I’m a fresh graduate and looking to get a job in the industrial design field, but so far nothing has really happened for me. All of these “junior” design positions all require 2-5 years of experience and I haven’t had much luck! I feel like I am competing against seasoned pros with a lot more experience in the field than me.
I am thinking about moving out of the Midwest and going somewhere with strong industrial design presence… NYC… Seattle… LA… and picking up a job to keep me afloat but perhaps a job that can build me connections… such as working a job that might put me in contact with the designers like at a cafe around the design firms of the city, or something like that. And in my offtime, really focus on improving my skills and portfolio (which I have been living at home).
Is this a good idea? Or what other suggestions do you guys have?
Every city or region will have a different cost of living, and local salaries, when measured against that, will impact your standard of living. The cost of living in NYC, for instance is about 2x what you’ll find in the medium sized Midwestern cities, but salaries are only 20% higher. In other words, if you can find a position that pays $45k in Des Moines, for instance, and one for $60k in NYC, you’re actually earning a lot less in NYC. I think if you focused your search on mid sized Great Lakes cities with industrial heritage, you’d find a job that paid adult money and not have to live with roommates into your 40s.
Don’t be bummed by the “2-5 years experience”. They will still consider you.
The Mid-west has a lot of opportunities. Plus, you probably have better contacts in the region. I know moving from Arizona to Montreal, the biggest hurdle to my first job was having no network or alumni to tap.
As for building connections working at a cafe…maybe. I think that’s going to be tough though. Just going to design get-togethers is going to be better. Also, reach out for some pointers. If there is an industry that interests you, search on linkedin for some designers in the industry or who have worked previously in the industry and send them some questions. If people see you are passionate, you are going to get interviews and opportunities.
Lastly, keep working on the portfolio. If I were in your shoes today, I would try to do some outlandish design to get my work on some blogs. Recent grads are so lucky in that you have access to CAD, rendering and illustration tools at low monthly rates. Take advantage of it! Plus, there are a million design and industry blogs that are starved for content.
In your experience, what’s the step in between being on a blog and getting a job? Companies contact you because they saw you on a blog? You contact them and they’re more receptive because they’ve seen your work on a blog?
I just think any attention is good. Right now, if I see your portfolio, it’s just one of many. If you did something crazy enough to be featured on Core77 (for example), you are now, “Whoa…that’s that guy from the Core blog!” I can’t really tell you what the advantage would be. When I graduated, this was not really an option.
However, I got two jobs because people saw projects similar to the products they made in my portfolio. That immediately made my work more relatable to them. Appearing on a blog somewhere, I think, would have the same effect.
If I were you, I would hands down focus on landing internships, creating new personal work and holding down a 9-5 job until your skill set improves. I think the Midwest is fine and this is coming from someone who grew up there. The hustle of finding a job, while refining your skills is a great learning tool! It keeps you hungry and on your toes (maybe literally) . Reality is the World isn’t handing out jobs. You have to really want it! When I graduated I thought I had a decent skill set and in fact didn’t know a damn thing…I’m still learning everyday. Good Luck
Hey man, this is a bit late, but I thought I should mention it.
Your images and text are way too big. I’m scrolling down so much through your portfolio that I’m getting lost in your process even before I get to the first concepts. Same thing with the text. Makes your site very difficult to get through. For the record, I’m on a 15" Dell. I also looked up your site on my phone to check if your site was made for mobile. The opposite happens where now the text is too small to read, again.