Becoming a designer at 24

Let’s put it this way: I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was young up until today. Unfortunately, it hasn’t made me a ton of money and I’m accepting that I might need to find work. ID looks like something I’d enjoy doing quite a bit, but it’s not my “dream” job. I don’t think I have a “dream” job since my interests are extremely varied, and I work on things ranging from software to packaging. I still need a trade. I’m skilled at the things I don’t enjoy (programming) and unskilled at the thing I do enjoy (designing objects).

I don’t want to have not given myself the chance to at least be extremely good at one thing. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering how I’d turned out if I channeled my energy into one thing. I think ID can be that channel.

You also have to remember that going to university isn’t just about what you learn in those four walls of the institution. It is a place to make great contacts, be it your classmates and where they end up, your tutors and who they have previously worked with, the alumni and also other courses who might have a great referral.

I wish I could start my degree in ID now at age 24 as I am much more focussed and driven than I was at 18. Back then I was just a kid living away from home for the first time. You’d 100% get more out of it now.

I’d also suggest digging around the forum a little bit, especially in the portfolio section. Take a look at what is getting a great response from some of the more seasoned people on the boards and then what is not hitting the mark. Those not hitting the mark have still got a degree in ID under their belt and are finding it hard. Can you say that your work is even up to that standard?

I admit a lot of the skills I have now aren’t things I learnt in school, but my degree gave me the foundation and opened a few doors. I then got the experience I needed doing internships and being thrown in at the deep end. Trust me though employers won’t want you to be learning from scratch on their dime.

I have a problem. I want to run a software startup, design electronics, finish my novel, improve that algorithm that I know can be improved, and just a whole litony of stuff.
Everything has been started, nothing is finished. It’s getting to a point where I just can’t balance all of these things.

I’m at an odds between what I want to do and how I can make money. ID the only way I see myself making money as a function of the time I put into it. Everything else is just a series of shots in the dark. Still doesn’t mean I only want to be a designer.

Guess it means I shouldn’t?

I don’t think you should go back to school and study ID as a fall-back… which is what it sounds to me like you are considering. Rather, I think you might enjoy and benefit from joining a new startup… I’m a frequent reader of quora, and a highly upvoated answer suggested that 9/10 of the first employees at a tech company should be “jacks of all trades” (link for reference: ).

Now, that surely means you’ll have to do things you say you don’t enjoy at times, like programming, but you’ll also certainly get involved in the design, execution and strategy of the product or service you’ll be part of making. You might not be the one doing the photoshop work or the sketches, but you’ll very likely be part of brainstorms, reviews, testing, etc. It also means you can get started right away.

Please note that I don’t have much personal experience from startups, but I’ve heard and read quite a bit since it’s a path I’m considering for myself.

Just my 2c.

Hiower’s idea could be interesting. Probably it could also be interesting for you to check introductory ID courses, I’ve only heard about this one in UMEA, but you should be able to find more.

You’re both right. It’s so silly to do this as a contigency plan.

I’m running my own startup right now and it’s pretty much what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. Marketing, selling, programming, designing, finance, etc.

I think even if it doesn’t pan out (pre-orders say otherwise!), I’ll be able to show a lot of the work I’ve done this year.

Then it looks like you have it figured out. If you still wanna learn some design skills you could try to find some workshops, get some books or use this forum.

Best of luck!

I did my exchange semester in a different country, when I was 21 and most of my classmates ranged from 25-30 years old, normal for that year (3rd year undergrad) in that country. There’s no shame in being ‘old’/older than everyone else. And for what it’s worth, I always found the graduate students in my school far more interesting to talk to.

Keep in mind there are different types of ID jobs- corporate, consultancy, etc. What does ‘doing’ ID mean to you? That might be another good place to start.

I agree with Sketchgrad-- if I had started my ID degree at the age of 24 vs 18, I’d be much more focused and get 100% more out of it.

When I think of doing “ID” I think of being presented with a problem , and having to take a pre-existing product and shape it differently, or come up with something completely new that will be more efficient, more ergonomic, and nicer to look at and use.