How many new ID grads are having difficulty finding work?

This is just a question for all of those people who just recently graduated with a bachelor’s in ID. How hard is it really to find work? If you haven’t found a job in industrial design then what are you doing now? does it relate to your degree, are you actually enjoying something outside of your field?

I would encourage you to do some snooping and searching on the boards. There have been some really great discussions around this topic in the past.

My view on this is the students that want a job find a job. The ones that give up…well sorry but they get left behind. Finding an ID job is all about consistently working at. This means networking as much as you can, taking all design work you can inside and outside of ID and never giving up. If you believe in yourself you will get there.

I think it all depends on 2 things: how good your portfolio is and who you know. I ended up lining up a job with the company i interned with the summer before. i know a lot of people who have jobs other than in ID after graduating last year, but they keep looking. I would suggest doing an internship (even if it is free) and blowing people’s mind with your work and dedication so that they want to keep you. If you don’t get hired with them, the new contacts can refer you in the right direction. Its all about the hustle.

I graduated in the early 90’s in a bad economy too but did as much freelancing as I could. I sent out hundreds of resumes that didn’t lead to a full time job but several freelance gigs. That helped me build portfolio which eventually led to getting my own clients. Keep working at ID and offer to work as an intern too, even if it means little or no money. You need to get real projects under your belt.

Checkout these threads:

Well… yeah. 2009 was awful. I graduated last May, and I think I saw a total of MAYBE 5-10 junior design positions open up, GLOBALLY. I landed at interview at one, with Bey*nd Design, but they kept jerking me around. I worked for them for about a week and a half, and they STILL would not even make me a solid offer, instead saying they were thinking around 35k a year, and “just to make sure” they wanted me to work one more week when a big client was coming through, so it looked like they were busy. Basically, I think they wanted to just keep stringing me along, and 35k a year in Chicago is a joke.

Edit: I didn’t explain myself well, so here is a better description:

"I’m not bashing any design firm. The firm itself was great. Great work environment, great people, great clients, great portfolio… pretty much exactly where I want to be. What I was commenting on was how I was treated. In my opinion, there is a huge difference. I interviewed, they liked my work. Awesome. Make an offer. That is how things should be, and that some of you are basically defending them for stringing me along for a week and a half, then giving me “sort of” an offer, and asking me to work another week… well… it is fairly surprising. Was it an opportunity? I don’t really know. It could have been just another week of work, at which point they would tell me that I do NOT have the job. Then what?

Like I said, I was at the time, very very very busy with freelance work for a MAJOR client in Milwaukee. If I had dropped everything for them, I could have spent the next week at this firm working, sure. But doing so would have burned a lot of bridges in Milwaukee, and without a REAL JOB OFFER, only the promise of one after yet another week, I chose to stick with freelancing.

I’m really really REALLY surprised that more of you are not understanding this situation. I told them I was deep into a project with a major client. It’s like they didn’t care, at all. It seemed like they basically wanted me to screw over the people I was working with, in order to work for them the next week, because they offered me a mediocre offer IF I were to work yet another week, at which point they’d make me a REAL offer.

Don’t you think that is a little… weird? It felt like I was being played, and I got a bad vibe from the whole situation."

Anyway, I wound up doing freelance work for one company all last year until October, then everything sort of ran dry. Found more freelance work a few weeks ago about 1 hour away, and that’s what I’ve been doing since. I’m STILL looking for full time employment, but it’s really hard to find.

This to me sounds like there were some attitude issues going on. Like a lot of us have mentioned before, to find an ID job in this kind of economic climate you really need to work for it. It is true that the strong will survive and the weak will fall. When I say strong I am not referring to the guy that does hot sketches, or builds slick models. I am referring to the one that is hungry and puts themselves out there and when given the opportunity they work to show the employer that they cannot pass them up.

This reminds me of our past intern that was the hardest working guy I have ever seen. We could tell from day one that he wanted a job. He not only did his projects, but also went beyond that by taking on work that was way above what he was brought in to do. If we told him to do x he did x plus y plus z. At the end of his internship he was hired.

I have said this so many times that I am start to feel like a broken record, but I too graduated in a time when the market was down. In 2002 there were not that many jobs out there like today. I came out of school an average, not mind blowing, ID student. I had a decent portfolio but looking back on it, it was forgettable. What I did have though was a desire and drive to be an Industrial Designer. I made numerous cold calls (these were days before Core) and asked to meet with as many local designers as I could. I did not ask for a job I asked for advice on how to find a job, what I need to change in my portfolio, If they new anyone that needed someone, etc… I also took whatever work they had. Graphics, CAD, Concept Sketches, whatever they wanted to throw my way. Just getting that face time and doing work that no one else wanted to do changed everything and eventually landed me in front of the Creative Director at Revlon. This then turned into a one year freelance gig, but after that year Revlon let a big chunk of their freelancers go and guess what I was back on the streets starting in the same place. I did the same as before and eventually landed my full time job that I have had for the past 5 years.

I guess what I am trying to say is the road may be rocky, but if you are determined to get there you will. I did not know it at the time, but those first 2 years of my career shaped me into the designer that I am now. I gained the confidence to work and hold my own with the rockstars, I know how to manage and mentor young designers and freelances because I have experience how hard it is to become one, I have a strong work ethic, and I truly value the work that myself and others do.


I would use caution in slamming a firm on the boards. This is a very large community and most of the designers from these firms read these boards.

I agree, Package ID!

But would like to mention one more variable in the equation. Location. This is HUGE. I am VERY persistent, but I am currently saving up to move away from Washington DC to get out west. Somewhere, ANYWHERE that has ID firms. I would be more than willing to pick up slack (pro bono!) but there is no rope here to have slack! So, I am searching for some graphic design internships and working at the bookstore.

I would use caution in slamming a firm on the boards. This is a very large community and most of the designers from these firms read these boards.

I thought about that, but nothing I said wasn’t true. The other designers were great, the environment and studio was great, but the pay was awful and they kept stringing me along. I really felt “burned” by them, because of how the firm treated me and handled the situation.

Hi cash 68,

I for one do appreciate your straight talk about that one experience. I see the fresh
graduates of ID in a weird situation. No unionised trade would deal with employers
taking full advantage of the situation like that. Enough is enough and a spade is a spade.

If it is wise to leave the real name of the company in your post is doubtful to me though.
Legal action is the last thing you could need right now.

All the best

yours mo-i

P.S.: I wonder when or if the unemployment situation of young designers will change the
number of people comming out of schools and the fees of the schools. Right now the situation
is a joke.

I wonder when or if the unemployment situation of young designers will change the
number of people coming out of schools and the fees of the schools.

Kids wanna be designers, and schools wanna teach them. Life is viewed with rose-colored glasses at 19 and I suspect most kids don’t really think about if they can find employment after graduation.

To be blunt, the “universities” are in the business of teaching kids to be what they want to be … not employing them. Of course many schools maintain excellent placement services, but you can bet your last Pfennig that they are not too worried about whether all of their students are hired.

After all, it’s nothing personal, it’s strictly [a] business…

I think I am doing that, at least trying to. I’m having no trouble finding freelance work, and I’m making decent money, a lot more than my job before school as a dental tech, but student loan bills are $$$$. I guess what I’m saying is there is definitely a lot of work, but very few FULL TIME POSITIONS. It seems that companies are willing to hire temp work/contractors, but hesitant to gain positions with mouths to feed. After last year, I definitely understand why.

I have said this so many times that I am start to feel like a broken record, but I too graduated in a time when the market was down. In 2002 there were not that many jobs out there like today.

To be clear, I am NOT trying to insult you, but it is a completely, totally different ballgame. Like, not even the same sport. This is the biggest recession in over 50 years. It’s better now than it was 9 months ago, but you have to understand how bad it was. The rate of new houses being built was not this low since 1939. The last time we had a recession this bad, people got through it, but NONE of those people are in workforce today. Again… I definitely appreciate your input, but the idea of the market in 2002 being similar to 2009 is kind of a joke.

I definitely appreciate your input, but the idea of the market in 2002 being similar to 2009 is kind of a joke.

Everything is relative Cash, if you can’t find work, you can’t find work … simple as that. I graduated in 1973, another wonder year. Same story, economy in the toilet, no “full time” jobs, but it eventually came around. I didn’t find my first full time gig until 1976. Three years is three years… maybe it will take you two, or one, or… . you have to keep pounding the pavement so to speak.

LMO is completely right and reiterates my point. My point isn’t that the economy is the same as it was in 2002, it is that as designers we have to work through hard times.

To be clear, I am NOT trying to insult you

No worries I am not insulted. I am not trying insult you either, rather trying to motivate you as well as the others that are struggling.

Yes the economy sucks and yes there are very few full-time jobs out there, but like you mentioned yourself there is a ton of freelance work out there. My advice is to stop worrying about the full time and start worrying about gaining the experience so when the full-time does come around you are ahead of the game. Now I know you answer back to this is that bills still need to get paid. Well my answer to that is, if you are passionate about being a designer you may need to pick up a second job at Home Depot or Lowes along with you freelance work until things turn around. I would much rather hire a designer that has been doing freelance work here and there and has a full-time job at Home Depot, than one that gave up waiting for the economy to change and did not keep themselves active in design during the hard times.

Chin up everything is going to change and if you want it you can do it.

35k in Chicago will keep clothes on your back, food in your belly, and your bills paid. You may have to move in to a less appealing neighborhood( Lincoln park or Humboldt park maybe). Also 35k is a low, but acceptable starting salary for a recent grad in ID, your going to top out at like 95k anyway. Get use to being poor? I also do not get what you mean with your week and a half of working. Was the firm testing you out or something? Typically salary negotiations are finalized prior to your first day.

I’m getting OVER enough freelance to pay the bills. The problem isn’t the bills… it’s that student loans are $450 a month, and health insurance is another $150 on top of that. Rent/food/car is easily covered with freelance work, but considering most design schools cost like 20k a year now, you’re talking a minimum of 80k of debt, without any scholarships (I had a 1/3rd ride). I’m not worrying about it, I just landed a new gig at a consultancy doing more work, and it’s fine… pay is good, experience is great, etc… but I’m just saying that not everyone is so lucky. The economy is MUCH MUCH worse than 2002. It isn’t even comparable.

Ie, if you hate name calling, don’t do it.

35k will pay for clothes, food, and bills, but it will NOT pay for student loans. Rent in Chicago is $800 a month. Student loans range from 300-600 a month, so there’s $1500 right there. 35k a year in chicago is total SHIT, most state workers make more than that, starting wage. I suggest instead of calling names, you please look up cost of living calculators, and type in 35k in Chicago. Go ahead, try it.


Let’s keep things a little more civil, shall we?

It is a fact that we are in the worst recession since WWII and as a result, the jobs just aren’t there. It is not that people can’t seem to land jobs, it’s that the jobs just aren’t there, along with many companies. Anyone who is lucky enough to have a job right now, any job, should be thankful. Any individual looking for work should try to find something even remotely useful to a designer to ride out this nightmare. I am currently working at a custom machine shop. Not exactly what a designer wants to do, but guess what? I have been able to leverage my skills into a position where I get to design custom parts and even get to sketch for some customers. I also am learning to be a machinist, albeit not a very good one… yet. If and when the economy gets better, I will have more skills to add to my resume so that if I chose to leave the job I am currently working at, I will be more marketable. Sure, it’s dirty, labor intensive and potentially dangerous (if I don’t pay attention) but at least I am working, and am able to be creative.

Long story short, if you find a job, take it. Don’t whine about it. Put up or shut up.

Oh, and before anyone whines, I am trying to pay my bills and mortgage with less pay than most pre-college people earn per year. It can be done, it’s just not fun or easy.

Also, anyone offering advice who currently has a decent, steady job and hasn’t had to search for work in this environment needs to at least be a little empathetic towards those looking for work. It may not seem like it to you, but all the “advice” on job hunting that worked previously simply doesn’t apply any longer. It also feels a little insulting IMHO.

Not trying to pick a fight, just how I feel. GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

Hi guys and girls

I graduated last summer from CSM in London and at the time was doing some freelance CAD work for interior design companies to pay the bills. I couldn’t really stop working and look for a, probably, unpaid internship at the time but started to look for internships last November. It’s been frustrating to say the least, the economic situation in the UK was and still is really bad and a lot of interesting companies simply aren’t hiring, not even interns.
I’ve been to some interviews, one with the biggest design consultancy in the world ( you know who) and they really liked my work, it feels great to hear that your work is really strong and you would be a great addition to the team but it is also really frustrating when nothing comes out of these interviews. Anyway I won’t quit and I’ll eventually find something, meanwhile I keep doing occasional freelance work to pay the bills, too bad it’s not ID related…

Im kinda on both sides of this one. 35k is not a lot in chicago. I lived there last year (about 500 yards from Beyond/insight), and it is not an easy place to live unless you are making decent money. Figure 1k on rent, 200 utilities, 100 CTA pass, ridiculous food prices, and there goes your paycheck. However, a job is a job. I was (finally) offered a position, and regardless of the wage I took it. Plus, being in Chicago is a great place to be. Struggle through a few years of low wages and build a networking base. Your potential in that city for moving to higher places is way better than if you are in Podunk nowhere making 50k to start. Beyond seemed like a great firm when I stopped by. I just went in to drop my resume off with the receptionist one day, and the owner sat down with me for over an hour just chatting about design and stuff. He even brought over one of his other designers to help me out with my senior design project.

Just dont put too much into those salary sites. From my experience they only set you up for disappointment when you do get an offer. Check out Core’s salary survey, its much more accurate.