Tell us briefly about your job today.
I’m a UI/visual designer at Sears Holdings Corporation. I work on the Sears and Kmart sites and apps, with UX designers, developers, copywriters, and project managers. There are five UI/visual designers on my team. Currently, we all work on different things—one person works on vertical category pages, another on product detail pages, another on the checkout experience, and so on. We meet on a daily basis by conference call or in person to discuss any issues and solutions.
I’m a part of three teams, one of which is called Bug Bash, which was created to track all inconsistencies, bugs, problem preferences, and other issues through our online platforms. I also work at the bottom of a funnel for a leasing project, and I’m currently also creating a pattern library to help all our sites and apps be more consistent.
What did you do professionally before you started at Designation?
I moved to the United States six years ago from Serbia with a background in banking. I was a personal banker, but I always had a passion for design and wanted to do something more creative. So I started a small flower shop and gallery and made my dream real.
How did you hear about Designation, and why did you decide to attend?
I wanted to shift to focus on digital design, so I looked at schools and bootcamps. Designation stood out because it offered the work with real clients and gave me a sense of a real agile environment.
What did you think it would be like before you applied?
I didn’t think it would be so intense. It was challenging for me as someone with English as a second language and being a mother with two kids. Moreover, I didn’t expect to find so many great people at one place and become friends for life with them.
Looking back at your Designation experience, how do you describe its impact?
It was the best decision of my professional life. Designation changed my life in the best possible way. I was surrounded by really kind, smart people and great designers. We had a lot of fun and hard work together. There were so many different personalities coming from many different cultures, so I had a chance to learn small and big things from all of them.
Designation changed my life in the best possible way.
What’s the staff like at Designation? Did anyone help you in specific, important ways?
Starting from the Virtual Phase and through the end of the program, the staff was always there for us. All of our creative directors and instructors had a different approach and level of experience. They helped me improve my design skills, become a better presenter—which was my personal challenge, give and receive feedback, and improve my designs through iteration. I’m thankful for all the help and support they gave me.
What advice or recommendations do you have for people considering applying to Designation, or for those already in the program?
Work hard and follow a process. Anytime you think you can’t do it, you can’t make any progress, or you’re not on the right track, believe me, you’re wrong. Update your mentality, think positively, and be persistent in your intention to change your life.
What was your job interview process like? I came in for an in-person interview by introducing myself and my background and presented my case studies in front of five senior UI/UX designers, one of whom is my art director now. I was very well-prepared for the in-person interview because we worked so hard at Designation to make presentations for clients. My ability to talk about my design process and show my work helped me to stand out from other candidates.
And I was asked to give them feedback on their existing apps; that was the most comfortable part for me, because at Designation, we all participated in peer feedback sessions every Wednesday and gave and received so much critique. The Career Phase was full of great tips on how to sell my work and me as the designer. Preparing for the interview was much more manageable with all the guidance I got in the Career Phase.
I was very well-prepared for the in-person interview because we worked so hard at Designation to make presentations for clients. My ability to talk about my design process and show my work helped me to stand out from other candidates.
What do you do in your current job that uses anything from your pre-design jobs?
At the bank, I worked on a big team and collaborated with different kinds of people. At the flower shop, I learned how to recognize and create excellent experiences for my customers. And staying organized was really important; self-organization causes my work to be done twice as fast.
What were the most useful skills, tools, or experiences at Designation that have been the most useful for you in your job?
I learned how to use Sketch and InVision, which are the most used tools in the design world today. Collaborating with other designers was so valuable. And I learned how to ask for feedback and critique and not take it personally. That’s important at Sears because our team works for the company’s success, not only for our own success.
What are your favorite parts of being a professional designer today?
Technology changes every single day, and I’m a part of that change. It’s challenging, but it’s an exciting time, and I’m not bored, even for a second. There are so many things I have left to learn related to design.
What advice do you have for people looking to get their start in the design field?
Show your passion every day by doing something creative. Look at and learn from other design work, get inspired, and apply your inspiration to your creative work. Be persistent and work hard, and don’t give up on the first obstacle. Keep going!