Enroll in a Design Bootcamp So You Don’t End Up Like Airbnb

November 19, 2014

9:12 am

Designation - Airbnb logoWhen Airbnb unveiled their new logo in July, they proudly announced the creation of the Bélo, a symbol that miraculously combines a heart, the letter A, a location pin, and someone reaching out to hug you. The universal symbol of belonging.

The Internet did not agree – and they saw a miraculous combination of “all the sex organs imaginable rolled into one picture”: breasts, balls, and more.

The lesson? Designers beware; the public is vicious. We’re fond of pointing out the worst logo fails, and yours won’t be spared if it even remotely looks dirty.

So perhaps it’s time to enroll in a design course. Designation is launching its 16-week design bootcamp program in Chicago on January 5 and (for the first time) St. Louis in late March. Previously a part-time design class, the program now involves 4 weeks of online instruction and 12 weeks in person, adding up to 70+ hours a week. The Chicago team includes designers from GrubHub and Sittercity, while the new St. Louis program works with the T-REX coworking space and incubator.

After three cohorts, Designation is proud to report a 93% success rate for students getting jobs. Only two months after the last cohort ended, 14 of 15 students looking for jobs had found one. The ones who do get hired report a salary increase of over 40%.

If those numbers sound high, it’s because the program actually aims to groom designers for jobs. In the middle of the course, students talk to local companies about their design needs and can choose a “major” to specialize in. Designation also partners with local startup organizations, like 1871 and Founder Institute, to get real-life assignments for students to work on. Startups from those organizations send over their design projects, students work on them for free, and a relationship is built. Students also start doing monthly check-ins with a “recruiting counselor” whose job is to help them find a position.

Airbnb’s logo was obviously created by real designers, so why might a program like this help? “Our teachers will say: call me out on things, things change, I have my own perspectives, I have this type of background. Design is problem-solving, but it’s also subjective problem-solving,” says founder Kevin Yun.

That’s presumably what didn’t happen at Airbnb: someone probably had a few doubts about it but didn’t speak up. It’s not easy to point out that a professionally designed logo that probably cost a lot of money looks like something a teenager would scrawl on a bathroom stall. But a critical eye is a crucial skill for designers – and if you don’t exercise it, the public certainly will.

Apply here for Designation.


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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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