from your question I might think you are a design student or wannabe. Maybe you can get more feedback asking specific questions about the profession and not personal stories.
Years in school:
Industrial Design: 5
Strategic Design Management (postgraduate): 1
Marketing (postgraduate): 1
I am somehow pleased… I think that a 6 year program for ID could be better. (same as for architecture). I will try to continue with education when possible, but when you get older it gets more difficult. If you want to do a postgraduate study I advise to get enrolled as young as possible.
One thing that happens is that the more you know, the more you know what you don’t know, and I become aware of that and feel the need to keep on learning.
Top computer programs are not an issue in terms of names… you have to know that if you want to be a good designer you will have to be good at 2D and 3D. Bear in mind that computer programs are just tools.
Some programs you’ll find of standard use in the field are: Rhino, 3Ds Max, SolidWorks, XSI, Pro-E, Alias, Adobe Cs, Painter, etc. Your choice will depend on what your needs are (and your budget).
The amount of products that see the shelfs depends on the branch of the industry, the company you work for, and also on the role of the department you work for. I don’t think there is a general rule for that. i.e. If you work for a marketing department or advanced design center, most of the stuff you design is conceptual (exploratory) and not only it will never see the market, but you will not be able to show it in your portfolio either. Besides that, those are very rewarding positions because you get to do very cool stuff.
I am not sure what you mean in Nr5; could you explain?
Also: Where are you from? Where are you planning to study? That will also have an impact on your career.
Here are some interesting articles that you can read: