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Designation

Chicago, Online

Designation

Avg Rating:4.8 ( 115 reviews )

Designation is a 24-week program specializing in the fields of UX and UI design with the primary goal to turn you into a hireable candidate for innovative and tech-focused companies. Designation offers a hybrid of both online education and in-person immersion in Chicago. Throughout the 24 weeks of the program, students are treated to guest speakers, sponsored workshops, and lab sessions. While there is no formal grading, students are asked to create portfolio deliverables and to actively document their design process for the purpose of finding a job after graduation. No prior experience is required, though top applicants should be prepared to work a minimum of 60 hours per week during the 12 weeks of the in-person phase. Designation is looking for highly motivated individuals who demonstrate maturity, persistence in problem-solving and show a genuine interest in design. 

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  • Design Essentials (Online, Part-time, begins every 6-8 weeks)

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    Digital Marketing, Design, Product Management, Mobile, User Experience Design
    In PersonPart Time20 Hours/week5 Weeks
    Start Date Rolling Start Date
    Cost$1,000
    Class sizeN/A
    LocationOnline
    Learn the essence of user experience (UX), user interface (UI), interaction design (IxD) and more over six weeks of part-time learning that covers the core skills of design and product development. Join a small class of motivated people to learn from our special team of instructors and mentors. If you have any questions, or to discuss the course and whether it's right for you, email will@designation.io.
    Financing
    Deposit$1000
    Financing
    Skills Fund
    Getting in
    Minimum Skill LevelBeginner
    Placement TestNo
    InterviewNo
  • UI Design Intensive (begins every 6-8 weeks)

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    Start Date Rolling Start Date
    Cost$15,800
    Class sizeN/A
    LocationChicago
    The tools of the UI designer are many, and in this phase, you'll work with all of them. Learn about layouts, identity, preparing assets and interpreting UX research documents to make killer designs that are not only beautiful, but also intuitive and easy to use. If you have any questions, or to discuss the course and whether it's right for you, email will@designation.io.
    Financing
    DepositN/A
    Financing
    Climb, Pave, Skill Fund
    Getting in
    Minimum Skill LevelDesign Essentials is a required pre-requisite for this course for students without prior professional design experience.
    Placement TestNo
    InterviewYes
  • UX Design Intensive (begins every 6-8 weeks)

    Apply
    Digital Marketing, Design, Product Management, Mobile, User Experience Design
    In PersonFull Time70 Hours/week17 Weeks
    Start Date None scheduled
    Cost$15,800
    Class size24
    LocationChicago
    Take a deep dive in to the strategy and structure behind the creation of digital products. Learn how to identify who your users are, and how to build products that solve a problem. then conduct usability testing to ensure what you built is both efficient and effective. If you have any questions, or to discuss the course and whether it's right for you, email will@designation.io.
    Financing
    DepositN/A
    Financing
    Climb, Pave, Skill Fund
    Getting in
    Minimum Skill LevelDesign Essentials is a required pre-requisite for this course for students without prior professional design experience.
    Placement TestNo
    InterviewYes
  • Roslynn Tellvik  User Photo
    Roslynn Tellvik • Product Designer • Graduate Verified via LinkedIn
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    Changing careers wasn’t easy. But with DESIGNATION on my side I made it happen. I’m now a Product Designer for a startup. I write research plans, conduct interviews and user tests, design new flows, iterate on the UI of the product, and collaborate with every team in our company. In everything I do I advocate for the experience of our users. I love my work. And I look forward to a long career in a creative industry with expanding opportunities.

    My take on selecting a bootcamp is that there are two very important questions to answer for yourself first:

    1. Why do I want to become a UX/UI designer? If you've got a clear and compelling why it makes it easier to focus on the challenges of actually becoming a designer.

    2. Why do I want to attend a bootcamp? You could also do self-study or an accredited degree program. 

    For me, a bootcamp was the only option. I learn by doing, especially with others and in a context where my work matters. Also, immersion learning is proven to accelerate knowledge integration and I had the privilege of time to go that route. If this sounds appealing to you, rest assured that DESIGNATION is designed to be both immersive and relevant.

    Your cohort mates are counting on you to show up and do your best everyday. Your mentors and instructors are always pushing you to grow and expand beyond your comfort zone. Your clients need you to translate their hard work and business vision into a digital experience that will solve a problem for real people.

    Career assistance

    It goes without saying that the responsibility for finding and getting a job will fall on your shoulders. But DESIGNATION offers an outstanding career phase that prepares you for that intimidating reality. Hiring managers will take a chance on a career changer, but only if there's something solid to back up your enthusiasm. The client projects in your portfolio will open that door and then you just have to hustle to show that you've got the skills to contribute right away. And thanks to DESIGNATION you will.

    Instruction

    I loved my instructors and art director. They shared a ton of knowledge, but most importantly they asked me the hard questions and trusted me to come up with answers. That's how I learned to trust myself and the design process.

    Being a designer is rad.

    DESIGNATION zooms past and every instructor, guest speaker, company tour, and team project will soon be in the rear view. What you learned from the time you spent with them–about yourself, about design, about being a professional in this industry–those are the things that stay with you.

    It’s not paradise. At times I felt frustrated, disillusioned, insecure, stressed, and exhausted. But I had many more moments of deep absorption, inspiration, amazement, pride, and gratitude.

    I knew why I showed up each day. And I gave it my all.

    If you can do that, DESIGNATION will provide the heat you need to forge a real skillset in UX/UI design. Thanks DESIGNATION!

  • Melvin  User Photo
    Melvin • Graduate Verified via LinkedIn
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    DESIGNATION was one of the toughest experiences I've ever had, but it changed my life! My cohort graduated in April and I plan to start my new job as a UX Designer on Sept. 18. If you have the drive, patience, and a ton of learning enthusiasm, DESIGNATION will help you on the path of diving in the UX/UI realm and starting a new career.
     
     
    The Plunge
     
    Before this life-altering phase, I dabbled in side tech projects (web design, automation systems) at a non-profit for a couple of years. One day, I decided it was time to try learning something that would help me shift to working in tech full-time. At first, I searched for Master’s degree programs but gained interest in UX/UI boot camps due to their immersive nature and success rates. I leaned toward Boston’s Startup Institute first but chose DESIGNATION for its program length, solid graduate stats, being in a more affordable city, and opportunities to work with real clients.
     
     
    Program Highlights

    DESIGNATION’s location at 1871 is invaluable! While here, you get a feel for the pulse of Chicago’s tech community and have chances to interact with brilliant people of various companies and disciplines. There are plenty of workspaces and resources to use here while knocking out 70+ hour workweeks with your teams, so take advantage!

    Canvas content for Design Essentials and Virtual Phase is good and curated for graduates to reference for future review. Instructors ensure content they deliver is as relevant to the times as they can, as the UX/UI world is ever-changing.
     
    My favorite part of the entire program was the client phase! During this part of the program (two 3-week design sprints) I worked with different teams to help people achieve business goals by solving design challenges. This phase helped me gain more confidence for speaking to my design decisions, gave me a clearer sense of systems/processes I may experience on an actual job, and challenged me to be more creative in my approaches to problem solving.
     
    The job career phase is swift and may make your fingers numb (you WILL type your case studies heart out!), but it will get your butt in gear for presenting yourself as a strong candidate for UX/UI jobs. Mike is an expert at helping kick start design careers, so roll up your sleeves, embrace his years of design industry knowledge, take honest feedback with grace, and pour through his career resources to set yourself up for better chances of finding what you want.
     
    Friendships and alliances you build here are parts of your foundation for success. A wise person told me the design community is small, so be nice, open yourself to have new conversations, and learn new things from others. Embrace the practice of receiving actionable feedback and return it.
     
     
    Areas for Improvement
     
    If possible, it would be great if DESIGNATION was able to develop client phase projects placing UX and UI cohort members in mixed teams to simulate more of a real working experience. Although our entire cohort was in the same room for all in-person phases, at times it seemed as if we were stuck on our discipline islands until reaching Friday’s creative cool downs and design challenges. I know scheduling has lot to do with setting up such a collaboration, but it would be great to test it out if possible.
     
     
    In the End
     
    Think of DESIGNATION as mental and experiential armor for the war of finding UX/UI jobs. You have a group of exceptional people who go to great lengths to help you wield design tools, practice strategies, and develop your design thinking process to be the best candidate for a new career. Yet, there is no hand-holding. The grind rests on you during and after the program to get the job you want. Some days will be full of wins and some will cause you to question if you’re even cut out for this stuff. Stay on top of your tasks, balance your time, finish your portfolio early, reach out to your design community, and DON’T give up! You will grow as a designer and surprise yourself in more ways than one if you put in the work. Thank you, DESIGNATION!
  • Matt M.  User Photo
    Matt M. • UX Designer • Graduate Verified via LinkedIn
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    My Background:

    Before I attended DESIGNATION, a lot of my design skills were self-taught. I signed up for numerous classes on design at Udemy and Coursera, and I even took a 6 month online UX immersive course at CareerFoundry. Although I was able to utilize those new skills at work, I felt that I was nowhere near prepared to apply it in a fast paced and demanding setting. I needed more experience collaborating, and I wanted to solve more complex problems, so that’s when I started to look into bootcamps. 

    Why I Chose DESIGNATION:

    I wanted to transition into a career in UX, so I spent about a month studying for the GRE to get a Master's in HCI. But I decided that I didn't want to spend another two years in school. I wanted to work in the field ASAP, so my brother suggested I try out bootcamps. That's how I stumbled upon General Assembly and DESIGNATION. I took my time comparing the two. I researched every course review sites, read blog posts by alumni, I attended a two day UX workshop at GA, and I also visited DESIGNATION’s space at 1871. It was that visit that sold me on the program. I was already leaning towards DESIGNATION because of the opportunity to get to work with two startups, but after seeing the space where I’d basically live in for 70+ hours a week (1871/Merchandise Mart), I knew that DESIGNATION was the program I wanted to enroll in. The energy in the place was intoxicating. It also felt like a space that would be more conducive to creativity. 

    Instructors:

    Overall, I think that the instructors were knowledgeable and passionate about design. For the first two phases you're treated like students, so the feedback is designed to help you grow. When you enter the in-person phase, you're treated like designers in an agency. So the instructors become creative directors who are their to guide you rather than teach you. I liked all my instructors, some more than others. I feel like they're able to push you to become better designers by allowing you to make your own decisions. They're always accessible whenever we needed help, though. In every phase of the program, I felt like that I, or my team, could schedule time to speak with them. Also, you can always reach out to them via slack, and they’ll get back to you in 20 minutes or less.

    Curriculum:

    For the most part, I think that their curriculum was successful in developing us as designers. We were given so much resources at every module that we had to go through in the first two phases. Also, our instructors provided additional articles, videos, etc. if you reach out to them about a specific topic that interests you. Although some of the resources they gave us were a little outdated, it’s to be expected since technology is so fast paced. 

    Some things that I didn’t like about the curriculum were how most of our quizzes weren’t graded. I think that it would’ve been a great way to see who was actually learning and doing their part. It could’ve weeded out some people who would later on become a burden on their team because they didn’t even know some of the basics. The other aspect of their curriculum that I wasn’t a fan of was the “creative cool downs” we had every Friday. I would’ve rather done something more productive with my time. What’s great about DESIGNATION, though, is that their program goes through constant iterations. A lot of us expressed how we weren’t fond of the creative cool downs, so for later cohorts they changed it to “design challenges.” 

    Career Assistance:

    The Community Director, Mike, was an invaluable resource during the career phase and post graduation. The one constant that you’ll read about him is that he seems really unapproachable, but that’s so far from the truth. When I was in the program, and I had a question, I’d ask him and he’d always have time to answer it. Also, after graduation, I constantly messaged him on slack with questions regarding my portfolio/jobs, and he was always there. If you do decide to do the program, just remember that Mike is there to help you. He may be inaccessible at times due to prior commitments, but he’ll always get back to you. And no matter how tough he may look, he genuinely wants you to succeed.

    The second reason why the career assistance was great was because of the wide network of alumni that they have. A lot of them are willing to take time out of their schedules to help you out or mentor you. I’ve had three mentors from the program who have helped me grow. One of them, I just reached out after she gave a talk. 

    Overall:

    It’s important to note that attending a bootcamp like DESIGNATION doesn’t guarantee that you’ll either get a job or become a skilled designer after 6 months. You still have to put in the work, and then some. It’s far from easy. In fact, it’s been one of the most challenging experiences in my life. There were multiple weeks where I stayed at 1871 until midnight, or later, working on my portfolio or a deliverable. When it ended, I was physically and mentally drained. Would I do it all over again? Absolutely. From the mind-numbingly difficult challenges that my team and I had to solve for the startups we worked with, to the amazing people I met and became fast friends with, to learning what my process, strengths, and values as a designer were, it was all worth it. 

  • Abbigail  User Photo
    Abbigail • UX Designer • Graduate Verified via LinkedIn
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    Let me start by saying a little about my background.

    I worked in PR agencies for 3 or so years then decided to switch into something more creative. I looked into GA and even went through their application process, but it ultimately wasn't for me. DESIGNATION sold me on the client-facing projects that they had to offer as well as the extended length of the program. The 94% job-success rate also was in the 'pro' column. 

    Now that you know what led to my decision, here's how that decision panned out. 

    INSTRUCTORS (4 stars): 
    The staff help you recognize different approaches to a problem, not necessarily give you direction. I know some people have a hard time with not getting a direct answer. But the more you figure out your process, the less you need a definite answer. 

    The first in-person phase (Immersion) felt light on instruction. After talking with other cohorts and with the staff, I've learned that this immersion phase is meant to be more exploratory so you define your own process. It also didn't help that our part-time UX instructor was mentally checked out even when she was there. They have since hired a full-time UX/UI creative director who I can attest has a vast amount of experience. 

    The client portion - the reason that I chose DESIGNATION - definitely proved to be the most beneficial. We were given 2 client projects to do in 3-week sprints, solving real world problems. And each week, we sat down with our clients to talk about our process and our design decisions based on user research. I learn by doing and this gave me that context of working with clients as a UX design consultant. Additionally, my creative director pushed me to think in terms of different use cases, levels of knowledge, even accessibility. She helped me become more strategic with my curiosity. 

    CURRICULUM (4 stars): 
    I mentioned before that the program is structured to give you the tools and the projects encourage the reps. I do believe there could have been more opportunities to do workshops with Axure and Sketch during the in-person portion. In hindsight, I could have done more during the virtual phases, but I still would have liked more opportunities to practice the different dynamic panels and variables in Axure specifically.  

    JOB ASSISTANCE (5 stars): 
    Mike is one of the greatest assets DESIGNATION has to offer. He's thoroughly connected in the design industry in Chicago and across the globe. He's also been in the business for years, so he knows his shit. When he gives feedback, it's never fluff. It's direct and actionable.

    His career phase decks are FILLED with invaluable resources and data. And you always have access to them!

    I know some people think he's intimidating and unapproachable. I sort of see why. He's knowledgeable and very well connected and he does have this system of 5-then-me. But honestly, just because he's intimidating, doesn't mean he's unapproachable. If you don't approach him for feedback or help, that's on you. He helps those who want to be helped. And the 5-then-me rule is so he can be the most value to people instead of just giving you answers that you could have Googled. 

    OVERALL EXPERIENCE (5 stars): 
    As you can see from the variety of other reviews, you reap what you sow at DESIGNATION and my experience is no different. I wanted to soak up as much as possible and because of that, I got a lot in return. The program is about exposing you to design thinking and showing you the tools that help people become successful. It's YOUR job to put in the work, do the reps and become the designer that YOU want to be. 

    One thing I got out of it that I didn't anticipate was such strong friendships. I knew I'd make connections in the field, but I didn't know I'd develop such strong relationships with my fellow designers. I'm amazed at the level of support I still get from my cohort/friends.

    While this program does equip you with the knowledge and tools to become a UX or UI designer, you don't just get a job right afterward. You still have to make a portfolio, network and HUSTLE. But after going through the program, I definitely feel equiped and confident as I start my career as a UX/IxD Designer. DESIGNATION is a great start for those looking to transition into a new career within UX or UI.

  • Ryan  User Photo
    Ryan • UX Designer • Graduate Verified via LinkedIn
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    My Background:
    I stumbled across this program after my previous industry had crashed and left me with little opportunity. I was forced to pivot and discovered UX design when researching new careers. It sounded awesome! But I had zero experience in design and programming. I also had zero connections in tech to reach out to for advice. A degree in psychology was my closest applicable experience.


    Why DESIGNATION:

    At the time, DESIGNATION touted a 94% post-grad employment rate. Since employment was the goal, I put faith in their message and enrolled.


    The Good:
    -1871. It was great to be completely surrounded in the tech world. 1871 is full of super motivated people and is very inspiring to improve oneself. 

    -Intensity. You will improve greatly. You are forced to work under intense time constraints as you learn new software, design methods, and how to work in a team (surprisingly difficult in close quarters and long hours). The intensity could be too much for some. I have seen multiple people break down and cry, but hey, you do learn something. 

    -Know-how. You can learn 95% of it online on your own, but some stuff you just need to experience. Mostly working with others and how to communicate design effectively. You will develop thick skin :)

    -Guidance. It was most helpful in showing me the path to get that first job. Stuff like what recruiters look for in a portfolio. 


    The Bad:
    -Some instructors. They had egos and some drama would come from that. They could come off as kind of pretentious. My favorite faculty member by far is Mike, who works to connect the students with the real world. He is there because he's truly passionate about helping people succeed in design. 

    -Starts off slow. The earlier curriculum can be too novice, but they want to get everyone up to speed. It is a good review of the basics, but those who already have experience might find it mundane.

    -Don’t expect a job. You are competing for jobs with your cohort, the cohort before you, and the cohort after you. I knew awesome people who are still having trouble getting work. Don’t rely on this program to give you anything. The connections I made here did NOT help me get any of the design jobs I’ve held. You still need to grind on your own to make an awesome portfolio and nail those interviews. 

    Overview:
    This program is just one way to start. If you want to work with awesome people in a supportive environment, this could be for you. You will still need to put in the work. Just know that you can’t become a pro designer with one course. This is one method of learning what is needed to get you an entry-level position.

  • Tom • UI/UX Designer
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    Designation was very much like what I’ve read about the archetype of the hero’s journey in the works of Joseph Campbell. Designation was a departure from the ordinary and a chance to learn something new. There were obstacles to leverage and overcome—and new people along the way that taught me something. When finished, I had grown considerably by the experience.

    I transformed from an average graphic designer to a successful and competent UI designer with some UX chops. I learned to use new software meant for building interfaces—but more importantly, I developed a process to better solve problems.

    I met many new people while in the program. There was a shared struggle I felt going through the program that created a strong sense of community. I still keep in contact with many Designation grads and when I meet someone who also went through the program there is an immediate connection.

    The online portion of the program did a nice job of exposing me to what goes into UI/UX. I learned more about the tools, concepts, design history, methods like user research and how to distill that information down into something useful.

    The most value came to me in the in-person phase. I was in a true design environment with a clear structure that contained creative directors, clients, and fellow designers. I built confidence and refined my skills.

    Designation stressed throughout the entire program is no one is a finished product at the conclusion of the program—we all need to continue our evolution as designers in the years to come. However, the skills coming out of the program are expansive enough to find a new gig.

    I highly recommend Designation to anyone who has an interest in design and wants to start a new career. Like design itself, no program is perfect but the staff at Designation continually look to make improvements and take feedback to heart.

    If you’re on the edge of taking the leap to do a program like this, I say embark on the journey.

     
  • MacKenzie Hanaman • Product Manager | UX Designer • Student
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    There's no doubt, Designation was  the single best design program I've been through. No program is perfect, and I'd like to see minor changes, but if you can stand to give up the better part of your time for six months, it will absolutely teach you how to critically think about design and prepare you for design roles in a digital economy. 

    My cohort was great and supportive, which was also key to being successful and not something that other programs I've been through utilized as a means of shaping the minds of participants. I'm closer to some people from my cohort than people who have been in my life for years. It's a tough experience that requires you all to get to know each other's personalities, and even histories, it's a bonding experience and it's pretty great.

    Coming out of Designation, there has been a great surplus of career opportunities compared to what I was drumming up before hand. My life as a designer is markedly different. It's not always the case that hard work gets you results, but there is a definite correlation between how much work you put into your case studies after you're done and what work you will find after Designation. 

    THAT BEING SAID, in terms of career support, in the latter half of 2018, I wanted to beat my head in every time I saw a post asking for 3 - 5 years experience for whatever position. It would be great if there was more support for those of us trying to get that first job. So that may mean having an entry level jobs channel in slack, or having someone at Designation organize an entry level hunters community group. Obviously Designation doesn't control the availability of entry level jobs, but your older alums need less support than your most recent one's even if that's an active conversation. 

    Even in it's current state, don't walk away from this review thinking that Designation leaves you high and dry. They provide you with 3 weeks of career phase, which helps you write a case study and teaches you about creating application materials (resume, etc.). You'll have access to a job opportunities channel for news about opportunities from all over. Your instructors and designer's in residence will critique your materials. And your career mentor should be there to set you up for successful strategies for applying to jobs and practicing interviews. 

    If I can sum this up, if you are interested in design and you want to be viable in the current digital economy, there's not much more to do than apply.

  • A stand-out program
    - 12/19/2018
    Josh Berman • UX Designer • Graduate
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    Overview
    I wasn’t doing the thing that I loved, but I didn’t know what that looked like yet—then I found UX. I didn’t want to spend 2 years getting a HCI degree, but I wanted a program long enough that I would have the time to flex my mental muscles. Designation was the longest bootcamp I could find, and on top of the duration I would cap the program off with live client work. I was sold.

    With Designation’s guidance and support, I transformed myself over 6 months into the passionate designer I knew I could be. I think this is an important point, while Designation provides all the resources and guidance that you need to be a designer, in the end you need to put in the work. The program is long and grueling, but if you approach it with passion and rigor you will leave as a well-rounded design professional. You will start from the bare basics and cap your time off working in close-knit teams at a breakneck pace to create exceptional user-centered experiences for live clients. Basically, you will leave a professional.

    My Experience
    I had a wonderful experience. This program is so far from a walk in the park, but they call it a bootcamp for a reason. From the very beginning I felt the support of instructors and mentors. The first 3 months of virtual work is a huge growth period. This is where you build the skills you’ll need for in-person.

    Once you get to the office, the dynamic totally shifts and you’re engaged in teamwork and professional level design projects day-in day-out. Here, you solidify your skills and build your design portfolio. The people are diverse, curious, passionate, and engaged and the work is both difficult and enriching.

    The career section is a wild change of pace. Your work is solo and you are responsible for self-sufficiency. You are given access to an amazing wealth of resources, but here is where the dynamic of accountability shifts. You no longer have a team where each person is helping to keep the entire team accountable, you have to be accountable to yourself. That said, you’re prepared at this point. You absolutely can leave with the professional materials you need to land a job, but many people do need a couple more weeks to clean up their portfolio work. 

    While overall my experience was excellent, I do have one piece of critique worth mentioning. Designation constantly iterates on their program based on internal feedback. There's no doubt that this yields many excellent benefits, but it's not always well communicated why the program changes. The program did change midway through my tenure and to be entirely honest, I was frustrated. But I trusted the program and I trusted the staff and here I am on the other end with a job in hand. 

    I do think the staff could have done a better job recognizing that all of us took a risk enrolling in Designation and taken a little more time to communicate the change with respect to that reality, but like I said I trusted the program and it worked out. It’s hard to argue with results.

    Speaking of which…

    Results
    I am a professional designer. I’m happy I took the risk to dive into this program and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to change careers in only 6 months. 

    Designation is well-known and respected in the Chicago design community. The program carries weight here for the quality of the designer they consistently create. Even if you choose to head elsewhere after the program is over, you will bring with you all the qualities and skills that helped designation grads earn their reputations in the first place.

    The most exceptional aspect of Designation is the community that they’ve built. The Designation community is strong and remarkably supportive, and it’s a huge benefit after you leave the program. That said, it’s also a resource if you’re curious about enrolling in the program. So, if you’re curious about Designation, reach out to an alum. I can’t speak for everyone, but I will anyways: We’re friendly people and happy to answer any questions you might have

  • Sarah Klimek • Jr. UX Designer • Graduate
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    Summary 
    Designation will give you the necessary tools to succeed as a UX Designer. Before Designation, I studied design in college and had marketing roles in the professional world. I wanted to change my career and become a UX Designer. I chose Designation because of their “learn by doing” concept. I thought it would be the best way to fully immerse myself in the UX/UI design process and build a portfolio for job interviews, which turned out to be true. I learned a lot fast. After six months, I walked out as a confident designer with an abundance of knowledge on UX/UI, stronger soft and hard skills, a solid portfolio, a great understanding of the industry, and even new friends. After about 3 months of actively applying, networking, interviewing, and reiterating on my portfolio, I landed a UX Designer position at an agency located in downtown Chicago.

    Takeaways 
    Those six months during the program consisted of a ton of hard work, dedication, and fun. If you are passionate about design and serious about transitioning into a career in UX/UI design then this program is for you. Here are my key takeaways:

    1. You'll learn SO much very fast. 
    2. You'll work nonstop long hours from the beginning of the program up until you receive a job. But, if you're passionate about design, it won't even feel like work. 
    3. The staff is super hardworking, supportive, and knows the industry very well. 
    4. Working with real clients is the best learning experience and essential when creating your portfolio. 
    5. You'll develop skills you never knew you had. 
    6. The alumni network and staff becomes an invaluable resource during and after Designation. 
    7. The program is not perfect, but they're willing to listen to feedback and improve. 
    8. The career phase prepares you very well in regards to interviewing, networking, and creating your portfolio so that you can land a job. The two weeks was more helpful than my portfolio center during college. 
    9. View the program as a stepping stone for landing a job. You'll have to work just as hard after the program ends and the job search is your responsibility, as it should be.

    Final thoughts 
    Designation was the best decision I ever made for my career. I'm finally in an industry that I'm truly passionate about and on a career path that is both challenging and exciting. At my current job, I feel confident as a designer and fully capable of the tasks that come my way. Of course, there's always so much more to learn in this fast-changing industry and that's part of the fun. The program's curriculum and experience is the reason why I'm a UX Designer today.

  • Michelle • Product Designer
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    Designation took me further in my career in a much shorter amount of time than any formal schooling I’ve had. I got a job immediately after graduation. It propelled from me from a dead-end job to a full-time product design role in a great company within 7 months.

    I did a ton of due diligence and research before committing to Designation. While Designation gives you the chance to work with real clients, what really hooked me was the close network of people posting jobs and giving design advice on Slack. Once you leave Designation, the community is still alive on Slack. You really will feel like part of a close-knit community.

    The 6 months is really what you make of it. If you want to push yourself to learn, do better and do more, it will be intense in a good way. If you want to sit back and do the bare minimum, you can get by with doing little work, but you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot.

     

    Pros:

    It will get you from Point A to Point B if you are passionate about design, willing to do the work, and push yourself to become a better designer.

    If you need organization and hand holding, this bootcamp is for you. Designation will keep you accountable 100% of the time. The instructors, DIRs, and your personal mentor are usually accessible and will help you if you ask.

    You will never feel like you are in this alone. Your peers and the whole Designation team are there nonstop from the time you start to the time you finish.

    The phases of the program were very well organized and transitioned you fluidly into the design process. 

    Mike is amazing and will push you to be a better designer and a better version of yourself.

    Most importantly, they helped me achieve my goal from Day 1: get full-time product design job at a great company.

     

    Cons:

    There was less of a focus on technical skills and more of a focus on soft skills. While I know that soft skills are important, Designation spent way too much time focusing on presentation skills and ignores other important skills like white board challenges, UI skills if you are UX (vice versa). Designation could have also done a better job introducing various prototyping tools and teaching the Adobe Creative Suite, etc. since many individuals came from non-design backgrounds. While you can learn these skills in your own time, time would have been better spent learning these tools rather than forcing us to prepare for constant presentations (I would say a good 2.5/7 days revolved around just presentations)

    The group design challenges are also a joke, and the whole exercise ends up focusing on who can get the most laughs out from the crowd. It will not prepare you for the individual design challenges or case studies you will face at actual interviews. Thankfully, I had done case studies when I interviewed for my previous jobs so I knew what to look for going into them.

     

    Overall, it was a great experience. Designation taught me to embrace ambiguity and be confident in myself as a designer. I love the design community that Designation has built and met so many different people from all walks of life with amazing backgrounds.

  • Dora Duo • Graduate
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    I joined DESIGNATION for a career change and it definitely helped me a lot. I learned most of the basic knowledge and methodologies of UI/UX design. I think the project-based classes were super helpful and got me a pretty solid portfolio to begin with. 

    Although, after job hunting and working as a product designer. I do have some suggestions for DESIGNATION:

    1. Try to blend UX and UI together. During my job hunting, I’ve seen a lot of jobs that require candidates to be able to conduct the design process from the concept to final product, especially when I search for product designer roles. I know DESIGNATION tried it before and it didn’t work out well. 
    2. Try to bring in some development-related knowledge into the program. My cohort didn’t teach us about handing off to the development team and it took me some time to figure it out myself. It would be really helpful if future cohorts have some knowledge about hand-offs and technical constraints. 
  • Hard work pays off
    - 6/21/2018
    Andy Cho • Experience Designer • Graduate
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    Before Designation, I graduated with a statistics degree and was working at an advertising agency doing data strategy work. While I enjoyed the work, I felt that I wasn’t quite creating products that were meaningful for people and I wasn’t being creatively challenged. I was doing design before as a side gig/hobby, and as I started to research product and UX design, I felt that it would be great opportunity to make a career transition. I looked at a slew of different programs, ranging from Master’s programs to bootcamps, but at the end of the day, I selected Designation (and I will tell you why in this review). Having now gone through Designation, I can say with full confidence that this was the best decision I made for my career as it not only equipped me with the necessary tools to succeed but gave me the confidence to step out into the workplace and call myself a designer.

    What I liked:
    Working with actual clients - This was the biggest reason why I opted into Designation and flew out to Chicago from California. The real-life client work gave me opportunities to deal with actual constraints and stakeholders, things that academic case studies wouldn’t be able to replicate. In addition to that, having actual client work on my portfolio proved to be invaluable in the job process as it gave significantly more depth to the projects over case study work.
    The staff - As we were taught to embrace empathy as designers, it was clearly evident that the staff at Designation embraced empathy in their practices as well. Throughout the entire program, they took the necessary steps to grow us into designers, providing valuable insight and constructive feedback. Shoutout to Megan and Dan for being amazing art directors that challenged me to think out of the box and embrace the ambiguity of design. 
    The cohort experience - Having solid teammates and a willing community was extremely helpful in my growth as a designer. The energy of having like-minded people desiring to grow was a huge motivator in keeping me optimistic and energized, especially on late nights working on problems statements.

    What I thought could be better:
    More opportunities to work both in UX and UI - The program locks you into either the UI track or the UX track. While I understand the intention of keeping students focused on one at a time, I do wish there were more opportunities to practice both. While job hunting, I there were many positions that required skills in both, so I did have to spend personal time outside of the program preparing my portfolio to reflect those skills.
    Raising the barrier to entry - While the virtual phase of the program did filter out individuals potentially not fit for the program, I did feel that there was a need to better screen candidates. With the majority of the program being spent in teams, your experience with the program is so reliant on having good teammates, and it was clear that teams with uncooperative and unwilling teammates suffered.  

    Final Thoughts
    Designation was a tough but extremely rewarding program. Don’t expect it to be a typical 10-6, but be ready and willing to invest large amounts of time and energy into the program. You get what you put in, and that really is up to you at the end of the day. 

Thanks!