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jcharles00
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They were a sponsor of the IDSA conferences this year. I can't tell what exactly they do, although it looks like they are headhunters. I was looking through their page and see that they offer career counseling. I requested rates and it's a little spendy.. still, I've never been more confused about my career and could use help. (35 and have not yet left college)

interested in opinions and experiences before I put cash on the barrelhead.

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Cyberdemon
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They are head hunters. What advice are you looking for? To be fair, an internet board full of design professionals is a pretty good sounding stage to vent your life's troubles. ;-)

Recruiting firms are generally good at looking at your skill set, comparing it to people they've seen, and trying to point you in a direction...for a fee. Doing a little snooping I see you're supposed to finish your degree in 2014 - so why are you looking at career advice now?

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Get this workbook:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/160774497 ... mdp_mobile

And really take it seriously. It takes a solid weekend plus a day or two to finish but you get some good direction on what you prefer to be doing, in some broad and specific terms. If that still doesn't work, contact a career counselor, but one that works with a lot of careers, not design specifically. It won't be cheap, but it's an investment in your career.
Chris Haar

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Those who define design as knowing how to use Illustrator will be condemned to using Illustrator their entire career. - @monteiro

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jcharles00
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Cyberdemon wrote:They are head hunters. What advice are you looking for? To be fair, an internet board full of design professionals is a pretty good sounding stage to vent your life's troubles. ;-)

Recruiting firms are generally good at looking at your skill set, comparing it to people they've seen, and trying to point you in a direction...for a fee. Doing a little snooping I see you're supposed to finish your degree in 2014 - so why are you looking at career advice now?


This board is pretty good for getting info, however a lot seems to remain hidden, and the content stays pretty focused on a certain area. that area has some overlap with where I think I'm supposed to be, but there's a lot that's not here. other professional forums are similar - having a piece i need, but I can't get the big picture.

So why am I looking for career advice? Because I'm scared to death that I'm going to put in the time to finish this degree and still not have the skills to get a job.

Part of it is that my degree is weird. (at least that's the impression that I'm getting from my conversations with professionals) It's a Masters of Fine Arts in Interaction Design. The program is housed within an Industrial Design program. When I signed up, I was under the impression that I could design the interaction of physical things..

I've worked professionally in IT for university for the past 15 years, including some web work, and I really don't like it. This degree was supposed to be my way out, but now, I'm encountering the attitude that IXD=UX=web. (check my "recent posts" for an example) I wanted to do ID, but they wouldn't have me for it, still almost all of my coursework has been ID stuff, which I'm now being told I will never have the chance to do in industry.

I've been making myself so sick physically and mentally trying to keep up with the demands of all these ID projects while working 2 or three jobs, (I'm 35 and have a mortgage payment on an upside down loan) and it seems like I might be getting strung along.

I've started applying for internships, and I'm seeing all the skills I should have to be an interaction designer of any capacity, but don't have. I haven't had any classes that taught wire-framing. I've now had only one class that dealt with graphic design, and it was kind of lacking. This is particularly relevant because I come from a non-design background - I have an AS in computer technology and a BA in communication. The foundation work recommended to me was a year of doing undergrad ID work - sketching and modeling. again, something I'm now told that I'm not allowed to do. Sure, I learned something from it, but I've apparently learned nothing that will help me in the job market.

Adding to my frustrations, I have a very broad range of knowledge. I would say I'm a T-shaped person, but I have no specialty. I'm an em dash. no one wants to hire an em dash. I have some killer skills at communicating, giving presentations, working on cross-functional teams, design thinking, research, entrepreneurial spirit(and education), networking, etc, etc, but everyone in industry tells me that this doesn't matter because "all designers" should have these skills. I see other students, see people at conferences, etc, and I don't see these skills as often as are claimed, but I have no recourse but to believe what I'm told. I personally think I am all of the things that most ID folks I encounter need help with, and I want to be the help, but there is no job title for that. ya know?

At this point, I'm so confused by my expectations VS. what I'm told in school VS. what industry folks say, that I have no idea what I should even be working on to establish the post to my T. ..or if I should just hang it up and self educate, losing the clout of the Uni or maybe just go get a job as night manager of a taco bell. my quality of life would be better. I've got 4 years invested in this field now, and feel like I don't have much to show for it.

So that is why I want career advice. ;)

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jcharles00
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NURB wrote:Get this workbook:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/160774497 ... mdp_mobile

And really take it seriously. It takes a solid weekend plus a day or two to finish but you get some good direction on what you prefer to be doing, in some broad and specific terms. If that still doesn't work, contact a career counselor, but one that works with a lot of careers, not design specifically. It won't be cheap, but it's an investment in your career.


I'll check this out, but FWIW I have done several of these personal skill inventory things over the years, read the parachute book and done myers-briggs, DISC profiles, etc, etc. they just tell me ridiculous things like I should be a train conductor or something. (I have actually been laughed at by an academic advisor for keeping a folder of all these things in hard copy)

I really do believe that I have something to add to the world of design (and I use that word to mean more than just visual design) but I feel like I have to fight everyone for a chance to even dip my toe in the pool.


_iamdave
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To answer the topic question - yes I have used YehID but only briefly. I almost paid for a consultation but luckily this was when their founder was away on maternity leave and I had a brief phone conversation with one of her staff.

It was insightful and she offered some great advice on how to stand out in the job application process but nothing specific aimed towards a career path. I was going through an identity crisis as well with what I had been taught and showcasing in my work not lining up with the jobs I wanted and employers expectations. Taking feedback given from potential employers, asking for advice from people in senior positions and aligning that with my career goals I was able to highlight areas I need to improve upon without paying $300 an hour.

Reading your post I really empathise with you as it seems you know where you want to be but your university is stating otherwise. At this point though I would recommend exhausting all other options before paying for a consultation. There are plenty of people that if you ask nicely enough will spend time talking to you, especially given your maturity and you won't just be some kid fresh out of school like I am!

I really wish I could help further but I am in no means qualified to give you advice and would just be the blind leading the blind.


no_spec
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from what I've learned companies only use head-hunters to fill upper level positioins. That's where their profits come from and where thier talent lies.
I'm sure they'd consult, but I'm not sure if they'd be more helpful than us.

Post your portfolio's link, and tell us what kind of career you've been looking for.


iab
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jcharles00 wrote: I'm an em dash. no one wants to hire an em dash. I have some killer skills at communicating, giving presentations, working on cross-functional teams, design thinking, research, entrepreneurial spirit(and education), networking, etc, etc, but everyone in industry tells me that this doesn't matter because "all designers" should have these skills.


Then don't become a "designer".

Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems you would be well suited for a career in new product development. There are many other positions other than "designer" in the field. In hindsight, I would follow a different path into new product development if I had a do over. "Designers" tend to be a bunch of whiny b!tches (I do fit that role well;)).

My advice, and take it for what its worth, broaden your perspective and don't adhere to any definition of "designer". I wouldn't hire a "designer" who would do so.

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jcharles00
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Dave - thanks for sharing the experience. I'm glad to hear from someone who has worked with them. It sounds like they are good at helping you get your best foot forward.

nospec - sounds like you're right. I'm definitely not going for an executive position.
Here's my resume - http://issuu.com/jcharles00/docs/jcharlesresume4-8-2013
and here's my portfolio - http://issuu.com/jcharles00/docs/jcharlesixdportfolio

please bear in mind that I've been through a bunch of ID portfolio crits in the past and have watched dozens. I have a decent idea of what ID people are looking for, but I have yet to find anyone (including my faculty) who know what an IXD portfolio looks like, so I'm winging it based on the work I showed for my first year graduate review which was received acceptably. I'm also aware that almost all of the work I have to show is more research than IXD, but that's what my program has trained me for at this point.

I've been applying for many things. I've applied for some design research jobs, as they are the only thing I feel remotely qualified for. My hope is getting in at a research company that also does design to solve the problems encountered through research, so I can leverage my research base towards getting into design. (I've talked to folks that do this, so I know it exists)

I've also applied to many service design firms. this is what I've been planning to do my thesis on, and I think it suits me. Unfortunately, none of them have openings, I'm just cold emailing.

I've also been applying to multidisciplinary firms. some have intern positions available, some don't. I'm not hopeful about these, again because of the lack of the post on my T, but I feel like I should apply anyway.

I've applied to some UX jobs. notably Intel and IBM. I talked to a senior UX guy from intel a while back who said I sounded perfect for what they are doing, but they don't even list UX in their corporate job search website, so I'm blindly applying for anything related there in hopes it'll trigger something in the system.

Finally, I throw out a resume/portfolio for ID when the job is one where I know the product, know the user base, and think I could do a good job. Snap-on was one of those lately. I know the reality and I'm not hopeful that I will get these, but I know I could do the work, so I apply anyway.

And finally, I applied for a couple graphic designer jobs. graphic design is perhaps my biggest weakness, and I want to improve, but I don't have the resources. I thought it I could luck into one and have some kind of mentor it would be helpful.


iab - interestingly, I just grabbed a membership in the PDMA last week hoping to make connections, but I still really don't understand what product management is as a field. can you recommend any websites or books that might help?
also, could you explain more what you mean about not adhering to any definition of designer? I know the massimo vignelli quote "if you can design one thing, you can design anything" and believe in it, but I feel like you have to fit in a labeled box if you're going to get a job somewhere.

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It sounds like there's a couple of things at play - and none of them are uncommon in our world.

-You're questioning what you want to do when you get out of school
-You're questioning why you aren't learning certain skills you think you need to learn
-You're questioning if anyone will hire you without those skills.

The good news is, pretty much every student goes through that. No programs are perfectly suited towards every students need, and the reality is there are so many skills that you WILL need to pick up on your own that it's just part of the process. I know that's a crappy answer, but it's the truth. When I was in school we learned the basics of 3D using "Cobalt" (A tool which was obsolete even 8 years ago when I was learning it). I said "hey this is useless" and taught myself a new 3D tool each year (Rhino, Maya, Solidworks) so by the time I graduated I had 3 tools under my belt, and never once mentioned that I was fluent in "Cobalt".

Wireframing, physical computing, are all things you could incorporate into your ID/UX projects if you chose to - in college, very rarely will anyone ever STOP you from doing something. As long as you still fulfill the brief, whatever you do beyond that is up to you.

The benefit of being in school is you have classmates. Why not bring these issues up? Perhaps someone wants to go out and learn wireframing, or how to use Omnigraffle, or Flash, or Ardunio, etc. Get together on the weekend and you can all sit in a room watching internet tutorials, or sharing books or websites that have useful info.

At the end of the day the only person actually responsible for the value of your education is you. If you are working 3 jobs and don't have the time to do these sorts of things, then unfortunately I don't have a great solution for that besides to sleep less and drink more coffee. I understand that working is needed to pay for school and life, but those are things you'll have to figure out. You can't tell someone at a job interview you didn't learn something because you were too busy working, even if it's the truth.

There are a lot of colleges out there, and the reality is a good percentage of them have mediocre programs that don't pump out the top 10% of students. But if you use sites like this as a global source of what's actually happening out there, you can get a much better idea. And I won't even charge you ;-)


_iamdave
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If there was ever a need for a "like" button more it would be for Cyberdemon's post. What a great bit of advice and just exactly what this community is here for!

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jcharles00
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yes, to second what dave said, great post!

I'm still a little stuck for my own situational reasons, (ie lack of time) so I'm looking at
A. stay in school, hope someone hires me so I can learn more skills or
B. stop going to school so I have time to teach myself the skills I need

Do you guys think it would reflect poorly if I went route B? the MFA will be my only design related degree.. seems like lacking that would be a huge hurdle, but at the same time, everyone always says that you don't _need_ a formal education to be a designer.

I definitely understand what you mean in regards to sleeping less and drinking coffee, but I hit the hard end of that spectrum. at my best, I was staying up 4 days in a row and getting a little bit done, but all the caffeine gave me kidney stones and an ER trip, and then I got sick for 4 weeks. (which I haven't fully shaken yet)

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Cyberdemon
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I don't think it would be wise to just throw away the education you've been working towards. You've already made the investment, I think what you need to do is realize what value is there and learn how to make better use of your time. The degree is still a valuable piece of paper - and honestly most HR systems won't even pass you through to a human if it doesn't see a relevant degree in your resume.

The staying up all night was a bit of a tongue in cheek, but the real takeaway is learning how to manage your time and get the most value out of it.

I can tell you (along with anyone who has ever done any study on stress and human learning) that you learn NOTHING when you're trying to cram stuff in their brain while strung out. So if you're in a situation where you don't feel like you can do anything without cramming, you should try and think about options for how to alleviate or prioritize some stresses. If you're working multiple jobs that may mean taking a semester off and seeing if there's ways to get rid of a job in order to focus on school - I won't play financial adviser but if that means getting a roommate to help pay rent, trying to negotiate a raise, taking out a personal loan, etc - then it should be something to consider.

Perhaps rather than dropping out of school it may be better to take a semester or two off to freshen yourself, save some money so you can then quit in a year and spend that time focusing on completing your degree. There's lots of options and I'm sure none of them are easy, but it's food for thought.


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you may be running into a bias. there are tons of career changing students to go grad school for ID but quickly fall into UX because they can't draw or whatever. They pick up diagramming flowchats and do wireframing much faster.
- so the profession see's a number of these UX as ID washout MFA portfolio's on a regular basis.

Dosn't mean you can't get a job in UX or IxD, and there is a growing niche of products that need a good understanding of both disciplines. I'd say the designer as researcher is an even smaller niche to shoot for, if there's a hundred engineers for every designer, there's a dozen designers for every researcher. my suggestion is fill out the rest of your portfolio with quick, small projects that combine both. Camera's, Home security panels, GPS etc. Avoid cell phones - those are in everyones portfolio now.

Simple interactions, in a clean package.

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Cyberdemon
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A good UX portfolio should also show what different options did you explore, and WHY did you actually make the decisions you did. "This one seemed the best" isn't a good reason - paper prototypes, flash mockups and user testing, all of those are key to informing a real UI.

Also keep in mind it doesn't need a real "Display" to have a UI. Just look at the Nike Fuel Band or other similar devices. A good UI that can communicate with very little feedback will do a lot.

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