Career change?

I have been out of school and working for about 5 years in a job that although financially rewarding is leaving me cold. I have been thinking very seriously about going back to school for a design degree (product design). I am looking at Carleton U’s ID program in particular because with a bachaleor already under my belt I would not need to be a full time student.

I am hoping to continue working at my current job (I generally set my own hours) and attend classes and studio on the side. However, I’m not sure that this will be possible. Looking at the 4 year program the student schedule is divided between classes and studio with studio occupying as musch as 30 hours a week (30 hours of time that I generally work).

Are these simply times were the schools resources will be made available to students working on projects or should I think of these as classes where attendance will be mandatory? I’d love to do this but I don’t think it’s going to happen if I have to quit my job. I have no problem working like hell for a couple of years but doing so would require the flexibility to work independently at least some of the time.

Any students or grads with some insight???

I can’t speak to the ID program at Carleton, but my situation was somewhat similar to yours - previous degree, cush job, decent money, but feet were totally asleep… based on the feedback of our program advisor, I chose not to work. Looking back, there’s no way I could have completed my program and worked part or full time. However, I had a lot to learn in terms of sketching and design - perhaps you’ve already got skills. Other’s in my class worked, but many (in my estimation) at great expense to the quality and enjoyment of the experience.

You should talk to the program advisor at your intended school and ask them - it’s certainly possible to work, especially if you will only be taking one or two classes - and the money will certainly help to defray costs… but there’s a consideration that goes beyond cost - ID is immersive. It’s hard to switch off the creativity and go back to a drone job… also, your program might require an internship, which would eventually conflict with work.

There’s a lot to think about, and ultimately it’s your choice - but that’s how it went for me. Good luck!

Talking to an ID instructor at Carleton would be a good idea, but I think an even better idea would be to talk to a recent grad or a current final year student.

Personally, I had to quit my part time job in third and final year just to be able to have enough time for school and internships. I can’t even fathom trying it with a full time job.

I did my BID at Carleton (grad 5 years ago).

From my perspective, its a great program with a good solid foundation on practical skills and knowledge. Compared to many other ID programs out there

You didnt mention what you do now, or what area you want to go into. Thats one thing I would sort out when looking for the best school to fit you plans. Of course, if its a matter of staying in Ottawa/Canada this may not be much of an issue.

In general, I would say that the ID education at Carleton is solid, and good foundation for a real working career in design. Its much more focused on real design problem solving than artsy design, rendering or presentation. Good for some, not so good for other, and depends where you want to go.

As for time requirements, I cant recall that 30 hours a week could be possible for actual classes, but total classes and studio work I would likely say is even more than that.

In my experience, I never slept the night before a single deadline in my 4 year education, and when I did about 4 hours max. but then again also realize you’ll get out as much as you put in. In any case there is a big demand time and resources. I would not recommend it while doing a full time job , however.

Best of luck,


I have a friend in your situation that actually ended up going to my school for ID. The company doesn’t want him to leave and even offered to double pay, etc. But my friend would rather be an Industrial designer then what he is doing now. He bit the bullet and is finishing up next year, the only catch is that with a 30 hour a week job and a full time ID curriculum, he gets very little sleep, is always sick, and his work is not to its full potential because of lack of time. He can’t go part time, because he wouldn’t be able to get enough loan money to pay for rent and living expenses.

It’s a catch 22, for him and it might be for you, but if your willing to see the bigger picture, then you might be able to endure it for a couple of years.

He’s hoping to get an internship ASAP that might pay 50% of his current pay check so that he can by fully immersed in design. Pop Ramen and Oreos go a long way he tells me.