Interview with Michael Pare, Designation Alum and Front-End Developer at Certify

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Michael Pare is a recent graduate of the Amaranth Cohort. He came to the program with a dream of becoming a full-time professional front-end developer, and that’s exactly what he did. Shortly after the program, Michael landed a job at Certify in his home of Portland, Maine


How did you hear about Designation, and why did you decide to come?
I heard about Designation through Sidebar. At the time I was doing a lot of monotonous one and done small business websites. It was steady work, but it wasn’t something I was passionate about, and I felt like I was getting pigeonholed into the one man freelance shop archetype. Designation was really appealing to me as a self taught designer, because it represented an opportunity to fill in my knowledge gaps and expand my skills fast.

Tell us a little bit about your new job!
Well, I haven’t started yet, but I’ll be working as a web developer for Certify in Portland, ME. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say exactly what I’ll be working on, but, in general, I’ll be assisting and/or leading front end development and design for several ongoing projects. I’m excited to start!

Certify company screen shot of homepage

How did Designation help prepare you for your new role?
The biggest thing I was lacking before I came to Designation was confidence. As a freelancer, I didn’t have a bunch of other talented people around me I could bounce ideas off of or ask questions when I was stuck on something. Designation gave me the opportunity to work with and learn from like-minded people and get exposed to new ideas I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Having that comfort level of working with other designers and developers, and knowing where I fit in is huge.

Michael Pare, Designation Alum and Front-End Developer

How would you describe the Designation experience?
The skills that make you successful at Designation are the same ones that will make you successful in the real world. If you’re willing to learn, Designation will teach you everything you need to know to get the career you want.

” If you’re just starting out, you should always try to make stuff as awesome as you can. Eventually the stuff you are trying to make awesome will actually be awesome.”

What was the most interesting or useful thing you learned during the cohort?
Collaboration. It takes experience to balance personalities and skill-sets to get the most out of a team. Designation gives students the opportunity to make mistakes and learn to work in cross discipline design/development teams incredibly fast.

What are the people at Designation like (including staff, instructors and fellow students)?
Fellow students at Designation are a huge motivating force. Everyone is passionate and hungry to learn, which creates a really positive energy in the workspace. From day one the staff at Designation are tireless supporters of students. They are always willing and able to help you get the most out of your experience.

CentUp Phone App Screenshot Picture

What was your favorite part of the Designation experience?
As part of the first full time cohort, I think just the energy was super exciting. A lot of students I talked to (including myself) felt like being in the first cohort was a big risk, but we recognized that Designation was taking a risk on us (as the first students) too. So we were all, students and staff, really in it together. You’re working all day in a highly collaborative environment, surrounded by students that are enthusiastic about learning and instructors that truly give a [CENSORED] [ed: Given the trenchant tendencies of the creative community, I’m actually kind of surprised this is the first instance of out-and-out profanity I’ve had to censor on this blog so far…]. You can’t help but be inspired by it.

What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the industry?
Keep building, keep learning and stick with it. If you really want to learn about web development, you need to build stuff. My favorite online resources are Code School and TreeHouse, and those are great as long as you apply what you learn to a real project. If you’re just starting out, everything you make is going to be terrible, and that’s ok, but you should always try to make stuff as awesome as you can. The more you step out of your comfort zone on your first project, the more breathing room you’ll have on your second one to do even more. Eventually the stuff you are trying to make awesome will actually be awesome. Awesome.

Related: Freelancing Designers Guide – 3 Contract Tips,  Top 7 Productivity Tips for Freelancers, & See the Average Salary for a Graphic Designer.


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1 Comment

  1. Hi,

    I’m Alan Neveu, CTO at Certify. I hired Mike after we interviewed him 4 different times. I’d like to say that Mike is just fantastic, and I mean really fantastic! Over the past 6 months we have really enjoyed all the contributions to our team that he has made, and many of them come down to things he learned, experiences he had, and connections he made while at Now I am recommending Designstion to people I know who are ready for their next step in pursuing a design career. I’m a huge fan of!

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