Interview with Emily Simon,
UX Architect at Lyons Consulting Group

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Emily Simon is a graduate of the Umber Cohort. Prior to joining DESIGNATION she worked in media strategy for a marketing and advertising group in Chicago.

Tell us briefly about your job.
I’m a UX Architect at Lyons Consulting Group.

Tell us briefly about your company and you job.
We’re a commerce-focused consultancy, which basically means we’re consultants for brands and companies that sell products. The company provides a wide range of services, but I work in the Experience Design department. The XD department includes about a dozen Experience Architects (UX) and UX/UI Designers (UI), a UX Director, a Creative Director and an Executive Creative Director.

I started at LCG in March, and since then, I’ve worked on three different projects in three different industries. For the most part, clients are looking to upgrade their sites functionality, introduce new features, or improve user experience—pretty much all to increase sales.

What did you do professionally before you started at DESIGNATION?
I worked for Initiative in their Media Strategy department.

How did you hear about DESIGNATION? And why did you decide to attend?
I was first introduced to DESIGNATION by a professor at DePaul University. After doing some research and talking to current designers and alumni, I decided to attend for the opportunity to learn through both mock projects and live client work.

How would you describe your DESIGNATION experience?
It was a whirlwind. But the craziness is all part of the fun. In the same way that it’s easier to learn an language when you’re living in the place it’s spoken, the immersive experience DESIGNATION provided was hugely effective in learning what UX is and how to practice it.

What made your DESIGNATION experience unique?
My cohort members. Though there were times when we were stressed/tired/hungry/worn out, everyone was supportive of each other and shared a common goal. Everyone had a different reason for coming to DESIGNATION and a different skill set they brought to the table. But we were all there to learn, make a change in our lives, and try something new.

Everyone had a different reason for coming to DESIGNATION and a different skill set they brought to the table. But we were all there to learn, make a change in our lives, and try something new.

What did you find was the most useful skill, tool, or experience from your time in the program?
Though nothing at LCG has (yet) moved at the pace I had during DESIGNATION, learning how to iterate under pressure has been one of the biggest assets for me. In my second month at Lyons, I found myself leading a portion of a client project that had already faced some interesting challenges. Tensions were high on the client side and we needed to work quickly and efficiently to meet their deadlines. As part of this, it was important not to dwell on building the very best first version of something, but to build a good version to help drive a conversation to get to the great version.

There are always constraints in projects, whether they come from the business, technical limitations, or time and budget. So sometimes it’s more important to create a first draft that helps uncover the limitations rather than spending the time and brainpower on the “best” solution—only to find out that it can’t be executed.

How did you stand out from the competition in applying for, interviewing for, or getting this job?
I know that having client work under my belt differentiated me from other applicants throughout my job search. Not only did it allow me to show off the work I did for real companies, but it gave me valuable client-facing experience. I learned how to translate concepts and design thinking into concise and clear language that resonates with a non-designer. Now working at a consultancy, I speak to clients almost everyday and am able to better defend design decisions.

What advice can you give to someone trying to start in the design industry?
Never be afraid to show your excitement about working in design. People want to work with people who enjoy what they do and are interested in learning new things. One of the cool things about this world is that it’s always changing, so you don’t need to be on top of every trend or software update. Just be open and willing to adapt to them.

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