Interview with Dane Burkland, DESIGNATION Alum and UI Designer at Centro

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Dane Burkland is a graduate of the Fire Cohort. Before joining DESIGNATION, he was a Sr. Analyst for Nielsen. But shortly after graduating, he landed a job at Centro, a hot new Chicago startup that builds media management software for agencies.


Where are you now working, and what is your job title?
I’m working at Centro as a UI Designer.

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Tell us a little bit about your new job!
Centro builds software for the digital media industry. Currently, we’re working on a single sign-on platform that addresses the complexity and fragmentation of the digital media industry.

I’m on the UI design team, but I spend most of my time in code. During my first couple weeks, I designed and implemented responsive styles for Centro’s soon to be launched tech blog. For the past month, I’ve been restyling and overhauling the CSS library for a legacy Centro product. I’m learning a lot about implementing CSS at scale and about component-based UI development. We’re using SUIT CSS and React to help keep our component styles maintainable and flexible.

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What was the most interesting or useful thing you learned during the cohort?
Countless iterations through the design thinking process. There are a silly amount of tools, artifacts, frameworks and philosophies in the industry. Inexperienced designers have a tendency to get bogged down by trying to pick the perfect ones for the job. But the goal isn’t to pick the right tool (although that helps); the goal is to solve the problem at hand. The more times you go through the entire design thinking process, the more natural it will feel.

What are the people at DESIGNATION like (including staff, instructor and fellow students)?
The staff are experienced, smart and hilarious.

“Two traits I noticed in the most successful DESIGNATION students were optimism and a lack of discouragement.”

What were you doing before you came to DESIGNATION?
I was working full-time in data analytics and building websites on night and weekends.

How did you hear about DESIGNATION, and why did you decide to come?
I researched pretty much every bootcamp, online program and graduate program in existence. I read great reviews about the program and talked to very satisfied alumni. The space was also 10 minutes away from my apartment.


How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your new role?
Although I had some experience as a solo freelance designer and developer, I didn’t have experience working on a design team: giving and receiving critiques, whiteboarding sessions, scrum, git workflows etc. Those experiences are huge.

What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?
Looking back at ugly code and seeing how far I’d come in a short amount of time.

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What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the industry?
1. Remain optimistic. Two traits I noticed in the most successful DESIGNATION students were optimism and a lack of discouragement. You’ll find it very easy to commiserate with fellow students faced with a task that can seem daunting at times. It will be harder, yet much more valuable, to remain optimistic and constructive.

2. Put your head down and work! I fully buy into Ira Glass’ notion of a ‘talent gap’. It’s important to expose yourself to great design and to cultivate taste, but there is no substitute for a volume of work. If you’re looking to be a front-end dev or a designer who codes: don’t be afraid of the command line – mastering a few basic workflows will save you tons of time, break things to understand how they work, bang your head against Eloquent Javascript until things start to click and most importantly … hands on keys!

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