Re: Location+Life or Experience?

Postby bcpid » August 18th, 2011, 10:35 am


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First, I think you are too inexperienced to do what the in-house team wants, although maybe you know something we don't. If the CEO gives you the resources and authority to hire a team of people who are more skilled and more experienced than you, it could be a good opportunity. One thing I would also get some specifics about in your conversations with the CEO is the evaluation metrics and timeframe. How quickly are they expecting results? Since you have relatively little experience with implementation, product launch, etc, and their company has relatively little experience with design-driven work, and NPD takes a long time, are their performance evaluation criteria realistic, e.g. they'll measure you based on how your work, maybe first 3 or 4 pieces, performs in the first three quarters after launch or something along those lines. And if they sell $X of product today, but they expect your work to result in $10X, you need to know they are being realistic with themselves. With so little experience, you need some solid performance metrics in place so you don't find yourself swimming or working toward completely unrealistic outcomes.

Re: Location+Life or Experience?

Postby rkuchinsky » August 18th, 2011, 11:23 am

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Saw the OP wrote a post last night but now it's gone... no matter.

You mentioned the company has been previously business and engineering focused and existed for 10 years and now wants to s3x up the products and bring on design (you) to do it. In my experience, this is a red flag. I've seen similar situations, where all of a sudden they come to design as a savior, and the initial impression (from the designer) is "great - i can only do good, it can't get any worse! I can make some change." Reality however is somewhat akin to trying to teach an old dog new tricks. Companies, owners, or the majority of the business people don't wake up one day and all of a sudden change their priorities, how they see things, do business, etc. Design to be effective needs to be embraced and understood from the top down and integrated into all aspects of business from accounting and budgets to logistics and sales and marketing. Bringing in 1 designer, esp. a young inexperienced one, will never work.

I applaud you looking to take on a challenge and there is nothing wrong with that. My first design job I was brought on as a junior designer, and within 3 years was a product line manager and senior, as well as responsible for all development, marketing, branding and strategy. It wasn't in the role or growth position for the job, but I saw an opportunity and knew I could do it, so grabbed a bigger chunk of responsibility.

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Re: Location+Life or Experience?

Postby sadahkeem » August 18th, 2011, 6:17 pm


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NURB wrote:Be the drone. Have a life in NYC, find a spouse and settle down after a few years.
But for the love of all that is holy, save some money for the long term. Trust me.


:lol: Totally channeling my mom, and I can't deny this isn't a factor to consider.

iab wrote:Option 2 is certainly high risk, but with that comes high reward. Do well there and in 3-5 years, before you are 30, you can come back to NYC as a king and get a great job.

Option 1 sounds like a tiny garden apartment in Queens and with 3-5 years of grunt work you get a tiny garden apartment in Brooklyn.


And iab, you totally nailed it.

Thanks so much again for all the great advice. I really appreciate it!

I just emailed the CEO with my concerns, and I suggested starting out as a contractor/consultant, and or if he would be open to having more than one designer. In the meantime, I'll continue the job hunt...

Re: Location+Life or Experience?

Postby experiMental » August 19th, 2011, 12:14 pm


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yo wrote: The designers I know who have taken these kinds of positions right out of school have struggled and had to work twice as hard to learn. Leaving is difficult because what they do learn is often by mistake and not up to industry standards.


It may take people twice as hard to learn, but it's still possible, is this right? I guess if there is a will, there is a way. Also, what is industry standard in ID? How do you define it? That always mystified me. I'm in Ireland, and the industry standard for ID is different. For example, good product design is judged based on innovation by the Irish Design Institute (IDI). Also, based on my reading of core77 blog, I found that one company's design culture may be completely different to another one. So transferring from one company to another can be just as steep a learning curve as being the only industrial designer in a start-up. Am I right in saying this?

I actually got a job in a start-up after my graduation, and I'm working as a part-time consultant. It's not ID, I was hired to find a really smart way to integrate hardware with software. So it's basically design innovation/R&D-type placement. I really like this job and the company. It is actually similar to the one which OP was talking about. I'm also the only person with my job title in the company, and it's up to me to find a solution. The work is quite objective, but it involves an extreme amount of creativity. In your professional experience, do you think that I need a mentor for this kind of work? Or do grads need mentors for more subjective type of work, such as Industrial Design?

Re: Location+Life or Experience?

Postby yo » August 23rd, 2011, 8:03 pm

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bcpid wrote:First, I think you are too inexperienced to do what the in-house team wants, although maybe you know something we don't. If the CEO gives you the resources and authority to hire a team of people who are more skilled and more experienced than you, it could be a good opportunity. One thing I would also get some specifics about in your conversations with the CEO is the evaluation metrics and timeframe. How quickly are they expecting results? Since you have relatively little experience with implementation, product launch, etc, and their company has relatively little experience with design-driven work, and NPD takes a long time, are their performance evaluation criteria realistic, e.g. they'll measure you based on how your work, maybe first 3 or 4 pieces, performs in the first three quarters after launch or something along those lines. And if they sell $X of product today, but they expect your work to result in $10X, you need to know they are being realistic with themselves. With so little experience, you need some solid performance metrics in place so you don't find yourself swimming or working toward completely unrealistic outcomes.


good advice.... on the flip side if they have no performance metrics in mind, they may not know what to do with you, how to judge and just tire of the whole thing in time.

Re: Location+Life or Experience?

Postby yo » August 23rd, 2011, 8:12 pm

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You see, here is the thing, you don't know that you don't know. That is OK, it is exactly how you should be, your only experience in design is what, 3-4 years in an academic setting and a few months on internship maybe?

sadahkeem wrote:The company is a few decades old, but so far has been very function, business, and engineering-oriented, and they wanted to "s3x" their products and start taking some risks and innovate


They want to take some risks, but they don't want to invest in an experienced design director and a design team, but instead only a fresh grad? This would be the first red flag to me. Sounds like they want to feel like they are taking risks without really taking much of a risk.

sadahkeem wrote:I just talked to some friends who had worked at the NYC company, one of them who had the exact position I was vying for, and the reviews weren't too good and they were pretty miserable (aka quit).


In the parlance of our times it is called paying your dues. Often the first job is not about glamour, it is about getting into a situation where you can continue to learn, contribute, and leverage that in a few years when you are ready to move on... then you can work for the guys with no design team, because you will know how to do it.

I know it is tempting. A few years ago a major European consumer electronics company asked me to consider being VP of design. VP at 33! Very, very tempting. I asked them a lot of questions, questions they had not thought of in terms of how I would be judged, the kind of team I could build, the reporting structure.... and after weeks of agonizing I decided not to do it. I understood that I did not know enough, that I wasn't done working at my level, and that a similar opportunity would present itself when the time was right.

Re: Location+Life or Experience?

Postby Greenman » August 30th, 2011, 9:50 pm

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This convo really hits home for me, but I have about 10 years of experience as a designer and design manager. I gotta say, go with Option 1, hands down, and "pay your dues". Living in NYC while doing this will outweigh living in the sticks any day and compensate, for a time, the fact that you'll be a "drone". The networking opportunities in NYC alone will probably make the effort worth it. The key is to not treat the position as a rite of passage or take on the attitude that you're just a drone, news flash, most design grads will have to go right into a position like this, humble yourself, learn, don't be a dick, and in turn you may realize that it is an opportunity to lead by example.

Lots of fresh design grads come out thinking they can tackle anything and lead the way, don't succumb to this false pride unless you really are a bad-ass designer and a natural leader. Option 2 isn't just about being a great designer, it's about being a design leader, and you probably don't have the chops, with my experience I feel that I would barely have the chops, so don't fool yourself.

If anything else, listen to Yo:

yo wrote:In this case total creative freedom means no one to mentor you, no one to learn from, no one to compete with.


This all hits home for me because I am looking the possibility of an amazing position which would be very satisfying in a dead location vs. staying in a dead position in a very satisfying location....
All dots connect, even the tiny blue one

Re: Location+Life or Experience?

Postby bcpid » August 31st, 2011, 11:13 pm


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There's something to be said for paying your dues, but do it in a location where there is a positive relationship between your salary and the Cost of Living. If you can't afford an adult living situation with a job/city combo, don't go there, wherever there is. It isn't your job to subsidize your employer and perpetuate the idea that design is cheap.

Re: Location+Life or Experience?

Postby tarngerine » August 31st, 2011, 11:40 pm

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Was in a similar situation (but not completely, cause both were good locations with friends):

1. Full time industrial/interaction designer offer at startup with interesting work, ridiculous benefits and great location in the Bay. Would've been 1/3 (except one was more mech e/product development, and other was HCI), with no real mentors or ID experience in company (software startup pushing into physical world).

2. 3 month internship at a big consultancy in NYC, low pay, tons of experienced ID, IxD, eng, to learn from, prototyping facilities.

I thought that I should learn more before pursuing a full time opportunity where the success or failure of a startup relied heavily on my experience (be honest: are you THAT good? I know I totally sucked at CAD/CMF and had no idea about manufacturing), so I took option 2. I'm learning a shit ton.

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