Where are you now working, and what is your job title?
I’m working at Fuzzy Math, a UX design, strategy and innovation firm in Chicago, literally on top of DESIGNATION. I’m their User Experience Intern.
How would you describe the DESIGNATION experience?
The best decision I ever made. I was passionate about User Experience before joining the Celadon cohort, and I had had some job interviews in the field but nothing had ever panned out. DESIGNATION allowed me to jump ship from a career that wasn’t a good fit to one that I love wholeheartedly.
What was the most interesting or useful thing you learned during the cohort?
The most interesting thing I learned was all of the code portion of the program. I learned that I loved the feeling of mental push-ups, I loved learning a new language, I loved complex problem solving and I loved collaborating with my peers to learn something new.
The most useful thing I learned was how to manage a team of freelancers; you have to be all-in as the team lead. You have to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em, an essential skill I’m still working on.
What are the people at DESIGNATION like (including staff, instructor and fellow students)?
They’re the coworkers you want to have for the rest of your life. One of the greatest successes of the program is that everyone is all-in. Nobody is half-assing the work because we signed a sort of social contract with passion, integrity and determination. The atmosphere is easygoing but serious (okay, sometimes not so serious) and extremely collaborative. Everyone is in it to share.
What were you doing before you came to DESIGNATION?
I was the Product Development & Brand Manager at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I was responsible for the marketing plans, strategy, brand identity, product and vendor relationships for a plethora of different products.
“Don’t be afraid of being passionate. If you’re truly passionate about something, it will consume you, motivate you and spur you on.”
How did you hear about DESIGNATION, and why did you decide to come?
Somewhere across the vastness of the interwebz I came across DESIGNATION and signed up for the email newsletters on a whim — before I got serious about quitting my job and changing my career. At the time, I was considering a different program in California but I decided ultimately to come to DESIGNATION because I loved the approach, I loved the location and I loved that it got me going in the direction of User Experience much faster than any other program would have.
Tell us a little bit about your new job!
Three weeks in and I absolutely love it. It’s kind of like Oz — this mythical place you’ve dreamed of for so long when you finally arrive you can’t believe it could possibly be real. Everyone is incredibly sharp, talented and open. The projects are engaging and I’ve jumped right in with an emphasis on research and design. I can’t wait to get to know my coworkers even better and watch the project process evolve. Please feel free to come up and see us sometime!
How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your new role?
I wouldn’t be in this new job without DESIGNATION. Particularly because the program affirmed that the self-teaching I had been doing for the 9 months prior to the program was indeed effective. DESIGNATION boosted my confidence, proved I had been going in the right direction all along and uncovered some hidden passions I didn’t know I had in me. The client work at DESIGNATION was also invaluable because the curveballs we dealt with during that portion of the program help inform other decisions I’m currently making. I truly couldn’t have done it without you guys.
“One of the greatest successes of DESIGNATION is that everyone is all-in. Nobody is half-assing the work because we signed a sort of social contract with passion, integrity and determination.”
What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?
I liked that I got what I wanted out of it. Specifically, I wanted to get my butt kicked. I wanted to really be put through my paces to make sure User Experience was in fact the career path I wanted most. I liked the long hours, I liked the complex thinking and problem solving, I liked collaborating with my peers, I liked co-teaching and learning new things. But most of all, I loved the people. My colleagues are some of the best and brightest I’ve ever worked with, each with their own talents, backgrounds and areas of expertise. The work in and of itself was fun, but the people made it that much better.
What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the industry?
Don’t be afraid of being passionate. If you’re truly passionate about something, it will consume you, motivate you and spur you on when you’re exhausted, depressed and ready to throw in the towel. Passion brings people together, passion keeps you going and passion will keep you learning long after the formal training is done. People want to work with passionate people because it reminds them why they got started in the first place. But most of all, if you’re passionate about something, work doesn’t feel like work, it’s just the cool thing you get to do with amazing people.