Interview with Alumni Derek Roberts

Calling All former National Web Design Contest Participants

With the goal of highlighting the latest goings on with former competitors of the National Web Design Contest WebProfessionals.org is reaching out to all past participants.

Today we caught up with Derek Roberts, Director of Operations, Re{cycle} Economics – Corporate Strategy, Environmental Sustainability
Class of 2016, Vanderbilt University

Derek, what are you up to these days?

image of derek robertsI’m currently an Economics major at Vanderbilt University, and I’m hoping to go into consulting at a company like Bain & Co. or Boston Consulting Group. I’m in my junior year, and I’ll graduate in May of 2016. I won 5th place at the SkillsUSA web design contest in June or July of 2012, which was right after graduating from high school.

Did your participation in the web design contest benefit you? If so. How?

The preparation for the web design contest definitely taught me what real practice, or studying, actually means. On the day before the contest, we spent 8 hours in a hotel room creating a website from a prompt our faculty advisor had given us. And that wasn’t the first time we’d done a trial run! The actual competition was incredibly intense. We got 4 hours in and then had to scrap a lot of what we’d done because we realized we had read the prompt slightly incorrectly. We did the best we could, but we definitely weren’t exactly ecstatic about our finished product. The most valuable thing I took away from the competition was definitely confidence. I had never been pushed with such an immediate deadline, but our team actually came through. Although we didn’t win the competition, we finished the project and never gave up out of frustration. The focus that required was immense, and I’m proud to know that I have that capability.

What recommendations for newbies?

For web design newbies, I would just recommend finding a fantastic teacher and learning everything you can from him or her. The work ethic and standard of excellence that my teacher/mentor instilled in me is what I still use for every project I do today, and I’m an Economics major! Don’t lose motivation if a project or website turns out badly or if you don’t do well in a competition- instead, find out what those who did do well did differently than you, and integrate that into your approach. Web design competitions gave me intangible skills that I will use for the rest of my life. I would definitely not have gotten to where I am today if I had given up early or not participated at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *