Interview with Malika Chatlapalli, DESIGNATION Alum and Interaction Designer at United Airlines

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Malika Chatlapalli is an Interaction Designer at United Airlines. A graduate of the Emerald Cohort, Malika was coming off a career as a Strategy Consultant for IBM before joining DESIGNATION in order to pursue her love of design and UX.

Where are you now working, and what is your job title?

I work at United Airlines as an Interaction Designer.

Tell us a little bit about your new job!

As part of the eCommerce department, my team designs for the Planning, Booking, and Managing Reservation user experiences. I’ve created wireframes, designed high fidelity mockups, and watched user testing behind a two-way mirror, and all in my first month on the job!

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How would you describe the DESIGNATION experience?

What you give is what you get. If you’re willing to work hard and put yourself out there, DESIGNATION has the resources and the network to help you get the career you’re looking for.

What was the most interesting or useful thing you learned during the cohort?

There’s so much out there to know about design, and the best thing about DESIGNATION is learning what your resources are. From blogs to meet-ups to podcasts, I was able to tap into the design community here in Chicago through DESIGNATION. That’s invaluable.

“The instructors aren’t just instructors; they’re mentors and friends that genuinely care about the students’ success.”

What are the people at DESIGNATION like (including staff, instructor and fellow students)?

Everyone has a different story on how they arrived at DESIGNATION, but we all come together over wanting to make a drastic career change. Hearing people’s stories and learning what inspires them was definitely a motivator for me. And the instructors aren’t just instructors; they’re mentors and friends that genuinely care about the students’ success.

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What were you doing before you came to DESIGNATION?

I was a strategy consultant for IBM Global Business Services. I traveled 4 days a week, “synergized” with clients, and made PowerPoints all day long.

How did you hear about DESIGNATION, and why did you decide to come?

At my previous job I wrote requirements for a suite of enterprise mobile apps and worked closely with UX designers. Jealous of their jobs, I searched online and found DESIGNATION. What really convinced me to enroll however was how accessible and genuine the staff seemed, and how comprehensive the program was.

“DESIGNATION really allowed me to hit the ground running here at United. From learning about prototyping tools to understanding design vocabulary, I gained experience and confidence that has helped me immensely.”

How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your new role?

DESIGNATION really allowed me to hit the ground running here at United. From learning about prototyping tools to understanding design vocabulary, I gained experience and confidence that has helped me immensely.

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What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?

Creating my portfolio. This definitely wasn’t everyone’s favorite part of the boot camp, but I was really proud to have my own website and to show off all my hard work.

What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the industry?

Don’t stay in what’s comfortable. If you want to make a change in your career or your life, don’t wait.

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