is it really that bad?

I’ve been reading posts on this side for quite a while now and I can’t help but wonder whether it really is that bad out there. Maybe I have chosen the wrong profession. I’m not sure. Maybe it’s too early to tell.

I graduated a year ago and I’ve been working at a job that does hardly anything except paying bills. I studied Product Design as one designer told me that it’s the broadest education within the design field and that it would leave me with many career choices. Even during college I had times when I liked it a lot and times when I was about to quit to study something entirely else. Now reading and experiencing it myself how difficult it is to really get that fulfilling design job I can’t help but getting a bit depressed here.

People and even tutors have been telling me all life long that I’m very talented. Maybe that’s the reason why I’m sticking to it. Now I’m going to move to Sweden in September, not sure whether the design business will be any better there (I’m moving because my boyfriend is Swedish and a change of scenery might do me good).

How much passion does a designer need to be succesful? How much talent? Or is it just something that comes with time and working the job?
Is there anyone who experienced similar feelings and thoughts?

It’s true, I’ve been in this field 5 years and am currently stuck doing CAD monkey stuff, (this is just one project, others coming up will be more design) I keep thinking “why am I still paying dues, with more than 4 years experience”, and have given serious thought to advertising/directing film/etc… sometimes I’m like “I didn’t get in it for the money, but now I’m not making the money I want, and not doing what I like”, it’s tough - not to mention I’ve had to move all over the country. I do great designs, and am ultra talented, but it doesn’t seem to matter sometimes - there’s always 20 more designers waiting to take your job for less money. I say if it really is what you want, you’ll find a way, if not, you’ll find something else.

It bugs me that I’m still looking for my first design job while my peers have got positions in companies like Apple, Astro, Nike, Fuseproject, and Samsung almost straight out of school.

Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it, and if you are not a bit of a salesman, and weren’t born with the ability to sketch beautifully, it is a lot tougher - just the business, so I guess whenever you get a sketch phase in a project, sketch like your next job depends on those project sketches, that’s a good strategy. also I’m trying to practice sketching more just in the evenings, when Spaldings not bothering me.

serious?
so the industrial design is really that bad…
Is that just in the US, what about the other locations such as Asia, Australia Europe?
So pretty much reading this thread is a warning for graduates, should I quit ahead or stick to it?
But thinking on the positive side of things, as long as you like your job, the money doesnt matter that much right?

…been at it 30+ years and i agree that it has gotten much more difficult in just the last 6-8 years to find a good id job world-wide…if you got the degree, the talent and the tenacity you will find it…it isn’t salesmanship that will get it but it is marketing and an smart id should know enough about that to be successful…if you are still in school start building a contact list of your classmates, professors and anyone and everyone esle you meet and stay in contact with them oneway or another…if they do not know about a job opening ask them for two others who might and so on…you are less than four people removed from finding a great job in a most rewarding profession…everyone could use more money…follow your bliss.

I would say this - if you were not born with the natural ability to sketch beautifully, consider that it may be tough to find steady work the first 5 years, especially work you enjoy. I made it because I’m super tenacious and knew this is what I was born to do (even if I can’t sketch like an angel), but even with that still have doubts based on the difficulty I continue to encounter. out of my id class of 25, I know 3 to 4 in the industry now, but don’t know if that is all of them, I’m sure there are more. The others have had to take graphics jobs or other office stuff (heck I just had to take a CAD designer job part of last year to pay the bills).

if you know this is what you want to do, then go for it, if there is any doubt about it, and you’re still in school, look at all the other majors just to see what else there is (talk to your friends in other genres and see what they do on a daily basis), and see if you’re really good at anything else. I would love to go to an advertising firm and see what they do on a daily basis (shadow them), also any other industry I think I would excel at. I plan on staying in the industry but there are days when even I, the most stubborn man of anyone I’ve ever met, thinks about moving on.

I think everyone needs to ask themselves the question, Why do i want to do this particular job or profession. And to keep asking it throughout their study and career.
We all get a little down now and again about work, confidence, skill, talent etc…
If you want to do something and you have been told you have all of the above and some guts, you will get there in the end.
If you have no passion for what you do. Don’t bother.

It takes a big combination of super-skills, self-marketing/interpersonal connectivity and a whole lot of luck. Or, even more simplified, I believe it was our universally-admired Dick Cheney who said (sic) “success comes down to knowing which opportunities (or people/mentors) that come across your path are the ones to persue”. Things will come by - have the vision to know which to jump on and invest your time/effort.

I’ve let some potential good things slip by, but I have also grabbed others and now I enjoy a nice if dull little perch which keeps my peanuts warm. If you want to be a superstar though, I would think you might be a bunch more talented than me and much more tenacious. If you wanna burn bright, you have to risk it all and come back from rejection/failure even stronger each and every time.

Yeah, I think in my last post I might have been a little too down on the industry - I’m just stuck right now doing really horrible tedious work and want to kill myself - but when some better design work comes around the corner I’ll be singing a different tune.

I can only speak on the US landscape. It is not nessisaraly bad, just increasingly competative. There are plenty of design possitions for qualified applicants. The problem is only 2-3% of the graduating ID majors are qualified to design. It not really their fault, they just fell into school during a time were tuition money is more important than guiding students to carrers that they are suited for.

For instance I was one of 15 graduates from my school. Two of us found work one prior to graduating, and I 3 months after. Both were small no name firms, but now he works for IDEO and I work for a direct competitor of equal size on the other caost. Year before no one found work, year after 1 working for Moto, 1 for Fossil, one for Target.

This firm has added 6 new designers in the last 4 weeks, but have interviewd close to 80.

It all comes down to the talent and abilities of the designer, their comunication skills, design skills, and social skills. Just because you have a degree doesnt make you a designer, it is what you are at the core of your being.

I would be interested to know how many of (anyone who wants to comment) fellow graduates have stayed with design (at least are still trying to pursue a career or are currently working in design) vs. those who have shifted career direction altogether. I know I am one of seven people from my graduating class (25 grads) that is still in the field. The others who are practising are in exhibition design, graphic design, one in transportation (trucks) and the rest are “CAD monkeys”, as it has been termed, in office furniture. The others have shifted to project management, estimating, or have shifted fields completely due to frustration, bad experiences, etc.

What the numbers like for your class? Just wondering.

Seems those very few who are good manage to get positions in doing actual designing and keeping it. Most of the people I’ve graduated with are never heard from again since the graduation day. It’s funny though, sometimes I see them popping up on the corefolio with indication that they bounce all over the place just doing the same thing previously done in their career.

I just graduated from AAU this May. I’m still working on my portfolio, so I havn’t even started to look for a job yet. I hear this alot. That it take a year to finally get a job. Shouln’t you find a job right away if you’re that good? Why a year? Is that after getting some mediocre experience such as internships?

What I don’t understand is the real obstacles I’m facing. I know the foundation is the skill to design, but we all do. I get alot of advice about being persuasive, which is something they don’t teach you at school.

Out of the 20 or so in my graduating class I only know of 5 that are still in the field. I remember one of my professors telling us that out of his class there were only 2 still working so i’d assume that the same will happen to my class the way things have been going.

There are some great jobs out there but there are also a lot of crap jobs, you just have to be very careful in what you take on. As companies downsize they all seem to be looking for the mythical super-designer. You know, the guy who is an expert at every program, sketches like DaVinci, has years of experience, will work for less than the average, and is also an expert at graphic design, web design, and photocopier repair. Ive interviewed with a few companies like this and even after running the gauntlet they make you wait for six months before calling you back to ask if you can do some spec work.

[quote=“uljana”]I’ve been reading posts on this side for quite a while now and I can’t help but wonder whether it really is that bad out there. Maybe I have chosen the wrong profession. I’m not sure. Maybe it’s too early to tell.

I graduated a year ago and I’ve been working at a job that does hardly anything except paying bills. I studied Product Design as one designer told me that it’s the broadest education within the design field and that it would leave me with many career choices. Even during college I had times when I liked it a lot and times when I was about to quit to study something entirely else. Now reading and experiencing it myself how difficult it is to really get that fulfilling design job I can’t help but getting a bit depressed here.

People and even tutors have been telling me all life long that I’m very talented. Maybe that’s the reason why I’m sticking to it. Now I’m going to move to Sweden in September, not sure whether the design business will be any better there (I’m moving because my boyfriend is Swedish and a change of scenery might do me good).

How much passion does a designer need to be succesful? How much talent? Or is it just something that comes with time and working the job?
Is there anyone who experienced similar feelings and thoughts?[/quote]

Hard to avoid answering such posts because they are so indicative of the turmoil in ID these days.

With the absurdly large annual crop of ID graduates in the U.S. (bearing no relation to actual market needs) talent itself has become commoditized for the simple reason there are so many designers skilled enough in the fundamentals required for most positions. Whether in-house or contracted, U.S. companies now largely shop design services on cost alone even if they don’t openly admit it. So much for generic product design.

If it’s any consolation, you are in good company as a talented young designer starting to suspect your school oversold you on the career prospects. Core already has many very thorough discussions on this topic, which you should take the time to read before deciding to bail out, if at all.

Is it more difficult today to kickstart a design career than even 10 years ago? Yes. Have design salaries kept up with the increased responsibilities designers typically undertake? No, not by a long shot. Then you have the China factor which was nowhere near as menacing as, say, 15-20 years ago.

In the U.S. design is essentially a business component, in Europe it is also a cultural activity to a great extent. European friends tell me it is increasingly difficult to find steady design work there too as many European producers are shifting operations (R&D included) to Asia to stay competitive. I know little of Sweden but all Western European countries tend to have culturally hermetic work environments strongly influenced by national pride and ego, making entry into specialized fields very difficult for foreigners. Scandinavians are rightly known for longstanding design excellence and “tons” of talented designers and top notch schools of their own. Same goes for Italy and Germany, where aside from freebie internships, Americans rarely penetrate the design world.

For all its shortcomings, design in America is still in its infancy and full of possibilities if only because of the relative freedom and lack of established models and dogmas designers enjoy. Everything is yet to be done. Europe is interesting to the traveling designer eye, as a casual observer, but working there full-time is a different story altogether. It can be stiffling, rigid and conservative as ways of doing are deeply entrenched. Maybe a Swedish boyfriend can break the ice for you in some spots, no pun intended, the language barrier alone is tremendous.

How to answer your last paragraph? Would you ask that question of a budding musician, artist or writer? Designers are very unique individuals in the otherwise square world of industry in that we live by our passion to create, invent and humanize technology. You’d be hard pressed to find others in the companies designers work for who can juggle so many different hats every day for relatively few perks and keep coming back for more.

It is common though for younger designers getting their first taste of the working world to get discouraged at times and dream of the greener grass on the other side - which isn’t always. But you will only know where you belong by doing it for a while. Try to diversify your work experience as much as possible, meet different people from other creative fields - film, architecture, set design, theatre, music. Travel the world and talk to the locals everywhere you go, don’t just hang around tourist traps.

Fact is, nobody owes you a living just as nobody owes you an interesting job no matter how talented you are. Capitalism just isn’t structured that way. You owe it to yourself to find your voice in life and make the best of what you have to offer. If you are a naturally restless creative type you need not wait for someone to provide you an opportunity to practice in the form of a job. Imagine a musician never playing between paid gigs.

Hopefully this answers your question about “how much” passion you need to succeed in design. For a change, try visiting a professional cooking school some day and chat with the students about their work and watch them go about it, chances are it will help your soul searching.

Best of luck to you and enjoy Sweden.

[got logged out above, sorry]

Hard to avoid answering such posts because they are so indicative of the turmoil in ID these days.

With the absurdly large annual crop of ID graduates in the U.S. (bearing no relation to actual market needs) talent itself has become commoditized for the simple reason there are so many designers skilled enough in the fundamentals required for most positions. Whether in-house or contracted, U.S. companies now largely shop design services on cost alone even if they don’t openly admit it. So much for generic product design.

If it’s any consolation, you are in good company as a talented young designer starting to suspect your school oversold you on the career prospects. Core already has many very thorough discussions on this topic, which you should take the time to read before deciding to bail out, if at all.

Is it more difficult today to kickstart a design career than even 10 years ago? Yes. Have design salaries kept up with the increased responsibilities designers typically undertake? No, not by a long shot. Then you have the China factor which was nowhere near as menacing as, say, 15-20 years ago.

In the U.S. design is essentially a business component, in Europe it is also a cultural activity to a great extent. European friends tell me it is increasingly difficult to find steady design work there too as many European producers are shifting operations (R&D included) to Asia to stay competitive. I know little of Sweden but all Western European countries tend to have culturally hermetic work environments strongly influenced by national pride and ego, making entry into specialized fields very difficult for foreigners. Scandinavians are rightly known for longstanding design excellence and “tons” of talented designers and top notch schools of their own. Same goes for Italy and Germany, where aside from freebie internships, Americans rarely penetrate the design world.

For all its shortcomings, design in America is still in its infancy and full of possibilities if only because of the relative freedom and lack of established models and dogmas designers enjoy. Everything is yet to be done. Europe is interesting to the traveling designer eye, as a casual observer, but working there full-time is a different story altogether. It can be stiffling, rigid and conservative as ways of doing are deeply entrenched. Maybe a Swedish boyfriend can break the ice for you in some spots, no pun intended, the language barrier alone is tremendous.

How to answer your last paragraph? Would you ask that question of a budding musician, artist or writer? Designers are very unique individuals in the otherwise square world of industry in that we live by our passion to create, invent and humanize technology. You’d be hard pressed to find others in the companies designers work for who can juggle so many different hats every day for relatively few perks and keep coming back for more.

It is common though for younger designers getting their first taste of the working world to get discouraged at times and dream of the greener grass on the other side - which isn’t always. But you will only know where you belong by doing it for a while. Try to diversify your work experience as much as possible, meet different people from other creative fields - film, architecture, set design, theatre, music. Travel the world and talk to the locals everywhere you go, don’t just hang around tourist traps.

Fact is, nobody owes you a living just as nobody owes you an interesting job no matter how talented you are. Capitalism just isn’t structured that way. You owe it to yourself to find your voice in life and make the best of what you have to offer. If you are a naturally restless creative type you need not wait for someone to provide you an opportunity to practice in the form of a job. Imagine a musician never playing between paid gigs.

Hopefully this answers your question about “how much” passion you need to succeed in design. For a change, try visiting a professional cooking school some day and chat with the students about their work and watch them go about it, chances are it will help your soul searching.

Best of luck to you and enjoy Sweden.

Reading through these discussions and others that I have been involved in, I can’t help but notice how disconnected we have all become with the true nature of the world around us. Egg’s comment that no one owes us a living or an interesting job drives this home.

The entire career field of industrial design is a luxury in itself so people probably should be happy if they have even had but a glimpse of what it’s like to be involved in it. I know people in industrial design like to think of themselves in the same family tree as the first person to ever fashion stone into a tool, but in reality we are just products of a modern society made possible by cheap oil, abundant electricity, and neverending growth. If major corporations hadn’t systematically destroyed local networks of community and commerce in favor of the suburban dream, many of us wouldn’t be talking here right now.

I’ve come to realize this more and more as these discussions have unfolded and recent events in the world have made it clear that things really are much more fragile. The schools, movies, television, and everthing else in mass media have raised us to beleive that we can be anything we want, but for most of us and the majority of the world this will never be true. Hell if things were still the way they used to be, and careers were passed down through families, I would either be a professional soldier or a metal worker right now. But luckily I was born in a time when I have the option not to go to war, not to starve, and to do whatever I want.

Sorry if I’m steering things way off target but this is something I feel obligated to say. I guess the sad truth is that we can’t all get what we want. For those that have struggled in the field without making much of a breakthrough, a plan B never hurts. For the rest of the people out there, enjoy it while it lasts.

That is very depressing to hear, but mainly because it’s true. I have a feeling sooner or later our society will ultimately create a self-destruct button against ourselves without realizing until it’s too late. Then, kaboo!

You mean KABOOM!!!