I have a question to product designers

Hi guys,

I have a question. Actually I’m a student, who has one semester left more up to the graduation, but my major is not realated to Product design at all. Of course I’d like to go to University to study Product deisgn from the beginning, but that’s not affordable for me and also I have no time to start University the way back , I think.

So things that I do from half a year ago to now is to practice sketch and take down what I come up with for products and read some book about design process. However I’m alway wondering whether what I’m doing is right way or not.

As a person, who is eagar to be a product designer, I’d like to ask you what I need to do study without the regular product design education?
(ps. If you have nice resources about product design such as some web sites etc, please let me know some :smiley:)

Thanks a lot


First let me say that I haven’t successfully landed a single design job, being a recent graduate myself, so I may not be the best source of advice.

But, to my understanding, there are 2 main factors when it comes to getting a job.

  1. Your portfolio
  2. Who you know

1- You can read and sketch all you want, but to land a job you will NEED a portfolio detailing several projects and process work. They want to see how you think. Students naturally accrue portfolio pieces during their coursework, but you would need to generate content on your own time. It is harder than working under given design parameters as students often do, but not impossible. You just need to be very self-motivated.

2- If your dad’s friend owns a design firm, or is head engineer at [company], hit them up. They will be more willing to hire you knowing you have passion, even if you don’t have much training.

Lastly, you could get a non-design position within a design firm with the hopes of picking up their design process and gradually becoming more and more involved with the design team.

I hope that helps.

To clarify a bit, it is not who your Dad knows, but who you get to know. Lots of “portfolios” come to me from other employees. I hit circular file on those. I can’t have a weak link on my team just because they are a coworker’s nephew. Portfolio always comes first.

Get to know some local designers. Offer to take some people out for coffee. Most people won’t turn down free coffee.

One of the best things that school gives you is a network. It is becoming increasingly hard to get a design job without a design degree. THAT IS A GOOD THING. We are trained professionals. The lack of training in design, art, and architectural history, color and form theory, creative problem solving and cultural context can become very evident a few years in.

I’m not saying it is impossible to get a good design job without a degree… just highly improbable.

I’m not saying it is impossible to get a good design job without a degree… just highly improbable.

I just had an eager early-on student ask me how to design/make/construct a product for themselves… they stated they have no real experience with design, manufacturing, they don’t have access to a shop, etc.

I was eager at first, and naive as well. Both of these traits are totally fine, expected, and both are a great thing. That’s what design education and experience are all about, filling in the gaps between naivety and eagerness.

I basically compared it to asking a doctor to explain to you how to perform open heart surgery yourself, without any background knowledge on medicine and without having any fancy medical tools.

Years of education, training, and experience can’t be summed up. That’s essentially what education is, 4 years of professional professors creating a very structured day in day out round the clock environment created for summing up the multi-multi-faceted process of design.

And education still leaves PLENTY out of the equation, so much to be learned after the fact. You learn so much with your first product.

Basically, I could sit down with any prospective student for 4 whole years to teach them everything I knew about the process, if they paid me my salary for all fours years. And I know I wouldn’t even be a good professor, I don’t have enough knowledge or experience yet. Thinking about it this way makes you realize college really isn’t that expensive. $100k = $25k salary per year for one person to teach you a boatload of knowledge.

Stay eager, and naive isn’t a bad thing.