pretty great.

What advice can you give to someone trying to start in the design industry?
I highly advise redesigning something on your own first (and for free, if you can). It could be a site for a friend or an app idea you have, but doing it on your own before joining a graduate program, bootcamp, or quitting your job is a very low-cost litmus test that will tell you whether you’re really interested in design or not. It also gives you a piece of work that you can start marketing yourself with.

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