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Avg Rating:4.83 ( 113 reviews )

Recent Designation Reviews: Rating 4.83

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Recent Designation News

Read all (18) articles about Designation →
  • Design Essentials (Online, Part-time, begins every 6-8 weeks)

    Digital Marketing, Design, Product Management, Mobile, User Experience Design
    In PersonPart Time20 Hours/week5 Weeks
    Start Date
    Rolling Start Date
    Class size
    Skills Fund
    Getting in
    Minimum Skill Level
    Placement Test
  • UI Design Intensive (begins every 6-8 weeks)

    Start Date
    Rolling Start Date
    Class size
    Climb, Pave, Skill Fund
    Getting in
    Minimum Skill Level
    Design Essentials is a required pre-requisite for this course for students without prior professional design experience.
    Placement Test
  • UX Design Intensive (begins every 6-8 weeks)

    Digital Marketing, Design, Product Management, Mobile, User Experience Design
    In PersonFull Time70 Hours/week17 Weeks
    Start Date
    None scheduled
    Class size
    Climb, Pave, Skill Fund
    Getting in
    Minimum Skill Level
    Design Essentials is a required pre-requisite for this course for students without prior professional design experience.
    Placement Test

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Our latest on Designation

  • 2018 End of Year Coding Bootcamp Podcast

    Imogen Crispe12/27/2018

    As we near the end of 2018, we're rewinding and reflecting on the most interesting and impactful coding bootcamp news of the year. Come with us as we look at trends, digest thought pieces, break down the ~$175 million in new funding, and more. We’ll also look at our predictions for 2019 and our hopes for the future of coding bootcamps!

    Continue Reading →
  • What I Wish I Knew: Advice from UX/UI Designers

    Imogen Crispe5/25/2018


    Changing careers is a challenge in self-doubt, especially when you’re entering a creative field like UX/UI design. Aspiring designers might ask, “Do I have the right background? Will I be able to do a good job?” To allay those fears, we asked four experienced Digital Designers who teach Designation’s UI and UX Design Intensives in Chicago, to tell us what they wish they knew before they started their design careers, how to overcome impostor syndrome, and their top tips for starting a new career in UX/UI Design.

    Continue Reading →
  • Campus Spotlight: Designation, WeWork Chicago

    Imogen Crispe1/25/2018


    Designation is a UX/UI bootcamp that has been building up the Chicago design community since 2013, and recently moved into a new WeWork classroom. We asked the Designation team to share their reasons behind the move, how students will fit into the larger WeWork community, and why Chicago is a great city to work in UX Design. Plus, we hear about Designation’s future plans to collaborate with WeWork in other cities around the world!

    Schedule a 30-minute tour of the Chicago campus!

    Why did Designation decide to move from 1871 (another coworking space), to a WeWork?

    A lot of people don’t know that 1871 wasn’t our first location. We moved there in 2014 from our original space in the Lincoln Park neighborhood when Designation had been open for 1 year. The move happened because we were creating a new iteration of Designation; there were changes in our curriculum, experience, and team, and we needed our learning space to reflect those changes. That was a huge move for us.

    In 2017 when we looked at how much we’d accomplished after 2.5 years at 1871, we realized we were preparing for another big iteration of the program. So we started to figure out what that would look like in terms of space. We ultimately made the choice to move based on what we believed our designers needed most: to have the best possible experience – and the most professional experience possible of any program like ours.

    When we found WeWork, we knew that being in a WeWork reflected how far we’d come. In the same way that we’re more than a design bootcamp, WeWork is more than just a coworking space. We found the company to be an intriguing evolution of a coworking space – one that created a truly welcoming environment for companies at every stage of their growth. And we knew that as members, we could tap into the worldwide (160,000-member!) WeWork network as clients, hiring partners, strategic partners, and allies.

    WeWork has a number of locations in Chicago. Why did Designation choose the State Street location?

    We like saying that we’re near the direct center of downtown Chicago. When applicants think about coming to Chicago for our program, State Street We Work is an actualization of the vision they have of the experience. The building borders the Financial District and the Theater District, and is where the famous Chicago Macy’s is, as well as historic buildings, companies, and shops. It’s also close to public transport.

    What is it about being in this new location that will make Designation stand out amongst the competition in Chicago?

    Designation is all about gaining the professional experience you need to be an effective and employable designer. WeWork has a community team on site that works as an extension of our team, making sure our designers have a great experience.

    In addition to the experience, WeWork will be able to functionally enhance our program as well. WeWork is home to so many interesting and growing companies. Since a major part of our program is working with these types of companies, it gives us a great pipeline of portfolio projects for our designers.


    In general, what makes Chicago a great city to be teaching/learning UX design?

    Chicago is an unbelievably welcoming city for designers. There are many tremendous organizations here that champion design and encourage designers to come together, from AIGA Chicago and the Chicago Design Museum, to Meetups like ChiDUXX and &UX. It’s a city that encourages cross-pollination and growth. Designers here often work together to build products at events like at Chi Hack Night and Startup Weekend, or learn beyond UX and into accessibility, content strategy, service design, front-end development, and many other areas.

    The professional ecosystem here is also stellar; there’s a remarkable mix of product companies, startups, agencies, consultancies, and in-house teams between the city and the suburbs – all of which need skilled, thoughtful designers.

    What is the Designation teaching space like at WeWork?

    We have our own private campus, just off the main lobby, near the public coworking space. It’s one large room that’s subdivided by team pods and whiteboards. We also have two offices we use for interviews, testing, and meetings, and we just installed standing desks at the windows. We’ve found that our designers respond best when they have access to varied working environments – whether that’s at a desk, standing up in our space, on couches, or in a WeWork conference room. That variety is a reflection of the multiple types of environments found in professional design offices, whose teams know that one working style doesn’t work for everyone at the company.

    We can accommodate up to 54 people in the workroom; currently, we have about 30, which allows us a lot of freedom to experiment with the room layout and see how it affects noise level, productivity, teamwork, active listening, and other everyday features of the program.


    What sort of amenities and benefits are Designation students entitled to as WeWork members?

    The list is huge, and so big none of us have made our way through it. WeWork does a fantastic job of creating a professional environment for everyone with tons of amenities, including tea, coffee, fridges, microwaves, phone booths, a ping pong table, and events. That was a big draw for us, because we appreciated how much WeWork had done on members’ behalf to make sure they could take advantage of all the resources at hand. There are also member discounts on software, hardware, lifestyle brands, utilities, and more.

    How will Designation make the most of being in a co-working environment like WeWork?

    Two of the things that drew us to WeWork was the size of our workroom and the level of activity in the building. We knew our workroom was big enough to hold many types of events such as guest speakers for our cohorts, information nights for potential applicants, and other events for the community. It’s a requirement that all events we hold here are open to all WeWork members, which will be a great way to meet everyone else in the building. We’re genuinely thrilled to have access to a new network, both locally and globally, of potential clients, hiring partners, and even applicants to the program.

    And around the building, there’s an insane number of events happening here each month. Because we’re members, we’re free to join in them too. As long as they don’t get scheduled while we have an important workshop or presentation happening, we encourage our designers to take part in those events too. Just like at 1871, we know those random conversations have the potential to lead to something great – or at least spread the word about how great Designation is.


    Would Designation consider expanding to other WeWork locations either in Chicago or in other cities?

    We would like to in some way, shape or form. WeWork’s multi-city presence provides us with the ability to extend our presence to many other design communities through their many locations.  We believe it is imperative, to be an effective designer, to acquire in-person experience collaborating on projects with clients and other designers. With more than 70% of our designers coming into the program from outside Chicago, WeWork gives us the potential to have a physical presence in numerous locations across the world. As we look towards late 2018, we will be able to create a blended experience of both virtual and in-person education.

    Is there anything else future students need to know about the new WeWork campus?

    It’s going to be a different experience next month and next year than it is today. In our short time here so far, every week has had unique events and activities, and those events will change over time. We can’t predict what WeWork will be like in a few months or years from now; we can only say that that variety is a great asset for us, and will help ensure that everyone who goes through Designation will have an interesting, special experience.

    Oh, and there are dogs! WeWork is dog-friendly, so Designation became dog-friendly the day we moved in. Staff members occasionally bring dogs into the space, but even without our own dogs, just knowing there are dogs elsewhere in the building is a big draw for our team and our designers. We really look forward to dogs becoming a more important and regular part of the experience of coming here.

    Find out more and read Designation reviews on Course Report. Check out the Designation website. You can also schedule a free 15-minute call or meeting to find out more!

    About The Author

    Imogen is a writer and content producer who loves writing about technology and education. Her background is in journalism, writing for newspapers and news websites. She grew up in England, Dubai and New Zealand, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

  • November 2017 Coding Bootcamp News + Podcast

    Imogen Crispe12/1/2017

    On the Course Report Coding Bootcamp News Roundup, we keep you up to date with the blossoming coding bootcamp industry. This November, we're covering the WeWork/Flatiron School acquisition, over $2M in funding to various bootcamps, and why tech is booming in "Heartland" cities. Of course we also look at new schools, new campuses, and our favorite pieces to work on this month for the Course Report blog! Plus, is The Iron Yard back from the dead? Read the summary or listen to the podcast.

    Continue Reading →
  • Why Allstate Hires Designers from Designation

    Imogen Crispe11/17/2017


    Allstate Product Design Manager, Dustin Hamilton, started mentoring Designation UX and UI students, and soon realized that many of them would be great additions to his team. He has now hired six Designation graduates, and continues to mentor and get to know many of the designers as they go through the program. Dustin tells us why Designation is his first port of call over other education providers, what the interview process involves, and why he will keep hiring Designation grads. He also advises other employers to research the curriculum of a UX and UI bootcamp before hiring a grad.


    Can you tell me about Allstate and your role there?

    I'm one of two product design managers at Allstate. The user experience and design organization here is more than 130 people right now, and we manage a team of 44 product designers.

    We have a unique working model with a product-centric viewpoint. It's called Agile XP which stands for extreme programming where we do pair design. We take two designers, put them at the same table, and they each have a keyboard, mouse, and a monitor connected to a single computer. So they're working on the same thing at the same time. This model drives the need for somebody very articulate, somebody who has a lot of empathy, communication skills, and emotional intelligence.

    For people who are new to the technology industry and the way design teams work, could you explain why an insurance company like Allstate needs UX and UI designers and product designers?

    Allstate was traditionally an insurance company, then we began offering mobile apps and things of that nature. Insurance is still the core of what we do, but you could argue that Allstate is now a software company that also has insurance. We've done so much in the digital space outside of insurance, that arguably it's not the same company that was here five or ten years ago. It's a very different space at this point.

    Do the product designers work in all areas of Allstate operations or are there specific places?

    We work on all aspects of things. Not everybody in our design organization is a product designer – we also have specialists like UX architects, visual designers, and specialist researchers. The product designers are responsible for small teams doing the visual design, architecture, research, and content. They're very generalist kind of roles.

    We've got product designers who are working on everything from call center apps that we use internally, systems administration tools that our IT team uses, software and rollouts, and of course public facing mobile and desktop apps. We also do business to business apps.

    How did you first get connected with Designation?

    When I first learned of Designation, I didn't look at it like an HR tool. My initial involvement was mentoring and speaking where one of the curriculum directors asked me to teach some classes on how to do design critique. It went really well and I was mentoring a number of Designation students. Then my involvement grew and so did my mentoring. At one point about 18 months ago, I would meet with a student every weekday to help them get their career started. I think that kind of mentorship is really important because it's not a resource I had when I started doing design work more than 14 years ago now. User experience didn't even exist then.

    Later in my engagement with Designation, I've been able to help get a number of designers hired because I see a lot of talent through the mentoring program. When you see somebody who clearly “gets it” beyond their education, that's always a great thing. So I help connect students to people I'm connected to within the community so that companies can hire great talent.

    Are you still mentoring Designation students now?

    Yes. It's lessened significantly because I'm helping others get involved. At Allstate, at least half of the product designers and UX and UI practitioners mentor designers from Designation. Actually, I think Designation got to the point where they had too many mentors from Allstate and not enough students! We also present once a month at Designation to give students an opportunity to learn about something different outside of their schooling and it gives us a chance to practice our consultation and presenting skills.

    I see it as an opportunity to help a very lean, scrappy program at Designation where designers are learning very rapidly, hands-on, and almost in a very gritty fashion. I have a strong appreciation for that.

    How many Designation grads have you actually hired and what kind of roles are they in?

    I have hired six so far, but there were other Designation hires at Allstate before I started in Chicago. My co-manager, who handles our Northbrook location, has a number of Designation folks on his team too. Needless to say, we hire from them quite a bit.

    The Designation grads on my team are all product designers, which are purposeful generalists. We work in a pair design model and they do everything from visual design to architecture, to research. They do their own content creation, planning, and strategic work at the product level.

    What are you looking for in a new hire? And what was it about those Designation grads that got them the role?

    What I'm really looking for are people who shine in regards to soft skills. How do they communicate, how do they present themselves, how are they working, are they collaborative, do they have a sense of community? It's that kind of stuff because our model drives a need for soft skills. Whatever hard skills someone might be lacking, we as a group can help train them.

    I mentored two of my Designation hires myself before hiring them. So I already had a sense of their communication style and skills. My own personal mantra is to hire personality and train skill. I fully recognize that anybody coming out of Designation has merit anyway, because they have the ability to learn quickly.

    I think there's a spectrum of practitioners out there. On one end, I find the best designers have a broad sense of their skills. They've got a firm understanding of what they know, and an acknowledgment of all the stuff that they don't yet know. People with that mindset are more open to grow and learn. The opposite end of the spectrum is somebody who knows what they know but doesn't have an acknowledgment of what they don’t know. That limits their growth because you can't present them with new information and knowledge because they think they know everything already. But even at 15 years into this career, I'm still learning.

    What kind of interview process do you put new hires through? Do Designation designers go through the same kind of interview process as any new hire?

    I use the same process regardless of where somebody's coming from. It starts with a half-hour video conference where I describe our working model. I'm also interested in communication skills, focus, personality, that kind of stuff. If somebody is interrupting or asking what the salary is, that indicates to me they don't have a sense of the big picture. Then if I feel there's merit there and mutual interest, I’ll invite them in for an interview.

    Part of the interview is a discussion to get to know the candidate and their background. Part of it is also like a showcase – I want to see a piece of work that people are proud of or learned a lot from. I'm looking to see how they articulate the process they went through, and then the pros and cons. Anybody can tell me about the great things they did on a product, but when somebody tells me, "We made this decision and it didn't work so well,” that's the kind of person I want to work with. Someone who isn't afraid to share that something didn't work, and acknowledges that design is a gritty process.

    What are you looking for in candidates? Any tips for the interview process?

    One of the key elements we do is a design exercise. We role play with the candidates where I act as a business owner, give them a client brief, and they have to act as if they were a consultant. I'm looking for how the person speaks and how they present themselves. Were they pacing, do they have their hands in their pockets, are they focused on the problem or are they talking about solutions already? Are they are asking questions and if so, are they good questions or are they superficial? So it's not the work itself, it's more like the “how”.

    My most recent hire, we were doing the design exercise and it was 11 minutes in. I just started laughing and I told them, "You're hired." My guidance to everybody is just be yourself and do what you would normally do. It's not an assessment of skills. It's assessment of working style.

    How important are candidates’ backgrounds from before Designation? Do you factor their previous backgrounds into their suitability for the roles?

    It's always cool to hear about, but I don't consider that so much in hiring. It matters to me more that they got through the program successfully, and that they've got a good mindset. Then usually I can speak directly to Mike Joosse, Designation’s President, and find out more about an individual. I’ll get the intricacies of how they worked, where they worked, and what their challenges were. That means far more to me than what their background is. I like to mentor a lot because, unfortunately, the people who didn't come with some kind of background that's relatable to UX and UI have a harder time getting their first jobs. So I work with them to help them showcase their portfolios, resumes, and their interview skills, to try to help them get that first role.

    When those Designation grads first start at Allstate, how much training do they need? Are they quite well prepared for the job already when they start or how much training do you have to give them?

    Because of the way that we work in product design, I would say that everybody needs leveling up, not just Designation designers. Because of our unique working model, it takes all new hires about a month to really get into a good routine. The Designation grads bring a good mindset; they are eager to learn and they approach things with curiosity.

    We also do a week-long product design bootcamp periodically for everyone. The Designation designers are excited when they hear that we have a product bootcamp, that we are investing in them, not only in their future here but elsewhere as well. A true mark of success for me is if any of these practitioners down the road says, “Dustin really set me up for my career." That would be awesome because I know this likely isn't an endpoint – I want to make sure they get set up in their careers.

    How do you ensure that those employees continue to be supported in their learning as they progress? Do you have any kind of mentoring or apprenticeship-type programs going on?

    We do. As I mentioned, our working model of pair design involves two people working from the same computer, with a monitor each, looking at literally same thing. It's difficult to find people with a generalist background in UX, UI, content, and research. So I often pair somebody from a UX background with somebody from UI background. Then that UX person will teach the UI based person about architecture, and that visual knowledge of the UI person is transferred to the UX person. So through that way of working, they are leveling up their skills constantly.

    We also have the notion of pairing with a specialist. In some of our product teams, we have data scientists, so instead of a product designer pairing with another designer, they sometimes pair with a data scientist. It's all about mutual sharing of information so that the data scientist learns about the product, and the product designer learns about the data, how to use it, and what it means. There's a lot of learning that takes place.

    I’m also very thoughtful when I put together management and reports. I’ll take a senior project designer with a very strong UX architect background and have them manage somebody who's visually based. And I'll do the same vice versa. Allstate is one of the best places I've ever seen for investment into employees – we do all kinds of training.

    Since you've hired those Designation grads, have any of them switched roles or been promoted or do you anticipate that might happen in the future?

    Oh, they definitely will. We have three levels of product designers. The first two levels are product designers, and we treat them the same. If you're in the more beginning stages of your career, you're in the first level. If you're at the higher end of experience, equating to a mid-level practitioner, you're probably going to be in the second level. The third level is the senior product designers, who typically have five years of experience or more. So eventually those Designation grads will progress through the ranks.

    Other than Designation, what other talent pipelines do you have for UX and UI and product design hires? Are there other bootcamps or university programs that you look at?

    If I'm looking for an entry-level practitioner, Designation is my first go-to. I will consider other bootcamps and other practitioners who are experienced or just starting, but I think because of my knowledge of the way Designation works, I feel more confident when I make a Designation hire. With Designation designers, I know what they're learning, and I know who they learned it from.

    At any point when you were first thinking about hiring from a bootcamp, did you have to convince anyone else in your company?

    I'm pretty transparent about that kind of thing, and everyone knows I'm a big fan of Designation. I advocate for the students whenever I hear an opening suitable for a fresh Designation graduate. I’ll give them three or four different candidate names and letters of recommendation from the people at Designation.

    Are you able to give feedback to Designation and influence their curriculum if you notice any areas that your UX and UI hires might be under qualified in?

    Yeah, I do look for that. Mike and I meet on a periodic basis and talk through those things and I give him a lot of direct feedback. When we walk away from those sessions, I know Mike is going to do what he feels is right for his students. I used to teach a class to every Designation cohort about mindfulness design critique. The students and staff reacted so positively to that, that they actually integrated it as part of their curriculum. So it's neat to be able to say that I can help influence what their students are learning to make them even better candidates.

    What kind of relationship is there between Allstate and Designation. Do you have to pay a referral fee when you hire their graduates?

    No. I would say it's semi-formal. We do a lot of work with them. We mentor a number of their students, and we do monthly presentations. One of the cool things about the relationship is my access to the Designers in Residence program. For every cohort, they pick one student to stay on for three months to be the Designer in Residence and work at Designation teaching other students. You could argue that the top designers out of every cohort get that role. What I do, which has benefits for me and the students, is meet with every Designer in Residence personally for an hour here at Allstate. And it's not necessarily a hiring thing for me; it's getting to know who is the top talent coming out of Designation and entering the design community, and helping get their careers started. I work with them to make sure that once they finish, they hit the ground running and get a good job.

    Getting to know those Designers in Residence means that when I end up with staffing needs I've already got a roster of the top recent Designation graduates. I can just make a few phone calls and see if anybody's interested in making a switch. That really goes a long way in shortening the hiring process.

    Will you hire from Designation in the future and if so why?

    Absolutely. I like to say that Designation is a very meaty program, and when you come out of that program you've got one of the best baseline skill sets that you can grow upon. It really allows the students to have their personality shine to show that they have the soft skills to back up their hard skills. Designation is one of the first places I look when I'm looking for a fresh graduate, then also I'm keen to meet alumni as well.

    Have you hired a Designation grad who's already had another job in design?

    Yeah. Sometimes I will simply reach out to Mike and say, “I need somebody that's got two or three years of experience. Who is your best?" And he'll give me a list of two or three designers and a detailed synopsis of what they've done and how they did. That's an amazing resource to have.

    What is your advice to other employers or hiring managers who are thinking about hiring from a design bootcamp or any kind of technology bootcamp?

    Designation is a meaty program where the designers come out with that solid baseline set of skills. They know how design really works and that design isn't a pretty process. They come with an eager mindset to not only show what they know, but to learn what they don't.

    The reason that ‘bootcamp’ is an alarming word is that it's so loosely defined. For instance, another program here in Chicago is one hour each week for four weeks. So you're learning UX and design in four hours. My advice to employers is to look deeply at differences between the bootcamps. Look for schools that have assessment or intake processes and don't be afraid to ask about placement rate. Designation doesn't take just anybody who applies, and they have a very high placement rate. Look at all aspects of a bootcamp and know that they're not created equal, and the terminology is often not the same.

    Find out more and read Designation reviews on Course Report. Check out the Designation website.

    About The Author

    Imogen is a writer and content producer who loves writing about technology and education. Her background is in journalism, writing for newspapers and news websites. She grew up in England, Dubai and New Zealand, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

  • 5 Signs You're Cut Out for a Career in UX/UI Design

    Will Shandling9/7/2017


    As the co-founder of Designation, I have talked to a lot of aspirational designers. At last count, in the 3+ years we’ve been around, I have personally interviewed about 2000 candidates for the program. And in that time, I’ve identified some distinct patterns about the types of people that are well-suited to a career in UX or UI design. If this is at all a career path you’ve been considering, check out this list to see if you have these characteristics:

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  • Alumni Spotlight: Zoe Sinner of Designation

    Liz Eggleston5/2/2017


    Zoe Sinner learned the foundations of UX/UI Design at Designation in 2014, and has only continued to skyrocket as a designer since graduating. After freelancing and working at TaskRabbit, Zoe recently landed a coveted job as a Product Designer at Facebook. Zoe explains why great design is a journey, how to go beyond the foundations you’ll learn at a bootcamp like Designation to perfect your craft, and why an alumni network can help you battle imposter syndrome as a new designer.


    What were you up to before Designation?

    I graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree in Arts and Communications and worked for two years in marketing for a medical association. I found that I was drawn to creating and knew I wanted to pivot to a creative role, but didn't really know how to get there.

    I thought about pursuing a master’s degree in graphic or web design but they just didn't feel like the right kind of design for me. I felt like there was a lot of learning materials online in which I could teach myself at a fraction of the cost. This was in 2013, and “UX Designer” was not in my vocabulary nor did I know what that kind of design entailed.

    How did you teach yourself?

    I started looking for ways that I could get the experience or skills to go into a design role. I started with a little bit of Codecademy and thought that front end design was cool, but I also took some self-paced, online Photoshop courses. I watched so many YouTube videos about how to use Photoshop and Illustrator. Once I started thinking about how to get to a design role, I considered going back to school to get my masters degree. But after all the learning I had done online it just didn’t make sense in my mind to spend 2 more years plus thousands of dollars on a masters degree when I had made some progress. I was ready to make this change now.

    Why did you choose Designation?

    I discovered Designation in 2013, and at that time, there weren’t any other Design Bootcamps in Chicago. What really attracted me to Designation was that I would be able to immerse myself in design and knock out the course in a few months. I knew I was passionate about this career, and I could put in 100% to pivot my career in a shortened timeline. In college, you spend a few hours per week on a subject, but I wanted to learn foundational design skills, plus get the experience of building a portfolio. To me, Designation was the perfect combination of skills and experience that I needed.

    Were you able to carry the skills from your degree in Art and Communications into Designation?

    I did take a little bit of what I learned in college into Designation. If you're starting from scratch, there's definitely a lot of basic foundational material you should learn before you go to a bootcamp. Because I had taken classes in college and was doing some creative work in my marketing job, I knew I would enjoy a career in design. Some of that background just naturally carried over into UX Design. Later, I learned that some of what I did in my first job was actually UX, but I just didn't even know it.

    I think it does help to have a little bit of a foundation, if only to validate to yourself that you understand the concepts and want to pursue it as a career.

    What hard skills did you learn at Designation?

    You get to choose your weapon of choice: Sketch, Illustrator, or Photoshop. In UX Design, there are certain deliverables like “journey maps” that you use on the job, so we learned how to structure those. You also learn UX/UI methodologies, like product thinking, research, hypotheses, and layout for UI. I also took away soft skills like collaborating and presenting, especially during the client work phase.

    Designation also has pre-coursework, where you’ll get to know how to use a tool before your first day.

    Do you suggest that people get familiar with tools like Photoshop before they even get to the bootcamp?

    Absolutely, because it’s going to be much harder to learn a software program while also trying to learn the principles of design. On top of that, by playing around and getting to know the software, you’ll get a feel for the job. Learning your tools as much as you can before you start at Designation is really going to help you in the long run; you'll set yourself up for more success.

    Could you tell us about your client work project at Designation?

    The most successful project I worked on was with WeDeliver. We worked on their marketing landing pages to fix usability issues and make the brand more clear. We actually needed to do user research to understand the pain points of the current site, and then we redesigned it so that it better communicated their mission.

    How did Designation prepare you for the job search?

    Designation helps you build a great portfolio and they teach you the tools and tricks of interviewing well. They also have a great alumni network, and a support network that you can reach out to.

    They’re not telling you to apply for certain jobs, but they really help you figure out jobs that you want to go after, what kind of company you want to work for, how to network, how to prepare for interviews, and how to structure your portfolio. But when it comes to actually getting the job, that's still on you.

    Tell us about your career progression after Designation; how did you land a job at Facebook?

    The first job after graduating is the hardest job to get, but after that, it becomes much easier. Designation actually connected me with a recruiter, which is how I got my first job. I worked with that recruiter to apply and find roles that were right for me. The first company I interviewed with was originally looking for a Senior UX Designer, but it was such a good interview that they decided to bring me on as a freelancer, which then turned into a full-time UX Design role.

    One of the things that Designation emphasizes is the power of networking. After getting some experience in my first job, I was able to get my resume passed around, and made a connection with the Design Director at TaskRabbit. That's how I got my second job as a Product Designer at TaskRabbit. And from there, I was approached by a design manager at Facebook and went through the recruiting process.

    I probably wouldn't have been able to land a job as a Product Designer at Facebook right after graduating from Designation, but because of the foundation and skills I learned, combined with the real-life experience of working at two companies, I had a successful recruiting process with Facebook!

    What is the difference between a Product Designer and UX Designer?

    In this world, the terms are so generalized. At Designation, I majored in UI, but my first role was a UX Designer. Actually, when I was interviewing for my first UX role, I realized it was really a hybrid of UX and UI. The takeaway there is that job titles are just job titles. You have to dig in to find out what the actual role entails.

    To me, a UX Designer thinks about user needs and the correct user experience, whereas a Product Designer takes into consideration the visual side and more of the business side as well. I don't think there is a hard line to differentiate those two roles; as with all design roles, they all exist in an overlapping Venn diagram.  

    What is a UX Design job interview like?

    There were some commonalities between each interview process I went through. First, you need to know how to tell your story and how you got to this point. You should also be able to talk about your past work. In every interview, I had to go through my work, and I think the trick here is telling a story and conveying intentionality.

    Secondly, this is not a requirement for all interviews, but you should expect some type of problem-solving or design challenge. That may be a take-home design challenge where you need to create a visual interface or an in-person work session.

    My Facebook interview involved all of the above, app critiques, plus a whiteboarding session where I actually worked with my interviewer through a problem on the board.

    What are you working on now at Facebook as a Product Designer?

    I'm part of the Growth Infrastructure Team at Facebook; I essentially work on internal tools that affect the end user as well. That could mean anything from a visual update to pushing a new feature, to researching current users, to cross-functional work. Day-to-day, my job is a combination of all different types of skills. I could be pixel pushing more one day and brainstorming the next day.

    On my team, I'm the one Product Designer supporting seven Engineers, a Product Manager, and an Engineering Manager.

    Did you learn everything that you needed to know for your job at Designation, or have you had to learn on the job?

    This is a great question. I tell everyone that Designation will give you the foundations, but it's up to you to really foster those skills. For example, at Designation, I learned about the methodology of how to build a page with good UI and how to lay things out, but it was only after I graduated that I’ve become more confident in those skills. Likewise, you start to learn and practice the product thinking methodology at Designation, but in the real world, you’re getting better at that thinking and fostering those skills.

    For me personally, my advice to bootcamp grads is to never stop learning. After Designation, my whole world has become reading design books, going to design meetups, reading blog posts, and understanding trends.

    What’s the biggest lesson you learned as your design career has evolved over the last 3 years?

    On the job, I would say owning my own personal process and improving that and tailoring it for the job. Another thing I had to learn on the job was how a tech company actually works and how to work with other roles as a designer. At Designation, you learn in a perfect world where design is highly valued, but in the real-world, it's very rare to find a company that really values design the way you value design. You need to learn how to work with other roles that don't have an understanding of design.

    One common theme I find myself talking about with other designers and Designation alumni is, "How do you evangelize the value of design in different companies?” It's certainly been a challenge to realize that there isn’t this perfect way to apply design in every company. Getting frustrated about that fact will only stress you out, so you have to really own your own design, and then get buy-in from the right stakeholders at the right time.

    What has been your biggest challenge in terms of your journey coming into your role as a UX designer for the last couple of years?

    Imposter syndrome! To combat this, you have to find other designers either inside or outside of your company (even your bootcamp alumni network). For me, the Facebook design team is huge, and are all so very different. Finding designers or product managers who I can confide in and express that too is so important. You have to find a design mentor or buddy that you can lean on and get support from. And learn to be okay with being vulnerable and asking questions. You're new to design and you don’t want to seem too junior, but find the right balance between being vulnerable and asking the right questions.

    Are there a lot of alumni in San Francisco that you keep in touch with?

    Not at first, but now there's a healthy alumni network. We actually still communicate through the Designation Slack channel, and sometimes meet up in person too. In my previous role, I was on a design team of only four people, so I relied on my alumni group a lot more to chat about design trends and questions. I try to meet up regularly with the alumni group in San Francisco to talk about our issues and our challenges. It's good to vent to each other and talk about how we’re dealing with certain things.

    Looking back on the last few years, could you have kept self-teaching, working in marketing and gotten to where you are now three years later?

    It's very unlikely that I would have been able to get to where I am today without Designation. That’s mainly because it gave me the foundations I needed in design, networking and taught me design methodologies, all of which I've continued to build upon as I've grown throughout these jobs. And that would have been really hard to do on my own.

    Any final advice to future designers who are considering a coding bootcamp?

    There's something to be said about perfecting your craft. I didn't graduate from Designation magically able to produce beautiful designs. It's been a work in progress. Learning a craft like design is like playing the piano – you have to continue to work at it to get better. Once you graduate from a bootcamp, take the foundations that you've learned and continue to practice it to get to the next level or perfect your craft and feel confident. I'm passionate about helping people get into UX/UI Design because I went through it and I know what it's like. It’s a journey.

    Find out more and read Designation reviews on Course Report. Check out the Designation website.

    About The Author

    Liz is the cofounder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students considering a coding bootcamp. She loves breakfast tacos and spending time getting to know bootcamp alumni and founders all over the world. Check out Liz & Course Report on Twitter, Quora, and YouTube

  • Alumni Spotlight: Anne Levy of Designation

    Imogen Crispe2/16/2017


    Anne loved helping people as a college counselor, but she always felt like there was something missing in her own career. After a friend urged her to think about UX design, Anne realized she could combine her creativity and psychology skills, so she enrolled at Designation UX Design bootcamp in Chicago. Anne tells us how the pre-work phase prepared her for the Designation bootcamp, how her background in psychology impacted her design skills, and the importance of a great design portfolio. Plus, we hear about her new UX Design job at Accenture!


    Tell us about your pre-Designation story. What was your educational and career background before you decided to get into UX design?

    I studied psychology and French in undergrad, then I went on to a master's degree in counseling. I was working as a career counselor for college students prior to Designation. I always wished I had done something more creative because I took some graphic design classes in early college, and absolutely loved it. But I went the psychology route.

    In my career as a counselor, I loved the creative aspect of helping to uncover people's goals, helping them find their direction, but I always felt like there was something missing. So I career counseled myself out of it! A good friend who's a developer said, "Hey, have you heard of UX?" So I looked into it, and he helped me look at different bootcamp programs. I was initially deciding between front end development and user experience. I chose UX because I loved that it incorporated my psychology background and design into one.

    Did you research any other UX bootcamps?

    When I started my research, I looked at both front end development and UX Design bootcamps. There are more web development bootcamps out there than UX courses. I wanted to stay in Chicago because that's where I was already based. I would’ve been willing to go elsewhere for the perfect bootcamp, but Designation seemed to fit all my criteria.

    I wanted to go to Designation because you actually get to work with real clients, so you get hands-on experience right away. Having that access to UX designers who have so much experience is so valuable to learning. After visiting the classroom in 1871 and meeting a couple of the people there, I decided that I wanted to learn UX at Designation.

    Did you think about going back to college to study UX Design?

    DePaul has a great program, so had I not already gone to grad school, I might have considered it. I did talk to a couple of people who had done that DePaul program, and it seemed like an amazing program, but I wasn't ready to spend another three years in grad school.

    Could you share with us how you were able to pay for the tuition? Did you use a financing partner or get a scholarship?

    I had known that I was going to switch careers in some capacity for a while, so I saved up and was able to float myself for those few months. I was very fortunate. I think that's definitely not something that everyone is able to do. A lot of the people I went to bootcamp with did get some sort of a financing or student loan.

    What was the application and interview process like for Designation’s UX bootcamp?

    There are different admissions processes at Designation depending on if you come from a graphic design background or not. Since I didn't, I did the pre-virtual session. It was a self-paced design course to get you familiar with the Adobe Suite, and some prototyping tools. We would submit feedback online, and there was an instructor available if I had any questions. After that, they review your portfolio and you get firmly admitted into the program.

    For the interview process, since I was in Chicago, I came in and met with the Admissions Director Will Shandling. We talked for about 45 minutes, he showed me the space, answered all of my questions about the program, and gave a general overview. One of my big questions was "What are the chances I'm going to be successful in doing this?" After the interview process, I felt really reassured and confident that I wanted to do Designation.

    So you do the pre-virtual phase, and then once you’re admitted, what’s next?

    After the pre-virtual phase, there was a six-week online virtual program with the cohort that you're going to be with on campus. It’s almost a full-time remote program to get everyone ready to jump in on day one of the bootcamp. We did readings from a textbook, and we built our own prototype for an app. That's where I started to get more familiar with prototyping tools, and what it meant to do low-fidelity, mid-fidelity, and high-fidelity design. For people with graphic design backgrounds, that phase was their first bootcamp experience. In my cohort it was about 50/50 in terms of people who had design backgrounds versus people who didn’t.

    My favorite part of the online virtual phase was the interactions with people in my cohort. We would have regular meetings with everyone once a week, and we also had smaller groups of four people with whom we would check in, work on projects, and ask each other questions. It was really nice and it felt like we already knew each other when we arrived in person.

    How many people were in your cohort and what kind of diversity was there was in terms of gender, and race, and background?

    My cohort around 20 people and it was a pretty good mix. I mainly had younger classmates- one person was just out of college. I was probably on the older side and I'm 31, but there were a few of us in our early 30's. My cohort was about a 50/50 gender ratio.

    About a third of my cohort was from Chicago, with other people from all over the US. People had all different backgrounds; some came from graphic design and architecture, some from business, and one person was an actor.

    I was really lucky with my cohort. It felt like we were all family. We looked out for each other and cared about each other. After the first two days being there for so many hours, you get to know everyone and quickly get comfortable. One of the greatest benefits of coding bootcamps is going through it with other people, having that support, and learning from each other.

    Once you were all on campus, what was the structure of Designation?

    For the first six weeks, we would get in at 10am every day and have a standup meeting. We stayed in class until at least 9pm. There were many nights when we stayed a lot later than 9pm and I was there until 2am plenty of times.

    The day was a mix of lectures and hands-on work. We were put into groups where we worked on an app together. During the first part of the program, we built an app based on a problem statement that Designation gave us to get that experience of going from concept to high fidelity prototyping and doing testing. At the end, we presented our apps to professionals in the field, so you get that experience before the real thing with clients.

    Did you learn any kind of web development or a programming language in the UX Design bootcamp? Was that necessary?

    We had optional coding lessons on Fridays, which I (and the majority of us) chose to do. We had an HTML workshop and then a couple of CSS workshops. Each week, we were given an assignment, and our ultimate assignment was to create a portfolio website. Learning some programming really helped me understand what developers are going through and how to work with them. Before this program, I would not have known what a <p> tag was or anything like that.

    Designation is unique because you actually get to work with a real client- who were the clients that you worked with?

    Primarily, the clients are other startups who are based in 1871, which is a startup incubator in Chicago. One of my clients was from 1871, and the other was an external company. One client was in the financial industry, and then one project was a video camera lens prototype company. We got to work on different projects in different industries. You work with each client for three weeks, so the client phase is six weeks total.

    What was your favorite project that you built?

    I really enjoyed all of the projects that I did! During the final client project, we were almost given a blank slate. This company had come out with a new VR video camera lens that could connect with GoPros, and they wanted to create an app for their users. They were pretty open-ended about what they wanted. We had a lot of fun brainstorming ideas, exploring, and doing research before bringing our final idea together. I really enjoyed the creative formula of that project: the user research, interviews, and throwing different ideas out there.

    We were working in groups of three or four people. Then we would have our creative directors who would step in and help us, and be there for all the client meetings. We met with the client once a week to present our progress.

    Your portfolio must be pretty important as a UX Designer- did you have a portfolio before Designation?

    Generally speaking, your portfolio is very important. I never had to have a portfolio before, because I applied for previous jobs with my traditional cover letter and resume. But your portfolio is what shows off what you can do as a designer. It should be a combination of visuals, your research, pointing at different posters during your affinity mapping, or a PDF of your final prototype.

    We also include case studies that describe your entire process because people want to know how you think and how you execute a project. They want to know from beginning to end what you did, what you did well, what you may have failed at, and what you learned.

    Did Designation help you develop your portfolio?

    Designation has changed the structure a little bit since I went through the program. We had a career counselor who worked with employer relations and would do lectures once a week during our client phase. The current students now have two weeks devoted to portfolio development. We would have lectures on resumes and portfolio building and with an assignment each week. Those lectures were meant to prepare us to be able to build good case studies to apply for jobs when we leave. It was extremely helpful to get that advice. You also continue to have access to the Designation course material after you graduate.

    Tell us what you’re up to now! Are you working as a UX Designer?

    I am a UX Designer working for a division of Accenture Operations called the Accenture Operations Innovation Network. We are actually also based in 1871 right next door to my Designation classroom.

    Shortly after I graduated, I was working on my portfolio and I hadn't really started the job application process. Mike, the employer relations and career counselor at Designation, talked to my current supervisor here at Accenture, and they were looking for somebody to join their team as UX/UI designers, and I was on a list of candidates.

    At Accenture, are you using the skills you learned at Designation or have you had to learn some new skills as well?

    Both. I'm definitely using the skills I learned at Designation. In spite of being a part of Accenture, we're actually a very small team– less than 20 of us. I am one of two UX/UI designers here. Our tasks can totally change by the day. This week, I've been doing a lot of wireframing and some high fidelity designing. Next week, I'll probably be working on personas, journey mapping, and initial low to mid fidelity prototyping. That part is great because you really get to experience the whole gamut of design based on your projects.

    We also do some design thinking workshops when we meet with stakeholders. We actually recently went to our Bangalore office, and we'll be going to our Manila office next week to visit and do some workshops there as well.

    Do you think that your background in counseling and psychology has been useful in learning and working in UX design?

    A lot of UX research ties incredibly well into counseling. When you're interviewing people, a lot of the job consists of knowing what questions to ask and getting a sense of who the client is, what they value, what motivates them, and what frustrates them. A lot of that can be tied into counseling.

    Later on, once you get to the actual design process, design is not necessarily just making things pretty. It's about making them usable and giving people a product that operates within their mental model. So psychology and counseling definitely tie into the design process as well.

    How have your first few months been at your job and how did the company make sure you were ramping up and continuing to learn?

    I'm coming up on my six-month mark now. When I first got to Accenture, Patrick, the other UX designer, was awesome. He basically showed me the ropes, and got me onboarded. In the Chicago office, you get to know everybody really well. I get to work across the table with our business analysts and innovators; I am currently sitting in a room with one of our developers. So it's great having everybody working together so that you can really go over projects in person. Everybody was incredibly welcoming and answered all of my questions.

    What has been the biggest challenge or roadblock in your journey to becoming a UX designer?

    When I was initially deciding whether or not to become a UX Designer, it was hard to have confidence in myself and force myself to take that big risk. Switching career fields entirely was the scariest thing, but the best decision I made. You have to take that initial leap, and then dive in and not being afraid.

    How do you stay involved with Designation, and have you kept in touch with other alumni?

    One of my favorite parts of being a Designation alum is that we have a giant Designation Slack network with tons of different channels. For example, I was recently looking for a new design thinking book so I asked other alumni for suggestions and got tons of responses. It's an awesome network of people. If you are going to a design event and you're looking for people to join you, anything like that gets posted on Slack. I love having that as a resource.

    What advice do you have for someone who's thinking about making a career change and going through a UX Design bootcamp?

    First of all, talk to people who are in the career that you think you want. Ask them about their daily life. Ask them for their advice. UX Design is an incredibly welcoming field– at least in Chicago the design community. I've had people find me on LinkedIn and ask me if they can just chat about whether or not a bootcamp is the right decision for them. It's really an individual decision, so it's not going to be right for everybody. If you do think it's right for you, then it's very much worth the risk.

    Do your research in terms of what program is the best fit, not only in terms of skills, but in terms of culture. Then take the risk and do it.

    Find out more and read Designation reviews on Course Report. Check out the Designation website.

    About The Author

    Imogen is a writer and content producer who loves writing about technology and education. Her background is in journalism, writing for newspapers and news websites. She grew up in England, Dubai and New Zealand, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

  • Front End Development vs Back End Development: Where to Start?

    Lauren Stewart1/14/2019


    Do you want to be a front end developer or a back end developer? Understanding your career goals at the end of a coding bootcamp can make it easier to narrow down which school is best for you. This can be a tricky task if you aren’t familiar with these terms – but no need to worry now that you have this guide. Let’s dig into the difference between front end web development and back end development: which programming languages you’ll learn, which coding schools teach them, and what to expect from a career as a back end or front end web developer!

    Continue Reading →
  • Community Director Spotlight: Mike Joosse of Designation

    Liz Eggleston11/10/2015


    Founded in 2013, Designation offers an immersive bootcamp for aspiring UX and UI designers. Mike Joosse, their new Community Director, tells us about his transition from the design world to Designation, the most important ingredient for a successful UX designer and how Designation prepares students for post-bootcamp careers.


    Tell us about your background and what you were doing before Designation.

    I come from a design background. I went to design school a long time ago and was a practicing designer for a while. I took a few different turns until I eventually came to Chicago and worked as a Communications Director for a local brand and marketing agency called VSA Partners.

    One of my duties was promoting the agency’s digital services. They were long known in print, design, branding and typography, but they had this amazing digital team doing UX, content strategy and front end/back end development. When I got to know them and their passion for wanting to mentor and be involved with educational opportunities, I thought about Designation.

    I had friends who were part-time teachers and mentors here. Their name kept coming up, so they were the first people that I talked to while I was at VSA and said, “Our digital team would love to get involved with you guys, how can we do that?” That started the conversation that eventually led me here.

    Your role at Designation is Community Director; what does that mean?

    It has a few different meanings. We’re still a small startup and our roles are diverse. We cover a lot of ground and that’s very exciting to me because I’ve always been a person who loves having multiple responsibilities. It’s mainly defining and engaging our community. That’s everything from graduates to current students and companies in the communities where we place graduates.

    For companies, it means finding ways to bring awareness to all Designation has to offer. How do we get them to understand the great things that Designation graduates can offer them? How can we provide mentorship opportunities for their employees? How can we get them involved in all of the other educational opportunities that are here in Chicago? I also manage external events and partnerships, interfacing with organizations like AIGA Chicago, IXDA Chicago and chiDUXX.

    I’ve been working in the design community for a long time, and I love being able to work with so many people to promote a wonderful program that I was a fan of before I came here.

    Did it take some time to be convinced of the bootcamp model?

    It took about five minutes for me to realize that bootcamps are a pretty amazing recent development. It’s an excellent alternative to traditional design education, especially in the areas of UX and UI, which haven’t been around that long. I’ve seen so many people go through a two- or four-year program or more, just to have a never-ending stream of continuing education where you don’t necessarily reach a goal, you’re just observing knowledge. That can very easily go to waste.

    Ultimately, I respect hard work and commitment. When somebody agrees to a really intensive bootcamp experience, I see that as a pretty amazing investment that I want to maximize for them.

    Is there a traditional UX/UI design education path? Who are Designation graduates going up against when they’re applying for jobs?

    There are a lot of different ways to teach and learn UX, especially here in Chicago. There are some programs that are very conceptual and research-based. Graduates from those programs (which are usually two to four-year programs) are leaning more towards strategist roles where they’re all about planning and big-picture strategy. Graduates from other programs are very task-based and there’s not necessarily much conceptual background.

    I see Designation as being in the center. We stress the importance of the concept but also putting in the work. We produce people who have to be strong as designers and as creators.

    There are a lot of different opportunities and roles for UX and UI designers. The current scene feels like where design was 20 years ago or maybe earlier, because there are so many different types of people entering the field and there are opportunities for everybody.

    When we say UX/UI, we tend to associate those together but in your experience in getting people placed and being on the hiring side of it, is there really such a thing as a UX/UI designer?

    I think so, but I think we also see some of our graduates go to work at startups that have five or ten people. At that size, the odds of somebody being multi-faceted like that goes way up. I like encouraging people to follow these opportunities. If they really want to practice both, I say, market yourself to those startups and smaller companies so that you can be more of a generalist.

    But I warn them – as these startups get larger, they’re going to hire more people and your job will narrow to be more specialist. We already see so many graduates who want to specialize in one area and we say, that’s great. Keep developing your portfolio along that route, but always maintain the other skills. If you want to practice UI, keep developing your knowledge of UX; learn the basics of coding because that’s going to help you empathize with your team, who will also help you become a more conscientious designer.

    What companies are leading the hire of UX/UI designers? Is that a first hire in your experience?

    I’m not sure there’s a specific size where that’s really important. I’d like to believe that UX and UI – especially UX – are growing in prominence and urgency for these companies. They’re realizing that they need to hire these people much sooner than they did in the past. I think a UX designer has to be at the beginning of the conversation. He has to be in the room to say, “What do you want this product to achieve? What is it supposed to do and who is supposed to do it?”

    When thoughtful, conscientious designers get in at the beginning of a process, they can make a big difference. We constantly teach our students – and it’s probably a universally accepted truth at this point – that the problem is not always what the client believes it to be. It’s what you, the researcher and designer who’s looking at this from a bird's-eye perspective see it is. It could be an entirely different problem, so you have to solve that problem instead. The sooner that they realize that the sooner they can make an impact on the process.

    Is UX/UI design a career that someone can transition into? Do you have to have a design background in order to transition into UX/UI?

    When you’re looking at things like composition and form and structure, having a design background definitely helps. But I think bigger than that, the best students and graduates are the ones who are interested in tackling a problem from a new perspective. They’re ones that value empathy, understanding what someone else’s need might be and how they can do something about that.

    We’ve accepted students who work in data science, social work and education. These are people who never opened up Axure or Sketch before. But they come with a fundamental understanding of what UX achieves and what UI achieves and what you can accomplish as a designer at a very basic level. Those are people that have the best opportunity because it’s harder to teach somebody empathy or teamwork or discerning what the client is saying. And if you’ve had experience doing that before, to me, that’s more valuable than a design or coding background.

    As the Community Director, you’re connecting students with the professional design world. You mentioned meeting with students to understand their needs and goals. When does that process start at Designation? Are you meeting with students once a week throughout the course?

    Our program is 12 weeks and about five or six weeks in is when I pair students with a professional mentor who’s in their area—a UX designer, UI designer or somebody who’s a mixture of those. The one-on-one relationships that I build with the students really start after that mentorship assignment.

    We start bringing in guest speakers to talk about their experiences on specific topics like how to build a case study or tips on interviewing. Sometimes it’s very big picture like “here’s what life is like at this startup” or “Here’s what it’s like to work as a UX designer with 50 other UX designers around you.” We also start doing some studio tours and weekly workshops on best practices for finding a job and building a portfolio.

    It means a lot of one-on-one work with students. I sit down with them at the halfway point (week six) and start asking about what they’d like to do. Sometimes those ideas are fully formed; other times they’re very general and it takes an ability to discern what they’re actually looking for. When they say things like, “I want a mentor” or “I’d like to be able to keep learning while I’m there” then I can say, “You might be looking for an in-house team environment or a larger product design company where they have that structure built in.” My dad is a guidance counselor and I think he passed on a lot of that curiosity and desire to help students – with their portfolios and personal brands and make introductions with companies they want to work for.

    As you are connecting with companies, the biggest question that I get is who actually hires bootcamp graduates?

    It seems like twice a week, I send an email to another company just to introduce Designation. We find that they respond very well to these students committing a lot of their lives to shift their career. They're very passionate and excited about how they’re coming out of this program, and they’re very skilled.

    We tell them about how unique the Designation curriculum is. So when they do meet our students, they’re impressed with the way they talk about their work and the experiences they’ve had. They’re quantifying those unique things about Designation that put them above graduates from other programs, bootcamps or otherwise.

    One by one, we’re reaching more companies and more people who are saying, “Man, there’s something special about designers who’ve come out of bootcamps in general, and Designation specifically. Maybe we need to look at using bootcamps like Designation to source our employees.” I think they realize that when you’re used to working 11, 12 hours a day/70 hours a week for a sustained period of time, you can do anything as a professional. You can learn things very fast because you’re used to that pace.

    Since arriving at Designation, what have you noticed that you need to add to this hiring process and how have you iterated on it?

    I’ve built my career in the last six or seven years since I stopped being a designer around helping people. That propelled me in a really interesting direction based on doing what I could to help people get to this other stage of their career.

    When I came to Designation, I realized this was a perfect opportunity where there were a bunch of students every six weeks saying, “I’m not entirely sure where I’m going. I know that I want to get there and I know that I’m going to be a good UX/UI designer when I get there. What can you tell me about what I can do from here?” Being able to be in that conversation is such an honor and a huge responsibility for me that I take very seriously.

    Setting aside time to build a relationship with every student and saying, “Your success is my success” is my priority. And when students go out there and find a job, it’s the greatest feeling that I could have.


    Want to learn more about Designation? Check out their Course Report page.

  • September Coding Bootcamp News Roundup

    Liz Eggleston10/7/2015


    Welcome to the September News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the bootcamp space. Do you want something considered for the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!


    This Week on Course Report:


    Aquisitions, Fundraises & Regulation


    New Campuses + Courses:


    September Must-Reads


    Have a great October!

  • Which Chicago Coding Bootcamp Is Best for You?

    Nick Toscano9/22/2015


    Chicago is currently home to a growing lot of coding bootcamp and web immersion programs tasked with preparing students for a lucrative career in web development. Courses providers in Chicago have something for everyone with intensive programs in JavaScript, Ruby and Rails, Java and .NET.  There is a healthy selection of full-time courses as well as part-time bootcamps, workshops, and night and weekend courses for those looking to take their career to the next level. According to Startup Compass’s 2015 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking, Chicago ranks number seven having moved up three spots in the last year year. This is the prime time to equip yourself with much needed web dev skills. Whether you are looking to join one of these 50 Chicago born startups, or have the entrepreneurship spirit to create your own, there is a course provider in the area that has the power to propel you towards your career goals.

    Continue Reading →
  • 3 Reasons Veterans Make Great Tech Bootcamp Students

    Aaron Fazulak2/19/2015


    Why tap into this potential group of bootcampers? Aaron Fazulak, co-founder of DESIGNATION in Chicago, explains why veterans make great tech bootcampers!

    Continue Reading →
  • 8 Tips to Avoid Burnout at a Coding Bootcamp

    Liz Eggleston1/31/2018

    Coding Bootcamps are intensive programs- some require an 80 hour per week commitment, and all demand undivided attention in the classroom. This structure may be necessary to learn a new skill in a short time, but it can also overwhelm students and in some cases, cause burnout.

    Luckily, at Course Report, we get the opportunity to talk with alumni from coding bootcamps all over the world, and we always ask how they avoided burnout during their courses. We’ve compiled the top eight best pieces of advice for future students from alumni who have been through it before!

    Continue Reading →
  • September Bootcamp News Roundup

    Liz Eggleston10/2/2014


    Welcome to the September News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the bootcamp space. Want your bootcamp's news to be included in the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!

    Continue Reading →
  • Student Spotlight: Martha Willis, Designation

    Liz Eggleston7/9/2018


    With a degree in Advertising Art Direction, Martha Willis was looking for a way to build on her current skillset in pursuit of a web-based career. So she enrolled in Designation, a full-time, immersive design course in Chicago. We get the scoop from Martha about the application process, her new job as a UI Designer, and how she's continued her education after Designation. 

    Remember, the Course Report community is eligible for a $500 scholarship to Designation!


    What were you doing before you started at Designation?

    Just before starting at Designation, I was working as a junior designer at Proof Integrated Communication - a small NYC based digital agency. I worked on traditional print pieces as well as digital web design. 


    Did you have a technical or design background before you applied?

    My undergraduate degree is in Advertising Art Direction, it’s very similar to a graphic design degree but with additional focus on strategy. I also took a web development class where I learned HTML, CSS, JavaScript and basic PHP. It gave me a great foundation going into Designation.


    Why did you choose Designation? Did you apply to any other bootcamps?

    Designation was the only bootcamp I applied to - I was originally looking for classes I could take while still working full-time. I wanted something to supplement my current knowledge base, that could lead to a more web-based career. When I compared the various programs I realized that Designation would be the best fit for me. I really liked the idea of being able to fully immerse myself into my learning and surround myself with other passionate creatives.


    What was the application process like?

    I made the decision to apply fairly close to the deadline for the first cohort so my application process was fairly quick. I filled out the online application, submitted my portfolio site and went through an in-person interview. It was a really great way to get a better sense of the program and the people involved.


    What was your cohort like? Did you find diversity in age, race, gender etc?

    My cohort was fairly mixed group. Many of us were a few years out of college, others were older. My cohort was mostly female, but the cohort right after was mostly male. Ultimately, we all had the same goal - to become better at our craft and support each other in our endeavors.


    Who were your instructors? What was the teaching style like and how did it work with your learning style?

    The instructors were designers/developers currently working in their chosen field. They are incredibly knowledgeable and were more than happy to share that knowledge (both in and outside of class). Class structures varied depending on the topic being discussed. Usually there was a lecture component and a workshop/hands-on component. We often did peer review for our visual design, all-day workshops for user experience and live coding classes. They were very open to adaption so if something wasn’t working or a student needed extra help, they would do their best to accommodate students. 


    Did you ever experience burnout? How did you push through it?

    Burnout is pretty standard in any creative endeavor - especially when you’re working as many hours as many of us did while at Designation. Being able to take a walk and get a change of scenery are easy ways to restart your brain. Also, making sure to make time for self-care is really important. Even though it’s a rigorous schedule, there is still time to get away and clear your head. It also helps that there are other people going through the exact same thing you are so you can rely on each other for support and understanding.


    Can you tell us about a time when you were challenged in the class?

    There were plenty of times I was challenged while at Designation. For me it was usually getting my logic correct when working with javascript. It was great to be able to turn to my neighbor and ask them for help. If two or three of us couldn’t figure it out we would go to one of our instructors and they were able to explain where we got mixed up.


    Tell us about a project you're proud of that you made during Designation.

    Near the end of my time at Designation, we worked in teams of three-four to design and pitch a native mobile app to a local startup. It was really a great experience to be given the opportunity to work on real client work. We had to apply everything we had learned up to that point - with some help from instructors as well. For our wireframing and prototyping, we worked in Adobe Illustrator and Omnigraffle. Most of our design work was done in photoshop and then everything was moved into Invision to create a working prototype. It can be viewed here!


    What are you up to today? Where are you working and what does your job entail?

    I am currently working as a web and mobile designer at Spartz, Inc - a small start up in Chicago. I work with some very intelligent, passionate people and I am given a lot of creative freedom. I currently do a little bit of everything; user experience design, interaction design, interface design and occasionally some CSS. I was connected to the company through one of the instructors at Designation.


    Did you feel like Designation prepared you to get a job in the real world?

    Designation definitely helped to prepare me for my new job. What I learned there can be applied to everything I do in my new position. I was given a great foundation to build upon. I have never regretted leaving my previous job to go to Designation and pursue something I was really passionate about.


    Have you continued your education after you graduated?

    I do a lot of reading to continue to build my knowledge base - both books and online blogs/magazines. There is no lack of information and resources out there to be discovered. Some are better than others, but there is always something to be learned from what you read. I also find that the best thing you can do is to keep building. Whatever your craft is, being young or new to the field means that you should always be creating. I strive to create as much as I can. It doesn’t have to be something large or groundbreaking, just something creative that gets my brain thinking.


    Want to learn more about Designation? Check out their School Page on Course Report or their website here!

  • $500 Discount to Designation

    Liz Eggleston9/15/2014

    Designation is a full-time, immersive design course in Chicago with the primary goal to turn you into a hireable candidate for innovative and tech-focused companies. For a limited time, the Course Report community will get $500 off tuition to Designation! 

    Continue Reading →
  • Q&A with Kevin Yun, founder of Designation

    Liz Eggleston7/12/2018

    Designation is a digital design-focused school in Chicago that helps students with a technical or design background make the shift to digital design jobs. We talk with founder Kevin Yun about the differences between Designation and other web-development bootcamps, the types of applicants they look for, and why it's important to learn digital design now. 

    Remember, the Course Report community is eligible for a $500 scholarship to Designation!


    Kevin, tell us about your background and how you got into this boot camp model of education.

    I’m a startup guy, but I didn’t really find my passion until I started doing design work for the startups I was working on. The startup world can be really scrappy, but you have to learn to do things quick and you have to learn a lot of things and wear lots of hats. That’s where most of my self-education and experience came from- just building products with friends and companies. I found that I was interested in design, and that’s when I saw the model for bootcamps coming up. Everyone’s focus seemed to be on programming, which design being treated to the side. There was like, five classes, part-time, but not a real focus on teaching digital design. I wanted to build a curriculum where it was full-exposure, where you’re not expected to be awesome at everything, but at least you would know the whole process. That’s why I started Designation.


    How did you learn front-end development?

    It took me a couple of years, here and there, of self-teaching and doing what needed to be done, but in the end, this is what I really like doing. Specifically, I like visual design, and going into a text editor to execute the design into code. Digital design is a large field, and there’s a tremendous amount of topics involved. The idea of Designation is really compressing all that knowledge and the insights from people with different experiences in design. Getting them in the same room for a really intense focus on ten weeks of design.


    How long has Designation been operating?

    It’s actually been a year now. We’ve had two part-time cohorts. But we just shifted into a full-time model a couple of months ago, and are about to launch our first class on April 21st.  This is also the first that we’re talking to hiring partners, the first time we’re purposefully taking action to help students get jobs. That’s really the main goal. Our team has doubled within these last two months. There’s a lot of things that need to be changed, revamped, upgraded, and executed on, so we’ve been pretty busy on our end. Adding the hiring partnerships initiative is pretty insane.


    How many people are working for Designation?

    We have a network of mentors, designers, TAs, and design instructors. Really, the core team is our four instructors. Our setup is that we have lectures at night, and then a daytime immersion portion where students work on projects, assignments, and apply the things they learn in lectures during the daytime. It’s work and effort, when it comes down to it. We expect people to take a self-directed approach; we’ll hold your hand, but this is technology. In five years everything will be different, so it’s really important that student be self-directed and be motivated by themselves to reach their goals.  


    Why is it important to learn front end design?

    Design has become really prominent, not just in terms of how things look, but the user experience and the research done behind building a product or service for a particular set of people that will use that. It’s not just, “Oh, let’s engineer something and push it out.” It starts with building personas, doing a lot of testing, iterating. Design is a large field, especially digital design- there’s everything from UX, front-end web development, and visual design. But really, the goal at Designation is to get students exposure to all the different types of design- we’re throwing a lot at our students, expecting them to put in the necessary work, follow the program and build an amazing portfolio by the end of the program.  


    Do students need to have the Adobe Suite to start the course?

    We require all students to come in with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop already installed. This is for the prep work involved, and of course, for the main program.  


    What’s the cohort size that you’re trying to stick to for this first full-time immersive program?

    We’re looking anywhere between 18-24, depending on how we build out our space. We have a dedicated space now at 1440 N. Dayton St. in Chicago. The location is actually right off the red line, about a three-minute walk. The red line is one of five lines in the country that never stops running.  


    What are you looking for in potential students? And how many applicants and what kind of applicants are you seeing for this next program?

    This whole week was jam-packed with interviews, as we’re trying to narrow it down for the next class. What we’re really looking for in candidates is a technical or design background. So what that means is that maybe you have experience in back-end or front-end coding, knowing syntax, and semantics of code, or you are familiar with the language of code. We’re pretty serious about our designers learning to code- we believe everybody should learn to code. Our applicant pool has actually been quite strong, and I’ve been pretty impressed by the people we’re taking in. We’re taking in people who have already held UX/UI design positions. Most of them are not junior level- we look for at least, mid to senior level people who want a change in their careers, who do have some experience in design, whether it is Photoshop, Illustrator, or UX. We don’t like to think that we teach people, or we’re a school, as much as we are a group of designers that are showing you our practice.

    So, it’s really that we’re looking for applicants that are already experienced. We’ll accept some beginners if they have a really compelling application or interview we need people who can dedicate an intense ten weeks of their life, and have some sort of experience. This is why there’s prep work involved. We want everyone to be on the same page before coming to class, whether they’re advanced or beginners- at least they’ll all have gone through the same topics before entering.

    I read on your blog that you have lowered tuition. What was the motivation there, and are you seeing more applicants, less applicants, people from different backgrounds that are now able to apply, or are you going to see any money on 2,000?

    The course is really $1,000- if your goal is to get a job after the program and you take a job with one of our hiring partners, we’ll give you a $1000 tuition refund. When we went full-time, the expenses just skyrocketed through the roof. Between building a bigger team, handling admissions, hiring partners, logistics, internal marketing, and everything to make students come in and have a seamless experience. That’s been a full time, day in and day out job just for our internal team. But we lowered the tuition because we believe in the long term vision, which is to place people into design jobs. That’s something our partners are totally in line with. Our business, and the people and services we work for now- our whole team is totally in right now. And I would say that is the most important thing. We have a 100 percent dedicated team to help place our students in jobs.


    Do you all have any outside funding?

    My mentality has always been to just be bootstrapped. We are closing a couple of very small rounds from friends and family now- anywhere between 5K and 15K investments, just so we can sustain in the short term and focus on the long term.


    It’s pretty clear that there is a disparity between men and women in the web development part of the tech world. Women are underrepresented, and minorities are even more underrepresented. Have you noticed, in your experience, that there is the same sort of disparity between men and women in the design world?

    If you’re talking programming and computer science, I would definitely say there is a huge disparity. I was a student at the University of Illinois at Champaign, and their computer science program is pretty strong, so I hung around that building a lot, and you could definitely see the ratio. But if you’re talking in terms of creatives and designers, 60 percent of our past students have been female, 40 percent male.  Our field is very creative, it is process driven. So I think that’s where it differentiates us. I think the overlap is where you see the coding aspect. I would say our classes don’t have that problem.  It might actually be the opposite problem.  


    You seem to really emphasize the hiring aspect of Designation. Can you explain the relationships that you have with hiring partners?

    We’ve been working on it for a couple weeks now, and it started with some companies reaching out and asking to talk to our students. And some of our students were asking us to help them polish up their portfolios. So we took those hints and we realized that we should just go the whole stretch. On top of that, we’ve been talking to companies that are anywhere from 100 person, design driven start-ups, start-ups that are just starting out, some that are VC funded- that need the talent to expedite their growth, and that can pay the commission for that talent. Just to give you a little scope, there’s 30,000 UX jobs open, and this is according to, and there’s only 3,000 professionals that can fill up those UX positions. And this is just for user experience design. What we’re trying to do is get designers that are 20 percent there, and get them to an 80-100% level, a point where they can work with these companies. We’re located in the same building as one of the leading UX agencies in the Midwest. Employers don’t care about your background if you came from a boot camp, or whatever else. It’s really, “Can you show us your portfolio? Can you explain your work? Are you a cool person that we could work with on a day to day basis?“  


    If a student takes a job with one of your hiring partners, then they get a thousand dollar refund, right?

    We like to think of it as splitting half the tuition. Our business relies on the tail end, where we place designers into companies.


    If that happens, is Designation also taking a recruiting fee, or a hiring fee, from the company?

    Exactly. That’s how we’re going to pay the bills. $2000 is a crazy low tuition. We just want to work with awesome people- having a large financial barrier to entry didn’t make sense.


    What is a design job interview like? How do you help your students train for those interviews?

    Digital design falls into three main categories, and even now terminology is up in the air- it’s a moving industry. We cover UX, which is a lot of research. It’s the framework of building a product for a special type of person or people. Then there’s visual design where you see colors and layouts come into play.  And there’s the coding aspect where we expect people to execute their design work in the language of HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Of course, every company has different needs when it comes to design. The latter half of the program is where we emphasize polishing your portfolio and interview skills, soft skills development, and working on real design projects from real companies. Our instruction team has an immense variety of backgrounds, from agencies to startups, and during the program you'll find the type of design work you want to get into, and we'll help you pursue that path.


    Tell us about the tech scene, especially as it relates to design, in Chicago.

    I’m glad we started in Chicago, just because things are way too expensive in San Francisco and New York.  In terms of jobs, it’s just a rising industry in general. As technology gets less and less complex, as people build more products and develop and push and deploy apps, and work in the data, design is tremendously important in terms of not making crappy products- that means a good user experience.


    The California regulatory agency story that came out a few weeks ago has gotten a lot of press. Has it given you all any pressure to become accredited or is that something that’s on your radar at all?

    The main reason for that regulation is to keep out the fraud. For example, there’s been thirty boot camps that have just popped up for development and programming across the nation. Whether they’re good, bad, credible, there’ve been more than thirty that have popped out in the last year. In terms of quality and promises and guarantees, the state needs to protect students somehow, so we’re in support of it.  We’re in talks with the state department of Illinois, we’re getting our documents organized, which puts good pressure on us in terms of organizational structure, academic calendar, etc.


    Kevin, are there any plans to expand into other courses, other locations, in the future?

    Our goal right now is 100 percent placement, nothing else. That’s our main focus. Everything we do is revolving around that fact.