Getting started, NOT fresh out of college.


This is a tough one, especialy right now.

  1. If I were in your position, I would focus on free-lance design jobs. Start small and work your way up, though it may be slim pickens at the moment, as you’ll be competing with other unemployed designers. Speaking of competition, I think that your experience is actually your biggest barrier to entry as an entry level / intern designer. You are competing against many fresh faced, malleable design students with hot portfolios, and the latest skills. You’re not an entry level worker and it will be difficult to convince someone you won’t bring along ten years of “professional baggage.” You need to get enough experience to at least be a mid-level designer.

  2. Portland has a vibrant design community, and I’m sure it’ll be easy to make contacts at events and networking parties. Get to know the locals and keep your eyes and ears open. Be aggressive and make this your full time job. Right now you’ll see senior positions as this is a sign of reorganization (pre-growth hiring). Middle / Entry level positions should follow and should start to pop up as the economy picks up. You want to be friendly now so that later when you’re contacting these people for jobs, it’s not the first time you’ve met. They’ll know your serious, they may remember your story and it should help you at least get your foot in the door.

  3. If you can, post your portfolio for feedback. You may need to work “independently” to polish your design skills and show that you are still relevant.

My 2 cents… :neutral_face:

I think I am falling in the same boat with you. The jobs that I am finding are all engineering assistive jobs. What experience designers have been telling me to do is work on my skills and enter competitions. I have heard that the best way to get noticed is to work on a personal piece and see if someone wants to publish the work. however, Bennybtl is quite right, it is a very difficult time.

Focus on creating the best portfolio you can possibly put together. Slave over it. It is the ace in the hole in the design field. You can beat out a “fresh face” college kid if your book is amazing.

I entered through the backdoor of design jobs all my life. I barely have a 2 year degree from 15 years ago. But my book is gnarly. I sometimes get to hire freelancers, and I can tell you I don’t give a crap where anyone came from, as long as they have great skills.

I have presented and sold my designs to many large retailers. Not one of them asked where I went to school or asked to see my resume.

It will be tough for a little while in this economy, so just use the in between time to make that book sparkle.

I’ll agree, work on the book and freelance. Don’t let your actual work experience limit the jobs you can go for. If you focus your portfolio on what you’d like to do and it’s relevant for the places you’d like to go to, then it’ll work if it’s good.

…and a good place to start a portfolio review is right here on Core.

good luck!

One of my professors once told me “Sometimes you just have to will it into being”.

For a lot of us, the transition from school to work is like that. It is not the easy transition we think it is going to be for most of us. I t took me 6 months to find my first full time job. Nothing compared to 10 years, but it was a grueling time in my life. I picked up a few freelance projects here and there. I had the usual engineering support job offers, I turned them down and focused on my portfolio and freelance. I remember turning down a good paying job outside of Philly at one of those senior scooter manufacturers. My parents thought I was crazy, but it just wasn’t right.

Anyway, I think the advice for you is spot on. Focus on freelance, and your resume should only show design related positions. Fill any resume gaps by saying you were a design freelancer at those times. Sure you might have had a full time job as tech customer service, and that is OK.

I think the freelance path will be a bit easier. To go after an entry level spot, you will be competing with kids out of school who will do it cheaper, and work longer.

My onlt other idea is if you could frame up your experience for a specific position. Such as if your experience would make you a good fit for the ID team at Intel?

Thats spot on. I decided I wanted to be an Industrial Designer in my late late 20’s so I just kept learning and doing it until I was one. Design the hell out of anything you can think of until someone sees it, likes it and buys it.

I understand what that’s like as I’m not a big social person either and I sometimes dread going to “networking events” where it feels like one big, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” and then we see who’s got the biggest… :blush: but anyways, go to the IDSA meetings, gallery openings, open mic nights and meet people, not just designers. You’ll get more comfortable doing this and you may even make some friends!

I glanced at your picasa gallery and you have some interesting work. All that’s missing is a bit of context: who uses these things, in what environment and how did you arrive at your solution. You have the what, you need the whom, why and how. The martini set is kinda cool, but the CAD image doesn’t do it justice. Grab an evaluation version of Hypershot or something and make some sweet images!

Best of luck!

start a portfolio on coroflot and freelance.

freelancing is easier said than done.
especially now that more and more skilled grads are not being hired for full time positions and are competing with your for freelance work.

Looking at your work, I believe that you need some guidance in presentation and in conceptualizing your idea. It’s needs some polishing.

My advice would be to intern for a while. Maybe even 6 months to a year.
Consultancies pay decent but it’s not a pay-all-bills job. Given that your are 32, I am not sure if you want to muscle a year without a good paycheck.

Ask yourself this, what makes you stand out from a recent Art Center grad who has been thinking design for the past 4 years non-stop? Why would they go for you?
Probably your engineering capabilities. Those can be your key into a company where your might be able to slowly bridge over to a more creative position.
However, as of now, I see some difficulty to score a junior designer job with the work you put out.

Hey Variant,

I’ll start off with the good. As a very avid bass player (used to play several hours a day for several years, almost went to music school), I think that the guitars that you have designed are very beautiful. I liked some of your portfolio pieces

But I have to agree with Bepster. I think you could use some work on sketches/how you arrived at your idea. Did you make any sketch models, or draw out any iterations, stuff like that? Your final products are cool, but you should also wow us with all of your other skills and the process. More photoshop renderings, more hand-sketches, more in-progress sketch models to figure out scale and proportion, etc.

With the exception of the guitars, these pieces don’t really show me an eye for aesthetics as much as they do, lets say, an eye for functionality, utilitarianism, and manufacturing processes (which isn’t a bad thing, but you want to have both).

Now this doesn’t mean you’re doomed! You may already have some of these things lying around somewhere. Or you could do some back-sketching (when you lose your sketches from projects and re-do them again) and post them up.