Career advice?

I am in an oddball situation, similar to the Cerevellum guy in the thread below. I’m not the founder, but am #3 in a startup. We launched in 2007 and landed product in 2009. Prior to landing in 2009, I gradually stopped designing and started helping the founder setup operations in the US. I’ve learned a lot about going from idea to launch to running a business.

Today, my main responsibility is running US operations, but after 4.5 years, I want to out, and want get back to ID… But there are a few things I have come across during my job search over the last year:

  • ID job postings seem few and far in between (I’m in NYC, but am willing to relocate to LA).
  • When I apply to ID postings, I get no response. I know my portfolio needs work, so I’ve been updating and creating personal projects for almost 6 months now.
  • I’m getting the feeling that my non-traditional resume doesn’t help me (this has been my only “real” job after college). HR seems to be searching for the “perfect” candidate…this is my feeling after going on a couple non-design interviews and hearing feedback.

My lack of success is making me consider other options. The mobile industry interests me and is growing, so I am considering re-educating myself in interaction design, product management, or even project management. Which brings me to my questions,

  1. What do you think of our future prospects as industrial designers?
  2. How much do you think ID employment is affected by the economy?
  3. How does interaction design employment compare?
  4. Any other thoughts?

I think you shouldn’t sweat it. And I think you should decide where you want to live, and what kind of life you want, and let that dictate your next moves. Screw the coasts. I think too many folks act like slaves to this business and get sucked into the forced relocation, high COL rat race thing. If you have savings, set up shop somewhere, leverage your experiences, and pursue projects that area interesting, pay the bills, and cultivate the skills you care about cultivating. Don’t worry if it’s “traditional” ID, or if some kid in Pasadena can sketch better than you, and don’t let another designer or design director define what or who you should be when satisfying clients is all that matters. That’s a game for fresh grads. Probably not particularly helpful, nor particularly advice-y. The point is, it’s up to you to decide what you do.

Your experience sounds great. Post your portfolio. That is the major deciding point for any designer looking for a job.


  1. What do you think of our future prospects as industrial designers?
    There are always roles for designers that can prove their value.

  2. How much do you think ID employment is affected by the economy?
    The same as every other job.

  3. How does interaction design employment compare?

    I think instead of saying there aren’t enough ID jobs (I hear there are not enough IxD and GD jobs as well from those having a hard time getting those, yet we struggle to fill all of them) the question you need to ask yourself is who would value your experience. Probably not a firm where the ability to do many different projects in many different industries rapidly is required. Maybe in a large corporation, but there a designer may go deep designing a collection of products while leveraging many other in house experts on the way to market. Perhaps in a product development house that goes from design to production. Most definetly in another start up.

The most imortant question is what do you want to do? And what are you willing to do to make that happen?

What I want, in a dream world, is to to go into a consultancy where yes, I am asked to work on a wide variety of projects in different industries. After being in one industry for so long, I am craving diversity in work. I want to scratch this designer’s itch thoroughly.

Second, yes I am willing to work to get to where I want, I am not afraid of that. The thought that weighs on me is knowing that the time I have to invest in myself is a limited after juggling work, a girlfriend, and friends. For me, I’m trying to figure out what will be the best return on my time investment, either continuing ID or serious career change.

I like the idea of freelancing but haven’t researched that route or thought about it seriously yet, suppose I should. In regards to lifestyle, love city living in NYC, but the girlfriend wants to move to LA, so I’m open to that as well.


Another startup interests me, but it would ideally be something I start myself. The countering force here is my desire to get out of where I am currently.

My work:

Here is a recent personal project:
You can check my tumblr sketchbook, where I’m working on a branding project:
Here is what I’ve done with my company, work that is public:

A lot of the past year has been about me getting back into ID game. The branding project on tumblr, for instance, is the first time I’ve ever taken a sketch into photoshop.

Also please don’t use my company’s name in this thread, I’m paranoid my boss will find this thread. He found my personal website only days after it launched. awkward…

  1. They’re great. More companies are hiring designers in house, or using consultants both big and small. On the other hand, it does attribute to a ‘glut’ at some levels, which could drive prices down.
  2. Directly affected. Spooky economies cause projects to get pushed back or cancelled. Consultants get left hanging with 1000’s of dollars in unpaid billings. Corporations cancel new development and even R&D in the interest of hunkering down. That being said, companies with strong ID, PD, and manufacturing are not going to be swayed by the latest jobs report, the DJIA crashing 500 pts, etc. but it will make them a little nervous. It takes more - like vendors shutting doors or unable to get credit, that makes companies not hire new design staff and/or fire the existing ones.
  3. Probably similar to #2.
  4. You don’t have a non-traditional resume or portfolio. Traditional is boring most of the time. Somewhere in NYC or LA there is a company or group looking for this exact thing. If you are getting the cold shoulder, you probably aren’t matching up your expertise with what that group does or needs. Like yo said about “who would value your experience”.

Other areas of expertise are nice-to-haves when considering a candidate, but when I’m advertising for a sr ID, I want 95% sr ID. Product and project mgmt skills are nice to haves but its not the same job or hiring manager.

So, do you want:

  1. a job
  2. a job in LA
    2.5. a move to LA
  3. a job in NYC
  4. a job in ID
  5. a job in ixd
  6. a job in pm
  7. friends, time to invest in yourself, a girlfriend, etc.