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Hi all!

I have been actively searching for a job over 6 months now. I graduated in May of 2012 with a BFA in Industrial Design. I think the root of the problem is that I don’t have any internships. I couldn’t afford unpaid internship as I had to support myself while going to school and I couldn’t find any paid ones (at least nobody had called me back)

I join competitions, I even shortlisted at the Dyson Awards (Luna trey project on my website) I have projects that’s been published online and in print (mainly my Mo’Joe project and NRG51) but so far it hasn’t given me anything but a mild encouragement.

I was always so confident of my abilities, and I am so motivated and I want to design so much! I love it, I always have.

If you can check out my portfolio website (where you can also view my Resume) maybe you can help me and direct me of what is missing? or what is wrong with it? or even just to say a friendly hello :slight_smile:

Thank you in advance for your help!

I’ll just give you some quick thoughts. Hopefully it’ll get the ball rolling.

How targeted in your approach to finding a job? I mean that in the sense of is your portfolio tailored towards that industry/work flow? Consumer electronic consultancies will be looking at a different style of portfolio than a in house corporation. A company of 5 people will value a different skill set than one that has 50+. And so on. Where do you think you will fit in best? And does your portfolio reflect that?

Personally I can’t tell right now? Your focus seems to be all over the place.

I would lose a few projects. Picasso, Yawhoo, Trinity, and The End. Aren’t helping you (from an ID perspective). Especially when then very first project I click on isn’t an ID project, but an image. That quote can live on your about me page if you really want it too.

Overall I need more story for your project. The WHY should be apparent in your presentation. I’m missing that.

Luna. Nice form. Lacks visual punch. I need a bit more story.

First Date: Sorry not going to watch a video to get your design process. I’ll watch it at the end if the project intrigues me. But otherwise Im skipping over it.

NRG51: Again interesting form. Needs more visual punch. Romanticizes your design and design process. The sketches, research, mood board. Should all be dynamic and impactful.

Work Desk: Looks great. Great visuals and the sketches are at the right level. Strive to get all your other projects to this level of deliverables.

Pegasus" Desk Lamp: Sorry not going to read that wall of text. Needs more visuals. Show me what that says.

Puzzle for the blind: I like it. Wish you had made a real model. Just gives it a bit more credibility. And allows you to take some nice in use photography.

In the end I thin you have a good design sensibility. When it comes to final products. Just laking it on the presentation side.


Thank you so much for taking the time to respond with such detail! I really appreciate and I agree with a lot of what you said!
I was thinking of getting rid of these projects as well.

Can I ask you an honest question? why is it so wrong to want or be willing to do anything? You are right about me not being focused. But I love design and I think I can design many different things from electronics to furniture and even toy. Why is it a bad thing? the process to all is very similar in many ways, and the love of aesthetics apply to all for me. I am a beginner designer and willing to start anywhere so I apply to many different places where I think I can do the job. What do you think?

I will make some changes based on your suggestions right now so the next people who view it don’t have to waste their time commenting on things I already know.

Thanks again and would love to hear from you soon!

Have a great day!

Hi Netali,

I agree with Sain’s points on project choice, which to highlight/expand upon and which to omit. I think you have some nice visuals but if the overall message of that was presented in the same visual way, it would be more effective than a paragraph at the top of each project.

We often do reference people like Andrew Kim and Rene Lee as examples in making a project clear and understandable (e.g. see Rene’s project at because it is effective at getting the point across in an attractive way. If you can communicate a project with single lines at a time and visuals, it is pretty clear – people sometimes call this the “Apple style” and might imply that it is simple copying, but it isn’t, and really forces you to understand your own project and goals in order to boil it down to its essentials.

Some other things:

  • You can probably keep the same linework for a lot of sketches and arrange them more dynamically to tell your story (see Pinterest “ID sketching” or search Zach Hastings). A lot of the stuff is not complicated individual sketches, but the way they are lain out and highlighted give them the wow factor.

  • It wouldn’t hurt to show sketch models if you have them. I can’t comment for all companies, but it seems that the quick sketch models (for feel, scale, and idea, but not for finished looks) is more useful than nice smooth appearance models. For example, you could make a working Luna tray with 2-3 layers of cardboard or foamcore … even better if you show a few models and how it informs your final choice).

Best of luck!

There is nothing “wrong” with it at all. I like the go-getter attitude.

But you need to sit in the shoes of your employer. Their purpose in hiring to is to make money, grow the business, put shoes on their kid’s feet. Altruism is a nice thought, but isn’t going to put food on the table 99% of the time.

So, what are you going to do for me? Lack focus when you are working for me? Work on toys when I am working on medical devices? General knowledge is good, but what specific knowledge are you going to bring to the table? How can you prove to me I’m not going to have to hold your hand? You work for me, I don’t want to work to get you going, that is why focus/interest in the area where you are applying is important.

Good luck. Don’t take anything personally. And no worries, if you are patient, you will get there eventually. I know I’m still getting there.

Good advice above. Focus on getting 2-3 internships under your belt. The first one may not be ‘exciting.’ It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. A few internships can help you figure out what specific areas of ID you may or may not be interested in, and will give you crucial experience necessary to be considered for a full-time gig. Having the internships be different categories or contexts will teach you different skills as well, and make you more flexible and well-rounded before you focus in on your first job (EG consumer vs commercial/industrial, apparel vs consumer electronics vs furniture vs housewares, etc.)

Thank you everyone for all your hood advice i really appreciate you taking the time to comment!

iab, I understand what you saying about focus but to be 100% honest how can I know what I am best at if i didn’t have a chance to find out yet? I know what i most passionate about but I need to start somewhere in order to find out where will I bring the most benefit to my boss?

Cameron, I would love to get some internships, I cannot afford the free ones but how do I get them to call me back? What can I add/subtract/change in my portfolio to appeal to employer to call me for an interview? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

Robbie_Roy, I will def. check those out, thank you! Also, I do have some sketch models but not all of them are relevant to the projects in my portfolio. The Mo’Joe project shows some of them. And I am now in the process of making a 1:1 scale model for the “andy” Desk as I am in the process of prototyping it and manufacture a small limited edition, I figured if I can’t get anyone to give me a chance to start somewhere i will make my own experience and my own projects and I am learning a LOT from doing that :slight_smile:

Not to be harsh, but that’s your problem, not mine. And it sounds you expect it to be my problem. As your employer, I care about what you can do for me first, what I can do for you comes in a distant second, especially when you are still searching.

And all I can offer you is interesting work. That is the number one item to retain talent. If I am at industry standard for pay, benefits and other extrinsic rewards, I can keep you as my money-making machine as long as I keep the work interesting to you.

Here’s the problem. As an employer, I can’t offer you the world and I won’t even try because there is no business model to support that proposition. I can only offer you a segment of the possibilities. You can get a range of diversity of business in a large consultancy. But even if you land a gig there, they are not going to hire you because you are still finding yourself. They don’t have the time. They need to pay for the lights. They need you start in one spot. And you need to be great at it to have the opportunity to move to another spot. They not going to pay you to crash and burn. It is not a charity.

So take your best guess at a focus. Contribute 100%. If you don’t find the work interesting, leave. I expect that, it is reality. As long as I got something from you, I’ll be happy and wish you luck on your next endeavor.

iab, of course I don’t think it’s your problem, I am just having a discussion and it was more sharing my thoughts than actually asking :slight_smile: anyway, everything you say makes a lot of sense. I really have to make a change in my thinking about the art of design and the business aspect which is the main driver of it.

Phew, some tough love there from iab. And I agree, to a point.

In my opinion, there is a difference between a junior designer or intern with little to no experience outside of school work and a mid level/exec designer. A company can’t expect to have a beginner come in with a load of work in one field.
Unless you specialize during your education, such as trans, you will have a wide variety of work in your portfolio or very little as the number of projects that actually are good enough to show, are limited already.

I have benefited from employers that understood the potential in my work even if it wasn’t exactly what they did in their company. Of course it is important to connect what they do with what I am showing but skill, vision, passion and quality transcends the subject matter.
If I am in the business of designing e-readers and somebody shows me a great desk lamp and an espresso machine, I am pretty certain that I would be able to tell whether this person is a good designer or not. The fact that I didn’t see an e-reader in the portfolio, shouldn’t matter much.
For a leading position, where the expectation is to have the new hire jump right into projects seamlessly, the requirements are of course different.
For an intern portfolio however, I would kindly ask all interviewers and employers to not be narrow-minded and try to see the potential in a young designer.

All this being said, the work has to be top notch in any scenario but I’d rather hire someone with no projects in my field but a great projects in others than someone with a focus on my field but mediocre work.

One thing that worked for me personally was building a diverse portfolio with a number of different projects that had no industry focus, but a focus on thinking, problem solving and high quality visualization. From there I was able land a job at a consultancy that did work for medical manufacturers (BD, Lumiscope, a bunch of others), toys (Hasbro, Fisher Price, Leap frog), sportswear and accessories (Nike, Burton, Timex), Tabletop small electrics, and kitchenware (Chantal, Waring, Remington, Libbey Glass) and a whole bunch of others… point is, from there I could figure out what I personally like doing and find the overlap with what I was good at and where I wanted to grow and go from there.

I agree to an extent, but there is a balance. I’ll give you my personal example.

Right out school, like everyone else, I just wanted a job, any job. I landed an interview with a toy development firm. And at the time, I thought the owner was pretty harsh with his critique of me. In hindsight, he was spot on.

I had no interest toys and my portfolio reflected that fact. I was so focused on “get a job”, passion for toys never occurred to me. The owner recognized a passion for design in me, that got me the interview, but there was nothing to show a real interest in toys (there was a single toy project in the portfolio). I was only confident like the OP, design is design, I could do anything.

In hindsight, he was smart not to hire me. Sure, I would have given it my all, but not having a focus to tell me where I want to be, I would have gotten out of there as soon as possible. That makes bad business sense for an owner. A new hire, especially juniors, take a lot of time to get a return on investment.

If you do not have an idea what you want to do, you are a high risk to a potential employer.

Now I certainly am not saying you should have your career figured out right out of school. But there has to be something to make you a good fit. And if you not honest with yourself, it will come out in the interview.

I understand what you are saying jab, especially as an ampler. I got a portfolio from a talented designer the other day that was 90% furniture. Beautiful stuff, well thought out, great use of materials… but we don’t make furniture here. I spoke with him and furniture is clearly where his passion lay. The only think I could do for him was encourage him to keep applying to furniture places.

Are we still talking about internships here?
A temporary placement that is low risk/low cost to a decent design firm?

I think it is unfair to expect a recent grad to limit his choices to only fields he is “most passionate” about.
Actually, a job is a job early in the career and I’d argue that in the beginning, any job is better than frothing lattes at your local coffeeshop to keep your head over water, instead of committing to an internship in a design studio that might not be 100% your thing.

If the applicant shows potential, is willing to learn and can see himself discovering a new area of design for himself through the internship, why not give him a chance?
As we are referencing personal experiences, here is mine. Before my current position at a consultancy, I have never touched any consumer electronic project. How could I? Classes, professors and design briefs were just not set up this way at the schools were I went. My portfolio reflected that.
I wasn’t asked if I was passionate about consumer electronics which is now 90% of my workload, but if that question would have arisen, I would have plainly stated that I was not. How could I have been? I have never worked with it.
But I would have explained that I am passionate about designing beautiful, functional and clever products for people. That I am hungry to discover this field and that I would love to give it a shot.
I am glad that my firm saw this potential, gave me a chance and let me develop a passion. Today I love my job.

Of course, there has to be recognizable potential and the applicant has to demonstrate at least interest in the work he will be doing but I see an internship as another learning experience and it can’t be expected that a recent grad can’t be allowed to get his feet wet in a field in which he has limited to no experience.
A fulltime hire is of course entirely another thing.

Good point. I forgot we were talking about internships.

This + Network. Now is a great time to reach out to alumni for advice, get more involved here on the boards and be open to change and opportunity. Q4 is always a difficult time for companies to hire.

I think I saw an internship opportunity on Coroflot for Tupperware a few days ago. Apply. Sure it may not seem like the most exciting, but I bet you will learn more than you ever did in studio.

I would personally focus on an internship first. My internship was unpaid during school - I waited tables at night after work to make it happen - 8-5pm internship followed by 6-10/11pm waiting tables - Did I have a social life? No. Did I gain a wealth of knowledge, Yes. You just have to be comfortable with making the proper sacrifices.

If its full-time you are looking for, it will be hard to land one without any design internship experience. But honestly, I have never seen so many jobs posted for ID in the past 6 months.

We are hiring in Michigan. ( )

Dont focus too much on location or discipline… that will come over time…focus on crafting your skills… The career of an Industrial Designer is very nomadic. So unless you are willing to embrace that, you will find it virtually impossible to find a job.

Again, I cant stress networking enough - meet people, get involved, ask for advice (which you are doing), take action and realize that no one will hold your hand and get your name out there… someone will notice, I promise.

I know a guy at tupperware if you’re interested in the internship spot Kershaw mentioned. He actually started out as an intern there. =)

Cameron, I am very interested! I just saw your post today (for some reason I didn’t get notifications from the discussion and I just thought to check it again)

Thanks everyone for all the encouraging personal stories! I really appreciate all the advice and support!

I am still looking but as they say “there are a thousands NOs for every YES!”
I am hoping since I already heard a few hundreds there are only a few hundreds left and then I get a big fat YES! :slight_smile:

In the meantime I am working on updating my portfolio.
I am also working on a personal project that I am hoping to realize. wish me luck! :slight_smile: