Senior Career Advice

I have been in the industrial design field for about 15 years. I have recently come to crossroads where I am losing passion or faith in my desired occupation. In the past 10 years, I have been laid off at my last three positions due to the economy, company financial troubles, or partnerships not working out budget-wise. I have moved after each instance to follow the next opportunity, aggressively, and each time I have performed quite well. Still, at each new position, I am left out in the cold. It is exhausting, mentally draining, and confidence crushing.

My resume and portfolio only show the last 10 years of experience. In some interviews, this becomes an issue as some have reacted as if though I am withholding information. I am not, I am just concentrating on current, relevant experience without having to refer back so far. Of the my last four positions, one I worked at for four years. It was a startup deparment, and the IP agreement of that position leaves me with little to show.

I have stopped chasing my career and have followed my wife’s instead. I now find myself in an area where the majority of design jobs are in fields I have no experience in. I am considering stretching my freelance career in a city I have no contacts in, which is very daunting.

I am also considering trying to branch out into new areas of design through seminars or additional schooling. I would like to move more in to management and product development beyond design, but am having a little trouble trying to discern where to start. I am almost to a point of throwing in the towel and starting over. Design is a cruel mistress.

Much appreciation for reading! I would appreciate ideas, anecdotes, or just a good laugh.

I know a designer who followed his wife to Singapore where she worked as a diplomat. He took jobs here and there. He moved back to his native country for a few years. Now he is a design executive back in SE Asia at a large global electronics brand Hong Kong.

Chin up…

I suggest you try to design and build your own products. Furniture, housewares, toys.

Anything you can make at home and sell to people you know or start a website. Building stuff is quite enjoyable. Maybe you can come up with something that people love and market it.

Thank you, both! I will see it through.

KFJ, I think this is pretty normal, in general, not specific. I think once you get down the path a bit, you get to that point of asking “where is this all going?”. For some people it is design management/leadership, for others it is starting their own consulting group, some go the rout of design abstraction into research and design thinking, others become entrepreneurs, and some start building their own product and controlling the entire process. Not to mention going into design education. Lastly, some just stay disgruntled or accept their role as individual contributors.

None of them are wrong (except for just staying disgruntled) it all just depends what will bring you the most fulfillment… figuring that out is the hard part. Good thing is it is not forever. You can go down a path for a few years and then switch.

I’ve gone down the design leadership path. I’d love to be a full time professor/head of a university program some day. There are all kinds of other things I could imagine myself doing. I’m not sure when or if I’ll get to them, but there is plenty of time (I hope… knock in wood!)

If you really ona get into Management get some professional career coach to review what you got so far.
Perhaps you can make your old employer compensate for tje cost get some kind of state aid towards its but even if you got to shell out yourself it’ll be worth it.

We guys can just give you some hints…


I feel your pain on this. I am not as far a long in my career as you but it has been the same story for me. I graduated in 2008 it was very hard to find a job/internship. I found one pretty quickly after graduating but then I was looking for a another job after that end it. I found one and was employed for a couple years then more finical issues with that company and it has pretty much been that way for years now. Last year I started working on my own product. I was most of the way through it when my work decided it would change directions and put me on a contract instead of full time employment. I decided I would work as full time as I can on my own product and get it to market. I am now very close to launching my own product line. I like working for myself quite a lot and look forward to the future a lot more then I did when I worked full time for someone else. I guess the best thing I could advise is just do it what ever that it is for you.