This is getting frustrating.


I just graduated a few months back and it’s getting frustrating pouring over the online job boards and clicking perspective links only to discover they want 2 plus years of experience. How are you supposed to get two years experience, if everybody wants two years of experience? Is it the recession or is it always this hard to find an entry level job? Should I be looking for an internship and just hope it develops into something more? I never expected anybody to walk and hand me my dream job but I didn’t think it would be this bad. I’m almost certain this question has been asked many times over on this board but does anybody have some advice?

The recession has just about everything to do with it. Hiring managers don’t want to take a chance on an unknown quantity… AKA recent graduates. You absolutely need an internship, or 3! This is a tough field in good times, and we are certainly not experiencing that. Focus on getting an internship to get some of that real world experience hiring managers are looking for. All the while, keep working on stuff on your own to improve your skills.

Good luck

I was in the same boat 8 years ago and I can’t imagine things are any easier now. I had trouble finding an internship after graduation because I didn’t have status as a student and I think some companies get some kind of tax breaks for “educational” employees, regardless you’d be lucky to find one that pays, but they are out there.

Two things I could suggest. First, find a job where you can learn some new bankable skills like painting, woodworking, floor sanding, etc. Something else that you have interest in where you can leverage your ID background in some way. Second, do freelance work, anything you can get that utilizes your bankable ID skills like sketching, 3D modeling, rendering, whatever, and undercut the going rates, at this point it’s about experience, actually it’s almost always about the epxerience, if you’re in this for the money, well, you’d make more with your own floor sanding business. 2 years of freelance is 2 years experience.

I agree. I also came out of school around the same time and I struggled quite a bit to get my first full time job. In that time I took whatever I could find. I also worked for really cheap, but now that I look back on it you still want to value your skills so you should not work for too cheap. This field is a mix of what you know and who you know. The more you put yourself out there and take work that no one wants, or that may be small parts of a project, but you will not only learn new skills, but meet people that you will be able to put on you connection list.

Congratulations on your graduation!

I graduated from Purdue in 1973. Recession, gas lines, no jobs. … . especially for “Industrial Designers”. The same Catch-22 applied; experience needed, can’t get experience without experience.

Purdue didn’t even have a co-op program back then (don’t know if they do now). Few companies even knew what industrial design was. Pre-arranged, on-campus interviews with major companies (common for engineering students) required a self-promotion, and a “special” written authorization from a company’s “employment department” person (pre-HR) to even interview on campus. No Internet, no fax, just paper, and a telephone, and a typewriter.

I poured iron, and set blast furnace bottoms at a local foundry right after graduation. I knew the manager of a Pizza Hut and coerced him into giving me a job making pizza, and bussing tables for awhile. I met the owner of a furniture store one night, a frequent pizza shop customer, got to know him over time; he offered me a job as the window-dresser at his store; I sketched my proposed displays for the him, and drafted floor plans for the Interior Designer (who couldn’t draw flies), loaded furniture, delivered furniture, and washed windows. I was delivering furniture to a home one evening and discovered that the owner was the Head of the Engineering Department at the local water company; I talked my way into the door as a field tech/draftsman. I was trying to free-lance the entire time, and finally got a temporary drafting gig at local manufacturer of home entertainment products; which eventually turned into my first “real” design job. That job ended about six months later, due in part to the economy, and I lucked out and and got back to a job I had in high school, working at a Honda shop in the parts department. I eventually parlayed that connection into an opportunity to interview with one of the companies that manufactured accessories we were selling, and got the dream job (mine anyway); getting paid to ride motorcycles.

You have to make the best of the tools you have at your disposal; creativity (to see the potential beyond your immediate situation), perception (of your surroundings, to know an opportunity when it presents itself), and persistence (to keep looking, for as long as it takes).

Now the real BS starts. Just keep in mind; Illegitimi non carborundum = Don’t let the bastards wear you down.

I think a lot of new graduates run into this problem…I know I did. I did some unpaid internships both during school and after school, and I think that’s the key.

I can’t even get an internship. Over 40 portfolios sent out. 1 interview. Just today got the rejection “At this time we do not have a position available. I do appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and will keep you in mind for the future.”

The extrapolation of this trend does not bode well for me. I have tried offering to work for free and it does no good. I feel like I should go back to school so I at least have a reason to put pants on in the morning.

Do you have a portfolio we can review here on the boards. That may help us guide you in the right direction and it will give you your 15 min of fame. :smiley:

I have a sample portfolio, resume, and cover letter at this link:

Thanks for offering to take a look!

I didn’t dive too deep into your port, but I think one problem that you are facing is the same as a lot of new grads. Your portfolio is not memorable. It may just be the way it is laid out but it is not mind blowing. That is not to say that you do not have great work, just that the way you are presenting it is not doing the work justice. For instance the “Where’s Waldo” project seems to be very lengthy. It takes me 3 pages to get to what the product is all about. Remember you are not only competing with new grads, but with experienced professionals as well. I would suggest working on that layout a bit and then reposting it for us to see. Make it a more electronic friendly. Let it tell a story with out me having to read it because trust me the quick glance I gave your portfolio is the quick glance someone looking to hire is going to give it. You’ve got the skills you just need to show them.

you haven’t done enough of anything to justify that many pages of portfolio.

cut the useless pages with no information
cut the wordy explanations
cut the photos
cut the developmental

i’ve been designing for over 15 years and my portfolio has half as many pages covering 4 times as many products… trim trim trim the fat.

Thanks for the responses. I feel torn between competing extremes. One of my old professors suggests a “visual resume” approach— 1-2 pages per project, 3-4 projects, and nothing more than a title to describe each. But I have a growing interest in design research, and I struggle with minimizing content while detailing what users have to say, how I extracted and analyzed data, technical constraints, etc. The firm that gave me the interview suggested I elaborate even more in my portfolio, and had a dozen questions about each little thing.

Would you suggest a 2-tiered approach? An abridged, to-the-point, ‘mind blowing’ presentation, with the reminder that I can elaborate more on the research methodology if they need? Or am I misunderstanding the point that it is a bit lengthy? I’m just at a loss for how I can communicate research methods while only showcasing the final result.

Thanks again for your critiques, I hope I don’t come off as defensive, I just don’t know how to process the conflicting advice I’ve received from everyone.

I have a revised version of the first project uploaded here. I trimmed 3 pages and drastically cut text. Is it at least a step in the right direction?


You should probably have 2 versions… One super detailed (1-2 projects), focused on high level research, and One that is focused on your overall skills… 4-5 projects, with just a few pages each. These jobs can be different enough to warrant 2 considerably different portfolios.


Your link does not work…I think you may have miss understood what I was saying in the last post. I was not saying that you do not have good work and that you should drastically cut everything, what I was saying was that your layout may be a bit stretched out. This meaning what you have on 3 pages may be able to fit on one. I think you should have some good research projects in your portfolio. It is a very important and valuable skill but when it is in a portfolio it can come off a bit dry especially when it is mailed out. So think about how you would liven that up. Is it showing the process with all the post-its on the wall, or in home research, etc…

You can also think about creating a mailer. This is something that show a snapshot of what you did but still leaves the employer wanting to see more.

you could even throw in an appendix…

Also keep in mind that a well written cover letter can introduce a lot of talent without having to detail it out with example.

In my opinion you want to maintain the impact of each product. Use shock and awe, and leave what’s behind the curtain for the end.

Hmm, see if this link works

I heard what you’re saying about visually showing the process. The biggest mistake I made with this project was that I neglected to get any decent photos of user testing or research being performed. I’ll probably have to take my mock up models and fake some shots.

I’m setting up a website right now. The medium could address the different things designers/researchers look for, as opposed to a strictly linear progression.

Well, honestly research can be explained with words and diagrams. You really shouldn’t have to show a picture of someone holding the prototype “testing” it (for all the employer could know, it might be you). I looked at the PDF and man, it is like a boring Powerpoint slideshow. What’s up? Something that’s as important as the device that you designed (for skiiers, anyhow), shouldn’t be conformed to such a bland layout/presentation.

Your words are few and uninformative.
You do not really explain how the system works. As something that’s rented/distributed by the resort, that sort of thing should be addressed. What are the other solutions you tried? Isn’t this just a walkie talkie with a camera and GPS?

“Ideation was guided by user experience and preference” - really? C’mon, you gotta give us more than that.

Then you dump us on a page of sketches that were nothing like what was before it and nothing like what was after it. Where’s the transition? The only text is recessed button and mic/speaker; is that what the whole page is trying to explain?

“Ski with confidence” " Rent it from the resort." These aren’t very telling/useful headings. What I mean is clearly labeled: process, ideation, testing, prototypes, final concept, etc. “Ski for fun.” why else would you ski?

What’s up with the final page? The bolded text: implementing this system changes what is possible on the slopes. What does it change? Wh yis this product necessary? The pictures with explanations of the features is good though, I understood the features, but why is this at the very end? And why does it just stop after then? No thank you, no good bye, no conclusion?

To sum it up (TLDR version): headings don’t make sense, it’s not in a very logical order, the text you put is generic/undescriptive, the layout is boring (try looking at transportation designers presentation compositions… they are always exciting and dynamic; something this lacks). A lot of wasted space (the where’s waldo slide could easily be combined with the slide after it. EASILY.). Looking at it makes me go ZZZ. Where’s the section that shows me how innovative you are? How good of a designer you are? What were the problems presented? What were the solutions you tried? How did you come to this?

And about your actual concept: So people have to rent this every day? What’s to prevent it from being lost/dropped? What’s the cost of implementing this? Many families already use walkie talkies and own cameras. Why should they rent this product that probably has inferior camera specs? How will you deal with storage, returning it, organizing it, setting up the digital modulation for shared channels between friends/families, hygiene, keeping it attached to you?

There are a lot of unanswered questions.

Hi there tarngerine.

Along with you I am also a recent graduate from the UK and the problem is similar in the UK. I have searched high and low for id jobs but they are few and far between even for those with experience. There are a select few from my course who have found work but they have exceptional portfolios or great contacts. What I suggest as a fellow graduate is much along the same lines as the rest of the people on the thread.

  • Work hard on creating a portfolio that speaks for it’s self
  • Selflessly promote your work via a range of websites and blogs.
  • Search out the companies which you aspire to work for and contact them directly regarding positions i.e intern or junior. Some may not advertise directly.
  • NETWORK find people, comment and chat via blogs o the street, trade shows - if people meet you and know you its a foot in the door and a face to a resume.

Its a hard slog as you are up against more people per job so you have to stand out more than ever to even get a look in. I agree totally with the comments earlier, its always a risk taking on a new grad as depending on their prior experience and ability it can take up to 9 months to bring them up to speed so they are effective, which is costly to the company. Its a grey area employing grads and I know if I was an employer at the moment I would be very wary.

Hope this helps, you portfolio won’t get you a job on its own but it is the key to getting an interview. from then on its down to your personality and you fit into that companies environment.

Do you advise against images of things like post-its on the wall, or users testing the product? The revised .pdf that you looked at was an attempt to cut wording down, going on the advice that I should tell a story without making them read.

I will try to further explain the details, thank you. You’re right, I could more clearly explain the scenario, and why existing products do not fill the future users’ needs. If I were to clarify my initial findings, for example, that I found a split between coordinated groups such as families that can buy radios, versus uncoordinated groups like friends that cannot, how would you suggest I convey this? Text? Images? Storyboard? Something flashy so as to not look like a powerpoint lecture?

Just try to emotionally involve me! People know about what can happen on the slopes. Appeal to their NEED for it. That can be done through a story board, scenario, comic… whatever you choose (this will also express your personality as well!). Generic photos of post-its on the wall (where we cant see the actual content/brainstorm) do not help your case to stand out! Cutting wording down is fine, but the words that you have now are generic, boring, and lifeless.