Huge Eliminates Barriers to Entry for Underrepresented Identities in the Design Industry with Huge XD School
Huge celebrates the first step in the career journeys for six graduates of Huge XD School hailing from California, Washington, North Carolina, Louisiana and New York. As the culmination of the 2021 virtual educational program, the students responded to a real-world project brief for Shipt, an American delivery service owned by Target Corporation and a Huge-retained client, to design a new digital product or service that solves the challenge of food waste in America.
Founded as a paid design apprenticeship program in 2011 to address the shortage of User Experience design talent in the creative industry at the time, Huge XD School returned in 2021 with a renewed equity-centered education purpose to increase the participation of underrepresented identities in the industry led by Huge’s Oakland office. With the re-launch of Huge XD School, the agency sets out to bring fresh, underrepresented talent into the design and marketing industries who otherwise may not have gained access due to traditional barriers of entry. No educational requirements at the collegiate or high school level need to be met; no resumes, formal design training, portfolios or experience are needed.
“As part of ‘Staying Accountable,’ Huge’s public commitment and the company’s perpetual mindset, ‘Never Done,’ Huge is committed to not only increasing the share of historically underrepresented identities at all levels of the agency and being a workplace where they thrive, but also helping to create a net positive impact on representation in the industry overall,” said Kali Beyah, global chief talent officer at Huge. “This effort starts with eliminating the barrier to entry for young, aspiring creatives and giving them a rich educational experience and the tools they need to succeed. This is why Huge XD School is able to accomplish ‘Huge’ things: the relaunch of Huge XD School adds to the pipeline with a class that’s entirely made of people from historically underrepresented identities.”
The 2021 Huge XD School students participated in a 10-week program full of weekly courses that touched upon each stage of the design process, a speaker series where industry experts weighed in on topical issues, and a personal coach who provided shadowing experience and weekly check-ins. As the last step of the program, the students developed work in response to the brief from Shipt, and pitched their solutions to the client to receive real feedback, in an experience similar to day-to-day life at an agency.
"As a long-standing client partner to Huge, it was an honor to participate in the 2021 Huge XD School program," said Shawn Woznicki, senior director of brand design at Shipt. "We full-heartedly support the agency's efforts to eliminate traditional barriers to entry and increase representation in the creative industry because it has a direct correlation client-side too: the more inclusive the pitch rooms, the more inclusive the ideas and the more inclusive the campaigns, helping us put our best foot forward in a world that's more inclusive overall. Our team was so impressed with the quality of work that the Huge XD School students presented off the back of our brief, highlighting raw talent, passion and focus that excites us for the next generation of creatives. We are looking forward to working with the Huge XD School graduates as they embark on their next professional chapter."
Huge employees from Oakland and around the globe serve as the teachers, speakers and coaches at Huge XD School, providing access to Huge resources and imparting guidance and mentorship to make this program as beneficial for students as possible. To date, Huge XD School has graduated 105 students and seen graduates from the program go on to work for brands including Huge, Google, Facebook, Apple, Indeed, Slack, Vanguard and more.
“For the last ten years, Huge XD School has been a first-of-its kind program that helps young, aspiring UX creatives jump start their careers,” said Mark Manning, president of Huge Oakland, “This year, we were able to relook at this pre-existing platform to drive even more impact by challenging the idea that the problem with the lack of diversity and representation in our industry is in the lack of available talent. We are so excited to congratulate the 2021 graduating class of Huge XD School, and honored to welcome these six rising creative stars into the fold as they start their career journeys.”
Huge continues to double down on its public commitment ‘Staying Accountable’ with the release of its 2021 diversity data, which saw an increase in gender representation by +2% and race/ethnicity representation by +4% over the last year, with 48% of new hires in 2021 being BIPOC and 59% being women. This month, Huge was awarded No. 7 on the 2021 Fast Company’s Best Workplaces for Innovators list, representing the agency’s passion for giving employees at all levels the freedom to explore creative ideas that benefit the business and community.