Career advice needed

Hi everyone,

So I’ve got a career problem here. I went to school to be an Industrial Designer. I got about a year’s worth of experience as a Junior Designer, but left because of the location of the job.

Two years later I have a position now as a Design Engineer at a lighting company. But I find engineering work to be pretty boring, especially compared to design.

My problem is this: I’m not good enough at hand sketching to be a designer, and I’m not good enough at math to be a true engineer. So I feel like I’m stuck between worlds with nowhere to go in either. My strengths are my CAD modeling skills; I can make anything. I’ve also got experience with motion graphics, graphic design, teaching, and marketing.

My options that I’ve been considering are;

  1. Go back to school for teaching or design. Try and get into a PhD program while working on my Masters.

  2. Try to become a CAD/design teacher at a local tech school or university, but I have no idea how to develop a game plan for this.

  3. Somehow get back into Industrial Design.

Just wondering if anyone wouldn’t mind helping with some advice. Feeling pretty lost these days. Thanks!

Inverted Vantage,

I’m responding to your thread because for so many reasons I can relate.

There are a million ways I can convince you to do any of the options you listed. All of your options are good ones and have pros and cons that you need to weigh to make the best decision that will ultimately make you happy, such is life and such is design.

My ultimate advice to you is this: Decide what you want, regardless of your current skills/abilities and then use all of your current frustrations and passions to go capture that goal, whatever it may be.

Now, if that is Industrial Design…Your modeling skills, graphic design and engineering/design experience you have already need to be utilized to land you a job where you can prosper. 3D modeling is huge, and you should sell that in your portfolio!! Show how great you are at that and in the meantime SKETCH SKETCH SKETCH. I’ve been there, failing my sketching class in college, sketching daily, sketching at midnight, sketching during lunch breaks when I was an engineer because I couldn’t land a design job. Everyone can learn to sketch, and those who are really good have gotten good by practicing daily. Watch tutorials. Copy a style. Create your own.

Hit me up if you’d like so I can help.

Best of luck!

I remember you posted a sketch thread some time back.
I looked at it again just now and honestly, I think you are being too hard on yourself regarding your sketching abillities.

Others might disagree but for me your level is more than sufficient.

What is on the other hand really important to me when I recommend people to be hired, is whether they have a unique style and a story to tell in their projects.
I have seen great sketchers being passed on because their work just had no point of view.

So my advice would be to make sure your portfolio is laid out well and has soul. Not just hot, random sketches.
You apply what you can do today to some interesting, well researched and developed projects and I see no reason why you wouldn’t land a job in ID.

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If you excelle at CAD but not engineering why not be a CAD modeler at a design firm or even in corporate? For example Apple often posts jobs for Design CAD Modelers.

Or if you really want to stick with ID then either develop your weak points or find a design job that caters to your strengths.

Not being able to get a job as a designer so teaching design seems like it would be frustrating for you and a disservice to students who are paying a lot of tuition money. If I was paying that tuition I’d want to know the instructors are there because they want to be there not out of circumstance. I think you can find something if your push yourself and you are open to location. I’ve moved across the entire country 3 times. You have to go to where the opportunity if you value that.

Thanks for the feedback guys. A lot of it I think I already knew, but it helps to hear it from others.

In response to yo’s reply specifically…I actually really like teaching. I think it’s fun and I have a lot to offer, especially in the realm of CAD. If I could get a part time job teaching I think I’d be really happy.

I just want to make sure that I still work in design so my skills don’t fade and I can still be a useful resource for students.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time, guys. I will let you know if and when any changes occur. :slight_smile:


Have you considered 3D modeling for games or film?

Plenty of need for good training instructors there as well.

Paul Pepera:
Tor Frick:
Vitaly Bulgarov:
Fausto Di Martini: Fausto De Martini

I have, thanks! I do some of that as well - mostly for games. I capital L Love Paul Pepera’s work with those fabric-covered spaceships. You know he uses a 3D fashion design program called Marvelous Designer to do them? You lay out fabric cut patterns and a physics engine stitches the seams together and drapes them over a physical body. It’s really cool!

Fausto’s stuff is freaking dope. I wish I was that good haha.

“I’m not good enough at hand sketching to be a designer”. “I’m not good enough at math to be an engineer”
In 1 year, you may be amazing at hand sketching. You may be an amazing designer who doesn’t hand sketch. You may remember what inspired you about design in the first place. Your career doesn’t just happen to you. Be honest about what you are passionate about. Follow your passion and you will be successful. You can do it! -mike

If you are only going to perform one service or in a single work phase, you are likely to get bored and unchallenged unless it is something that truly fuels you. See if you can redress a balance between different ways of doing and thinking - a single afternoon of creative work may be enough to do that for you within your current job, you may want to try to get involved in new product development at your current company, do your own projects next to your current job, or you simply step back into industrial design which should realistically be possible since you already have a degree and some work experience. More important than being a good sketcher is being a good communicator and having good ideas and energy, the ways you bring that to others is up to you. Make an informed, critical and realistic choice and go for it!

Motion graphics artists make a lot of money in LA … Seems like thats where you’ve naturally spent your time.