A Chicago design bootcamp that launched earlier this year has recently partnered with 1871 to give its students access to startups in need of front-end website development help.
With a focus on job placement, DESIGNATION works with aspiring designers who learn a full-stack of design skills, including user experience research, interaction design, user interface design, and front-end development (HTML/CSS/JS).
DESIGNATION founder Kevin Yun took some time for a Q&A with Chicago Inno to tell us more about his company, the recent partnership with 1871, and why students should drop the $6,000 to take the course.
Q: How did DESIGNATION get its start, and how does the bootcamp work?
A: We were originally running part-time design classes at Manifest Digital since the summer of 2013. After two cohorts and a ton of feedback from aspiring students who wanted more, as well as companies interested in hiring our students, we knew we needed to ramp up. On January 2014, we went full-time, fully-immersive style, and became the first bootcamp to focus purely on full-stack digital design education and placement.
Our 12-week, in-person bootcamp is broken down into 4 phases:
Virtual Phase (6 weeks virtual): Students build up their skills in Adobe software, learn simple syntax and semantics of front-end code, and get introduced to UX.
Design Immersion (4 weeks in-person): Students spend their mornings working in teams to research, build, and practice their skills in different areas of design.
Projects (6 weeks in-person): Students work on live client projects, building up pieces for their portfolio and polishing their resumes. We also start to make introductions to Hiring Partner companies.
Post-Graduate: Students graduate and we stay connected with every single one of our alumni who are looking to get a job, until they find one. We have a recruitment network, DESIGNATION Black, that is set up to ensure graduate success, whether that's with job opportunities, apprenticeships/internships, and/or contract work.
Q: Why is it beneficial for people to take the classes?
A: Students at DESIGNATION are exposed to the full-stack of design, which we boil down to UX research, interaction design, UI design, and front-end development (HTML/CSS/JS). We graduated our first class of 20 students on June 26, and since then 13 out of 15 students looking for employment got a job. These numbers are continuing to increase as well, as improvement is visible from cohort to cohort. We also ask all our students to expect up to 8 months to find work after graduating.
Q: How does the partnership with 1871 work? 
A: We just partnered up with 1871 in mid August, and rolled out projects with their startups last week. Our students will work in teams for a month and a half, helping startups with everything from UX research, to UI high fidelity comps, and front-end coding. We've found that real live portfolio pieces are tremendously valuable when our graduates start to interview for jobs. We've also partnered with Founder Institute, but their classes won't start for another month.
We also have a standard RFP template that any company can request.
Q: What makes you guys different from other similar design classes? 
A: We are the first full-stack design bootcamp built to help any aspiring designer find a job by teaching them specific skills. There's a ton of overlap between technology, UX, design, and programming -- we've created a curriculum where you are expected to build up a T-shaped skill set in UX, UI, and coding. It's not expected that our students learn everything, but students naturally gravitate towards a specialization (usually in UI technical skills, or coding).
There are some other bootcamps that are starting to offer a full-immersion design program now, so that's great to see that others are understanding that this is a working model.
Q: Why should someone sign up for DESIGNATION? 
A:When you participate in DESIGNATION, you become part of the lifelong DESIGNATION network. For however long it takes for you to find a job, we will work with you to make it happen. Our program is perfect for people who possess a natural curiosity about the way things work, and are constantly looking for ways to make them better.