John Chang is a UX Designer at Loeb Enterprises in New York. Before graduating from Designation in the Basil Cohort in 2017, he was a mechanical engineer.
Tell us briefly about your job today.
I’m currently a UX Designer for Loeb Enterprises, a venture capital firm, and startup factory. I work on the product team with UX and UI designers, and we help Loeb-invested startups design their products and services.
What did you do professionally before you started at Designation?
Prior to Designation, I was a mechanical engineer in Seoul, Korea. I helped design HVAC systems for military buildings. The work was pretty boring, and I’d been looking to change jobs when I learned about UX design. Solving people’s problems seemed much more fun and meaningful than solving mechanical ones, so I took a leap of faith and jumped into this field.
How did you hear about Designation, and why did you decide to attend? What did you think it would be like before you applied?
I heard about Designation from a friend who was also considering the program. Once I decided I wanted to pursue UX design, I felt Designation was the best way to get into the field. It offered the longest curriculum in the industry, and it was the only program that featured real client projects. I was initially intimidated by how intense Designation is, but I felt this intense curriculum would help me build a proper foundation for a career in design.
Looking back at your Designation experience, how do you describe its impact?
Designation helped me build a solid foundation of industry skills. It also taught me to ask the right questions and provide actionable feedback, both of which help me collaborate with my team and our clients. My experience working with teams and applying design thinking at Designation gave me the confidence to suggest and push back on ideas. It didn’t take long for me to feel I was actively contributing at work.
What were your favorite parts of life at Designation?
Oddly enough, my favorite part of the program was staying up late with my cohort to keep working on our projects. This communal “suffering” helped build camaraderie. Everyone was tired, but we were also driven to succeed. We shared the passion to produce quality work, which led to some memorable evenings and lasting friendships.
What’s the staff like at Designation?
I could spend days raving about the staff! They’re talented and passionate about building the next generation of industry-ready designers. They helped me discover my strengths and improve my weaknesses. It didn’t matter if I was constructing a slide deck or figuring how to communicate with my teammates—the staff was always available and willing to help me solve problems.
What advice or recommendations do you have for people considering applying to Designation, or for those already in the program?
Give 100% of your energy. As great as Designation is, it can only give proportionally to how much you put in. The program is tough, but it’s incredibly rewarding—and you’ll become a stronger designer and person through the experience.
Designation taught me how to write a case study that clearly communicates my design skills and process.
What was your job interview process like?
During my job search, I often received positive comments about my portfolio. Designation taught me how to write a case study that clearly communicates my design skills and process. Although plenty of people dismissed my case studies as too long or wordy, there were more managers and designers that appreciated the detail. My coworkers told me that my portfolio helped me stand out from the other applicants, and I have Designation to thank for that.
What were the most useful skills, tools, or experiences at Designation that have been the most useful for you in your job?
Peer feedback and presentations. My team often exchanges feedback, and Designation’s peer feedback structure gave me the foundation to provide useful comments. The weekly presentations during the program helped me grow comfortable with public speaking and taught me to communicate better. I believe communication is essential to the success of any team, so learning how to present my ideas and decisions made me a more effective and collaborative designer.
What are your favorite parts of being a professional designer today?
Meetups! I love meeting other designers and talking about the problems they’re solving at work. Hearing about other projects are always interesting, and they give me fresh perspectives that might help me solve my own problems. There’s always something new to learn, and meetups are a great way for me to keep learning outside of the office.
What are some of your favorite resources that help make you a stronger designer?
I spend a lot of time reading Medium articles (UX Planet, UX Collective, and Prototypr are all pretty great). InVision’s blog, Nielsen Norman Group, and the Beyond Users podcast are also a few of my go-to resources.
If this is something your gut is telling you, listen to it and join the thrilling world of design!
What advice do you have for people looking to get their start in the design field?
Everyone has moments when they feel like an impostor. It’s especially easy to feel that way in design, which is brimming with talented individuals. Don’t let that stop you—so many people in this industry come from all kinds of backgrounds. If this is something your gut is telling you, listen to it and join the thrilling world of design!