Part 2: In-person

Immersion, Client, and Career Phase
Duration: 12 weeks

Immersion Phase

Design with your team

The thing we teach in the Immersion Phase—possibly as even more important than hard skills—is the necessity of teamwork. As the first in-person phase at Designation, Immersion ties in important features of professional practice and team-based design, along with the vital skills of analyzing and synthesizing work.

Pedro Santillanes

“The program does a great job of letting you and your design team run the show. You are essentially working as a designer at this point. You make all of the decisions on strategy, methods, client meetings, etc. The directors are available as resources, but it’s up to you to ask the right questions.”

Pedro SantillanesUX Designer, Walgreens Boots Alliance

Client Phase

Design for your client

It’s one thing to rapidly learn software, tools, and methods in an immersive setting; it’s another to have the opportunity to put into practice the professional skills needed to manage a successful client engagement. Client Phase is the key to implementing the hard and soft skills accumulated over the course of the program.

300+

digital design projects completed by Designation designers, from


150+

unique clients drawn from entrepreneurial communities around the world


Mary Brown

“I don’t think you will find better resources to jumpstart your career than you will at Designation. Hiring managers are often impressed with the quality and thoroughness of Designation graduates’ portfolios due to the material we cover in this phase.”

Mary BrownUX Strategist, Eight Bit Studios

Career Phase

Design for your future

Career Phase is the one part of the program that’s most explicitly about communication instead of design. As the final phase of our program, it’s built specifically to give you the tools and confidence—while reinforcing the unique design process you defined earlier in the program—you need to find a job. It requires a shift for every designer: from learning how to be a designer to learning how to tell the story of your growth as a designer.

Grads go on to work for companies including:

  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • IBM Design
  • Uptake
  • Yelp
  • Allstate
  • Bose
  • Capital One
  • E*TRADE
  • Nielsen
  • Walgreens
  • BoostHQ
  • LearnVest
  • Limbix
  • Outfittery
  • Recurly
  • Tallysticks
  • AKQA
  • Fjord
  • Huge
  • R/GA
  • SapientRazorfish
  • Slalom
Meet our alumni

Frequently asked questions about the in-person program

  • What qualities does a strong Designation participant possess?

    There are a lot of qualities practiced frequently, if not perpetually, by designers in the program. Having a growth mindset is the number-one quality, and which best prepares all designers in the industry for a successful career. Iterative learning, problem-solving, measuring self-growth, asking intuitive questions, dealing with failure, adapting to change and pivots, analyzing insights, and synthesizing data are all practiced heavily. Experience on teams, in customer service, with creative thinking, with time and project management, and with constructive criticism are very valuable. Good communication—interpersonal, verbal, presentational, and written—is a necessary part of success at Designation. And showing up on time, being open to new ideas, staying healthy, and keeping a sense of humor are just as important.

  • What are the working hours during the in-person phases?

    We expect designers to be in the workspace 10:00 am–9:00 pm Monday through Saturday. We hold morning huddle each morning with all designers and staff to make announcements and share news; this is required to attend every day, so we ask designers to plan to arrive well before 10:00 am. The workday features workshops, check-ins with creative directors and DIRs, team activities, and other events throughout the day.

    We encourage designers to take Sundays off when possible, to keep a work/life balance or sightsee around Chicago. But we know designers sometimes need to work, either virtually or in-person, to catch up on deliverables from the previous week or prepare for presentations in the upcoming week.

  • Does Designation guarantee a job after the program?

    A graduate’s employment is based on a large number of factors both external (the health of job market in their city of choice, entry- and low-level design jobs available) and internal (how quickly they can finish their portfolio after graduation, their drive to get a job quickly, how engaged they become in their local design community, their willingness to network and research to find openings). All of those factors contribute to a designer’s ability to get a job that will be fulfilling and challenging. But they also mean every graduate’s job search is a fundamentally unique experience, and one that must be undertaken by the graduate themselves.

    We can, however, guarantee that we give every designer in the program what they need—skills, tools, experiences, portfolio-quality projects, and a drive to continue learning—to be truly competitive in the design industry. It’s up to the graduate to use it all.

Download our program roadmap

Take the leap

Join an upcoming cohort and make the best change of your career.