DSS Alumni Stories – Meet Cinzia Magnani

We present the alumni Cinzia, a Designer Developer from Italy. Discover her career and professional journey! 

Where are you from?
Reggio Emilia, Italia 

Where are you now?
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Where do you work?
Gradyent, Rotterdam 

Tell us about your career path
I studied fashion design at Politecnico di Milano, then did my masters in Fashion Strategy at Artez in Arnhem. Since I was interested in fashion and technology,  I did an internship at Mirabeau. At the time, it was a digital agency, but now it’s part of Cognizant. There, I discovered a whole new digital and creative world. I discovered that there was a lack of creativity in fashion websites, and focused my thesis on the topic.

After my masters, I struggled finding a job and during corona, I started learning how to code, which helped me cope with the lockdown and opened a whole new world of creativity for me. I found DSS whilst I was looking for an environment to put together my fashion background and new programming skills. After my traineeship, I found a job as a junior frontend developer at Gradyent. I also focus on UI and  UX research aspects for them. Currently, I’m also writing a paper on fashion websites for the Fashion Studies Journal.=

What are your sources of inspiration?
I tend to combine things from different fields. I find inspiration in almost everything, but a lot comes from nature, especially flowers. Arnhem, where I lived until recently, has lots of nice parks and going for walks in the forest is enriching, and helps me connect myself and things in different and unexpected ways.

Another source of inspiration are my trips, the encounter with different cultures, and places. Traveling helps me in maintaining the “child’s gaze”, a sense of wonder and marvel in front of the world.

Last, I draw inspiration from what’s happening in the offline fashion field, but also art, museums, and in general experiences that have a powerful impact on the senses and on our perception. My dream is to find ways to translate this into the online world and bring a sensorial digital experience.

How would you describe your time at DSS?
It was very positive, I was part of Systems for Sharing track during Spring 2021. It was a really nice period that allowed me to blossom. Even though within my team there was a lot of drama due to the client (that in the end we dropped), this created the opportunity to redefine our project and truly challenge ourselves, as people and as a team. We were very productive even though we initially lost one sprint and managed to catch up with the rest. 

I’m really satisfied with the final result, we had a nice interactive prototype of more than a hundred screens. From a team dynamic perspective, I learned a lot as this was my first experience seeing myself in conflict situations and dealing with them. 

Is there something in particular that impacted you?
All the team dynamics helped me learn more about myself and created good anecdotes to share on how to deal with team issues during interviews.

In the beginning, I lacked confidence in my skills, but towards the end, I really owned it and felt that I had established my skills whilst improving them. I learned a lot about user research and user experience, and new tools such as Figma that are currently appreciated at work. DSS really helped me develop and prepare for my current job. 

What does digital transformation mean to you?
For me, it’s beyond digital, it’s about finding a good balance between physical and digital. It’s being clever about what we can take from the digital side and actually beware and understand what doesn’t need to be online too.

Any advice to share?
Be really open-minded and decide what you would like to get from the traineeship, let’s say you have a couple of objectives. You can plan of course, but be able to go with the flow. Some things sometimes are a blessing in disguise, and maybe not getting what you want helps you go in new unexpected directions. 

Put effort into the project and try to focus on what you want to take on a personal level besides the portfolio aspect. Have regular check-ins with yourself in terms of personal development to understand if you’re heading where you want.

In terms of the job search, besides showing your best self, it’s important to be upfront about your level of skills. Showing a strong will to learn can stand out more than knowing everything from the start. You’ll be surprised to see companies are open to giving space for growth, and when not then maybe it’s not the right environment to kickstart your career. Not all projects are perfect, it’s important to experience failure and learn from it. Knowing how to learn from mistakes is sometimes better than having it all figured out. It’s all a matter of attitude and mindset.

During the job search, it’s important to show where we can add something to the table, and where there is room for improvement. What really stands out is the willingness to take initiative and be proactive.

What’s next for you?
In the future, I would like to bring closer my creative and technical side by creating sensorial experiences online as a designer and developer. In other words, curating everything from concept creation to development. 

Connect with Cinzia