Stephanie Sun is a graduate of the Viridian Cohort. Prior to joining Designation, she was a biology and art student at Williams College.
Tell us briefly about your job.
I’m currently a product designer at HealthCare.com.
Tell us briefly about your company.
HealthCare.com is a startup that aims to help people navigate the complicated world of health insurance. I’m the sole designer at the company, and I joined HealthCare.com in order to completely revamp the site and bring it into the 21st century. It’s a huge project, since the current site doesn’t have the strongest user experience. I have a ton of responsibility for someone who graduated from Designation a year ago, which is a bit scary but also humbling; I’ve learned so much and I feel lucky everyday to do what I do.
What did you do professionally before you started at Designation? And why did you decide to attend?
I was a biology and art major at Williams College. Every internship I did over summers was health- or medicine-related, until one day my senior year when I realized that medicine wasn’t my passion. I wanted to create things instead.
I found Designation through Google. I got the impression it was an intense, life-changing experience. As millennials do, I did as much online research as I could before making the decision. For anyone reading this and considering applying, I highly suggest hitting up some Designation alumni to figure out if it’s the right fit for you. That’s what I did, and all I got was glowing reviews. I love talking about my experience, and you’re welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What made your Designation experience unique?
I truly loved everyone in my cohort, and that’s not an easy feat. I’ve done a lot of “group programs”—study abroad, summer camps, etc.—and I’ve never felt so connected as a group as I did with my cohort. I was constantly inspired by every person around me, and the in-person collaboration and support made me the designer I am today.
What did you find was the most useful skill, tool, or experience from your time in the program?
How to talk to clients. I’m a pretty shy person, and the great thing about Designation was the constant practice with client interactions. My first client meeting was terrifying, but I soon realized I was the design expert and I needed to be confident in my opinions. Anybody can teach you Sketch or InVision, but the confidence I gained as a designer was an invaluable skill that I learned at Designation.
Anybody can teach you Sketch or InVision, but the confidence I gained as a designer was an invaluable skill that I learned at Designation.
How did Designation help prepare you for your job?
Career Phase kicked my butt, but it gave me all the tools I needed for the job hunting process. Mike Joosse helped edit everyone’s cover letters and case studies, so we could enter the job market showing our best selves. I knew exactly what I needed to do when I got home to New Jersey. Landing my first design job wasn’t a breeze, but Designation prepared me as well as they could for my journey ahead.
What’s your favorite thing about being a professional designer now?
I truly love what I do, and I know not many people can say that. I love sitting at my desk and playing with Sketch, but it’s even better seeing those designs go live. When I can type in a URL and see all my hard work on the screen, my heart melts a little.
What advice can you give to someone trying to start in the design industry?
No one really knows what they’re doing. Sign up for some newsletters—I recommend UXdesign.cc—and ask questions. The most challenging part is getting that first job, but once you get even a few months of experience, things will get much easier. Keep up that thirst for knowledge you get at Designation, and I promise you’ll go far. You’ll start to get the hang of things and before you know it, potential employers will fight to hire you.