Since graduating from BrainStation’s UX Design Bootcamp five years ago, Dorsa Giyahi has been building her career in product design. To take her career to the next level, Dorsa enrolled at BrainStation’s online Digital Leadership and Innovation course. Now Dorsa is applying the digital leadership techniques she learned at BrainStation as a Product Designer for Yelp! Dorsa shares how the project-work in the Digital Leadership and Innovation course has broadened her horizons, and her recommendations for making the most of the course.
You have been working in UX/UI and product design since graduating from BrainStation’s full-time UX Design Bootcamp. What inspired you to now enroll in BrainStation’s Digital Leadership and Innovation course?
I was always interested in tech and design, and specifically drawn to qualitative and quantitative research studies. This led me into UX design and research at the startup incubator at Ryerson University, where I got my Bachelor of Science degree. From there, I learned about BrainStation and decided to enroll in the UX Design Bootcamp, which kickstarted my UX design career. I’ve enjoyed working in this field so much!
I’ve been a Product Designer for the past five years, and as an active BrainStation community member, this new Digital Leadership and Innovation course came on my radar. BrainStation is aware of my career goals and thought this course may be a good fit for me. After looking into the course, it seemed like the right time to invest in my leadership skills. I was ready to discover what I could bring to my present and future teams, so I enrolled in this course to sharpen my skills as a designer.
Did you have to complete any pre-work before day one of the digital leadership course?
There was some intro material to go through before the course began, but otherwise we jumped right in! I recommend taking a few weeks before the start of class to prepare yourself for the material so you can understand the flow of each unit and get the most out of the course.
Was your cohort mostly other professionals who were taking this course to upskill?
Based on my experience, it seemed like everyone in the course was established in their roles and looking to improve their skills in innovation and leadership. There were a few junior-level employees, but it seemed like most of my cohort were more mid-to-senior level in their career. My cohort also came from very different backgrounds, which I found cool and inspiring.
What was a typical day like in BrainStation’s Digital Leadership and Innovation course?
We had a lecture once a week, plus there was time dedicated to activities and group work in breakout rooms. I would devote a few hours a week to digest the content and work on assignments that were broken down from team projects. It was very manageable to complete the course while still working full-time.
What did the Digital Leadership and Innovation curriculum cover?
We began with a broad introduction to disruptive technology and how businesses today leverage this to create a phenomenal user experience. The class started with discussing different products and platforms we appreciated and why, and what they use to make their products “sticky'' to make their users come back. I was excited to start with this content because it's so interesting to me as a product designer!
We learned about business models in the digital world and went through product design process, which generally consists of four phases:
This portion of the curriculum emphasized design thinking and human-centered design. Near the end of the course, we learned about Agile teams and processes.
Did the teaching style match your learning style?
I found the BrainStation course delivery similar to university classes I’ve taken. Our BrainStation instructors took turns teaching material through lectures and offering real-world examples. Then we would have time to connect with our colleagues to discuss what we learned.
The group project work was definitely my favorite part. There were units that involved lots of team activities and smaller group discussions on these topics. The course offered many opportunities to work together in breakout rooms. It was nice to be able to work independently and also collaborate on group projects with my cohort. I found that the group projects were the most valuable part of the course because they’re things you can’t do on your own. It was really interesting to see how some classmates had more experience with design, development, management, or product management. It was nice to have different perspectives when tackling group challenges.
Were the projects based on real-world scenarios?
Even if it wasn’t a real case study on a specific product, there was always a scenario where we would envision the user, pretending we were designing or solving a problem for a particular use case. It was very engaging.
How was this course different from the immersive bootcamp you did at BrainStation?
The immersive bootcamp experience was a full-time, 12-week learning experience, so naturally, it was more in-depth. There was more dedicated time to work independently on projects, with the opportunity to reach out to our colleagues and instructors during class. The immersive bootcamp had smaller-sized group activities compared to the shorter course, because there's less time. The Digital Leadership course is a more condensed version and it takes less time to complete, so you have to work at a faster pace and devote time outside of class to learn the context and material.
How has the Digital Leadership course helped your Product Design career so far?
The material I learned is something I am gradually applying to my work, my thinking, and my approach to collaborative teamwork. It's helped shape my mindset and everything I've learned at BrainStation so far. This course has definitely broadened my horizons. It offered me more concepts to consider and ways to sharpen my skills.
Congrats on your new Product Designer role at Yelp! During your job interview, was Yelp interested in your bootcamp experience from BrainStation?
Yes! My Yelp manager was interested in the BrainStation program and wanted to know about the topics we covered in the bootcamp.
What team are you currently working with at Yelp?
At Yelp, our team setup includes one designer per project. I focus on the research, UX design, and UI design aspects. I'm currently working on the consumer design team, which mainly focuses on different user personas that look for services on Yelp.
How has BrainStation helped your design career?
I did the UX Design bootcamp five years ago, and when I was looking for my first design role after bootcamp, BrainStation’s Career Services team helped me with making professional connections, supporting me in the job hunt, and preparing my portfolio. Since then, I’ve continued to build my community of designers, which is how I landed my product design job at Yelp.
Would you recommend the Digital Leadership and Innovation course to other product designers and UX designers?
I recommend this course to designers junior to senior-level, but I also recommend it to those outside of design that work in product and technology. Taking a course like BrainStation’s Digital Leadership and Innovation course is eye-opening; it gives you a history of disruptive technologies, how they shape our current and future economy, and all the ideas, technologies, and trends that have been used to solve the problems we face today.
Is there anything you wish you knew before taking the Digital Leadership and Innovation course?
A big piece of advice I have for this course (as well as the UX Design Bootcamp) is to connect with your colleagues in class and share your ideas. There are no silly ideas or questions! The more engaged you are, the more you get out of the course and bootcamp. Leverage the time you have with colleagues and instructors.
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