I am a rocket scientist, and I need your help.
Technically, I don’t work on rockets, but when you tell somebody you interned at NASA, it’s easier to lie than explain your actual role.
My degree is in Aerospace Engineering, initially due to (mis)guidance, but now due to educational inertia. Halfway through my degree, I tried to switch to ID, but due to drastic differences in curriculum, I couldn’t do it without repeating my first two years of undergrad. I spoke to a few people employed in the field, and they suggested I finish in my degree, then work my way into the industry as an engineer.
I was attracted to ID because of the opportunity to work as the eponymous “t-shaped person”: jack of all trades, master of one or two. I spontaneously generate ideas in all fields, from softgoods to footwear to furniture to … to aircraft, and I enjoy learning about the markets, techniques, challenges and possible innovations in lots of disparate fields. In engineering, however, I have seen a tendency towards “pigeonholing”, or a desire for subject matter experts, which is opposed to my ideal breadth of roles.
I am trying to plan out a career transition, but before I do this, I want to know whether I do, in fact, want to go into ID. I don’t want to end up trying to distract myself from my job.
My questions are mostly about the actual day-to-day work of IDer:
1. How long do you usually work on a typical project? How many projects in a year? How many at once?
2. Do you find all your projects to be similar? Is it easy for an IDer to break free of a portfolio-induced pigeonhole?
3. What about your job is fulfilling? Is it the everyday work you do? Is it the smile on children’s faces? Something else?
4. How is your time spent? How much time do you spend ideating, sketching, CADing, prototyping, writing, calculating, etc?
I have seen the thought with which many of you respond to the messages on this board, so I am eager to hear answers to these questions, and any other information you feel would benefit a lonely wanderer like myself. I am working on assembling a presentable portfolio in my spare time (which is dwindling; my Christmas knitting has caught up to me), so in the meantime you’ll have to rely on my own word that I’m at least halfway decent at the design process. (I hope a latent desire to eliminate possible competition doesn’t skew the results, but I trust you. Yes, you.)