Inheritance by Katherine Groesbeck

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What Makes Us Special?

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Submitted on February 24, 2015 - 11:05am
LinkedIn design school rankings

In October 2014, LinkedIn ranked the UW as one of the top five schools for design based on the success of recent graduates in landing desirable design jobs. We thought it would be worthwhile to contact some of the companies and organizations who hire our graduates to ask what our students have that makes them stand out. Here are some of their comments:

Bill Flora from Tectonic says, “We love UW Design students! They are a big part of our staff now. We’ve looked at students of other schools but keep coming back to UW to find the skills and talent.”

Ken Fry (BFA 1991, MFA 1995) from Microsoft lists traits he has found in our graduates. He says, “If they came from UW Design,

  • I know they will excel at the “craft” of design. The work is often exceptionally well-executed.
  • I know they will be deep and creative thinkers. The design is not only well crafted or beautiful on the surface, but there is a depth of meaning and understanding that is reflected in the work. There is a level of inquiry into the design problems they are trying to solve which is often exceptional.
  • I know they will be effective communicators. The storytelling skills of UW grads continues to get better and better.

When describing interns he has hired from the Division of Design, Scott Davidoff of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory says, “They shared a singular passion for design and a belief in the collaborative studio culture that allows it to flourish.”

Matthew Mulder of Digital Kitchen says that our students and alumni “regularly demonstrate the capacity, understanding and nuance to bring a creative idea forward, seek critique and execute to very high standards.” He also lists additional skills that he finds in our graduates:

  • Solid understanding of visual/digital design principles including layout, composition, typography and user experience.
  • Experience with research and interpretive skills.
  • Knowledge of current tools and technologies, both digital and hand.
  • Ability to integrate into a professional, collaborative environment.

Facebook’s Drew Hamlin (BFA 2009) has this to say: “For Product Design, we’re looking for skills across three verticals—product strategy, interaction design and visual design. For new grads and interns, what we’re really looking for is a very solid foundation in at least one of these three verticals and aptitude and eagerness to learn in the others. Sometimes you’ll find students who possess strengths in two or all three of these skills though—we’ve had multiple instances of designers like this coming from UW—and that’s a rockstar hire.”

We’re grateful to these professionals who took the time to share their observations with us. These companies and organizations are just a few of those who have hired our graduates. To get a better sense of where our alumni have landed, take a look at these infographics that were created by Visual Communication Design Professor Karen Cheng and Jason Petz (MDes 2014).

Master’s degree alumni, 1996-2013

Bachelor’s degree alumni, Industrial Design, 2008-2013

Bachelor’s degree alumni, Interaction Design, 2012-2013

Bachelor’s degree alumni, Visual Communication Design, 2008-2013

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