Martha Willis is a recent graduate of the Amaranth Cohort. Frustrated with the work she was doing as a graphic designer, Martha came to DESIGNATION to enhance her skills in web and mobile development. Soon after graduating, she landed a job as a UI designer at Spartz Inc.
Where are you now working, and what is your job title?
I’m now working at Spartz Inc as a web and mobile designer.
How would you describe the DESIGNATION experience?
DESIGNATION was an amazing experience. Being in a creative environment, surrounded by other creative people was very rewarding. We were able to work together to solve problems and help each other succeed. It was a safe space to try anything and see how far you could get. We were constantly encouraged to dream bigger, work harder and really push the boundaries. Between the instructors and the guest speakers, I was able to talk to, learn from and hang out with some extremely brilliant people.
What was the most interesting or useful thing you learned during the cohort?
It was amazing to be introduced to the start-up world in a no-risk kind of situation. I was able to hear founders stories and gain advice that I would never have had access to with out DESIGNATION.
What are the people at DESIGNATION like (including staff, instructor and fellow students)?
Everyone at DESIGNATION is awesome. It’s a studio filled with people who want to be there working together toward success. The instructors are extremely knowledgeable and want to see you succeed. They’re always willing to help you; whether it’s about something from a lecture you’re stuck on, a personal project or accelerating your work to push you further.
What were you doing before you came to DESIGNATION?
Before heading to DESIGNATION I was working at a mid-size advertising/PR agency as a graphic designer.
“DESIGNATION was an amazing experience. Being in a creative environment, surrounded by other creative people was very rewarding.”
How did you hear about DESIGNATION, and why did you decide to come?
While at my previous job, I realized I had an interest in web/mobile design and development. But I knew that I didn’t currently have the required knowledge base to easily move into that space. I began searching for night classes and weekend workshops that would offer me some additional knowledge and beef up some of the skills I already had. That’s when I stumbled upon DESIGNATION. It was definitely not an easy decision to quit my cushy full-time job, but I knew that just working part-time it would take me longer to accomplish my goals. So I went for it and I’m really happy I did.
Tell us a little bit about your new job!
So I’m working as a web and mobile designer at a local start-up. Right now I’m predominantly working on a few of their mobile applications. I work a lot with product owners to help develop new applications and think through new features for existing applications. As the only in-house designer, a large part of my job is also communicating and working with overseas designers. It can be a challenge at times, but it’s great because it frees me up to work on more of the strategy and interactions rather than the production.
How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your new role?
DESIGNATION taught me a lot about mobile design and allowed me to get up to speed with where web development has gone since I first learned markup a few years ago. It’s really great to be able to speak intelligently in meetings with developers.
What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?
I loved having a space to come to everyday, working alongside other creative passionate people.
What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the industry?
You have to find what you’re good at and passionate about and leverage that skill. It might not be exactly what you think you want to do, but if it’s with the right company you’ll find your way to do what you want, or what is the right position for you. With the way the internet/tech industry works the perfect job might not exist yet so keep an open mind and never say no.