Related/unrelated jobs, most marketable skills of a designer

I am an irish product design student and i will soon have to start looking for work placement. Generally the college finds it or you but in general the placements they find can be very irrelevant, if they find one for you at all.

I would like to find my own placement and i have decided that i wont restrict myself to just Product Design jobs. If i could find something semi-relevant that uses some of the skills i learned in college i would be happy. Even if it was just using autoCAD or photoshop or i dunno whatever…

What types of companies could i work for? What are a product designers most marketable and widely saught after skills? If not a product designer what else could i be?

Ideally i would like to be doing something in PD but i reckon im gonna have to settle for something like this.

Any advice would be great.


With the global economy in shambles, this is going to be a very interesting thread. And it will pertain to more than just students, me thinks.

You’ve got an open mind tetrishead, which should serve you well.

The first that come to mind:

Drafter / Technical illustrator
Model Maker; and any craft with associated skills (cabinetry, pattern maker, furniture )
Materials / Processes Sourcing agent
Engineering / Design Liaison
Anything requiring an “eye” for details
People skills; the ability to listen to others and document their needs to others
Design “sales”; industrial design does not just happen, someone sells it

[edited to add: … design does not just happen… :unamused: ]

Given the obvious economic climate it’d be best to try your hardest to find something relative to design research and consumer insight - the fact is companies are having a hard enough time selling products (which is only going to get even worse after christmas) so the ability to rationalise a product to death is necessary (a mixture of research and sales essentially).

Being in Ireland is definitely going to work against you as there are effectively only 2 consultancies - Dolmen were looking for someone a little while ago (with experience though!) and even though you wouldn’t be at all suitable for the position it goes to show they must have work coming in so I’d advise starting there first - beg!

He has got an EU passport, might want to look hard in England/ Scotland. If you know another langue I’d look in all applicable countries as well.

Ya im thinking i might end up having to go to the uk. This could be a good experience though.

I think i might try and develop my skills with design software (photoshop, Flash, illustrator, CAD, solidworks, etc.). If i can get these up to a good enough level, even if it means learning them myself, i might be able to get a job using them maybe in the fields of graphic/ web design or drafting. I did work experience with an architect a few years ago and they employed a product designer to make models of buildings and to render building designs on the computer. Also i know an artist who does freelance work for various architects doing the same thing.

It may take a lot of work but if i focus on skills that are actually needed and can be of use to companies i think i can increase my chances of getting work. And i would be getting experience using skills that would benefit my future career.

These are good, i would not have considerd the direction of materials processes. The only problem is that i will only have 2 and a half years of my degree done and my knowledge mightnt be as complete as they would need.

The idea is to survive to learn another day.

I dressed windows in a furniture store for a year and a half; sure got tired of hauling furniture around, but did learn a lot about how the stuff is made, and made lots of local and industry contacts when I slid into sales with the company. It was partly my “furniture” experience that landed me my first job; designing “home stereo equipment” for a manufacturer that provided products to Sears, JC Penny, and Radio Shack.

And as far as the “Nuts & Bolts” aspect of ID is concerned, more designers should spend time in the Materials & Processes Forum. You/we are, after all, designing for an industry that makes things. Knowing how, and what, to use to “make” is elemental to designing it.

Don’t sell yourself short. You’re young, and it’s understood that you don’t have a bunch of experience; be enthusiast, ask questions (but not too many), and sell the skills you do have (which it sounds like you are doing).

I have, personally, found knowing all of these packages useful for getting all sorts of jobs… short or long-term.

I went though a phase of looking more ‘broadly’ at design - searching for jobs within graphic design firms, as interaction designers, basically for anything that I thought that I had the right skill set for. My problem was that although I am a good graphic designer - I’ve been freelancing on the side for several years now and have worked in a graphic based role for a big sports brand - I just can’t seem to compete against all of the graduates who come from Graphic Design programs. They have the training that you just don’t get coming from a Product Design background.

I’m lucky and have enough cash to head off traveling for a few months but when I get back I will now be concentrating on ID - hopefully doing what I do best and getting into the industry that I trained for four years to get into.

Good luck though. And do what you want to do!

Don’t discount job placement through your college so quickly, or as irrelevant. Graphic/multimedia positions could provide you with opportunities to develop technical skills along with gaining valuable design experience.
One stepping stone in your search could be IDI website:Member Directory — Institute of Designers in Ireland
You can identify potential contacts by discipline/location: Exhibit/Interior Design, New Media, Product+Industrial Design, Theatre, Visual Communication. They may not have a vacancy, but may be open to short-term job placement.
Creativeireland web site is another option:
the irish creative design community | creative ireland
Virtual Eye Productions job title: Contract Web Developer could fit the bill!
I also suggest that you have your college draft a support letter/communication to add weight to your individual search.

i personnaly wouldn’t let anyone sort anything out for you. We didn’t whe we applied and sorting out our own placements made us as students aware at how difficult and time consuming it is and will be for the real thing when you graduated

The fact that your in ireland shouldnt make a difference in regards to the UK side of things. There are a ton of companies here that deal with product design. Take a look at the design directory to see just how many there are. Most importantly dont ever ever give up, and best of luck to you,