Feedback and Guidance Request

Hello Core77!

I’m fairly new to the boards, but I have been following Core77 and Coroflot for a few years now. At the end of the year I will be faced with a decision and am looking for advice from professionals or anyone in general with a bit of knowledge to spare.

Here is some quick background information to help place things into perspective. I graduated from an Industrial Design program back in 2011, and since then I have been interning with a manufacturing company. During the past two years of interning with the company I have expressed my versatility by fulfilling a multitude of different job requirements. Everything from render production, packaging design and merchandising solutions, to some engineering work. As alluded to above, my internship of over two years (I’m pretty sure that is a long time to be considered an intern, but it was paid at least) will finally be coming to an end at the end of the year, Dec. 31, 2013.

Now I am faced with two decisions. One being that I can take a few prerequisites and attempt to go back to school for mechanical engineering, with hopes of further enhancing my knowledge of the full design-to-manufacturing process. Is there any value in this, or is it better to just have someone really good at one or the other? The other would be acquiring a few more skills that may be hindering me from getting a job, granted that you don’t find my portfolio horrendous that is. Some of the skills I am thinking of are Solidworks and code training (HTML, CSS, etc…).

I have been applying steadily to jobs over the past two years, and have never really received any feedback. In addition to applying for jobs, I have been revising my portfolio and doing anything and everything to promote myself as a professional, but I am falling short somewhere and that is where I need your help. My portfolio, résumé, portfolio samples, and what not can be found over at I strongly encourage you to leave any feedback you deem fit in this thread at Core77.

In summary I am looking for two things. Guidance as to wether I should go back to school for another degree or just acquire a few more skills, and honest feedback concerning my portfolio. By honest I truly just want you to tell me how it is, in the form of constructive criticism so that I can work towards improving myself :slight_smile: I am not easily offended and can handle the truth!

Thank you for taking the time to help me out. I will return the favor whenever I find some topics I am able to contribute to.


Hey Justin,

I’ll give you my 2 cents.

Yes there’s definitely value in this, but the more important question is what are you passionate about? If you are truly excited about the idea of going back to school for Mech Eng, then do it. But if you’re trying to just round yourself out for the sake of looking more appealing to employers you might be fooling yourself and come out with more loan debt and the same job prospects.

Of course every employer would love a rock star designer AND mech. eng. in one person but I think those true hybrids are pretty few and far between. Not saying it can’t be done, and if you’re truly passionate about both I’m sure you could get there.

Of all the jobs you’ve been applying to, what is the one that you would have killed to get? What is it about the position that appealed to you? What are the things that you think you’re missing right now to have gotten that job?

Will try to be as unfiltered and honest since you seem to be under a time constraint.

As far as portfolio goes, you’re really hurting yourself with the web design. I’m not sure if you built it yourself or bought a template but it looks and functions like it’s 10 years old. Do something clean simple, if you are hosting it yourself you can do a Cargo Collective type site (, or if you’re like me and are a complete web design newb than get Behance ProSite (like this and just drag and drop your content and pay the $10 a month.

Looking at your site I wouldn’t assume that you’re 2 years + out of school, the projects seem to be more along the lines of sophomore/junior level ID projects. You have a pretty solid foundation of sketching, rendering, and modeling yet the projects are just a little ho-hum and forgettable. I think a lot of this come down to presentation, it’s not presented in a way that screams professionalism, which is what you want.

I would spend a lot of time on Behance looking at other ID portfolios, get an idea of what the competition looks like, how are they presenting their work, what are the things that you see that you think you could apply to your work to make it more compelling to a potential employer.

Also start thinking about what your competitive advantage is (or what you want it to be). Not every designer has to be a world class sketcher, 3D modeller or model maker but it’s important to have something to help differentiate you from the competition and really blow that out in your portfolio.

Hope some of this helps and best of luck with the decision!


Happy New Year Justin,

Personally, I wouldn’t go back to school for an ME degree - certainly a few classes in that direction would help but self teaching yourself SolidWorks might be just as valuable, unless you’d rather become a mechanical engineer with design sensitivity.

I think your portfolio looks good for someone 2 years out of school - the one negative I see is that your 3D modelling skills are hurting the perception of the final design of your projects (your research is well communicated, your ideation is broad and creative but you’re self-simplifying the final designs, seemingly to make them self-3D-buildable - in particular the air purifier and ecotour bike). I recommend you revisit the projects, take out the modelling images and step back to the end of your ideation phases - look at the most creative, appealing, target-consumer-centric solutions and then communicate a final design in whatever fashion enables you to best communicate to the viewer (renderings, etc). All the 3D modelling work is still valuable, but more of a catalog of your current capabilities in ProE, and as you learn more of either that package or SolidWorks you could revisit the final designs and remodel again, making sure not to lose some of what makes those designs special as you translate them into 3D data…

I think you might just be a victim of the job market over the last few years, it’s not that you don’t have the ability to add value to companies as a designer. FYI, I noticed a few of your images (Liberty Hardware page and Leaf page) are not linked to enlarge.

Lastly, as the owner of a highly modified M3 and a past resident of Detroit and current resident of a ‘burb’ of Baltimore, I appreciate your photography (both the cars and the industrial locale)!

@ Matt and Scott

Thank you for your honest feedback. I believe what you had to say was exactly what I needed to hear, and I noticed you had a few questions or comments.

I would say that I am definitely more passionate about Industrial Design. Your second quote was spot on. I do enjoy the technical nature of mechanical engineering, but I believe a job in which I was not able to explore ideas through sketch and reduced solely to a technical nature would leave me feeling unfulfilled. My turn to mechanical engineering was a result of me feeling that I would be decent at it with hopes of allowing myself to become more marketable, but that was not the only reason. I really do enjoy automobiles, and am aware that I am not the best at designing or drawing them. If I pursued a degree in ME I would use that as a gateway into automotive engineering.

There are actually a few (2-3) I believe fit the criteria of this statement, all of which shared a commonality. They are design firms. Design firms already appeal to me due to the prospect of being able to work on a wide variety of projects that can be completely different in nature as a salt shaker is to a car. Having to quickly adapt to new problems and find creative ways at working towards a solution is intriguing to me. These design firms in particular listed responsibilities and duties that I would simply love to wake up each morning to carry-out. Specifically, the opportunity to make use of my sketching skills, shop knowledge and technical (3D modeling/rendering) abilities were all present.

Honestly, I feel that I am just lacking “awesomeness” to set myself apart from other candidates. I feared that someone accustomed to viewing quality work/portfolios would view my offerings as generic or drab, and I am starting to see that this just may be the case. I know that I am good, but I believe I currently fail at convincing those that have not worked with me just of that, which leads into your final paragraphs.

My website is currently hosted by, and the template is a blank template. When I first created the website webs did not support custom HTML code, so that was as close to creating my own as my abilities lent me at the time. I, amongst others have asked them to bring back the ability to use custom HTML codes and as of recently they have listened. I am definitely a “newb” such as yourself when it comes to web design, but this is something I would very much love to change. Before I do so I will heed your advice and browse Behance and other portfolio websites so that I can set appropriate goals for myself.

This is definitely something I need to figure out as soon as possible. As of now I have always seen myself as a jack-of-all-trades, because I can literally adapt into almost any role, but I am not sure what I am a master of.

Happy New Year to you as well Scott!

That is a valid point. I’m going to work at improving my 3D modeling skills so that they do not hurt the final design. Unfortunately, the simplification of the design took place even before I started the modeling process. In regards to the ecotour bike I originally wanted to implement aggressive styling, but through peer review I ended up pursuing the direction of simplistic and geometric. Something that would make the vehicle stand-out and capitalize on its uniqueness. Honestly it isn’t my preferred taste, but I did create it so therefore I am responsible for it. The air purifier suffered a somewhat similar fate, but the simplification process falls solely on me. Form wise I wanted to create a purifier that wasn’t visually distracting, and only noticeable in respect to the fact that it does its job. I’m going to take your advice and step-back to the ideation phases for these projects. There may be a way I previously overlooked to achieve a “unique”, but aesthetically pleasing end-result, and if I can’t model it just yet I will use some other form of communication until I learn to do so.

The job market definitely has me ready to employ desperate measures. I will go ahead and fix those images links. Thank you for the find!

That is awesome. If it is okay I would like a pm with pics or links to pics of your car. I have a cousin close in age to myself that has been trying to get me to move closer to either MD or VA. I look forward to the day I am able to return to the car scene. My past car met an unfortunate end. :frowning:

Thank you Matt and Scott for the timely feedback. I believe the best course of action for me right now is to give all that I have for a shot at an industrial design role and put off school for now. I’ve been quite conservative and that just won’t do, so I’ll spend the next few weeks attempting to set things straight and address the issues you have brought to my attention. You guys have been a great help and hopefully you will see improvement from me a few weeks from now. Thank you so much!