am i too old?

Having graduated with a BSc in industrial product design and a MSc Virtual Manufacturing Engineering (UK qualifications) i was instantly grabbed by some blue chip motor firm contracting for them doing design engineer work for 2 years to pay off the loans and such likes, i then went on to work a big european airplane manufacturing again design engineer 6 months contracting, i moved to seattle and again picked up by a big airplane manufacturer doing design engineer contracting (where i currently am now)

i have hoped that i would at least pick up some design expereince while at my time with the blue chips but that has not been the case, i have always enjoyed design and the creative process, i still long to get into the design industry as an industrial designer, and have been keeping up my skethcing/designing skills with just some blue sky stuff i dreamed up during my spare time, but my only real port folio othet those are my university stuff

i have gained considerable CAD modelling skills while my time as a design engineer using big name cad systems like catia and IDEAS

i am now 28, what are my chances of actually breaking into the design business, am i too old, if not would my age put me at a considerable disadvantage, i know i can keep plugging my way as a design engineer (i am somewhat a specialist in the field now) but i really do yearn for a design job, advise would greatly be aprieciated

You are not old. I am 28 as well this year and I made it. Age really doesn’t matter to accomplish your goal. It’s your passion and action. If design is where your heart is, go for it. Try harder to turn your direction slightly. Because of your outstanding engineering background, you might be ahead of game.
Good luck.

Thanks for the reply, it is very encouraging to know i am not too old

If age is not a problem would the 3 years gap between me doing any serious deisng work be problematic ?

i know the port folio is extreamly important, mine is a little malnourished right now, would the lack of serious design work work against me or could i get by just on my uni work and a few side projects that i done in my spare time, are they even valid to be entered into my port folio

i feel extreamly frutrated in my current work, there is a lack of freedom to create, and i have a hunger or a need to create things thats starting to gnaw away at my consience

First of all I have to say that you have great academic qualifications. Second of all you’re not too old, 28 with a master!? I think we’re all getting a little greedy with success and degrees and such here in the US. I have friends in Europe that received their BS equivalent at the age of 30 and they’re doing great. I’m myself 32 and am working as a designer full time. My viewpoint is that you have great experience from what you’ve been doing the past few years, even if it’s not actual design, and that is what you bring to the table. I would contact larger design firms that have the ability to see you as an asset and make your way into design that way…

I don’t think anyone in the design industry would shy away from you - but to make the transition you have to put together a slammin portfolio - not that you have to have any real products you did ID on - school work with nice sketches - and a sketch book with more current sketches and cool ideas should get you in - also if your work looks dated then do some new projects - nothing with crazy detail but you could go from sketches to some cad models - I think that would work - also show some of the cad stuff you’ve done- that is a good skill that can get you in - but you don’t want to be limited to that - so say that to potential employers. I’ve found if you polish the portfolio enough with nice sketches and layout you will land it.

Thanks for the advice NateD

I figured that the port folio would be important so i guess i have to polish it up, regarding the sketch book, that a little more complicated, as i tended to sketch on whatever i have at hand, i dont really have what you call a proper sketch book (they started giving me suspicious look bringing a sketch pad to work so i started to sjetch on jotter pads and even post it notes) but i can always transcribe my recent works into a sketch book

and one more question, sounds stupid but what kind of position would i be seeking ? i figured it be like a junior industrial designer position, im not too bothered just as long as i got enough to put food on my plate and pay my mortgage then im happy, but i dont really want to get strange looks from people because im going for the wrong position or something

No. I didn’t graduate until I was 29. Immediately got a job with a student portfolio, haven’t been out of work since (almost 100 years, it seem), but have continuously updated my portfolio and resume.
You can spin your credentials to be stunning. Only 28, yet have masters, 3 important jobs, worked internationally, looking for next world to … etc.
Strong portfolio, superior skills, excellent references – wow.
Way you go!

No worries. Design is a very flexible industry and it take time to develop the mentality to make a difference. Everyone has their own pace.

This is not to say that you shouln’t develop a strategy for not being pigeonholed by your past.

Work on positioning yourself to where you want to be, and resist defining that from where you came from.

(I’ve been throught the same thing as you.)

Junior Design position is good.
Look for the good salary. Don’t just grap any chances that are close to you. If you start high, you will stay in from that value. Money is not everything but very important, especially if you have a family to takecare.

New Pratt Kid, Thanks for the advice i greatly aprieciate it

Thanks to everyone else too, i guess im not too old after all (even though my bones tell me otherwise :wink:) , i feel more positive now and believe i will make an atempt at entering the design profession soon, here’s hoping for the best

Don’t get too caught up with the term “sketchbook” as that can mean just about anything. What’s important is that you have a ton of sketches and process to show potential employers. If you had a bunch of sketch stuff binder-clipped together in addition to a more formal project based portfolio, that should do the trick…

Graduated at age 38 as a midlife career change. Been working non-stop ever since. Now 48. If you can put together a good portfolio, I think you would be snapped up in a heart beat, particularly by small to medium sized companies (my position) where the designer has to wear many hats. If you can produce both good industrial as well as mechanical design, you’ll be employed for life!!

Have at it, and NEVER undervalue your experience!