So it has been a month now since I graduated with my Industrial Design degree from a large university and outside of a couple nibbles, no job prospects. I am currently working a low skill labor job part time to keep some money flowing. I would describe my overall ID skill as “good” and not the perfect and 3-5 years experience for entry level every company seems to be requiring. My people skills are what set me apart from a lot of classmates, but you can’t showcase that without interviews. What’s really starting to tick me off is seeing friends that are under qualified or did average to below average in school easily get jobs in their other fields. Meanwhile many of my ID friends are flailing. I also have an interest in marketing so I have sent out some feelers, but I don’t feel strongly about any of them. Basically all of this is making me start to resent ID as a whole and lose all of my passion, which is not good when looking for that first big job. Hate to be a Debbie Downer, but any tips or pointers that will let me know the sky isn’t falling?
A month and you’re already doubting your decision to go into ID?
For many great designers, it took a lot longer than that to score the first job out of school. Realistically, it will take some time to find the right ID job for you.
The only advice I can really give without knowing more about you and your work is to keep going and to keep improving.
Desperation is a huge turn off so don’t show it.
I think insecurity is worse – it’s almost impossible to conceal in communications and interviews.
Bump to what bepster said
I am in the same boat to some extent as a fresh graduate. I very much understand your concerns. The hiring in this industry is a bit goofy yes but it is detrimental to put to much stock in what is happening to other people. Use this time to your advantage if you can, maybe get some of your friends from school together and work on a group project or contest, buy a ton of solid works/ Rhino tutorials and build on your skill set in the evenings, take a glass blowing class or some sort of community art class. Think about it this way what would you be excited to tell a potential employer about what you have been doing during your time from graduation to now…
It took me 6 months and in those 6 months I reworked my portfolio pretty much 8 hours a day except for Fridays which I spent sending resumes and the like. It gave some shape and focus to what was a super difficult time. Basically I pretended to work. I did get 3 freelance gigs in that time, 2 were on site, and that really helped.
I think the most detrimental thing you can do is compare yourself to others. Unless you can leverage what worked for them and apply it to your own approach, I think you should avoid it at all costs. What worked for me was entering a smaller company that required a designer. This added professional value that led me to working for a consultancy afterwards. As far as the “3-5 years experience”, why not try internships?
Gotta relate to Ditullo on this one.
Sure, its a tough industry to get into but “anything that comes easy is not worth having.” Most of us have this same type of story. I worked full time for almost 2 years where every lunch break I had I spent it sketching and every night I worked on my portfolio and applied for jobs. That’s just what it takes to prove you’re passionate. Never give up on your dreams.
Panic is the word. I’m also in the same situation. More or less. I just came back from China, where I worked and did research for my master thesis.
I worked all the time during the graduation in design offices too (about 3,5 years) and still… it seems that the experience I had before the masters was for nothing. Should I have studied two years less have tried to get full-time job sooner?!?
I consider my portfolio pretty decent too. But I can’t stop reworking it, researching, looking for jobs, sending it… the frustration builds up and it’s tough. I was the designer nerd at the university. And now… It’s difficult not to doubt your skills when you get the negatives from the companies.
what frustrates me the most is that I saw some colleagues getting jobs. Most of them didn’t get it by normal applications, but by indication. Normally from professors. Sometimes people with weaker portfolios - at this point you cannot help it but compare yourself to the others. At one hand I feel like “ok, it’s not about me or my skills, it’s just how the game goes”… At the other, it’s like “I’m lost then, if I have to wait for the good will of an ex-professor or something”.
I don’t know. It sucks big time!
I think I do a good job of hiding these “insecurities” when communicating with potential employers, but honestly at this point it’s just getting embarrassing. Maybe I’m too proud. Having to constantly explain to people why I don’t have a full time job yet even though I did well in school can start to wear you down. I know working on my skills and portfolio is probably the best play, but between working part time to pay bills and sending applications it can be hard to find the time. Not looking for sympathy and it’s nice to know others went/are going through this, I just don’t want to still be living at home 6 months from now with a college degree that I worked really hard for!
but and if it takes 6 months?! I mean, if it is what it takes!
honestly I suck on pretty much all part time jobs I made, and that are not ID related.
it’s been torturing!
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I remember when I was at Pensole run by D’wayne Edwards in Las Vegas, a classmate had just graduated and wasn’t finding any work. He told his story for a few days and D’wayne listened for a bit and then one day gave him a reality check… and the reality is that NO ONE is going to feel bad for you, it will never get you a job. It’s brutal, but it’s true. D’wayne has one of the roughest life stories I’ve heard, and he had two options.
- He could sit in his neighborhood complaining about why he couldn’t become a footwear designer because life wasn’t fair, or how others had it better than him because he couldn’t afford design school and had to work a day job at Mcdonalds.
- He could use every minute available channeling his energy towards being a footwear designer.
If you REALLY don’t want to be living at home, then take control of your own path, don’t allow yourself to be the victim.
On a side note there’s plenty of resources here to post your work and get feedback. Every bit of criticism is helpful one way or another.
It is never my intention to “play the victim”, that is not who I am, I was just looking for advice and seeing if this was something out of the ordinary. This has just been some frustration based venting really
As I could understand this is only another hard working phase, that will take its time… but this time with less money, and paying more taxes since you’re not a student anymore.
I don’t think you’re (we’re) playing the victim by talking about a confusing phase and asking for advice.
At least in my case, it’s really confusing habe been had a succesful academic career (always with design jobs) and then have to struggle like everyone else after being done with school. And that’s the point here, you’re not the only one.
But a degree is not a ticket for the ID job market. It’s more like a permit. And getting there…
But in the bottom line Aaron said something true. The only way is getting out there, researching about the kind of work you want to do, and working to show properly that you have what it takes to be there. Nobody said it was easy, did they?
It might take a while. It’s not that you’re bad, it’s that you’re not putting the right portfolio in front of the right people and part of it is just circumstance/luck. Your portfolio needs to show what you can bring to a company. This can be hard as a student as you may not know which area you want to work in and you might not have the body of work to effectively show what you could do once you get the job. This also shows you that someone with a few years of experience that can hit the ground running is much more valuable to a company than someone fresh out of school.
Also, keep in mind that there are not that many job openings for junior ID but, not all that many students come out of school. It’s a bit like selling a sports car, there aren’t a whole lot on the market but not a whole lot of people looking to buy one, so it might take a while to sell when compared to something like a Civic.
Keep your chin up. Keep applying. Review your portfolio, does it show what value you can bring to the companies that you want to be hired by? Keep working on it, start projects to fill gaps in your skill, keep learning new skills, meet people - meetup.com can be a great place to find events and meet people, it can give you a different perspective, possibly a gig. Also, consider smaller companies if you aren’t already. While it might seem glamorous to work for the big names, it can be easier to get your foot in the door at a smaller place. Not to mention, you’ll get experience and responsibility more quickly and in a broader area.
As someone who just got employed after looking for a while, it was tough at times. Try to keep some discipline in the way you spend your time. Having a part time job is actually a good thing - just for the social aspect of it. I’d really suggest starting a new project, something that excites you and puts a fire under your feet.
Finally, post your portfolio on the portfolio feedback section of the forum.
I hope you take the outpouring of responses here as affirmation that most of us go through this at one time or another. Design is not like accounting, it is not 1+1=2. So the needs of hiring managers are greatly varied. It takes time to find the right fit. As someone who has hired a lot of designers I can say it can be just as frustrating on our side, reviewing dozens, sometimes hundreds of portfolios, taking time to interview the candidates who’s work I think is the best fit for what our team needs, and then figuring out who is the right personality mix for the team now and in the next few years… all the while the work is piling up! But these decisions have to be made with care because the team will have this person for 2-5 years on average.
The entire thing is a dance. Some dances are fast, and some are slow.
When I was in your shoes I was definitely falling into despair. A few years ago I wrote an article about it for core77’s main blog. You can read through all of the grey details here. It was painful and humbling. It is easy to say now, but I’m glad I had the experience. In a way I needed it. (It still sucked though)
Louis and Michael,
thank you for the nice words.
'merica loves blaming the victim.
Thinking you can control every circumstance to not become a victim is foolish. You forgot the second and the most important part of the equation - dumbass luck. Without it, all the hard work in the world can get you nowhere.
My point wasn’t to call op the victim, or blame him for his situation. I was merely trying to caution that the easy road and most often traveled is to roll over and say that life is unfair (which we all know to be true anyways).
Iab, you are right. Luck has a lot to do with it. I believe the saying goes “in the right place at the right time”. Assuming this maxim is correct, be in as many places at as many times as possible. Physically and digitally. Go to IDSA events, start some of there aren’t any nearby. Ask local designers to go to coffee (everybody loves free coffee) and get their advice. Take a trip to SF or some other big city and set up as many meetings as you can. Post your work here and as many other places as possible. Things like that. Years ago I posted two concept projects for mobile phones on my coroflot. Those projects led to me working at frog. You just never know who is going to see what. Make sure you are out there.