Re: Career change advice? Giving up on being a designer.

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Sorry about the patch you’ve found yourself in - it’s not uncommon in our industry.

You mentioned the previous gig, production mgr /sales engineer - If I were you I might start there, as we are entering a sweet-spot for some manufacturing to pick back up Stateside. Companies like Weathertech, auto industry parts suppliers, appliance manufacturers and HVAC equipment suppliers have kept their US manufacturing efforts since their products aren’t ocean-shippable without undue cost.

And while a true CAD hybrid is super-valuable, your shop-floor experience might be very marketable.

Best of luck!

Hi Variant,

I’m sorry you have had such a rough go. Seems like a bad combination of timing and circumstances.

I don’t really have any advice, would you be willing to move? I don’t know much about the design community in Scottsdale, but I would assume it is not the strongest?


I transitioned to digital products. If you have experience doing more typical graphic design work (which may be the case if you were doing POP or package work) a lot of those skills can transition into a more typical UI/visual design role.

The barrier to entry in designing an app or website is extraordinarily low, and there is a much bigger market. Scottsdale still may not be the epicenter of tech, but you may be able to sneak by building websites for local businesses or using your network of contacts from your ID days to see who might need support on that type of front. Combine that with self taught lessons (or a boot camp/General Assembly-type course) in coding and you’d potentially be able to pivot into using those same basic design thinking skills but applying them to something else.

I can tell you hunting through resumes that there are a lot of applicants who have tried to do the same thing, but almost none of them come from design backgrounds which means you can tell who does/doesn’t have an eye for design very quickly.

I am glad you wrote about your experience, but I am sorry you have had to go through it. What you describe, is what I expect to be the experience for a large majority of industrial designers and grads (I have no proof, just a hunch). It is a really tough industry, not a lot of jobs, even fewer ones that are going to be satisfying.

It has crossed my mind in the past what kind of skills we posses already, and I do think a like of the CAD work is the more transferable, like someone else said. CNC operator or anything similar I can see being an easy transition, but more or less a CAD jockey. Or, if you have had the opportunity to do any type of business plans, you may be able to find a job like a category manager, merchandiser, or project manager. I like the idea of UI/UX, but there would be time needed to develop those skills like coding. But on the flip side it sounds like you have all the experience you need to make a product come to life, do you have any product ideas?

Personally, I started a bit of a more extreme route this year though, in preparation for my departure from the industry… a 15-18 month Bachelors in Nursing. No more having to go where the jobs are, which has been my biggest gripe.


I’m sure we as a community could give you some advice if we were able to see some examples of your portfolio work… I personally see dozens of id jobs available.