Seeking career direction advice.

Hello all:

I am in need of some advice and direction. I will be so grateful to any shared personal experiences related to this matter (and I apologize in advance for its lengthiness):

I’ve been almost 3 years post-grad and interestingly still trying to find my way; so to speak. I’ve done a few contract positions in Housewares/Kitchenware, which were perfect fits since I love home decor, housewares and kitchenware but am now trying to figure out not necessarily what type of design I am passionate about (as it is obvious to me I love home decor and housewares; even some consumer electronics for the home), but how to get to where I need to be.

I first started out (like I guess most ID students/recent grads) thinking I NEEDED to be at Ideo, frog or Smart Design (though I love the work they do) or else why bother being an industrial designer… to now realizing that I may not be a good fit for those types of firms. It slowly but finally hit me that those types of firms seem to seek out really “innovative” projects in junior portfolios; hence why I hardly gain any traction when applying to those firms. Though some of my initial student portfolio projects had a techy innovative approach (and I’ve gotten compliments on them when interviewing), I am now veering in the direction of self-directed projects that still address problem identification-solving but more in the area of low-tech products for the home with an heirloom appeal or that are disruptive (design for the aging; for ex.). Examples of companies I am admiring right out are Sabi, Belle-V and Poppin.

I also seem to be gaining some traction with corporate or small companies because of my design aesthetic and work experience thus far. I’ve been now reaching out to the Targets, Sonomas, Crate&Barrels, etc, but to my disappointment, it seems those companies hardly ever advertise for junior or associate positions. I see more openings for consultancies than I do in my newly preferred area of housewares/home decor. I sometimes feel I am possibly in the wrong country even, as I see more housewares/home decor coming out of Europe.

Any suggestions for getting my foot in the door at the kind of places I aspire to working at? I’ve been reaching out directly to the design directors at these places by writing polite, well-written introduction emails but getting little replies.

Thanks everyone.

PS: If any design professionals care to view my online portfolio, I am willing to share if you private message me. For now, I prefer a bit of discretion on the forum.

I think it actually is pretty simple and I am sure I am preaching to the choir.
You need a good portfolio that reflects your current skillset and shows promise for development, contacts to get said portfolio into the right hands and/or to be at the right time at the right place.
Your portfolio and positioning needs to be so good that companies will remember you when something indeed comes up or that whoever sees it is happy to recommend you elsewhere.

Are you currently employed and is this the reason you don’t want to publicly show your work as to not jeopardize your current position? Otherwise I would definitely recommend to show your work.
When I was recently looking for a new gig, uploading my stuff and generating a little bit of buzz was definitely beneficial.
Going into an interview, showing your work and have someone say they saw already on a blog and they used it as an inspiration image in a presentation is a great confidence boost!

In regards to Europe, you might be suffering from a case of “the grass is always greener…” syndrom.
I don’t think that it is easier to find work in that field here at all and I have worked both in the US (NYC/SF) and in Europe.
Also salaries particularly in furniture/housewares are most likely lower in Europe.

So my advice would be to concentrate on your portfolio and consider to post it here to gather further feedback.
Or at least explain why you want to keep your cards close to your chest.


Thank you for your suggestions. I’ve private messaged you with more in-depth details regarding my situation, but what you’ve just detailed is what I’ve already known and am currently doing, but it is still great to hear that what I am doing is good, so I will keep up the efforts. I guess I was expecting to hear something different? :slight_smile:

I shouldn’t say I haven’t gotten anywhere with this approach as a few directors I’ve reached out to have gotten back to me (even if they aren’t currently hiring) and a few have actually led to actual interviews. I will just keep it up. At least I know now I am heading in the right direction.

Thank you!

Be the change man.