Feedback on current employment, please.

Hey everyone, I’m looking for feedback from some more experienced professionals on my current work situation. Essentially, I’d like to know if I’m advancing my career and becoming more valuable to future employers or if I’m getting stuck in a niche market.

My situation in brief:

-Graduated May 2010

-Worked as corporate freelance for a couple months

-Since late July I’ve been working as a full-time subcontractor for a small consultancy. The consultancy was built around a relationship with Hasbro toys - although we have other clients, I’d guess 80-90% of the work is for Hasbro. Anyways, our core business is materials, so we’re constantly researching and working with vendors on developing new materials, technologies and manufacturing processes. Since Hasbro has in-house designers I don’t get a hand in the brand-induced design process. I do however get to develop/illustrate on the fuzzy front-end ideation process (where rules don’t matter) how we believe these materials and processes can play a role in the further-development of concepts/products. So although its all “design” related, probably only 10-15% of my time is spent drawing/modeling…the rest is research, conveying the research through presentation, some model making, and working with vendors.

-I’ve also had a a few other freelance jobs since July that I’ve managed to squeeze in on nights/weekends.

*Everyone knows it’s tough to find employment right now. I feel fortunate and am grateful for the work I have, but just wanted some opinions on my potential future value since i’m not in a “glorified” ID job. I know materials are important for designers, but is it value added for the work i’ve done or value subtracted for the work I haven’t.

Thanks in advance for anyone that takes the time to respond.


Rklinger -
You are thankful for your job, and that is good. Also, you are still really fresh, so keep that in perspective. You will be able to move more readily as you gain experience. However, you are right in thinking that you can get pigeon holed. If you have a firm direction that you would like to head, network, present, and go all out to get there. If you are interested in working at Hasbro, you probably already have some good contacts to talk to. Cheers!

-thanks booner.

I was really hoping for some more feedback, 70 views and 1 reply. Anyone else?

I think very few designers out of school are doing exactly what they want, but just being in the field will help you as you move on to the next position. From my understanding, most employers would like to see that you have stayed at least 2 years at a position. You can spend time working on your own design work and portfolio for when your ready to move on. I think you’re on the right track and having materials experience can be a big plus in the future.

I feel you are in a good place. You have a job, you realize that you wish to grow and you are already spreading yourself out.
I think your experience in materials will help you greatly in your future job search, and having examples of proposed uses for the materials will only help.
But, as others have mentioned, you can get stuck if you settle, it is early in your career, find what interests you and try some freelance in that area.

I would like to say that your question is well written and thought out, a skill necessary for your future (and one I struggle with).

mrtwills/devonshire - thanks, I was thinking along similar lines. others?

You are not stuck yet, but you need to be building the skills and contacts for your next move.

Sketching, ideation and presentation skills are very important for designers: mkae sure yours are top-notch, as it seems like you have the opportuity to do this almost every day. Get feedback from whomever is the best at this is your current work environment and make sure that you are continuously improving.

I think you are in a great position. If you can become a “materials guru” it is one more reason for a company to hire you. Make sure you have some good case studies of exactly how you came up with ideas for innovative uses of materials which helped create an appealing poduct or innovative user experinece.

Steer your current assigment in a direction that will get you more general breadth of awareness and skills, for example initiate a customer feedback on new products or materials, or dew a few hour ideatio project of how the materials could be applied to another industry.

Go to some events where you can hang out with and meet other designers, and find out what they are doing. I would say that you are already “in the game” you just need to strategize your next move. You are miles ahead of those who are not employed in the field.

Any experience you can get straight out of college is good and I would say your situation / position considering your experience is good to great. I would soak up as much knowledge about materials as possible and explore possible avenues with Hasbro if thats where you would like to be.

I’m currently working as a designer in-house for a toy company and I can tell you that its definitley not all drawing up concepts and modeling - there is a whole gamut of other stuff including writing cost specs, dealing with QA issues, meetings, and other less exciting aspects to it and I think you’ll find that with a large percentage of ID jobs.

Personally I would shoot to be in a slightly more design oriented position after 12-18 months getting all you can out of your current position.

I was just wondering if other people feel this same way? I am in a similar position as the original poster. I graduated last year, and found it incredibly difficult (see impossible) to find the job that I REALLY wanted. I took a corporate job, being the only designer in an R&D team of several engineers. I’m doing design work, and therefore feel very lucky to have this job. But often times I am given more of engineering type tasks, (working on mechanisms and stuff).

I feel that I have reached, (or will very soon reach) all that I can learn here about design. I also worry about not getting DESIGN feedback on my projects, and thus not reaching my full potential on the projects I do and things to put in my portfolio. Should I still try to stay here two years, because it might look bad if I leave sooner? Or should I move when I naturally feel it is time to move on?

I’m sorry but … you aren’t looking hard enough at the work place opportunities or making an honest appraisal of what you have learned and what you still have to learn, about design, or engineering, or business, I can almost guarantee it.

As far as design feedback goes, I try to solve situations like that by bringing in outside designers/friends for no-holds-barred critiques. I have them sign NDAs and then take them to lunch in return for their time.

Stay there two years or more, unless your dream job comes knocking.