Corinne DiGiovanni is a graduate of the Topaz Cohort. Prior to joining DESIGNATION she was a business sales specialist with Apple.
Where do you work, and what’s your job title?
I’m the UX/UI Designer at Starchup, a Chicago startup based out of Logan Square.
Tell us briefly about your company. What do they specialize in? What does your team look like?
Starchup builds software for dry cleaners and launderers centered around digital ordering and route management. With the Starchup platform, dry cleaners can offer pickup and delivery cleaning services through an online and app experience. Think of ordering an Uber or Lyft, except you’d order a person to come pick up your laundry, clean it, then deliver it back to you. The world of dry cleaning is slow to adopt technology, but Starchup has offered them a way to connect to new and younger clients with customized apps and websites. That’s where I come in. I’m the sole designer out of about 10 employees.
Tell us briefly about your job.
Since I’m the only designer, I flex between many different projects, products, and roles. I’m technically the UX/UI Designer but I also do graphic design for print materials. Currently I’m learning front-end coding from my fellow coworkers and will soon add front-end developer to my title too!
My main three products that I design for on a daily basis are the customer-facing app, the client-facing dashboard and redesigns of cleaners’ websites. Since we work in two-week sprints, the fast-paced environment of DESIGNATION really helped prepare me to produce work quickly.
The biggest selling point for me was a laid-back atmosphere where I can bring my dog to work every day.
What did you do professionally before you started at DESIGNATION?
I worked for five years at Apple as a business sales specialist helping outfit Chicago’s small- to medium-sized businesses. And prior to coming to DESIGNATION I was a yoga instructor.
How did you hear about DESIGNATION? And why did you decide to attend?
I wasn’t happy in sales. I was at a crossroads in my career and knew I needed a change; I started researching masters programs in instructional design, thinking I would create corporate sales curricula. Being older, I couldn’t justify spending $40,000 and waiting another two years to start a new career. One of my friends suggested I look into tech bootcamps, and I visited different bootcamps all around Chicago mainly thinking that my only option was coding.
I stumbled upon DESIGNATION through an online search. I had never heard of UX/UI and I was intrigued. I came in for a visit and loved the environment at 1871. It seemed like all of my life’s experiences made me a perfect fit for this magical unicorn role. I have a bachelor’s degree in fine art and spent years immersed in the technology world. I always thought I had to choose between a creative career or a pragmatic one; this felt like the perfect mashup of art and technology.
How would you describe your DESIGNATION experience?
They’re called bootcamps for a reason. I was pushed to the edge—financially, emotionally, and physically. I put everything on the line to come to DESIGNATION, because my goal was to learn as much as I could and get a job in the field as quickly as possible. I’m pretty sure crying from being overwhelmed is a requirement of the program, but the fact is, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What did you find was the most useful skill, tool, or experience from your time in the program?
Above all else, the client projects were the most beneficial. Having the ability to develop real projects for real clients makes the experience more than just a school—it makes it like an internship. I was able to have real world experience juggling my design workload, client needs, and team relationships. This was key when when interviewing for professional design roles.
How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your job?
Before entering DESIGNATION, I had no idea what a design sprint was. Being comfortable in this constrained timeframe has made my job 200 times easier.
What advice can you give to someone trying to start in the design industry?
Both companies that offered me jobs said they liked that I had some of my paintings in my portfolio. My paintings have nothing to do with technology or this field, but it told the companies that I understood color and composition. So my advice is to realize that your unique background—even if it has little to do with design or art—provides a fresh perspective. Companies hire you, not just your portfolio. They want to know how you’ll view and solve a problem.
“My advice is to realize that your unique background—even if it has little to do with design or art—provides a fresh perspective. Companies hire you, not just your portfolio. They want to know how you’ll view and solve a problem.”
What’s your favorite thing about being a professional designer now?
It’s hard to look back at the things I first designed. I think they’re terrible now. I realize how far I’ve come, and how I continue to grow. I feel challenged daily and I’m continuously learning and improving.