Do you ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

I have. I graduated nearly three years ago, all bright aspirations and hopes for an exciting career in industrial design. I had what I thought was a good portfolio, not the best in the school, but certainly in the top 10%, with a variety of projects and even an internship experience thrown in.

What a bunch of S H I T! My department head was all positivity, saying that she saw potential in my work and that I would make a good designer and that the employment outlook for ID looked good and I could expect to make 60K within a few years of graduation. Now I realize she was pitching a sales speech just like a used car salesman, to get my ass into the seat and keep me writing checks to the school.

I’ve finally realized that the only career harder to break into is probably being a dancer or a rock star, or perhaps major studio film director. If I was in a band at least I might have a chance to get laid. Instead, I have endlessly revamped my portfolio, dedicated nights and weekends to learning new programs, desperately trying to make something out of the tens of thousands of dollars I flushed down the toliet going to industrial design school, only to have employer after employer turn their nose up at my work, without so much as a response, not even a “no thanks, you suck, fuck you” Why? I have no idea. What can I do to improve? Beats me. I have met with many of my instructors, career coaches, joined professional organizations, etc. and have done EVERYTHING that they’ve suggested. Unless you are chosen at an early part of your career to get multiple internships, you can FORGET about ever working as an industrial designer in this country. I’ve made the wrong decisions, trusted the wrong people, and now all I have to show for it is being tens of thousands of dollars in debt and unable to get a job that allows me to pay my bills while living in a miserable, expensive, frozen city working a dead end job that doesn’t use even one of the skills I sacrificed my entire mid 20’s to learn. I never in my worst dreams imagined I could’ve made this big of a mistake. I have no skills that anyone will pay me for.

Industrial design ruined my life.

Deez? Is that you?

Mr. Pink Buddy Holly Glasses is doing good for himself, tv show and all.

Like talented folk like us are forced to work at Wal-Mart to pay student loans.

If I could do it all over again I would have been a bean counter.

sounds like you have a self awareness issue. ‘industrial design’ did nothing to you; look inside yourself, champ…you make your own reality.

agree with u. You should pick up a new major which you can earn a decent living. At least you are still young.

Don’t worry, when the oil runs out and there is nothing to immediately replace it all industrial designers are going to be up shit creek.

cottage industries anyone?

What does Oil have to do with it?

This first post should be a sticky because this is the reality of what designers face. I’m not an industrial designer, but related. Anyway, as someone who finally has made it after 10yrs of sacrifice, I can say the hard part is yet to come. Also mrgoose had disguised some good advice to you. Class projects only get you so far. You will probably end up working that crappy job for another year or two.

It always took “some” time to get a creative career going but 3 years looks like you’re still taxying on the runway and never took off. Stories like yours are now commonplace among recent grads I’ve been working with, if this is any consolation. You are a casualty of two distinct currents here.

  1. ID schools in the U.S. and Canada are narcissistic and cynical business establishments with an agenda rather different from “real world” business, believe it or not. Or else, the teaching fossils (many of whom barely know industry) would have by now received news that, with China and all, the need for traditionally-trained product designers has been on the wane for a good 10 years now. And dropping fast.

  2. Hard as it may be for you to stomach, you too are largely to blame for your misfortune, but not because you haven’t tried hard enough or - I assume - lack basic skills. It’s called career research and it’s something I barely ever hear design hopefuls attempt, let alone complete. When I went to school the internet was still a Pentagon secret but I still managed to gather lots of hard data on ID career prospects from dozens of sources, including practising designers. Of course the school did a great sales job and I was itching to get in, but I had examples around me of smart individuals with diplomas driving taxis and waiting tables. That scared the proverbial crap out of me.

That was then, this is now. And it’s much, much more difficult to both break into and survive a design career in 2005. Lack of judgement, poor counselling and immaturity drive starry-eyed youngsters to indebt themselves for sometimes close to 100K to get a useless degree and waste four precious years in the prime of their youth, only to end up in jobs either non design-related or severely underemployed as “design laborers” (all hands, no mind).

I do empathise with you because I have been there too. What is happening today, though, is that the struggle simply isn’t worth it for most, there’s no payback at the end. But, with the research power of today’s internet, you should have done your homework before even applying. I’m convinced that, no matter your talent or attraction to glossy design magazines, had it been clear to you from the start that making a living in ID was this hard, you would have reconsidered.

The schools are to blame, yes, but so are you. Think about it for a minute here - would you place 50K with a financial adviser you hardly know, with a bank that doesn’t guarantee your capital in 4 years (let alone interest), in an investment scheme that provides no verifiable track record over time? Yet this is what so many applicants to ID programs do each year in the passion of the moment.

Because it’s legally and logistically complex to keep such records, most schools will never provide applicants with statistical data indicating how their graduates fared over their work years. If you talk to people who’ve been in the design business for some time, volumes of anecdotal evidence quickly add up to paint a consistently disastrous picture of employment in this field - and in all respects - pay, security, opportunities for learning, workplace conditions, career longevity and so on. ID schools are the last interested in providing employment statistics, for good reason. Are they legal businesses? Sure they are. Are they ethical businesses by preying on creative youth and selling hot air? You decide.

You could be right about the “getting laid” part, but it may have actually gotten easier to make it in film or the performing arts than design. Look at Michael Moore. At least art schools never promise graduates jobs, certainly not 60K annual salaries. Design schools, still confused about what design in industry is or should ever be, peddle this pathetic myth of an artist with a secure job, a historically-proven impossibility.

Short of a class-action suit against these unemployment-producing factories, after three years of trying, you should consider at least spreading the word and moving on to greener career pastures while young.

Do eventually send a thank you card to your alma mater, though.

I spent much of the years following my undergrad degree playing rockstar, literally. Nothing easy about that, believe me when I tell you. It’s not the glamourous life you see on MTV or Guitar Center to be sure.

However, I learned how to market my band, and ultimately myself, which paid off in finding a job after my graduate studies in ID.

Yes, it took awhile, and it certainly wasn’t easy. Finding a job is really a job in and of itself. But I did it, and so can you, unless you’re in serious denial about your skills.

There is never any guarantee, no matter what field you choose, especially in todays economy. Its a sh*t sandwich and we all need to take a bite.

Be glad you’re not literally counting beans in the hills of China somewhere, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and make your future.

Post your stuff and we’ll tell you what’s wrong.

I can relate to that student.

I graduated from a (well known) transportation program school. They told me I would be making 80K a year and that I would be flooded with job prospects. I had all those big dreams of being a hot designer and seeing my design driving down the road. What a load of garbage.

What they forgot to mention is the high amount of political BS that goes on behind the scenes. The only students that got the jobs were the department favorites not the people who really busted their a… throughout the year. Now those same favorites are teachers. What a total shock. They work for the big companies and are able to make even more money teaching on the side. Very disappointing, especially to the people who graduated empty handed. SO many are afraid to complain for fear of being outsted or rejected when this is the inevitable anyway.

Notice the people that always win competitions. What makes their work so superior? Most everyone is good or else they wouldn’t be there. The only difference is they have a buddy pushing for them to win. Really sad but true. I see it as there are the golden kids and the worker bees in school. The favorites already know what’s coming to them even before they graduate and the worker bees are the ones in total shock after graduation.

To the student who originally posted:
Don’t feel bad even the best schools are selling these BS dreams knowing they will only promote their favorites. Unfortunately it sounds like you are a worker bee. I bet your work is good but if you are not chosen in the freshman year to be the star designer then you’re basically SOL.

you are all whiny bitches.

if you are so god damned creative - then come up with the “next big idea” on your own and try to license it off, make some cash and do it again. be persistent. if you fail, try again. market yourself, get articles written about your designs - this is easier than you think. press-releases, interviews, quick tv spots on morning programs or the evening news. design things that help people and make others lives better - people will notice you. if you keep designing useless crap - you will get useless crap results. shit in = shit out.

and don’t sit there and tell me how good you are. just show me. show me an idea that blows my socks off, and I will show you a designer that has a career. you cannot sit back, be a second-rate performer and expect to succeed just because you went to a prestigious institution, or have creative (but unrealistic) ideas.

go read a book, hell write a book, in all your spare time. you must have some, if you have no real work. put in a good 8 hour day for a week, working on your own project and you will be suprised what comes out.

when you have a few sucesses, and become recognized - keep it up, start a small firm, or work as a consultant.

don’t blame your education for your failures, don’t blame the industry. life is all about networking and hard work. don’t expect it to just fall in your lap.

the problem is that it is easier to bitch and whine than it is to actual do work.

It’s not uncommon for schools and profs. to brag up any program with big dreams, big money and easy job landings at any open house or orientation. I had the same thing happen to me, “you’ll make such and such dollars” “offers will fall from the sky for you” blah blah blah. Face it your on your own once you enlist in a program and once you graduate. You have to make it happen nobody will do it for you unless of course your father donated a million dollar wing at the design school and bought off your job.


Why are you so bitter. Does the reality of this business hit too close to home. Were you that special kid in school?

The purpose of this thread is to help some student understand why he got passed over not to get bitter because people are telling the reality of the industry. Whew!!!

The reality of this business is the reality of all business. no industry is EASY to break into - not scientific research, not engineering, not law, not politics, not sales, not music, not acting, not ANYTHING. Graduates from all industries are having difficulties finding jobs - the only ones that are work insanely hard and network so that they know the right people.

But trying to pawn off that problem on schools or the “reality of the business” is crap. I am not bitter, and unfortunately I am not that special kid…I just have my feet planted firmly in the ground.

How do you help a stuggling student by feeding them BS about their major being useless, and about the industry and schools being essentially corrupt?

There is more oppurtunity in this country than anywhere else on the planet, and to just shrug it off as the “reality of the industry” is selling yourself (and the people who need 'help") short…

I am telling this student exactly why he “got passed over” and some ways to fix the problem…just because what I say may seem harsh, that does not mean that it is not true.

Hey Original Poster:

ID ruined your life. That is the worst statement I have read on these boards.

When it comes down to it you cannot blame anyone but yourself.

  1. Why are you working a job that doesn’t utilize your skills?

There are plenty of part time jobs in model shops, manufacturing, or something that is related to the life of products. You just need to look in the right place.

  1. Why would you post on a web board for advice, sounds more like complaining, and not show your work?

If you truly want help and really desire to be in this buisness then you need to show us your work.

  1. Do you understand why you are being rejected for design positions?

You could have a decent portfolio and a poor attitude and be denied your opportunity.

  1. What do you offer these companies that no one else can?

  2. If you are getting interviews you must have a decent portfolio. Perhaps you are trying to get hired at the wrong place.

Get some experience first and then try for those big firms.

If you don’t have what it takes and don’t believe in yourself you don’t deserve to be where you think you should be.

If you truly believe your decision to pursue Industrial Design ruined your life you need to make better decisions. If you just graduted you are probably young so it is never too late to try some else. You do have a college degree don’t you.


Show your stuff!!!

But trying to pawn off that problem on schools or the “reality of the business” is crap. I am not bitter, and unfortunately I am not that special kid…I just have my feet planted firmly in the ground.

How do you help a stuggling student by feeding them BS about their major being useless, and about the industry and schools being essentially corrupt?

There is more oppurtunity in this country than anywhere else on the planet, and to just shrug it off as the “reality of the industry” is selling yourself (and the people who need 'help") short…

I am telling this student exactly why he “got passed over” and some ways to fix the problem…just because what I say may seem harsh, that does not mean that it is not true.[/quote]

Ok Constantinople I’ll reply to this comment (Sounds like we should be speaking off this thread but for the sake of the student I’ll keep going)

You posed a question: Why mention BS to the student?

Well, unfortunately the BS that you feel is unnecessary to mention is a far too often reality for a large number of unsuspecting student that graduated from prestigious institutions. Yes, I agree networking is a good approach, beating the pavement in search of opps is good too.

However, my message is to be prepared before graduation that there will be those students that will have the golden opps given to them w/o much effort.

Sounds like you feel I should not mention the “reality of the industry” to students, tell them just to work hard the the dream will happen. Well, I wish someone had told me before I even entered the business what to expect. Lucky enough I met some people who warned me in advance what to expect.

If you were about to spend 100K for a top notch education wouldn’t you want the full run down rather than someone simply saying work hard and the rest will follow. Honestly, I agree with some of your comments, I agree that hard work will prevail and never give up. I totally agree but I feel going through an education with rose colored glasses on without knowing as much information as possible is unfair to students.

More opps in this country
Ommm. Have you looked at the television lately. Delphi filed bankruptcy along with many others. People are all about outsourcing, freelance, and temporary. Most jobs are going to overseas. Ever wonder why the person interrupting your dinner around 7:00pm has a foreign accent. Things that make you go Hmmmm.

My feet are planted too. Yes, I am successful. I worked real hard and got a opp right after graduation. Luckily I knew what to expect well before graduation.

O-k I’m tired now. I wait for reply. Nice talking to you by the way. At least someone else shares my same passion about the business. Even if we do disagree.

Reading this makes me laugh, kids of this day and age, expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. Spoiled by their parents and the PB&J with no crust syndrome for all these years and now it’s time to find a job. Walk out of college and expect life to be the same way. NOT! If you can’t start somewhere then you’ll never get anywhere. If you expect the rest of life to be tuned to you then your dreaming. If you made it through school and all the hardwork and graduated then you got more then enough to be proud about. Now it’s time to earn your wings the old fashion way.