Getting into Design

I’m looking to get into ID but have no experience, I studied economics in school and currently work at a tech company in Boston. I have no portfolio and have no idea where to start. I know I’m not giving you very much information but I’m just looking for a any type of guidance or a direction to go in. Should I start learning on my own (if so how)?, go back to school for a masters? (lack of a portfolio wouldn’t help my chances of getting in I would imagine). I mean no disrespect to all of you who have been in the industry for years, I certainly don’t think I can just jump into it, I know it is very difficult to be good at and takes time to develop skill. I’m am willing to devote a lot to pursuing this because it’s worth it. Any advice would be helpful.

I am in the same boat, I’ll share what I’ve found so far over the past few months.

My background is in Industrial Tech/Engineering so there’s less of a gap between what I’ve studied and ID compared to Economics. I rooted around online and I found some people in the various design disciplines (Industrial, Graphic, Interaction, etc) and took them out for coffee to pick their brains. I’d recommend you do the same really…I found it very, very helpful and who knows, those connections may help down the road.

About half of them were like myself; graduated, and found themselves in boring, meaningless, soul-sucking corporate work. However the ones who did not have ID degrees, with only a couple exceptions, did go back for one. They said chances of success are much greater if you do so, not only because of what you learn but because it shows you can collaborate with people and work on real, live projects through internships and such. And it makes sense, really.

But. BUT.

Not a single one said that they felt doing self-ed was impossible, although the road will likely be much more steep, unless you just get lucky. If you know the tools in and out, and can put together a kick-ass portfolio, they said there’s a good chance of getting your foot in the door somewhere, somehow, someway. That first job might not be anything spectacular, but since you are kind of “skirting the system” in a sense, I’d pretty much expect that. Gotta pay your dues one way or another.

I do have a leg up with my existing degree being somewhat of a distant relative of ID. I have looked at the curriculum of some local colleges and there are a number of courses resembling what I have had already, and the better part of the past 7 years I have worked in a manufacturing environment. I’ve also been doodling, tinkering and building/fabricating stuff in my free time nearly all my life, so I have that going for me as well.

Personally, I am going to give self-ed a shot…basically, for me I feel my primary shortcoming is that I am not an ace SolidWorks/Rhino/Adobe/etc. user (hand drawing/sketching sounds like it’s about as important as well, so keep that in mind too!). I can use them in basic senses, well enough for personal projects, but I just plain don’t have the seat time in those programs to formally list them as skill sets on my resume. Also, I just paid off my loans earlier this year. Going back to school means I’d take on loans again, and even more this time around; I do not like this idea (interestingly, my company will pay for school if it benefits the company, but they consider ID, “…an irrelevant fine arts degree,” and I was shot down immediately). If self-ed doesn’t work out, I can always take on the debt later…plus I’ll have at least somewhat of a portfolio to use for admissions apps.

Without knowing much about your background other than being a business guy however, it’s really hard to say. I would probably lean towards school being a good idea if you have little to no related experience, professional or otherwise.

I will be interested to see what others have to say as well, both about your scenario and what I’ve shared as well! :slight_smile:

If you are serious about it, I would definitely suggest to start with an undergrad degree.
If you have no previous experience and you want to work with ID, I would discourage a Masters at this point. Grad school is not intended to get you into ID, but rather to build and develop on a solid foundation in skill and design experience.

There are no shortcuts, it’s a process and it takes a lot of time but ambition, devotion, sweat and a bit of talent will turn you into a good designer.

Make sure it’s what you really want to do first. I get contacted fairly regularly now from engineers having similar crises, who see ID-esque stuff in my portfolio. I went through a whole cycle, first wanting to do ID because of the creative element, trying it out, realizing that there were aspects that I liked about engineering that didn’t exist in ID, and settling somewhere in the middle.

I’m guessing you’re looking into ID because you want a creative outlet. Funny thing is, I stumbled on a creative economics job a few hours ago! Error message

Not trying to discourage you, just something to consider, it may save a lot of effort and expense in the long run.

Hmmmm, who have those engineers been, Michael? :laughing:

That link isn’t loading for me. What is this job and do you mean you now have that job, or you found the listing?

I am currently in a coffee shop, and I just went through a wave of anxiety because I’m not sure where I want to go after I graduate with a BS in mechanical engineering; be it into industry or to graduate school. In both instances, I’m also having trouble deciding whether I want to pursue more technical mechanical engineering further, or try for something involving design. Blah!

I’m having trouble because I’ve read around that a design undergraduate degree would help more than a masters in my case, which is discouraging because I feel like I could have just as much of an impact with a mechanical engineering BS. I’ve also been told to look into product design schools that lend more to engineering, which makes the search process more difficult.

If anyone has any words to share, please do!

Lafuente - I got your PM but I am too new around here to respond to it apparently, so I have to do it this way. :laughing: Shoot me another message with your email and I’ll get back to you that way…

It’s a just a job posting, I’m still looking :wink:. It’s a position at Ubisoft, designing the in-game economics for various video games, and how they adapt to various skill levels, etc. Sounds super fun, but I’m not an economist.

As far as deciding where to go, don’t worry too much. You’re definitely on the right track, just keep trying things out, that’s definitely clarified things for me. I’m working on some really fluids and thermo heavy stuff right now, which is a subsection of engineering I never thought I would be interested in, but I’m having a lot of fun now that I’ve started (though it’s still creative design, which I find is a constant in jobs I’m interested in).