Please help me with some career advice - I'm desparate..(UK)

Hi Guys,

I’m really hoping that someone will be able to help me with some career advice, because I really need some as I’m so depressed at the moment I don’t know where to turn, so here goes:

In July 2004 I graduated with an Honours degree in Product Design, and this was the career that I’d dreamed of for a long time. About 1 month later after looking for PD jobs, a job was advertised at a local employment agency for a “CAD Designer” for a bespoke interiors company. When I went for the interview they told me I’d be working with a “Senior Designer” to design furniture etc. for clients. This sounded fantastic and I had barely got home from the interview when I got the call saying that they were offering me the position…

Well, within my first week of training in a department with the other “Technical Designers” (The actual job title) I realised that something wasn’t as it should be – the Senior Designers were throwing disgustingly crude sketches of kitchen ground plans into the office and then the TDs had to draw them up on AutoCAD LT. There were lots of arguments with the SDs threatening the TDs with impossible deadlines etc. and the fact that if a TD has a query the SDs ignore their phone so you can’t get an answer and then when they come to pick up the drawings with minutes to spare before client presentations, it’s the TD’s fault if there’s a problem.

The worst SD for doing this was the guy I was going to be working with in a small showroom when my training was complete.

Well, I’m now in the small showroom and my life is a living hell!! All I do all day is produce 2D plans & elevations for countless presentations using stock block libraries. I am not allowed to think for myself - if there’s a problem and the SD isn’t there I have to wait until he gets back, because whatever I do to overcome the problem will be wrong. I’ve tried mentioning the possibility of implementing some 3D stuff but that gets me nowhere, I’ve even done perspective sketches by hand in my own time for one of the directors and that has got me nowhere.

I really need to get another job as it is making me so depressed because my brain isn’t stimulated, but I don’t know what to do. I approached one employment agency about PD work and they said “Most companies will ask us, if this guy wants to do PD, why is he doing a Draughting job?” I explained that the job was not how it was described to me, and that I needed to earn a living and I’ve heard nothing since. I’ve written to local companies, but most don’t even respond. I even bought a copy of Pro/Engineer to learn at home, but as soon as I bought that there were a load of jobs wanting experience of “Rhino”, Alias etc that we’d never heard of during the degree.

It seems like whichever direction I turn I can’t find a solution. My fiancé says she can’t take much more of my depression and I don’t blame her, and I’m so lonely as there are only 3 of us at work: the SD who is a total ar*e hole (42) the Secretary (52) and me (27) and none of us actually like each other. I only just have enough money for fuel to get to work and we can never afford to go out.

I just hope someone can offer me a suggestion to help me find something else that’s a bit creative working with a team of people? By the way I live about 28miles outside London.

Sorry about the long first post – any suggestions welcome…

does your secretary watch BBC?

that’s quite a long post for something you could’ve written in a short paragraph. my best advice is you should quit your current job and create a design folio and start sending it around.

ofcourse it would be easier if you didn’t have to explain it to yourself over and followed course like an armoured vehicle.

If it’s at all relevant -

I had to take a job as a CAD designer for a few months when I couldn’t find any work - I came home every night and worked on my portfolio and got professional resume help (worth every penny) and sent out resumes with samples to anyone posting a job. If you have work from school to put in a portfolio then use that, if you have a nice enough portfolio, and practice your interview questions you won’t have to explain your current job.

Oh Gawd man, get out of there. Work on that portfolio every night. You have a core-folio, right? That will help get noticed too. Update it and apply to places all the time. You will lose your edge in that place. That job is probably OK for somebody, but it clearly is not for you.

Thanks for the kind words guys. It’s the first time in a long while that someone (apart from my fiance) has given me encouragement to stick with the same path.

I’ll see what I can get done!! :smiley:

Yep, think of it as just a job with experience, even though it sucks. ITs better than sitting around wasting time waiting for the dream job. Any design related job experience is important. As designers, designing is only really 20-40% of the things you do in reality. There is admin stuff, planning, project management, checking out the chicks etc…


Believe it not, you’ll look back someday when you find a better job and find that doing that kind of work will hold some value, and you’ll appreciate your new job that much more. That’s a skill that you’re developing and will only add to you ability to communicate your designs more clearly. Try to think up a project, or recycle one from your portfolio showing an example of how you can use those things you do at work in combination with your skills from school. The next time an employment agency asks you what you’re doing there don’t tell them the employer fibbed on the job description, tell them the truth, that at the time being you’re doing the closest work that you can find to PD. Then bust out the new portfio piece and show them how you’re applying what you’re learning on your job to PD.

I have to say that my first job wasn’t nearly as bad, but yes the SD did direct and sometimes micro-directed my work. It also wasn’t PD, mostly graphic/layout and some ideation. It was also a situation where I had periods of stasis because I learned to take baby steps on everything because it had to have his seal of approval. Take really close note of how your SD’s operate, you’ll learn alot about what not to do if you ever end up leading a team, best of luck!

Thanks again for your replies guys. It’s nice to get a number of different responses. As soon as I replace my scanner I’ll try to set up a Core Folio - thanks for the tip matey :wink:

I’ve just applied for a Design Draughtsman job at a company who make architectural metalwork, and they use 3D solid modelling (Autodesk Inventor I think). What do you think? Is this a sideways step in my persuit of a PD career, or would it be a sensible one (there’s no guarantee I’ll get it - just hypothetically.)? At the moment I’m thinking that as long as I don’t have to copy what someone else has already designed(as I do a the moment) it could be valuable commercial experience using 3D CAD :slight_smile:

Any thoughts or opinions would be appreciated. :smiley:

Basically Stewie, listen to the advice given. Above all have a plan B if this doesn’t work. If you feel the axe is coming try to miss the blade.

As for your lady friend, I’m not sure if she is the one for you. Maybe, she’s hanging around for the big $$$ payoff. If she will support you through your depressed state then she is good for you. I don’t know.

I don’t know much about London but if you can find some good design person that you can have as a mentor that would be good for you. Find people that can provide not only design advice but also life advice too. I’m going to buy that book “What Color is your Parachute”. This sounds like a good read.

I don’t know if my comments will help you but I hope so.

Hi Stewie:

I just want to share my worst situation with you, so maybe in the meantime before you get a better job. You’ll feel better.

I works in this small design studio in a small states in America, and my hands are tie for VISA situtaion. my boss/ creative director is a total design idiot. well… an idiot in true live as well. Because 1: He has a memory problem when it comes to quote, instruction and benifits. He is drunk all the time 2: He doesnot know anything about industrial design and he cliam to his clients he has years of design experience. However he still doesn’t know what is an exploded view is or he doesn’t know that we need to make model before going to production. 3: He doesn’t listen… 4: he cannot write a correct sentance for anyone ( even for clients)…

Anyhow, i am living in this Office that works about 12 hours per day and with a secret camera to capture our most embrassing moment during work, BTW, he likes to share those with his client and laugh about it while drinking in a bar.

OH! and he is totally amazed about his ability, he had send me numbers of E-mails telling me to disregarding client’s instruction on projects and follow his. This is what he always say" My idea is the idea, it dosen’t matter what the clients want, waht matter is what I want and my ideas is lead to success…" While this guys can even draw a stright line.

He made me put my school portfolio ( I went to a very good school with a good portfolio) on company’s website to get more product design business.

Even better. He had promised me before I got hired. Salary and bonus ( vebally) Now he is telling me that I am not entitle to any bonus while all the employees has it cuz I haven’t been here long enough.

Then my job was suppose to be just industrial Designer. Instead of spending my time doing reseraching for projects and designing ( which I think it’s required for designer)
Now I do: Drawing ideas he thinks it’s cool, making his stupid ideas into a reality, quoting, seeing chinese factories who care nothing about design, mop the floor, order his plane ticket, translate, training employees, interview people, finding apartments for his friends, washing office cups…etc.

I feel like sh!t working here. But I know one day (when my Contract is over) I will leave this place and be able to found a better design job ( I would think any job can be better than this) and appreciates live better. keep up and best luck to u! If anyone are considering working in the small state in America and wants to know which company to watch out for, pls provided info, I will let u know.
( sorry about my bad english)


been there, done that

i agree with the other guys on this. you need to have a folio ready to go so when a oppurtunity comes up you can jump at it.

I definatly think the 3d work at the new job your suggesting isn’t a step sideways.

I also worked at a kitchen design place for a few months at uni. It seems Pommie kitchen designers and Aussie kitchen designers have something in common. there both d***heads.

thing is i had my portfolio ready and jumped at the chance when my current job came up. I’m surprized your using agencys, in my experience design jobs are rarely given to agencys mainly word of mouth or newspaper ads.

anyways i reckon take the new job if you can, and get a portfolio together, get it on the web and get your name out there.

me: student 1st year ID , now crying

Have you thought about going it alone Stu?
With the right back up and advice you can make a heck of a lot more money, there are also plenty of helpful job site out there. You can also get grants from your local council to help get the ball rolling. I’d stick it out for a while, try making some good contacts freelancing on the side and then take the plunge. That way, you’re also free to take in as much work as you wish, rather than doing boring stuff at your boss’ request.
Just a thought!


Freelance work at