Design Gurus needed for life change - Design my life

In my late 30’s and want to transition from current career into Design.

Need an educated roadmap to get to my goal. Have my own ideas but want the experts to weight in.

Strengths: currently manager 40+ staff, innovator at work, brain storming is my speaciality, some product design classes under my belt at Parsons so understand the process, I can communicate my ideas on paper

Do not want to go back to school: I can read everything I get my hands on but I am not will to “waste $150,000 on an education you coulda got for a buck fifty in late charges at the public library.”

Suggestions? Computer programs I should familiarize myself with, internships, just make stuff (as one professor wisely stated) . . .

So here is your big chance for real design . . .

I don’t know if I’m allowed to pipe in because I just spent the money on my college education and I’m only 21…

Here’s the skills that I see most college grads having these days: sketching (digitally and paper), CAD (Alias, Solidworks, Rhino, Pro/E), basic mechanics, model building (mock-ups to final), verbal and visual presentation skills, etc.

Along with that is knowing Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator in and out.

As I’ve talked to a gazillion employers in the past month they have all wanted to see: sketches (more and more and more!) and process.

You’ll basically be selling yourself with a portfolio like everyone else… so if you don’t have one - make one! Head over to Coroflot…

hmmm…a difficult position.

first off, where do you see yourself in “design”? Deciding that first will help set a pth of skills and requirements.

If you want to be a designers vs. manager, for example, the route would be different, especially given your current experience.

You best bet based on the little you have told about yourself, I would suggest, is to pursue something in the direction of project management or related higer level staff position, possibly within a larger organization.

Getting in as a designer requires lots of sketching and hands on skills that are likely harder to learn from “$50 in late fees at the library”.

That being said, you will need to familiarize yourself with the processes and actual experience i would imagine would still be required in addition to studious reading. Consider finding an internship, possibly at a higher level than the normal student thing, maybe applying some of your current skills (ie. business case study, marketing review, etc.) for a larger company that may be more open to someone coming from a non-traditional background (for a designer).

As said above though, you will have to compete against the usual suspects of grads and designers with more experience. You just need to leverage your current experience as a positive rather than start from scratch, IMHO.

Best of luck. Any more info on what you are currently doing would also help pointing you in the right direction.


All good advice. Have been at the very top of classes in PD1 and PD Advanced and Designing for the home (taught with three prof.s working in the real world - great class) but concerned that even if I hone my skills more I may not be the young buck they are all looking for.

Mainly, I just want to be in on the design process, the brainstorming and problem solving that I find so satisfying. If I could project manage and do that I would be very happy.

Work models are different in many different companies. Is there a position that this type of position applies too? Do PMs get to get there hands dirty? The designers I have spoken to and their are quite a few say a lot of different things because it varies by company so much.