Before she joined Designation for the Zinc Cohort in 2017, Cindy Wang worked as a life sciences copywriter. Today, she’s a Design Researcher on Walgreens’ in-house team in Chicago.
Tell us briefly about your job today.
I’m a Design Researcher at Walgreens. I work on a team with six other design researchers, who are all incredibly smart and kind. I call them my “research moms” since they’re all ladies and they’re all fantastic mentors. We plan and execute research to inform various service and UX design initiatives. This involves recruiting participants, planning studies, conducting research, and sharing our findings.
What did you do professionally before you started at Designation?
I was a copywriter for a life sciences and healthcare advertising agency in Chicago. I enjoyed doing something that was both creative and technical, but I wanted to be able to express myself through more than just words. I also wanted to know whether or not the things I created resonated with the people I made them for. UX seemed like a really good fit.
How did you hear about Designation, and why did you decide to attend?
It was a mix of Google and conversations with super-friendly alumni. Everyone I spoke with said that Designation was incredibly challenging but rewarding. They talked about how much they learned, how much passion they developed, and how close they got to others in their cohort. It all sounded pretty magical, so I signed up.
Attending Designation is genuinely one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.
Looking back at your Designation experience, how do you describe its impact, now that some time has passed?
Attending Designation is genuinely one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I expected the intensity of the UX curriculum, but I was really surprised by the focus on personal development. There was a lot of emphasis on establishing core values, collaborating with others, and fostering individual strengths. It was a very nurturing place. I learned a lot and I grew a lot.
What were your favorite parts of life at Designation? This can be anything—a specific memory, your cohort, a project, a workshop, the food, etc.
I loved my Immersion Phase project. My teammates were amazing and super-smart, and all the concepts from Design Essentials started to make sense in practice, not just in theory. Doug, the creative director, gave very helpful direction and solidified my understanding of the UX process. Everything just kind of fell into place, and it was a great way to start the in-person phases.
What’s the staff like at Designation?
Compassionate. They cared a lot about me. They wanted to share their perspective on design and helped me develop my own. I really appreciate the amount of effort they put into making sure each designer grows and reaches their potential.
What advice or recommendations do you have for people considering applying to Designation, or for those already in the program?
Designation isn’t like school. The staff usually won’t give you definitive answers or insist there’s a correct way to do things. I found the ambiguity frustrating at first—especially when an instructor would respond to my questions with “it depends” rather than a specific direction. Now that it’s over, I’m really glad I heard this phrase so many times. It pushed me to think critically, consider multiple possibilities, and develop my own process for problem-solving.
It pushed me to think critically, consider multiple possibilities, and develop my own process for problem-solving.
What were the most useful skills, tools, or experiences at Designation that have been the most useful for you in your job?
I’m glad I learned how to put together a solid presentation deck. I give a debrief to multiple stakeholders after every study and the techniques we practiced during client presentations have really come in handy. During Client Phase, I learned how to provide sufficient context, tell a good story, and make persuasive recommendations. I try to use these skills whenever I present my research findings.
What do you do in your current job that uses anything from your pre-design jobs?
As a design researcher, I draw upon my copywriting background a lot. Whether it’s developing instructions for a survey or putting together a report for stakeholders, I have to write with my audience in mind while conveying ideas as clearly and concisely as possible.
What are your favorite parts of being a professional design researcher today?
I’ve always liked to people-watch and now I get paid to do it. I love listening to customers and seeing them interact with products and services. It’s just really fascinating to see how people differ when it comes to everyday behaviors like shopping, picking up prescriptions, or going to the in-store clinic.
I’ve always liked to people-watch and now I get paid to do it.
What’s a piece of knowledge, skill, tool, or something cool you learned at work recently?
I just finished working on my first service design project and it was so much fun. I loved seeing how the digital and in-store touchpoints came together to form a customer’s experience with Walgreens. I’m glad I get the opportunity to understand these connections between people, processes, and products.
What advice do you have for people looking to get their start in the design field?
Ask for help. The design community is so giving, friendly, and approachable. Almost everyone I’ve reached out to has been willing to give career advice or feedback. All you have to do is ask!