Struggling to find a job after graduation

Since I’ve graduated from CCS 2018 May, I’ve been looking for industrial/product design job opportunity. It’s been over a year now and I am starting to get worried. (mentally exhausted as well) Since I’ve graduated I’ve been updating my portfolio from time to time and I applied to almost every open position for entry level industrial design position and internship opportunity I found. I am interested in consumer products, not so much in medical or engineering focused products. I’ve recently made my portfolio website, I feel like I should start another project but I’ve been struggling to come up with subject and idea that can really help me get a job. I’m lost right now, I would appreciate any advises. Thank you!

Hi Wesley,

I feel that your portfolio is missing some justification of why you designed the products, and there is some misalignment between your project statement and your solutions. I want to know that you can follow the brief and tell me why you made a decision.

For example, on your watch project, you’ve said that ‘you don’t buy a watch for its functionality, you buy it for what it says about you’, but then the rest of the project is entirely about incorporating smart functions.You’ve also said that smart watches have gimmicky functions and will be outdated. So I would ask you how is your watch different?

Why are there clips holding the plate onto the toaster? Do the clips align with the visual identity of the toaster? Why is the part line offset? What holds the internals in? How does the shell assemble?

The ice fishing shelter is interesting. Where did the idea come from? Why is it carbon fibre? How is this an improvement on having a regular tent?

I’m asking a lot of questions because it’s likely that some of these will come up in a review. I’d move away from showing things like exploded views that don’t contain much detail, or don’t cover the fundamentals of production (undercuts, wall thickness etc), because it opens you up to questions that you can’t answer.

If you’re interested in consumer products, then do a project that is relevant. Who do you want to work for? Do a brand project that suits the company you want to get into.

Keep working your projects and you’ll find an opening. The only way it absolutely won’t happen is if you stop trying.

Thanks for the comment, you made some keen observations.
For the watch project, after the analysis page I explained in length about why I designed my hybrid watch designs the way they are designed with the smart feature. I mainly focused on integrating the design element of the smart feature into the creative watch design so even when you are not using the smart feature you can still enjoy the watch as a unique timepiece. I equipped only the essential smart features powered by the separate battery from the quartz movement so you don’t need to charge it everyday, and even when the battery is dead for the smart feature you can still use it as a timepiece.

For the ice fishing shelter, the research page and the interview tell why I designed my ice fishing shelter. Ideation sketches show where the idea for the design came from. Carbon fiber is used for light weight and strength for when it’s used as a sled.

For the toaster, clips are for holding the graphic face plate and you can use the clip to take out the plate to use it as a instant plate for your toast. I guess I could design the clips more integrated with the toaster’s design language. Parting line is actually going through the middle of the toaster from the bottom but the top of the toaster is thicker due to where it holds the plate. Toast slots, lever and the knob are centered according to the thickness of the top of the toaster, which makes the parting line looks off the center.

I mean what was the inspiration to work on an ice fishing shelter? I’m curious about whether you ice fish or know someone who does. Think of it as a story telling exercise to add detail to the project.

So how do I tip this over to sit inside when I’m ready to fish? It’s 2 meters high so I’d imagine I’d need a fair bit of leverage to pull it onto its end, and it could be difficult on slippery ice and snow. Did you look at other options except for carbon?

If I’m in my kitchen already, why wouldn’t I use a plate from my cupboard? I understand, and I think its a good example of showing something that could get picked out as a missed detail. You’ve got multiple undercuts on the paper plate side of the toaster where the part line is off centre to the control knob and lever slots, unless you’re using multiple slides.

Hey Wesley. It can be hard to land that first job, but just keep trying and be strategic about it. How are you applying to these open positions - via job post or do you network your way in? Have you gotten any interviews, if so how do they go?

Regarding new projects, of course design some consumer electronics if that’s where you want to be. Don’t over think the “idea” too much though if it’s leading you to some paralysis. Designing anything is better than not designing at all. Plus, it’s not like these projects are a semester long. You can even do one in a week if you wanted. So take the pressure off! :slight_smile:

Was there a time where you had trouble looking for a device that best suited your criteria? Or have you seen a new innovation that you thought could be a lot better? There are also experiences, like taking the train in America, that haven’t really caught up to the current tech environment - and how can those experiences be better with future technology or optimized with concurrent experiences? Observe everyday life and think about how it could be better. There are a million ideas that you can design for, but only some are meaningful for you. What you design and design for speaks to who you are as a designer. If your portfolio can communicate what drives you to design, that should help you land your ideal job. Good luck!

Hi Linda, Thanks for the thoughtful comment.
I had sporadic interviews over the year, not as many as I hoped. One of them pointed out lack of my professional experience. Few of them didn’t tell me why they didn’t choose me. The last interview I had was from Mattel which was the biggest company I interviewed with. I thought the initial phone interview went well but I didn’t hear from them after. I’ve been using the connections I made from school industry day and I’ve asked for help from the school career service center but nothing fruitful yet.

I’ve designed some small projects but I didn’t want to include them in my portfolio since they seem weak(no deep insight or skills shown). I think you are right about over thinking the “idea” too much, it does feel like it’s leading me to paralysis.

Thanks for your comment again!

Yeah, that’s the unfortunate catch-22 - employers not hiring new designers without professional experience. Hiring someone full-time is risky, but they might be open to a freelance/contract situation for a few months to test you out. I’d definitely propose that option.

My best advice is to keep expanding your network via design events and meeting up with professionals to review your work. It keeps you on the radar. Those small projects could be a point of discussion - feel free to share those on this forum or other social media for feedback. Perhaps consider how you can expand on those projects to fill any gaps in your portfolio, or replace any weak or less relevant projects. Also, study the portfolios of designers that are in the fields you want to be in.

I can’t see your portfolio so it’s hard to comment but:

  1. Take Andy’s comments and analyze your projects. As a designer our first reaction is to defend our methodology. Try to keep an open mind and try to understand Andy’s (somebody that doesn’t know anything about you or the projects you are presenting) comments and where they are coming from.
  2. The screenshot of the toaster looks toy like and simple. Might be the colors and basic shapes. Do you see this toaster on the aisles at Target, Macys, Best Buy, etc. Can I compete against the major brands Krups, Mr.Coffee, Cuisinart, etc.
  3. Since you like electronics and you already have done a toaster why don’t you make another toaster & coffee maker project? Analyze the current toaster & small appliance market and design a new toaster and coffee maker to be released next year. Don’t do anything “innovative” and just focus on the design aspect of it. What if Electrolux wanted to get into the small appliance market? What materials, features would be needed? Maybe the coffee maker is a smart coffee maker? What design cues will both appliances share. Develop their design language, etc. Take a look at this:
    Case Study: Ziba for TDK Life on Record, by Paul O'Connor and Carl Alviani - Core77

A lot of times students try to design or invent something “innovative” to the extent of spending all their time researching and justifying their “innovation”. You already have done those kinds of projects at school. Now design something simple and current. Take them apart and see how they are made. Follow the same engineering principles but pay attention to the outside design. Materials, Colors, Shapes, Touch Points, Ergonomics, etc. Good luck.