Interview with Sarah Dandia, DESIGNATION alum and Front-End Developer at Narrative Science

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Sarah Dandia is an alum from the Amaranth Cohort. Before DESIGNATION she worked at IBM, but came to the program to do something more creative and design-oriented. Right after the program ended, she landed a role as a front-end developer at Narrative Science.

 

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

I’m working at Narrative Science, as a Front End Software Engineer.

How would you describe the DESIGNATION experience?

It was a total whirlwind! I was expecting it to be intense, but in the weeks I was there, I truly lived and breathed digital design. It was incredible to be that focused and inspired about the projects I was working on – as well as have the support of a design community to lean on and learn from.

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

The most interesting thing I learned was the concept of design thinking, and how design permeates almost everything around us. It was really fascinating to look at the world around me through a design-lens. After a few weeks in class, I could barely use an app without critiquing its user experience, or a kitchen tool without thinking about it’s usability.. or even look at a billboard without noticing the typography!

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

Everyone is super helpful and smart! You realize really quickly when you are there that you can learn from everyone around you. It’s really rewarding to be able to get feedback on your work from other designers and developers. The instructors do their best to help you learn and make sure your work is aligned with your specific and personal career goals.

What were you doing before you came to DESIGNATION?

I had been learning web design & development on my own and working as a freelancer.

“The most interesting thing I learned was the concept of design thinking. After a few weeks in class, I could barely use an app without critiquing its user experience.”

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

I discovered DESIGNATION by searching online for design and development classes. I had done a lot of learning on my own with books, tutorials and e-courses but I knew being in a collaborative, classroom setting would mean a totally different level of learning. And it did!

Tell us a little bit about your new job!

Narrative Science is a Chicago based company that has developed an Artificial Intelligence platform able to transform data into narratives, or stories. I’m working on the design and development of their User Interface. I’m thrilled to be working with such innovative technology and for a company I really admire.

“Build things, and then share them. I’ve found that it’s the best way to learn and improve.”

How did DESIGNATION help prepare you for your new role?

DESIGNATION was a great way to fast-track all the projects I wanted to work on personally, and quickly pick up skills in a supportive environment. It also helped me get up-to-speed with today’s design vocabulary, and feel confident that my skill-set and portfolio was up to par.

What was your favorite part of the DESIGNATION experience?

The collaboration and teamwork on all the projects and activities! It was super enjoyable to go through exercises with other students where we could brainstorm, come up with wacky solutions to problems, and think freely and creatively, without boundaries. It really helped to foster an inspiring and creative environment.

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

Build things, and then share them. I’ve found that it’s the best way to learn and improve. Everyone has to start somewhere!

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