Freelancer transitioning back to in-house - need advice

Hi everybody, been a while,

Real quick introduction: I’m an industrial designer, I graduated back in 2009 from a respected small art school with an ID degree, I got good grades, and I had an internship out of college and a couple of in-house gigs, but none lasted longer than a year, and I moved back to my home state (Colorado) and started doing freelance, which has been sometimes great and sometimes completely untenable, always unpredictable, and I’m not sure now that it’s quite the life I had imagined for myself back in school, and perhaps especially hard since Colorado is a smaller pond, design-wise. I have a bunch of different things in my portfolio, electronics, housewares, graphics, modelmaking, etc, and both of my in-house gigs were primarily softgoods, and I’m tempted to say that’s my de facto field.

Anyway, my girlfriend is planning on going back to school in NYC, and I am planning on moving with her and finding an in-house design job out there as well, so I’m really looking for advice and help, here. Some of my questions are:

  • Is a freelance background going to hinder my job search? Will employers care? Is three years of freelancing going to mean less to employers than three years of in-house?
  • How should I put together a cover letter than puts my weird job history in the best possible light?
  • Do I have a realistic chance of finding a job within a handful of months, or am I going to have to go the intern route and hack it for no money until I can get a real position? (I suppose this is part of the “will anyone care” question.)
  • What kind of salary should I be looking for? The Coroflot design survey lists 45k as the 25th percentile and 57k as the median for “industrial designer” in NY, and almost the exact same for "product designer’, but realistically? What’s the bare minimum I should be trying to get to survive out in NYC?
  • I haven’t been seriously working to find a job like this in a while, what/if anything has changed since I was in school? What are employers looking for in terms of cover letters/portfolios/web presence these days?

A quick note: I lived and worked in NYC before, although for less than a year, but I’m fully aware of how expensive/tough it is to live out there, I’m really not interested in “oh my god it’s so expensive/awful/New York will eat you alive” kinds of stuff that everyone says the minute I tell them I’m planning on moving. It’s super-duper non constructive and unhelpful (I already have enough anxiety about it myself, thanks) but otherwise any and all thoughts and advice are appreciated, especially if you worked/work in NY and especially if you’ve been on the other end of the hiring process.

Thanks in advance!

  • neon_shoes

Hey there, welcome to the boards. I don’t read anything here that would particularly hinder you in your job search, it all really depends on your portfolio and your personality. IE, if you are a pretty easy to get a long with guy who is a go getter and you have a solid folio, it shouldn’t be an issue.