Jack of all master of none?

Hello designers,
To introduce my experience, I previously changed from architecture to ID, because I felt free to design and I became interested in smaller details. Anyway, I graduated 1.5 yrs ago. I interned and continued my services for a small design studio part time for 2.5 yrs.
The design work we did are- contact lens case, backpack concepts, re worked on a motorcycle body work design, electric scooter concept to model, car body work designs with fiberglass and carbon fiber ( x prize cars), airplane design by making full size prototypes ( still working to perfection) using- fiberglass, foam core, clay, wood and steel. A medical neck brace- concept to fiberglass, foam,cloth mock ups and back support piece- concept to SLA prototypes. It was great experience and I believe I was a great match to this studio. It covered a wide spectrum in ID and the approach was very traditional ID. Most of the projects are quickly turned into hands on modeling and I loved working on those projects.

Now, here is my current situation. I am looking for a permanent job and step up my career ladder. My work experience and portfolio will show that I have covered most of the ID concentration. I like to get inspired, so one day I feel like designing a motorcycle, another day I feel like designing a jewelery. Seems like I do not have a specific interest rather flow with my inspirations and problem solving mentality. Recently I have applied to almost all the jobs posted in job boards, cold calls and linkedin connections. But no reply from any. I would follow up in 2 weeks and I get rejected with the words, I dont match their needs.

I need some advice from you. Visit my website http://shyam-ideas.weebly.com and please give me your feedback. My Sr. designer, where I worked, recognized my problem solving skills, research and dependable work ethics. He always told me that I need to develop my aesthetic and sketching skills. I am seriously working on improving.

Give me your thoughts on where do you think I fit in ID, to be job/company specific should I design products that are specific to that company? e.g Kohler- bath/furniture, HP- electronics etc.

Thanks for reading this long posting, sorry if I had bored you with my confusion. Looking forward for your comments.


First off, stop applying to any and everything on Core. Ever wonder why many applicants never hears a peep from these open job positions? It’s because people don’t even stop to consider the fact that they aren’t meeting all of the requirements. If you don’t fit the position to an absolute T, then don’t bother them and don’t waste your time.

That said, I do firmly believe you should find a unique niche. It certainly does help.

How do you work on improving your aesthetic? I can see how you can work on sketching but I just always figured that you either “have it or you don’t” when it comes to having a good eye for styling.

Thanks for the reply, I do apply to selected jobs. I try to match as close as possible. I dont apply for sr.level or something from actions sports and lifestyle design consultants. I know I dont match any of their requirements and dont want to waste both our time.
To reply on how to work on aesthetics, I had one of my college grad friend who worked on a theoretical thesis on design that includes aesthetics and many other theories that would apply for design language. I also keep a journal of designs with aesthetics and understand what makes it look better than others. Eg. golden mean, angles, fillets, organic form etc.

Thanks for clarifying. My apologies if I came across a little brash.

That’s interesting about your friend’s thesis on aesthetics. I’ve always found it interesting that some designs can become pure classics. In my opinion, designs that somehow evoke a very basic, human emotion are the ones that will be popular over the years.

I agree that you could do with some more work on your aesthetics, but as you’ve already identified that as a problem area you already know that. I disagree with 6ix when it comes to improving aesthetics, I have seen other designers gain a far better eye through keeping a close eye on design blogs / magazines / books etc, lots of practise and a little time to mature. However, I would consider your content. Why, for example, have you ‘featured’ the model of the mp3 player as the main image on your site? Firstly, I had no idea what it was until I found it in the 3D modelling section - the angle is not informative, there is nothing to give a sense of scale - secondly, it is pretty dull - it looks like it is made of flat matt white cardboard, and thirdly you have far better work secluded elsewhere on the site. If you struggle to be objective about your best work (something that I suffer from terribly), as someone else for their opinion.

Finally, don’t get downhearted about the job hunt. Just keep working, improving and applying for the positions that get you really excited and eventually you will find your niche!

I’ve found success in not specializing. I find that a majority of hiring managers are focused more on process than subject matter. However, their recruiters and job placement software function off of key words. I’ve recieved many offers from jobs where I didn’t quite fit. So, I suggest applying for jobs that you are interested in and are 85% match. I was told a few tips on how to determine where you need to improve. It’s pretty commonsense stuff, but I didn’t think of it at the time. If you don’t get many responses back after first contact, then you need to work on your resume/portfolio. If you don’t get many responses after the phone interview, then you need to work on your “elevator speech” and communication. If you don’t get any offers after an in-person interview, you need to work on your communication and negotiation skills.

When you write your resume, it should include a keyword area possibly titled “core competences”. This section should be near the top and consist of about 12-15 professional/industry keywords. This will help get you through the search engine criteria if the company is using that. It also helps the recruiter quickly review your resume. I believe many designers rely too heavily on their portfolio and need to put some time into their resume. I noticed a huge difference in response when I did mine and my portfolio essentially stayed the same.

Thanks for the comments,
I do need to add scale or human proportions to the images.

Apart from applying for jobs, is it easier to get interviews and land on the job if you know someone within the company. I have many occurrence where I cold call for job inquiry, apparently no opening now or future, but within a month they hire someone. Maybe its my bad timing or did the new hire know someone inside? I have seen that San Jose state univ has great network and most of the surrounding companies hire SJSU students than others.

Interesting comment about SJSU. I’ve interviewed with a couple of companies out there in San Jose and have also found them mostly hiring graduates from SJSU. They definitely take care of their own!

for soliciting specialization is important…as some of the previous posters have mentioned.
yet in the real practical world Your better of to be a Jack of all…I see all these specials-ed engineers tackled with a problem ‘ficking’ it like they always did… Opportunities and the world are to the brave the ones who will experiment and question the things they know. The ones that seek for more and other answers…Unfortunately the reward for this kind of thinking is in the long term…

so my advice would be to be a Jack(ass) …of all

Atohms, thanks for the optimistic message.
6ix, sometime I wish I was one of their graduates.