Designation is a bootcamp for UX/UI in the States. We get to chat with Mike Joosse, Partner & Community Director from Designation about whats important for students to think about when entering the world of design and their own professional values, amongst a bunch of other interesting topics.
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do. We’re the best UX/UI design bootcamp in the United States. Students come from all over the world and every type of professional background to work extremely hard with us. We provide them the most well-rounded, real-world, feedback-enriched experience possible in a bootcamp environment; they earn the tools and skills needed for challenging jobs in UX, UI, or IxD.
What’s your take on internships? They’re great! But with a big asterisk. We recommend our graduates look into them, since they can be a lower-intensity way to learn a company and its process. We strongly recommend grads take paid internships, but also make sure they understand their overall value. If an internship is unpaid but offers tremendous professional experience, a student may still see that as very valuable. We advise students to understand their own professional values and what’s most important to them. If money’s important, they’ll find a certain set of internships. If it’s less important, they’ll find a different set. It’s not always a black-and-white issue.
What qualities and skills do you look for in a graduate? We love students with a traditional design or coding background, because they likely already get the fundamentals. We also love students who’ve worked with clients or as project managers or in teams, because they have many of the important soft skills. The biggest quality we look for in potential students is being comfortable with ambiguity. In design, as with most things in life, there are few “right” answers. Each choice leads to different outcomes, which means understanding your decision-making process—even figuring out you need to have one in the first place. Some students struggle a lot at first with that kind of freedom.
Who’s on the team, what are their roles and why do you love them? Creative Directors Megan Mueller and Dan Hopewell manage our client relationships and the student teams working on client projects. Dan is a great dancer and has a The Simpsons quote for every occasion; Megan single-handedly got all our staffers to form a kickball team.
UX Designer Caity Beaudoin manages our UX Virtual Phase. Her eyes light up in excitement whenever she has to solve a big challenge
UX Designer James Riggs manages our Design Essentials offering. His beard may be intimidating, but he’s patient and thoughtful with every student.
Program Director Will Shandling handles our admissions and has probably interviewed 1,500 potential students by now.
And CEO Aaron Fazulak brings much business expertise and leadership. He’s a perfect example of the type of person we want in our program—he’s a former forensic accountant who changed his career to co-found DESIGNATION.
We’re a startup and in education—two areas that attract the strongest-willed and hardest-working. Everyone has those qualities in spades, so they’re all easy to respect and love.
What advice would you give students starting out? First, understand that you need a process for designing. It doesn’t come randomly, and setting up a process doesn’t mean taking the element of discovery out of your work; it means cutting down the messing-around time to produce results faster. Second, understand that the how and the why behind each decision as part of your process is as important as what you’re creating. Third, understand that every single experience is a learning experience, no matter how tough or unengaging it seems. Fourth, never stop learning! Being hungry for knowledge and skills is an incredible quality to have.
Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt? Many more companies understand the value of good design today than ever before. Startups and product companies are exploding to fill niches while giant corporations now have innovation labs. As we shift to a mobile- and video-centric lifestyle, interfaces will be easier to use and more visually open to attract a wider audience. There’ll be a lot of change, and change is a thing that an adaptive, iterative bootcamp like DESIGNATION thrives on. We update our curriculum every six weeks; in five years, designers will be using tools that haven’t been invented yet, but we’re excited to introduce them to our students every step of the way.