Looking to make a career pivot

Quick background. It’s been 7 years since I got my bachelor’s degree in ID, 6 years since my first full-time gig. I’ve been through both consultancy and corporate environments, currently working in the Bay Area.

I’m beginning to think about the possibility of going back to school for some sort of Masters program though I don’t know exactly what. All I know is that I have some interest (but no experience) in AI, Robotics, Programming… Ideally, I’d like to transition into a field that leans more on my idea generation, problem solving and technical ID skills (proficiency in CAD, 2D design programs) rather than creating beautiful aesthetics.

Why do I want to do this? Because to be honest, I’m feeling a little burned out. While I actually enjoy the aesthetic development of products I work on, it’s also been the source of stress/friction I have with design jobs, among other little things. I’ll spare you the details but I simply don’t feel cut for taking the lead on aesthetic decisions based on experiences I’ve had so far.

I’m wondering if there are any fields out there where I can still utilize the skills I’ve honed thus far, but also related to some of my interests I listed? Maybe there’s an ID niche I can look into?

Any input or advice is appreciated!

Hear hear. I do have a Master’s with a specialization in interactive products but the companies in that field are all abroad - which is why many students moved out of the country to Finland, China, USA, UK… I am now focusing on additive manufacturing which the industry is moving towards, Autodesk now bringing out free software tools with AM integration, Windows integrating the filetypes as well etc. There will be a great need for programming in that field too since complex geometries are much faster scripted than manually cadded. Another tech-oriented ID specialization is wearables. I wonder if anyone has a list of ID specializations.

why not just stat applying for jobs at places like Boston Dynamics?

Instead of spending money on grad school, I’d recommend you put together a list of the kinds of places you want to work for and the types of jobs you want to do. Then craft a portfolio geared toward those two things and start reaching out to people on LinkedIn to send it to… basically, this is going to be the end of your 2 years of grad school anyway. If you do that for 6 months and it doesn’t work, then you can switch back to the grad school plan.

maybe do a switch to “design engineer” executing and making products manufacturable. Some of the creative ambiguity is removed and you have to design the product for manufacturing.
Maybe instead of the designing the ideal product you now look for the ideal company to work for.
Look at 3D printing and 3D Rendering companies. They often look for designers to help them sell, train, support or help develop their products.
Good luck

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A huge thanks to all of you for your responses. Keno, thank you very much for all of the details you provided. This gave me a solid starting point on how to proceed.

I’ll be sure to post any updates if I have any. (But it could be a while!)

Having made the pivot to UX and now being hiring manager for all of our developers I wouldn’t agree with the first two points. Most of my front end devs have come from bootcamps with little or no formal education and they are typically lower or same on the pay scale compared to UX or areas which require more formal computer science degrees. I get a lot more fairly qualified candidates at lower pay scales (in NYC) for those positions. UX is still high in demand (For good people, since many people don’t have formal design educations bootcamps don’t prepare them well enough) and those who are good are compensated much better than ID. I received a ~50% pay increase in two years after switching to UX and I wasn’t struggling as an ID guy.

And as you said - AI/ML technologies are a buzz word but there are a lot of areas that can be practiced there on both the technology and data science sides. To go really far, unless you are extremely math oriented or have done programming before a CS or Masters degree is going to be a pre-requisite to a lot of jobs in those fields. It isn’t just about the knowledge of the programming languages, you need to have a strong foundation in the actual math driving your models. There are a lot of online data science courses you could take if you wanted to wet your feet, but I wouldn’t consider that a path from an ID degree.

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