I graduated in 02, which was approximately the worst time to graduate since the Great Depression, and instead of drowning in the sorrow of my fellow classmates, I decided to move to Japan and teach English for a year. It was a fantastic experience and truly improved my eye for design and my capabilities, but I wasn’t working as a designer. Now I have a job in a design related industry, still not designing though my title is “Industrial Designer.” The job is so meaningless and demoralizing that I’d rather scratch my eyes out than sit in front of my computer for another 5 minutes pretending to be busy. In light of this situation, I’ve decided to quit and focus full time on becoming employed as a designer. I’ve spent some time sending out my resume and portfolio to firms that were advertising entry or jr. level employment, but I’ve heard only “thank you, we’ll keep your resume on file.” Do employers shy away from people who have experience in non-design jobs their first 2 years out of school? I’ve revamped my portfolio and resume, and it sounds like it’s taking people an extremely long time to find ID positions. This seems like a tired question, but can anyone give me suggestions about how to get experience without having it?

Hi Desanity!
Never loose hope if designing is what you love to do. I went through a similar situation and to make it worse I needed sponsorship to be able to work; plus, I couldn’t leave the country because my visa was in the middle of a long process…

So, to make a very long story short, I was freelancing for the past few years, Networking everywhere I went, looking for companies in the area that might need a designer in packaging, product, graphic…you name it! I also travelled to trade shows and made contacts in the Plastics Show, ICFF and the local IDSA chapters. Look for companies in Coroflot, Monster, Craigslist and your local newspaper for people who might be interested in freelance work. Everyone needs design! Try design competitions !

Also work on the 3d programs you now so you can sharpen your skills. I also found myself at a company designing in SolidWorks and teaching the guy I was working for; not that much fun but I was learning a lot!

I know it is really hard and sometimes frustrating but I wasn’t happy doing anything else but designing so I also made furniture and custom lighting which is still something that I love to do and have my little industry on the side…
I am finally happy where I am right now (great job, visa trouble sorted out, great city) and I am gratefull for having to go through all this to really know what I wanted to do because once you are out of school you want a job in “no matter what as long as it is design” but do you really want to get stuck in an industry that you don’t really care for? For example POP, packaging, shoes, soft goods? I don’t know, whatever!
I think it is harder to change industry after a while, take advantage of your clean slate and do what makes you happier.
Japan must have been awesome and I’m sure you have valuable things to show.
Just be patient, promote yourself and follow your dream job until you get it
Best of Luck!!

I find myself in the same boat compadre. Same response. Same story, kinda. I just keep telling myself that the economy is bad, and I try to network as much as I can. Whatever you do though, do not lose practice. I try and sketch everyday if I can muster up the will. Don’t worry, supposedly there’s change on the horizon.

Thanks for your thoughts. It definitely gives me more hope. As luck would have it, I finally have an interview for some freelance work. Sometimes it’s very difficult to be optimistic, but obviously this industry is a lot of work to get into, and only the very strong-willed survive. There’ve been a few times when I’ve considered jumping ship, but I can’t see myself doing anything besides design work. I’d be happy in just about any area of it now – product, graphic, furniture, fashion, whatever. At this point, I just want to exercise my creativity at work.

I’m glad I’m not the only one

I recently got a freelance job (that was supposed to go full time, long story) job after a year long dry spell. I was so happy! Turns out I got to do NO design work, just touch up samples from asia and photoshop old product images. I felt like my creativity was slipping away and my brain was turning into a huge blob.

So I quit. And now I am poor, unemployed, and looking for a job that will excite me about design again, that I’ll be proud of, that will make me want to get in my car and drive to work every day.

I’m terrified… what if I don’t find that job? What then? When does my need for money out weigh my need for job satisfaction?

I’m not sure. But I’m going to keep looking.

good luck to you!