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

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.

If “Pushing a Rock” is still reading this thread I encourage him/her to post some work here, even a resume. If you’re really throwing in the towel then what would you care if people here we able to see, and possibly help you out?

I was going to chime in with the comment that it is possibly your attitude that is ruining things for you, but then I looked back at when I was in your exact same situation and my attitude was nothing short of feirce, it will help you in the future :slight_smile:.

If you do end up landing something, these rough times will count for alot, you’ll definately value your new-found position more than the fresh grad that think’s their hot shit.

Post your stuff, take a chance.

Everytime i get excited about the idea of going back to school for ID I come here & get the wind knocked right out of me. (I posted a while back about switching & ID careers Career Change... to ID...?).

I’m always thrown aback by the pessimism of the industry at these forums (at least when it comes to career outlook) and I wonder if it’s really that bad, or if a large number of ID grads who can’t find jobs congregate here… a level of hopelessness happens with all careers. I had friends in engineering with me who didn’t find good jobs until a couple years out of college… some went back for their masters because they couldn’t find the job they wanted.

I have many friends who graduated with design degrees, including ID, and they are all employed all over the country and doing well for the business environment they’ve chosen. Every time I talk with a manager at a design firm I never have a negative response.

Is there anybody out there that doesn’t think it’s that bad? Most information I find says there’s a positive, but competitive outlook. This is the most negative place I’ve found. I’m not trashing this board - I love it - I’m just trying to understand.


So lets guess what is the percentile of people who can forge a career in ID longer than 3years.

I think it is 15% Of grads.

Sorry, but if you’re expecting this or any other internet forum to “confirm” you to the ID club, it shows you’re deeply insecure about your choice, already the best reason NOT to go into a field as competitive as ID. Artists make art, writers write and musicians play gigs without thinking “Oh my God, all these people here are so negative and discouraging me, is it really that bad?”. What are you, 5 years old? If your heart and mind really were in design you’d jump no matter what we’d tell you here anyway.

If you need us to hold your hand you’re really not cut for this.

To Serauqs:

Here’s my story: Graduated from a well known auto school. Been working ever since.

If you are not in the so-called “design club” then you might have trouble getting a job. Get with a professor, suck up, make friends with the so-called jocks of class and be their flunky. Oh yeah, if you have the right image that helps too. You can translate that comment any way you want.

I’ve seen it all and heard all the horror stories. If you are having second thoughts then go into something else. This is a field that is not only gender specific but culturally too. I’ve actually heard people say they are looking for a certain (type) of person for an opp. That’s really scary.

Maybe in the year 2050 these attitudes will change but by then most of us on this forum will be lucky to be able to pick of a set of pencils to do a sketch.

This is my experience from what I’ve seen.

Thanks for the psychoanalysis. When did I ask for anyone to hold my hand or be “confirmed” into the ID club? I didn’t ask for a parade in my honor when I announced my interest, or for comments from cynical pricks. I wanted to know if people found the job market reasonable. Nothing here is going to sway my decision, but it may change how I handle the situation. Last time I checked trying to prepare myself the best I can when entering a situation isn’t childish.

Oh, and I do create music & play all over the country, so adversity is nothing new. You sound much like one of the pretentious hipsters who come to shows and don’t have a clue.

My .02:

Yes, it’s a tough business. Most careers that have potential for high rewards also have worse-than-average entry/sustainability nightmares. Design is also very misunderstood by many business leaders, which makes it harder for us to earn our true worth and propagate our cause.

In artistic and athletic endeavors the pecking order usually goes by talent. Character is a good second place though. You need to find your niche or find your mentor who is going to help you find the path and help mold your ideology.

Start networking and collaborating with people on stuff - whether directly related to ID or just something creative. That always gets the juices flowing. I don’t know how people like Richard Sapper can work in an isolation tank, but I like a good bit of collaboration.

Last comment - it is really hard to find talent. When you tally all the things together which make a good fit for employer/employee: location, types of work, style issues, software, ETC ETC it’s very hard to find a perfect fit. If you want to stay in ID you just have to be persistent and keep applying yourself to what you want to do. There will be 100 setbacks for every move forward.