How Bloc Designs Designers

chris-2xThis week our team is excited to share a Tech Talk given by our Designer Track Program Director, Chris Courtney (known at Bloc as C2). In this powerful talk, Chris discusses the common patterns in our most successful students, what the industry defines as a great designer, and how Bloc is building them.

Below we’ve distilled some of Chris’s key takeaways.

Hard Work > Talent
Chris leads his talk with a quote from Tim Notke, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Many students who join Bloc are brand new to coding and design concepts and aren’t inherently “talented” in these fields. According to Chris, these students who emerge from the program are often more successful than those with a coding or design background when they work hard. So what does hard work look like at Bloc?

Hard working students show keen interest and participation in the design process. They don’t only want to learn how to design, they want to know how to think like a designer. They apply thoughtfulness to understanding how problems are solved and are constantly iterating to improve their thought process to be a better designer. Another component of this is engagement with the Bloc community. As a recurring theme in his presentation, Chris underscores that the early indicator of a student’s success is reflected in their participation in the student Slack channel.

Experience is Shown Through Action
To demonstrate the weight of the word “experience,” Chris shares the story of Bloc alumni, Meredith, and her desire to fix her local library’s computer system. Rather than approaching management with a solution, she met with the webmasters and admins from the library’s computer system to discuss its limitations and to see where there were opportunities. She then spent time in the library interviewing its members who used the computers every day. Without a portfolio, she was able to leverage this case study and research to land a remote job at her very first interview.

Chris explains that Meredith’s story is remarkable not only because of the change she was able to make in her local library but because of her ability to gain experience in real time.

Focus on Growth, Not Graduation
“Growth is perpetual. It is always occurring,” Chris says. Our most successful students embody this principle and know that their design journey doesn’t end at graduation. Similarly to embracing the design process, successful students are actively cultivating their design skills by continuing to create new projects after their mentor time is complete.

Be a Problem Solver
At Bloc, we build problem solvers – not designers. One of the worst industry standards, according to Chris, are the developers and designers that identify themselves by languages. “My name is Sally and I’m a JavaScript expert with a passion for UX design,” is an example of something top hiring managers don’t want to hear. What they really want to know is if you are interested in solving their company’s problems. Anyone can become proficient in a programming language, but it takes a uniquely curious individual to seek out opportunities and propose a solution for them. Companies are looking for the individual that is hungry for a challenge, and if one isn’t presented, they will go and find it.

The common theme throughout these key indicators of success is passion. Any student who is passionate about changing their life and loving the work they are doing will be successful in their design journey. If this sounds like you, join one of our programs, get involved in your student Slack community. Engage with your colleagues in these vibrant fields and seek out questions and answers. Embrace not only the design process but the learning process and don’t regard it as a means to an end. Look for problems in design and your daily life and hack them. Continue growing and work hard – the satisfaction of loving what you do will be well worth it.

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