US economy and finding a ID job

Well everything’s easier said than done, but on the scale of hard things to do, low volume production is not that hard. Turning it into a business that can support you is fairly hard, but that wasn’t really the point. More importantly, it builds real skills, because it gives you experience in sourcing, manufacturing, marketing, etc. There are thousands of graduates with a portfolio full of sketches, but if you can’t get a job to add real experience to your resume, then you need to find another way to get that experience. But obviously it’s not for everyone.

Trying to get a job when companies can’t even get basic financing is extremely hard. There’s not much hiring going on, and that’s not going to change for some time. Anything you can do to distinguish yourself from the pack of recent grads is going to help your chances. If you can show that you understand how the world really works and how to use design to save a company money, then you’re only going to help your chances. The focus is going to be on value for the foreseeable future.

Freelance CAD work is fine if you can get it, but it’s not going to teach you much.

These are the kinds of stories that people need to hear! Let’s keep em coming!

As far as developing my own product, I have been working on that for about 2.5 years now. And after working for an Intellectual Property law firm (think patents) as an illustrator for a year I have come to find out that only about 2% of items patented actually even make it into production, let alone make any money. We as designers sometimes take for granted how hard it actually can be for a product to become successful because we are on the conceptual side and in theory everything we make should be commercially successful.

Anyway, sorry about the tangent. I would love to hear more rags to riches stories about how everyone got started. Maybe it could be its own thread. It’s nice to hear that you are not alone when trying to pursue the ID dream!

If you can show that you understand how the world really works and how to use design to save a company money, then you’re only going to help your chances. The focus is going to be on value for the foreseeable future.

Very, very true.

Freelance CAD work is fine if you can get it, but it’s not going to teach you much.

This I disagree on. Working everyday in Pro/E or Solidworks will be much more benificial than working at Home Depot. The software is so complex that using it everyday helps alot. It will also help to get a sense of how the manufacturing side works.

I also recommend checking sites like every day. I found my job on Monster and now I’m working for a family manufacturing business. I am their first on staff designer.


concept idation in sketch form for the first five years… but after you become an advanced surfacing user (many think they are) you can prove form in the tool. Iterate form using surfacing like you learned on paper. (bad practice for the fresh designer tho because you have to learn how to do it on paper first!

Whats up chris? I have your clock on my wall of my new apartment.

Whaddup Bart?

That’s awesome. May you never be late again!

I’m going to try and get Alan over to bust his butt on some Pro/E tonight.
I’ll keep you posted.


i am a strong believer that any port in a storm is better than sinking. i think any job you can find in your skillset is better than taking a job not in your field. i do understand the need to survive. i have had to work two jobs for a while to make ends meet, but one of those jobs kept a foothold in design.

if this field were easy, everyone would do it. that’s true for any field. struggle makes you wiser and hungrier. a lot of people can out sketch me, i know, but there are intangibles in design that cannot be taught. adapt yourself to fit the situation and learn what you can. flexibility and an array of talents will take you where you want to go if you are open to opportunities you may not realize are happening in the present.

I guess this is a bit of a tangent to this thread but do you think that if you end up working in another area of design for a bit - say graphics or web - that you then limit your opportunity to move back into ID as your portfolio can end up with the ‘wrong’ bias?

I ask because I did quite a bit of graphics and web work on the side when I was studying Product Design at uni and feel that now I am having to work really hard to balance my portfolio with new ID projects in order to get into the ID industry.

I’ve never had a job and have been freelancing for close to 20 years building experience through low paying freelance gigs out of college to getting my own clients later on.

Even when things got slow and I tried to get a job with a strong portfolio from freelancing all over, I never got hired due to lack of working in a full time position so i kept freelancing and ended up marketing myself as a firm. Freelancing helps you get a broad protfolio unilke folks stuck in a corporation that just does one type of design.

I think in the end not getting a job at some washing machine factory may have been a blessing cause i could be a dinosaur now with a one track portfolio.

Being hungry keeps you on edge and keeps you striving to improve your skills. My friends in jobs end up fat, lazy, outdated in the latest skills…albeit they have some steady money but many seem to have lost that fire after a few years grinding through bureacracy and process laden corporation.

This is the best thread ever. I always feel like such a loser when I think back to how long it took me to find my first full-time job.

I graduated back in the '01-'02 black hole too. I like a challenge though, so I moved to French-Canada where I’d have no contacts and had to learn another language. It took me a year of freelancing and working at call centres to find a permanent post.

Everyone has pretty intriguing stories. Would you be willing to share with us two things?

  1. Where you went to school
  2. If you think the program you attended prepared you for the real world.


Graduated in '02 when the economy sucked as well…

I enjoyed that Summer existing in the college lifestyle while working as a beer vendor at Reds’ games. A couple of friends and I (also ID grads) took a 4-week US road trip exploring the West.

I was fortunate to find a job in October, but many of my fellow grads (about 1/2) didn’t get jobs until after the New Year.

And to answer kevvvt1’s questions:

1 - University of Cincinnati
2 - As well as any school can…

This topic has become a great concern to me, being a new graduate (May '08). However, it has been very discouraging. I lost 2 positions due to the companies going on “hiring freeze” while I was in the interview process.

I decided it was time to pack up and head to the big city (Chicago), but it honestly has not helped much. Found a part time job to help with bills, but it still discouraging. How do you guys respond to articles such as this from coroflot

Design engine lost only a few companies who signed up for training due to training budget freeze. We propagate the pain by talking about it tho :wink:

i don’t think your program really matters as much as you might think. sure, an accredited program is vital, but i believe you will only learn what you pursue on your own.

preparedness is an individual effort. the schools can only tell you if your primary skills are up to par.

as for starting out in a ‘small pond’, it is extremely beneficial. i started in west michigan. certainly not a sexy locale, but i think i experienced more design progression without succumbing to career pitfalls i may have in a design mecca.

i think some people are ‘late bloomers’, too. i consider myself to be one. i think my style and knowledge have increased exponentially since graduating. i wasn’t tops in my class, but i had a different process and it took me probably the first 3 years out to start to put my my skills, thinking, and style together into a potent designer package. the smaller markets gave me the chops and confidence. i was lucky that other people and companies were able to see my potential earlier in my career, even if i did not, and helped me to nurture it.

a good dose of tenacity and an exhaustive work ethic helped a lot too. :wink:

  1. Arizona State
  2. Yes

Small pond: I would say this, cast a wide net. I don’t think it is a bad idea to have a working vacation in a design capital to network. Call up places and just say you are in town, a new grad and want someone to review your portfolio. Some places will be too busy, but if you are flexible, you can get some stuff lined up. That’s the great thing about the capitals, you will get a lot of feedback quickly.

Then cast your net wide. There are a lot of opportunities, especially in the Mid-West. It’s the legacy of manufacturing. Not a lot of people want to move to Des Moines though. So instead of competing against 300 people for a job, you might be competing against 100, and none of them will be local.

EDIT: oh yeah, one last thing. As said before, persistence pays off.

Thank you, everyone, for your responses.

I ask because I am considering a career change into ID, but it is very difficult to glean what kind of prospects are out there. A short stroll through these message boards can be inspiring one second and totally disheartening the next. I’ve met people from one program who had job offers upon graduation and people from others who said their programs stunk and they learned most of what they know on the job. It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence when I’m trying to decide whether or not to take out loans for more schooling. I realize that you will only get out what you put in to it, but I think it serves any aspiring designer to find as rigorous a program as possible, no?

Hear, Hear. Enough with the woe is me.

Another question to add to the thread:

Did any of you find your job through a connection at your university or through an alumni of your program?

Just curious. Thanks.

Yes. I was on good terms with one of my professors and asked her if she had any contacts in my area. Got a name and got the job a month later.

Kissing arse has it’s perks.

My first job I got through and contact of my father’s (a non-designer) The job that I am currently in , believe it or not, I got through I have used my old contacts at school for other things, such as freelance work and references.