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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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    Design, Digital Marketing, Product Management, User Experience Design, Mobile
    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
    Design, User Experience Design, Mobile, Digital Marketing, Product Management
    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
  • UX/UI Designer
    - 9/19/2017
    Tyler E • UX/UI Designer • Graduate
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    My exposure to DESIGNATION is unique from most. I had friends who went through DESIGNATION years before I did. I eventually went through myself as a UX Designer and earned a position working as a Designer-In-Residence for several months after I graduated from the program. I saw many different sides of the program and the people that make it up over a period of time. With those experiences and knowing so many people who participated, I can say with absolutely certainty that DESIGNATION works.

    I will start by saying it is NOT easy. You have to make sacrifices and truly dedicate yourself to learning a new craft. There is no hand holding involved. I have seen a number of people struggle through this program and not get their dollar's worth because they expected to be spoon fed solutions to problems. This is not a traditional educational setting and I think you have to understand that before you take the plunge. There is not really a lot of formal instruction. You are given tools to design, introduced to a supportive community of fellow alums/designers and challenged to figure out a lot for yourself. 

    DESIGNATION does an incredible job preparing Designers for their new careers. The last phase of the program is dedicated entirely to working on  your portfolio, resume, and preparing yourself for the job hunt. Making it to this point of the program is worth more than admission as the staff works endlessly to get you where you need to be if you're willing to put in the work. Like most things in life, you will get out of DESIGNATION what you put into it.

    9/10 - Would recommend

  • UX Researcher
    - 9/12/2017
    Ellie • UX Researcher • Graduate
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    DESIGNATION is a great experience, but it definitely isn't for everyone. It can be a huge help if you have the resources and want to transition careers, and even just the first phase is a great introduction to UX/UI if you're looking to learn more.

    If you do the full program though, you need to be prepared to put a lot of things on hold for about 4 months and work REALLY HARD. A lot of people come into the program and think they can treat it like college - you show up, you work hard for a while, have fun for a while. It's not that. It's a professional training program, and every instructor is your new boss. Make a great impression, work like hell, and they will support and boost you.

    I came into the program with several years of professional print design experience, which was definitely a huge help. I had plenty of cohort-mates who didn't have a design or design-adjacent background do a great job though, so don't let that dissuade you, just know that it will be that much more challenging. Anything you can do on your own to get some familiarity is great – look at resources on color, typography, hierarchy, that kind of thing, and start reading articles from UX/UI blogs and industry groups. 

    I chose DESIGNATION over General Assembly in part due to my background, and how much work I had put into becoming a professional print designer. In my opinion, you can't effectively help someone learn to be a professional, hireable designer of any kind in only 12 weeks. The length of DESIGNATION, and their recognition that having real-world client experience is crucial, both indicated to me that they are very serious about helping their designers effectively enter the workforce. I found that to be true, by and large, IF YOU PUT IN THE WORK. The instructors will do everything they can to help and support you, but at the end of the day how much you get out of it is on you. 

    I recently became salaried (from being on contract) with a good group of people, doing cool and collaborative work as a research/design hybrid, via a recommendation from DESIGNATION's career services. I might have been able to get here on my own, but it would've been incredibly difficult. DESIGNATION helped me get experience, meet the right people, and transition smoothly into an exciting new career.

    If you've looked at the program, it looks exciting to you, and you have the resources, it can be a fun, challenging, and rewarding program!
     

  • Noel Puno • UX Designer • Graduate
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    My Designation experience was the hardest and most rewarding experience of my life. I never thought in my wildest dreams I'd be able to call myself a true designer yet Designation helped me attain that title and much more. I viewed Designation similar to how I saw my own design experiences. They are evolving and can improve on certain things to become a stronger design program.  But overall, it brought out the best in me and pushed me to my limits. I worked 70 + hours a week and listened to the critiques and feedback for my  hard/soft skills to get better, as this helped my position in landing a design job for a startup company.   This was an opportunity for me to help all kinds of people in our forever-evolving world of technology and I'm grateful to have been a part of it.

    Things I loved
    1. The staff always helped me with questions about deliverables or career aspirations. More importantly, they challenged me to solve problems with design solutions supported by data.
     SPECIAL MENTIONS: Mike Joosse and Megan Mueller.
    2. I loved the resources given to me on Canvas. There are thousands of learning materials online but I loved how Designation was there to point me in a good direction.
    3. I made life-changing relationships in this place. The other people in your Cohort may be designers like you but don't think of them as strangers. They can be great people to talk to.
    4. The knowledge I've gained. When you go through this program, you learn about the design process and the tools necessary to create different things. Take advantage of that.

    Things That Can Improve
    1. I'd like to see more implementation of UX and UI groups. I feel mixing them together in some way could be beneficial to everyone involved, even potential clients.
    2. Keep a fair balance for working groups. I think a group of 4 is too difficult for some people since there are so many opinions in the air. There needs to be the right balance especially if these projects run for only a few weeks.
    3. I think improved communication regarding the "best way" to do certain things is important. It's true how we as designers need to think for ourselves and figure out our own approaches to different problems. But in some cases, Designation is the subject matter expert so just pointing us in one direction can be appropriate at times.

    Overall, it was a humbling and memorable time for me at Designation. The experience rejuvenated not only my career but in a lot of ways, my life in general.

  • Kelsey • UX Designer • Graduate
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    I once came to this website in your shoes, wondering if this program was worth thousands of dollars and 4 months of my life. I was suspicious of the positive reviews, to say the least. I was up the night after submitting the tuition fee, wondering if I was making a terrible mistake. 

    But I was in a borderline crisis because I’d been applying for job after job and getting nothing. I was educated and eager, but I didn’t have any relevant experience. 

    Now, almost a year later, I’ve completed nearly two months at my new job. I work at a downtown agency with a hip, collaborative office. I get to do interesting work I enjoy and I like my coworkers. And I can wear jeans to work. 

    It sounds too perfect to be real, and I still can’t believe it. It sounds super cheesy, but I believe going to Designation was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. They did far more for preparing me for the job search than my four-year college did.

    No, the program wasn’t perfect, but everyone there cared about the success of the students and they are working to improve. There were actually quite a few times I was frustrated but I gave them five stars, because in the end, it all worked out.  

    Like the other reviews here say, we work long hours, and you have to be ready to put the rest of your life on hold for a few months. But if you’re serious about getting into digital design but you aren’t sure where to start, I highly recommend this program.

  • James N • Digital Designer • Graduate
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    Overview:

    DESIGNATION helped me achieve my career goals. Through the experience, I built the skills necessary to land a great job in UX design and significantly increase my salary. It should be noted, however, that DESIGNATION was only one piece of this equation. It also took my other work experiences, tremendous hard work, and self-motivation to reach my goals.

    If you are really interested in becoming a practicing experience design professional, have some previous work experiences, and are willing to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gain, this program is for you.

    Pros:

    • DESIGNATION does a great job of teaching an industry standard design process that becomes second nature after practicing it five times (two online mock projects, one in-person mock project, and two in-person client projects). I felt very confident talking about my design process during interviews after graduation.
    • The program provides the opportunity to work directly with clients. This is definitely a plus especially for people interested in doing freelance work or working for an agency or consultancy. This helped me develop client interaction skills that I could speak to during interviews.
    • I thought the Creative Directors did an awesome job answering my questions and providing solid feedback and guidance when needed. The career advisor was also incredibly knowledgeable and gave spot on resume and portfolio feedback. He was a great resource in my job search as well.
    • Personally, I met some amazing people in this program who are now good friends of mine. There is also an extensive network and community of alums who serve as a resource during and after the program.

     Cons:

    • There is a low barrier of entry. Graduate programs require GRE scores, a portfolio, and a college degree and transcript to be accepted. DESIGNATION doesn’t require any of these. You might be put on a team of great designers or you might not.
    • The career phase is only two weeks, which isn’t enough to really learn the nuances of the industry. I did most of my learning through formal and informal interviews with various companies.
    • Most companies use Agile methods for product development. While you learn the basics of this in theory and work in sprint cycles at DESIGNATION, you do not get the opportunity to work with developers on a cross-functional, Agile team.
    • DESIGNATION recently split the program where students choose a focus, either UX or UI, but there are still plenty of UX/UI hybrid positions in the industry.

    Overall, this program was perfect for me and my needs, and I would absolutely do it all over again.

     
  • UX Designer
    - 5/31/2017
    Caylie R. • UX Designer • Graduate
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    I started my career in IT recruiting/account management and always felt that something was missing. Being creative! I worked on placing UI/UX designers and decided that I wanted to make a career shift into design. I definitely did my research on bootcamps. I met with people who had gone through different bootcamps and I heard the best reviews on DESIGNATION.

    DESIGNATION is a great investment if you know UX/UI design is something that you're interested in. It seems like the industry is always changing but DESIGNATION seemed to be up to date with all of the tools and processes they tell you to use. It's also great that you get to work with ACTUAL CLIENTS which I stressed a ton in my interviews. The tight timelines and actual client work give you a taste of the real world and future employers were always impressed when I told them how much I got done at DESIGNATION in so little time. 

    While it is a ton of hours per week, I never felt it was neccessary to stay until all hours of the night. If you and your team work efficiently then there should be no reason why you can't get your work done within the designated hours. 

    Career Phase: I cannot stress enough how crucial it was that I got my portfolio done in the two weeks we were given. Stay focused during this time.. if you have to be at 1871, use your time wisely. I had my portfolio up the Monday after my cohort graduated and a month and half later I am employed at one of my target companies!

    You get what you put into it but I would say that overall, my time at DESIGNATION was a positive one. I'm so glad I made the career switch and got the real client experience. It helps a ton!

  • Great Program
    - 5/16/2017
    Scott Trebes • Graduate
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    I am someone who was employed at a company for 18 years and then let go due to a reorg. I looked for a job, went on interviews, but found nothing. Then I throught of going through a boot camp. I first went to General Assembly for Front End Development, but then found out that it wasn't for me. So then I went to DESIGNATION, because a former co-worker recommended it. With a design background I found Design Essentials relatively easy. But when I got into virtual then it started to get a little harder (I was learning more). What I liked the most was Immersive and Client Phase. I learned how to think more critically about my work and how to explain my design decisions. I also learned how to work fast, you have no choice. I finished with a few good portfolio pieces. The Career Phase was a good way to learn more about how to professionally present your work. I wish Career Phase was at least a week longer to really get all my case studies done (I am a slow writer). Overall, the course is good and the faculty really want you to succeed and they are there if you choose to use them.

  • Great Experience!
    - 4/29/2017
    James • UX Designer • Graduate
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    I agree with pretty much everything that has been said in the other reviews. So for those still unclear about how Designation stacks up against other programs for UX and UI design, there are a few things which I think make Designation a unique, and ultimately worthwhile experience:

    The Community: When you join Designation, you’re not just joining a single cohort; You get access to a community of incredibly talented and enthusiastic designers (graduates, instructors, mentors), all of whom stay active and participate in discussions, events, and mentorship opportunities over the Designation Slack channel. Everyone is excited about design and they all (especially the instructors) have a vested interest in helping each other succeed. The career advice and mentorship program in particular goes way beyond anything I ever experienced in my undergraduate or graduate education.

    Client Phase: I doubt that other immersive programs for UX design, or even graduate level HCI programs, have a comparable structure for gaining real-world experience. There is definitely a utility to working on imaginary projects, but at certain point, if you want to be competitive in the market, you have to gain real-world experience. Not all of the clients have well-developed ideas, but that is part of the challenge, and ultimately what makes this part of the program so important. 

    Iteration: Designation is constantly changing (maybe less so now than in the early years), and some might find this annoying. Personally, I really appreciated the fact that they are constantly tweaking the program. They practice what they preach. And apart from the fact that this constant iteration has improved the program over time, it helps you think more critically about the material.

    Overall, this was a great experience, and if you're willing to put in the work, Designation is a good choice.

  • Siri • UX Designer • Graduate
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    You will hear it over and over, but, trust the process. Designation gives you space and the tools to learn about UX and UI design in order to kick start a career in UX/UI design. But, you can't just sit back and enjoy the ride. The knowledge and skills won't come if you aren't willing to work hard and be proactive about your learning and your future career. Coming from marketing, graphic design, and sales, I could have gradually worked toward a career change, but it would have taken me years and a lot of luck. This bootcamp allowed me to make that change in just 6 months. 

    I chose Designation because of the Client Phase - you get to work with real clients to solve real problems that you can use in your portfolio. This gives you a leg up on your competition when you start applying to jobs because you can talk about real work experience instead of just lab work.

    The career phase was the most important phase, in my opinion. Two weeks devoted to writing and thinking and talking about the work you have done over the last 22 weeks in preparation for applying to jobs when the program is complete. 

    I learned so much about myself and my working style in addition to a new way of thinking about and approaching human-centered design.

    Instructors:
    • The group of instructors really care about your learning and want to see you succeed. They work hard to give you all the tools you need to strategically accomplish each step of the program.
    • Unfortunately, I felt that some of the instructors lacked sufficient real-world experience to be truly effective in some cases. I was disappointed to learn that it wasn't a requirement to have at least some experience outside of the program before being offered a job as an instructor. 

    Curriculum:
    • I have spoken to this a bit already, but I like how the curriculum is built. Each phase of the program thoughtfully builds upon the next so that when it comes to the end of the program you feel confident and knowledgeable in your new field. 
    • Most importantly, I think, you leave knowing what you don't know and having a really good idea what role or area in UX/UI you want to focus on in your career.

    Career Prep:
    • I found the final two weeks to be the most valuable portion of the program. It was worth all the time and money just to be able to leave the program ready to start the job search with a solid portfolio, resume, and game plan. Also, take full advantage of your time in this phase with the instructor(Mike). He knows his stuff from years of experience and will give you great guidance and advice. I was the only member of my cohort to finish my portfolio in the two weeks provided. I would say, if you make it a goal to finish before the two weeks are up, you will. But, know that there are resources available to you even after you finish the program – Designation ultimately wants you to succeed and do well as designers.
    • After graduation, I jumped right into job hunting and treated that like an extention of the curriculum. That dedication paid off because I found a great job as a UX designer for a startup in just under a month.

    Final Thoughts:
    • You will not do well in this program if you are not self-motivated and willing to work hard for the career you want. This is not your typically learning environment where the instructors feed you all the information. You are expected to be hungry to learn and find the answers you are looking for. They will give you the tools you need, but if you want to do really well and excel, you will need to put in some work too.
    • The price of the program is considerable. You are not only paying $15,000, but you are also taking 24 weeks out of your life. But, what I can say is that if you have the means or have the support that allows you to take the time and you really do want to make a career move to design; do it. This program will kick start your career.
    • And finally, if you are having any questions as to whether you want to do the UX or UI track, take stock of your current skill set and if you think you could teach yourself what you want to know about Sketch, Illustrator, and Photoshop follow the UX track. You will get so much more for your money following the UX track, but this comes with a caveat: You will have an easier time finding a job if you can do both User Experience and User Interface design to some degree. It is much harder to find a position that is strictly one or the other, so consider your skill set and where you feel you need more work before choosing one track or the other.

  • Tracy • Student
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    I learned so much during DESIGNATION and I found this very helpful in starting my design career. I feel like this program has prepared me what I needed.

     

    Design essential: it was great to experience the flow of both UX and UI. I first learned Sketch during this time and the program as very structured in a way to start from the very basic of design to actually applying thought process and skills. Even though it was short, I learned a lot during this time.

     

    Virtual Phase: I was already putting most of my day life on doing assignments for this phase, I had trouble finding time to complete everything the way I wanted because there was a lot to cover but the resources were there and it was mostly my part to put in the work.

     

    Immersion phase: for me, it was mostly meeting new people in the field and building the connection while working had long hours. I learned not only just designing but also how the working environment is and what it's like to be working in the team, communicating to one another and giving each other feedbacks.

     

    Client phase: this has prepared me so much for going out to the professional world, the first time asking strangers to spare their time for the user testings were challenging but I feel like I grew my social skills as well as getting feedback and become a better designer. 

    This experience has been incredibly helpful and supportive of what I have always wanted to do, the program is very organized and structured and DESIGNATION has opened the door of the chance for me to be an UI designer. 

  • Jules • Product Designer • Student
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    I wish I could say I absolutely loved this program and highly recommend it to everyone, but there were too many moments of frustration that makes it hard to spew out those exact words.

    I'll start with the bad and transition to the good.

    1. Instructors - I really enjoyed learning from the UX instructor; however the UI instructor was hands down terrible despite his numbers of experience and other credentials. I'm not sure what the interview process is like for them, but the first and foremost criteria to look for is the ability to teach. I was appalled at the instructor's shoddy presentations and how he would look at his watch in the afternoons when he was supposed to be providing the team with design critique. I found the occasional weekend classes taught by the original founders to be a lot more engaging and useful. Please dedicate more resources to recruit the best design instructors so it's not a "hit-or-miss" learning experience. 
    2. Day-to-day / Curriculum - I'm really glad the program has been iterative and many improvements have been made based on student feedback. However, I was shocked at how little our direct feedback throughout the program was taken into consideration. I fundamentally believe that certain changes can take place overnight if deemed reasonable. The fact that we had to do daily stand-ups to have everyone repeat the same thing they were going to accomplish that day (aka. the assigned work) was an utter waste of time. I was once reprimanded for writing the schedule on a whiteboard because we were supposed to be using Canvas; yet the the information on that site was not up-to-date. Nothing made much sense. I didn't think the program itself was that intense. It certainly didn't feel much like a bootcamp and much of my motivation was sprouted from within. The curriculum could have been much more rigorous. I wish we crammed in more information during the lectures and covered some of the topics more in-depth. Outside education content is fine to include, but some of the videos that were selected provided very little value. Perhaps the program managers can include a survey after each video to better curate the list.
    3. Job Assistance - I'm glad we had this one-week session but companies are vastly different that it's hard to get beyond generic advice. We were able to visit a few offices and hear from previous cohort graduates, who were pretty helpful. I wish we learned more about various companies and their design culture. The interviewing season is quite depressing for bootcamp-trained-newbie designers. I personally longed for some messages of encouragement during this transition period. I wish the staff members could have leveraged their networks in order to connect us with potential employers.
    4. Team - The people I met during this program were really great. It was one of the more diverse environments that I have worked in – in terms of experience, background, stage in life and personality. I went in thinking "I'm fine with #nonewfriends" but the relationships I have built made this program worth it.
    5. Startup Partnerships - I thought this was the program's competitor advantage but realized that other bootcamps also following the same path. I enjoyed the startup projects, but it sounded though as across board, many did not implement our suggested changes. That is ultra lame and such a turnoff for a lot of interviewers. I guess it's a bit out of the program's control, but could not help wonder if my work was done in futility.
    6. Community - I am happy to start out my design career connected with a number of other designers. The organization has a very active Slack channel with individuals eager to exchange information and learn from one another. 

    Overall, (like most things in life) the program is what you put into it. The fact that it costs $15,000+ is a bit insane in my opinion. I would not call this top-quality education and am really interested in the breakdown of costs. To be really honest, I still want to receive additional, formal education in design/engineering but am too poor to do so. Perhaps working in the field a couple more years will change that thought and hopefully my current financial state, as well. 

    I landed my product design role with great thanks to this experience and am very thankful. It's true people can become designers by teaching themselves with free information found online, but it's a much better experience to learn with others who are as hungry to improve their design skills.

    One importance realization I had during the program was that design is merely a tool. It's hard to say that design itself is my passion; it is how and what you design that speaks to your passion and your work is just an extension of your character.

    This program is not perfect and this review is extremely long.

     

    tl;dr – I recommend.

  • Stephen • UX Designer • Graduate
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    When I transitioned into the UX/UI field with DESIGNATION,  I was coming from a Music Education/ Performance background. I was a teacher for 6 years.

    I came in worried about this career change, but after going through the 6 month program, I can honestly say, it was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made.

     The teachers care about your success, and the fellow students are passionate. Almost everyone participating in my cohort came from different backgrounds, and were driven and hard working. I learned many things, and gained an immense network of professional designers and new skill sets. If you're hesitating about doing this, I would say give them a call and just take the plunge. You won't regret it.

    Pros: Work with Real World Clients AND iterate on the UX/ UI Agile Process over and over again until it becomes like second nature. THE PEOPLE, and the connections you make. Also, the environment (1871) really makes you want to work hard because of the start up-ish vibe. Lastly, the teachers and the career phase. Extremely helpful, utlize it.

    Cons: Find a window for some sunlight! The room can be a bit bare in the beginning due to the lack of post it notes. 

    Just a quick note: be prepared for a lot of work. That saying, "you get what you put into it", rings true here. The last two weeks of the program, the Career Phase, is probably the heaviest part, and it comes after the Client Phase. So you get into the mentality that you've "finished" the program, but you have to keep pushing through, because the Career Phase is arguably the most important part.

Thanks!