6 Characteristics That Will Transform Your New Design Career
Choosing to start or change a career is an intensely personal decision. It can shift the course of someone's life, and the team at Designation understands the gravity of the leap that our prospective designers are making.
While our graduates leave with a wealth of technical knowledge about UX and UI, we also strive to train our designers to be collaborative, communicative and adaptable. In the words of Designation's President, Mike Joosse, "We don't only teach how to design; we teach how to be a designer." The difference to us is the successful development of valuable soft skills and a love of learning.
Because of the rigor of our program, part of my job as a member of the admissions team is to make sure that incoming designers are prepared for the 24-week learning experience ahead of them. Here are a few of the soft skills we look for in an interview in order to assess an applicant's readiness.
Our in-person phases require a commitment of 70 hours a week. If designers aren't motivated to learn and grow everyday, they're going to have a really hard time. We can teach how to wireframe, prototype and present deliverables in a professional manner, but we can't teach how to genuinely care about design. Coupled with a genuine curiosity about the design world, this is perhaps the most crucial attribute for an applicant to already acquire.
Throughout the Designation experience, designers are challenged to meet the needs of clients, teammates, creative directors and—most importantly—themselves. It's vital they come into the program with at least a minimal understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses. We hope that after extensive journaling and a lot of actionable, specific feedback, they also strengthen their ability to self-reflect and develop a sense of objectivity about their work.
Good collaboration requires patience, understanding and creativity. Candidates who know the value of collaboration (and the conflict resolution skills required for it) are already ahead of the game. The ability to resolve interpersonal conflict is incredibly valuable in the Client Phase as designers complete 3-week design sprints with real clients. The ability to tactfully communicate is a huge part of collaboration and when the stakes are higher, the ability to communicate purposefully and over deliver to the client is required.
We don't hand-hold at any time in the process, because that defeats the purpose of learning. In both the virtual or remote and in-person phases, designers are expected to manage their time efficiently. The experience of accounting for multiple deadlines in high-pressure situations is incredibly important as they emerge into the professional design world. Beyond time management, we want to trust that a designer is going to work to answer their own questions and confidently make design decisions without using instructors or peers as a crutch.
18 weeks into the program, designers work with real businesses in our Client Phase. It's important that they have a basic understanding of how to behave in a professional, client-facing setting. With real business stakes on the line, we want to make it clear to our clients that we value their time.
Joining Designation means joining a diverse and passionate design community. As we continue to grow, we look for candidates willing to consider the impact of their design and career decisions on practical and global levels. Knowing their own values and how to communicate them is a vital part of not only becoming a great designer, but a great community member.
Ultimately, we want designers who continue to learn for the rest of their career. That's what the design industry needs for design to grow in impact. This is less finite and less tangible, but all the more valuable. Seeking these soft skills is our way of ensuring the continued growth of our designers and industry.
Click here to learn more about Designation's 24-week digital design program.
Interested in applying? Click here to start the journey to brand new design career.
This post was sponsored by Designation.