Non-design jobs for someone with a design education

I am a recent graduate in Environmental Design (non professional Industrial Design.) I started my college career studying engineering and material science. My research in composite materials has been used in 7 research publications. I am now at a point where I need to figure out what to do next. I am very technical minded and did not know what I was getting into when I chose to major in design (I expected it to be more research/computer based and not as much art and hand drawing based.) When I started studying design, I had absolutely no artistic ability. After a lot of hard work, my drawing and rendering skills are now passable, but not nearly competitive enough to land a design job. I applied to two ID grad programs, but unfortunately I did not get in due to GPA (engineering screwed me up.) I got into a masters in Design Management at SCAD (I made a post related to this), but the cost of the program is a major concern.

My question to you guys is what should I do next? I would like to get a job immediately, but I am having trouble identifying a non-design career path which I could apply my undergraduate education to. I really do love design, and I would give anything to be able to communicate my ideas better visually, but with the industry being so competitive and with the economy being twisted, I dont think it is realistic that I will end up being a practical designer. So what kinds of non-design jobs do you guys think I should look at?

I would like to add that if I do not find a job, the Design Management program is for sure my backup option. I really dont want to go back to school for engineering either. I need something which I can apply my creative and technical advantages to.

my drawing and rendering skills are now passable, but not nearly competitive enough to land a design job.

this I don’t understand, and I hear it everywhere. Why is everybody freaking out about the drawing??

it’s the idea, the problem solving, the concept that will land you a job.
The sketch part is just a tool to explain how you got to your final design.

seriously, they are not looking for an artist, they are looking for a designer.
Don’t get hung up on the sketching, it is hugely over emphasized.

well from the first day of my design education, it was beat into our heads that drawing ability is the first thing that employers look at. also, when employers look to hire in the design field, they look at your portfolio which is almost completely visual. now I understand that it is very possible to show ideation, design methodology, and problem solving skills in a portfolio, but I really dont have much visual work to show this in my portfolio. It just seems like in this field, artistic ability is overrated and a lot of schools obsess about it so the students who are not artistic, like myself, end up being at a disadvantage and dont have a chance to build in other areas. I would love to further my design training in order to show this, but I dont know where to go from here.

how about a colors/material designer? you can apply your knowledge of materials into design situations, and your materials knowledge would certainly trump the lack in sketching ability you claim you have.

just an idea.

i have thought about this, but I was unable to identify a job like this. mainly I am looking at

try the footwear companies, i know they employ a lot of materials designers.

ill look into that, what other jobs should i look at?

Film industry. I studied furniture design and I was SOL for gigs and a friend introduced me to the industry. There are quite a few design people here, sure its not 3d, but a lot of what I learned crosses over and there is a lot of money in it.

the design mgt degree won’t get your foot in the door.
(no working designer I can think of would allow themselves to be managed by someone with nothing in production anyway)

my advice, look into the more technical schools for more training (CMU, GA Tech, IIT - not art schools) and/or spend that time working on your portfolio focusing on the things you are most interested in.

What about being a design manager/director for an exhibit design firm? Or just becoming the design director for a company that has a graphic design department?

Thing is, there is a whole WORLD of companies out there that need design management, but they aren’t the Fitch’s and IDEO’s of the world. Corporations of all types have design departments. Could be ice-scrapers, could be kayaks, etc. But they all need proper product and graphic design.

These are the places that don’t necessarily post on Coroflot because they don’t know about it or won’t pay the price. They’ll rely on Monster or just word of mouth. Do some research on local manufacturers. I bet ya anything that you’ll find some companies nearby that utilize professional designers and perhaps need some guidance.

As for not having artistic ability…that’s certainly debatable. I mean, I’ve had interviews with heads of engineering that wanted me to sketch right in front of them during the interview. It IS very important, IMO. But maybe you have another way of showing your thoughts. That’s all it comes down to. That’s what matters at the end of the day. Not pretty pictures.

My career goal is actually to work for a corporation and not a design firm. I would like to do something with business/idea innovation and product development. I feel that it will be best for me to be in the corporate world in order to maximize my options. Thats why I was looking into the Design Management masters, not to become a “Design Manager” for a design firm, but to have the business anda innovation background to work for a company.

I do not think I can reach this position without either going to grad school or without a lot of work experience. With my qualifications, I am unable to find a “design” job, so I am looking for an entry into the market with my current educational backgound. I have been unable to identify the ideal career path for me, without having to go to grad school.

I’m developing innovation management processes in my company now and it took me a while to get there. I had to start off as a designer and prove a little bit of my methodoligies a little bit at a time. While that was going on I had to prove my management skillset because it involves reaching across different business units. It will be increasingly difficult for you to land an innovation position in a company where you do not understand it’s culture or had time to abosorb it. Because at the end of the day you can innovate all you want, but it means nothing if you cannot integrate it into the core competencies of the company. You would also need time to develop your soft skills within the company in order to be successful.

I apologize if I did not read this earlier. But do you have actual work experience? A master’s is increasingly difficult to sell, especially if you are coming out of the academic world. If you don’t already have a job in field you’re interested in, I would suggest getting that first. Then put in a few years and then go after your master’s. I believe an MBA will serve you better than the design management degree. It will truly build your business accumen and compliment what you already have under your belt.

RIM in Canada was recently looking for a colors material designer… it comes up here and there, and from what I hear, a good one is well compensated for their skills

I do not have any work experience. I cannot find a job in the design field. I am currently trying to find a job in a related field, but have not been able to figure that out yet either. I do not want to do an MBA right now because from my understanding MBA programs link coursework to real world business practices which I am not yet familiar with. I have admission to the design management program, but I am using that as a last option. My GPA is a little low so I am having trouble getting into a grad program in a related field (engineering, etc.) I have a family that I am responsible for so I really cant waste time. I wish I would have known the reality of trying to enter the design field, especially with a non-professional degree and limited computer modeling experience. What am I to do???