Graduate advice

Hey everyone,

This thread is for all the industrial design graduates, or who work in such fields.

Whats your advice for someone who is planning to study Industrial design? I am pretty passionate about studying it, however since reading many threads throughout the forum, it doesn’t seem that many graduates are very satisfied with their career. Dont get me wrong, some may be happy with there current career, however the majority which I’ve read are mainly graduates who aren’t happy with what they are doing.
Some advice from graduates with experience would be great.


…id is not just drawing cool shit and drinking beer,like it was at uni…it can be especially difficult to land that first real design gig or even the second or third in the current business mind set (i went a 3 yr stretch out of full time work myself)…many just do not make it or cannot maintain for one reason or another…for those who do make a go of it, most never aspire to anything else…even design management…id is a small community, compared to engineering or marketing…expand your personal contact network every chance you get and stay in contact with these people…your chances of success will be about 5 times geater than going it alone.

From my personal experience the friends and family rule applies to those who end up getting a job in design.

The above reply is correct. Most of the people you will go to school with won’t get a job in design and if they do it will be short lived. I would say, 5 to 7 people will get a job and remain in the business until retirement age. The others will wash out or change career paths. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the business.

Just think carefully about spending large amounts of dollars for a career that may not pay off in the end. Always have an alternative option.

ID is just like any other profession out there. You have to be good at it and work very hard. You’re passionate about designing? Well, that’s good. Then I would encourage you to go for it even though as hard it is for most people out there. True, your career can be short lived, but so is life. What do you reall want to do?

Yeah the more I think about it the more I was really surprised that my teachers or profs never mentioned anything about how tough the field is when I was in school, not a word on it - we were all under the impression it would be relatively easy to get a good job doing what we love. I know if I ever teach that would be the first thing I would lay on my students, and encourage the ones who aren’t really feeling it to go into something else.

In any case - if I had known what I know now - I would have looked at my options more, but probably would have gone into this anyway - the only other field I could kick arse in would be film, and I know that isn’t any easier than id.

Also, whatever the circumstance, you can’t put a price on determination. If you are determined enough (and really good at ID) then you will make it, you’ll have to pay LOTS of dues along the way, but you will make it.

There are a wide variety of backgrounds here on the board. Nevertheless, those that have time to surf and post replies tend to be the people who are not currently billing their hours against a certain project. This indicates a few things. There are probably a fair share of out of work designers, recent grads, and students who have more time to post than their productive employed counterparts. Having said that, it is understandable to see all the negative posts and opinions regarding ID as a profession.

Take all the opinions here with a grain of salt. At the very least, reading the variety of responses will give you an idea of the landscape of ID and its challenges and successes.

It all comes down to the fact if you have a desire to design. If you are willing to put in the long hours and uphill battles, then you are on the right track. If you don’t get much fullfillment out of the projects in school or if you would rather be out doing something fun rather than sketching, than maybe you should reconsider. (not that we are forbidden to do anything fun, its just a matter of how you prioritize your time).

To be honest, when I started studying ID, I had no idea if I was supposed to be a designer or not. Slowly but surely, I learned that I was willing to stay up all night, inhale lots of bondo dust, exist on the edge of despare, and ultimately bath in the glory of my finished (and successful) projects. Learning to communicate my ideas through design was perhaps the best skill that I have learned to develop so far. I now love looking at problems, assessing the needs of all the stakeholders, and recommending some sweet solutions that could revolutionize the market.

I love the look in the faces of clients when they “get it” When they understand the genius (albeit in its infancy) of a certain idea, or group of ideas. Thats what makes the job fulfilling to me. Thats what makes the trials and tribulations along the way worth it.

Hey people,

Thanks for the advice…
I would say that I am pretty passionate about design, however after reading many threads throughout the forum it seems that I’m rethinking whether I want to enter the design industry or not.
Many people throughout the forum say they are passionate about design however many also say that they want to quit their careers yet they are passionate about design.

I mean what are the good and bad aspects of the design industry.



I personally can’t tell you the Good + Bad aspects of the Design Industry. For the fact I haven’t had much out of school experience. 2+ years out and I had a job for 5+ months then the company decided to have a corp. restructuring and I lost my job, which does suck don’t get me wrong! But I try to find freelance work while seeking out that full-time position.

I don’t know how old you are currently? Still in high school I would assume. If you are looking at schools and you are passionate about designing as a career because it will make you happy/satisfied in life, then make sure you choose the correct school. I would definitely look at The University of Cincinnati’s DAAP program. 1. it is a state school, which is cheaper to attend 2. CO-OP experience is priceless, for the fact you will understand the design world more throughly, you are networking while on these CO-OP’s, + have possible employment situations immediatley post graduation 3. You are more well rounded because you have a campus life. All unlike The Art Institute of Pittsburgh or private schools like I attended. That is my biggest regret.

Seriously, listen to what “rodanx86” said. Everyone here has an opinion. If they are sitting around this board all day then they aren’t working! That is the bottom line. So they don’t know what it’s like out there.

Again, if you are passionate + it’s in your heart, then pursue it + keep a positive outlook on things!

Hey ecodesignfive,

Im in uni at the moment, and was deciding to change career paths to the design field. Im trying to keep a positive view on ID, but again seeing the threads its hard to keep a positive view. Im still deciding by the way…
Anyway thanks for all your replies


Hey Gyppie-

Don’t make any decisions based off the these boards. This is the place to rant- not to praise. Making a career out of design is not that hard, but maybe you need to ask this question of yourself

are you passionate about design?


are you passionate about being a designer?

(you can fullfill the former simply by buying things)

(BTW, a lot of posters on the board are very experienced and spend their free time on the boards because they care.)


To begin with, I’ve been playing the design game for many years. Maybe so many that if I told you you would immediately assume that I was certainly so old I must be brain dead and incapable of giving good advice. Could be. Maybe so. I’ve done corporate, consulting, freelance (aka could not find a job for a lllooonnnggg time), and management.

When I was in design school I was CONVINCED that the world would fling its arms wide open when I approached it for work, exclaiming “Thank God, you’re finally here - we’ve been waiting for you, you’re just the man we need, what a perfect education”. Didn’t happen for me. Ain’t gonna happen. Probably won’t happen for 99% of the design gradutes, maybe all. It is usually more like “Industrial Design …what IS that?” or some similarly confused response.

Ask yourself a few questions. WHere do I want to live? What sort of things do I want to design? Do I like design because of some romantic notion about being famous or do I really want to have a hand at making something better? How important is money? (If you already have it the world is entirely different than if you do not, you likely already know this.)

If you want to live in a “design hotspot” that is a significant advantage (in europe even moderately talented designers are often elevated to celebrity status). If you like living in a large city that would probably be a plus.

Is there a real market for people to design the stuff you want to work with in the place you want to live? If not, can you adapt to environment or work you don’t really like and thrive?

Is it fame you seek? You might want to look elsewhere. It is not impossible for an Industrial Designer to be famous, but (barring Europe) it is unlikely. (Of course, you might have the pleasure of walking into a department store and seeing your work being sold to the public - not bad for the ego.)

If you want to make a “contribution to mankind” it is possible in Design. If you really want to make a difference in this way consider leaning toward biomedical work. Iraq will create a demand for lots of prostetic devices for years to come. Somebody has to do the design work.

If monetary security, buying a house, going on vacation, having nice things (like being able to AFFORD the things you are taught to design and appreciate) are all of interest to you be careful. THere are SOME who have become famously wealthy in Industrial Design. LOTS who have not. THose who made it would probably have done so in any field. It is a matter of drive and ambition. (BTW, the ones who generally REALLY make it are typically, but not necessarily, self-employed and WORK REALLY HARD.)

I believe that if you are really driven and are COMPLETELY willing to make the necessary sacrifices you can certainly make it in Industrial Design. If you have the LEAST BIT of apprehension about self-less dedication do yourself a BIG favor and RUN, don’t walk, AWAY from Industrial Design.

Thank for your advises…
I would say that I am pretty passionate about design,but I will all under my passionate to get a good job doing what I love.