Interview with Joyce Kang, visual designer at Walgreens Boots Alliance

Designation Team 1 week ago Designers, Interviews

Joyce Kang received a degree in psychology before joining Designation as part of the Basil cohort in 2017. She currently works in Chicago as a visual designer for Walgreens Boots Alliance, the parent company of Walgreens.

Tell us briefly about your job today.

I’m a visual designer on the Rx Renewal Program for Walgreens Boots Alliance. I’m one of nine visual designers on a larger UX team of about 40 UX and visual designers, researchers, and copywriters. Our team works together to redesign the entire Walgreens pharmacy experience.

What did you do professionally before you started at Designation?

I was in the Chicago suburbs working for a family business that I had no interest in taking over. I often searched the web for opportunities and careers where I could use my psychology background and explore my creative side. It had always been a dream to have a career doing something design- or healthcare-related.

How did you hear about Designation, and why did you decide to attend?

Through a friend who was already in the program. She had been encouraging me to look into the program for some time, but it wasn’t until she showed me her work from Design Essentials that I thought, “You designed that? That is SO cool! Maybe I’ll look into it further.” That was the first time I heard about UX/UI, and I did as much research on user experience, design careers, and other bootcamps as I could before I decided Designation was the best choice. From reading testimonials and reviews, I knew it was going to be a lot of work as well as an experience that was unique to any other schooling or professional experience I’ve ever had.

Looking back at your Designation experience, how do you describe its impact?

It completely transformed my life. Prior to Designation, I lacked confidence, drive, and hope largely because I felt like I wasn't living a purposeful life. If someone told me back then that, within a year, I would work as a designer at a pharmaceutical company, I would have laughed and said, “Yeah, right. I wish!” Designation taught me the necessary hard and soft skills to be a successful designer, as well as a new sense of confidence I never knew I had.

What were your favorite parts of life at Designation?

The friendships I developed with others in my cohort. It was extremely fun and comforting to receive and offer support to others who are also going through the uncertainties of a career shift together—and we still continue to do so!

What’s the staff like at Designation?

The staff at Designation are incredible. The DIRs and creative directors all genuinely cared about my growth and unique personalities as a designer, and that’s not always something easy to find in a professional setting where there can be a lot of competition and politics. I think the Career Phase was one of the most important phases, and Mike Joosse really helped set me up for post-graduation steps in finding my first and future jobs.

What advice or recommendations do you have for people considering applying to Designation, or for those already in the program?

If you’re interested in UX/UI design but unsure of whether this is the path you want to go on, my advice is to take Design Essentials and see whether you like it or not. By the end, you'll probably have a strong sense of whether it's the career you want, and you can make the decision to continue to the Virtual Phase. For those who are already in the program, I’d say to enjoy it and build relationships with as many people as you can!

The DIRs and creative directors all genuinely cared about my growth and unique personalities as a designer, and that’s not always something easy to find in a professional setting where there can be a lot of competition and politics.

What was your job interview process like?

I worked with a recruiter who helped me land the initial phone interview where we talked about the position, why I was interested in working for Walgreens, and the structure of the UX teams. I then landed the in-person interview where I presented my portfolio to a panel of seven people (director, UX leads, principal designers, and UX designers) and answered some of their questions and asked some of my own. The next day, my recruiter called saying I had a strong interview and thank you letter, and had received an offer. Designation did a great job strengthening my presentation skills and teaching me proper interview etiquette, which is what I believe contributed to my landing the job!

What were the skills, tools, or experiences at Designation that have been the most useful for you in your job?

Every skill I learned at Designation has only benefited me at my job. A big part of being a designer is having to present my work, and that’s some scary stuff! Whether it’s to one person or the entire UX team, I don’t think I’ll ever get over the initial fear of speaking to a room full of others, but Designation prepared me with fundamental soft skills like being more comfortable standing in front of a room, speaking with confidence, and quickly responding to questions about design choices.

What are your favorite parts of being a professional designer today?

Knowing that I play an important part in designing a product that will help pharmacies and patients all around the world.

Designation taught me the necessary hard and soft skills to be a successful designer, as well as a new sense of confidence I never knew I had.

What's a piece of knowledge, skill, tool, or something cool you learned at work recently?

I can’t be afraid of criticism. Criticism of designs is not personal and it’s just part of the process of iterating and becoming a stronger designer. Designers instinctively feel protective of their design decisions, and it’s part of the job to help others understand their rationale and be open to other solutions.

What’s next for you, professionally speaking?

I want to take a deeper look into prototyping tools like Axure, Figma, and Principle. We currently use InVision but are exploring other tools to present our designs in weekly design reviews as well as for developers, business analysts, and product managers we work with. 

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