Need all of your help and advice for a career change


I’m new to this board and have been visiting infrequently over the past couple of months and love the discussions that I’ve read. You all seem very helpful so I would love to get some help with a personal challenge that i’m facing.

I’m currently a senior client research analyst in the retail sector at a technology advisory firm in Boston. In this job, I mainly focus on managing clients, help with their product strategy and I’ve published a couple of reports including field studies on how retail technology is deployed in stores. My experience prior to this was in developing internet technology - I founded a company, worked on the business, application interface, web design, usability and product development etc and during college, used to design covers for student magazines.

So in summary - I’ve had a lot of technology experience, some business experience and some design experience. I’ve decided after 2 1/2 years at my current job that my true passion lies in designing consumer products, in finding elegant ways of developing products that change the way people interact with objects.

The challenge I face is that my experience does not have any industrial design experience and in my current job, I have been focused on enterprise applications and not consumer applications. I found out what a hurdle it was when I applied for a design strategy position at a local design firm - while the intial prescreening interview went well - I just found out that I didn’t get a call back - i was devastated since the job is exactly what I was looking for. I am waiting to get feedback from one of my interviewers but in the meantime, I am seriouly evaluating my capabilities and whether I can make this career switch without heading back to school.

I am really interested in a job that straddles the roles of business, technology and design so I don’t know if it would be appropriate to start practicing my sketching skills or would it? I would ideally like to make this switch without going back to school if I can help it - what do you all think? What are your reccomendations for me to get a job in the design industry?

Thanks again for your patience and help.

"I’ve decided after 2 1/2 years at my current job that my true passion lies in designing consumer products, in finding elegant ways of developing products that change the way people interact with objects. "

Hi! Your passion to get into design is commendable, and big life changes could be ahead.

Some thoughts:

You mention above that you want to design consumer products, and then at the end of your message that you want to straddle business/tech/design. Do you want to be a product designer, or do you want to be a business/tech person who walks on the periphery of design?

If you want to be a product designer, IMHO, you’ll need to either 1_ train yourself or 2_ attend school.

Option #1: It’s feasible that you could sketch on your own, build a portfolio, work on projects and get all the skills you need on your own… but that’s a tough path. You’ll need to sketch, but more importantly, you need to learn how to design.

Option #2: A good school will bring things you might not think about on your own, with the added bonus of new friends, structure, necessary self evaluation and suffering, contacts and ultimately a degree in your field.

I asked myself the same questions you are… In my case, I realized that one thing the ID world didn’t need was, at the time: me! Another bizdev/technologist who did some design back in college and thought I knew the ropes. So I quit my career of 20 years and went back to school for ID to retrain and make a new life. I haven’t regretted it a day so far.

Simply put: there’s no easy way through it.

I don’t know your situation, and these are just some opinions based on my path.
Good luck!

Thanks for your advice. I’ve started looking into various schools and searching the posts here. I’m considering applying to the Illinois Institute of Design because if it’s focus on both design and strategy. Any thoughts on this specific school?