Very Little Process In Current Position

Hello everybody.

I have a question for you professional IDers out there. I have been working professionally for 2 years at a POP company as an industrial designer. The projects have super short turn around times which give no real time for sketching, prototyping, etc. Typically projects go from ideation, rendering and production/estimate drawings in the matter of a few days. And that’s with multiple projects at once. The industrial designers are responsible for all of that plus setting up artwork and creating instruction sheets. A lot of the problem solving is figured out in Solidworks, not through sketching. If i’m looking to get a job in a sort of lateral move, would these current projects with a handful of sketches be more valuable than a longer project with more process that was done, say 3 or 4 years earlier in school?

I’m good at what I currently do, which is heavy on mechanical design, but when I sit down to look at my portfolio I see a lack of process.


I started in POP and packaging as well. I feel your sentiment. As you know, usually the promo vehicles are just a piece of the marketing budget for a new product launch or seasonal promo program. All the money was spent upfront with the Ad agency and product development firm. With that said, there’s no way a customer/client will want to pay out for any additional research or development on a display…at least that’s what was said to me 10 years ago.

If you want to stay in POP you can be very successful at it. Although, it’s tough to find a corporate culture willing to spend additional dollars on a display that doesn’t support the product/sku’s over multiple brands. Out west, I connected with some pretty cool companies that do more than POP and focus more on retail build outs. Massively successful and lots of fun. But I had to come out west to experience that.

I left POP 9 years ago. I’ve been in consulting and corporate product design since. I learned an amazing amount of knowledge in those early years and which laid a very strong foundation for where I’m at today.

Finding a job is a bit tougher. You really have to tailor your p’folio for the application. Schoolwork may help so long as it applies to your job application. You may have to take a good 6 months to a year and build some projects incorporating your mechanical design knowledge into a non-POP project before you begin applying to consulting or corporate. Otherwise, you’ll just get beat down with rejections. You as a designer need to demonstrate a mindset that can shift from POP to industrial, commercial, medical, and consumer products utilizing your knowledge base and experience in POP. I’m sure others can have clearer insights. This is what worked for me.

masood1224, Thank you for the thorough reply. It is good to hear of your experience. I think for me this leads to the bigger question of figuring out what I want to focus on as a designer. (what i want to be when i grow up!) I do like the idea of transitioning into retail/hospitality design. A lot of my school work is furniture and housewares and my strongest network is in that field. I’ll keep plugging away at the ol’ portfolio.

Yet another post I could have written. I just did a sketch for work today. Probably the first in six months, not counting little component sketches I’ve hacked out for engineers & such. No process. No focus. Just whatever sales needs that week. Or day. Or hour. Or minute. I hear you.

If I were you, and I am, I would use very little of what I work on at my current job in my portfolio, especially if I’m looking to get out of POP, which I would. I would work on personal projects over several months to a year or so. Get rapid prototypes or make models yourself, give to friends & family to use & test & do market research. Put your work up on coroflot & start applying for jobs. Easier said than done, just look at my page.

Know what you want to do and go for it.

That’s sort of the nature of quick turn, low revenue, slim margin work. I work in the sign industry, and it’s very similar to POP. For every long lead time design build project, we probably have 150 done in a week projects. It’s good for business, but not good for designer development. I’ve learned to take on different roles doing design related problem solving (design thinking!) on the business side of things. Software tools to help process move quicker, open communication, define problems and orchestrate changes. It’s actually very rewarding and fun. Yes, my portfolio has taken a hit, but I feel more involved and more experienced in many business facets than when I was getting upset that I couldn’t design as much as I wanted.

It’s like school, its all in what you make of it.

Nice. It sounds like your organization is open to those kinds of ideas. It also sounds like they are willing to invest in the time and energy to change policy & procedures and are willing to listen to and promote people who have good ideas and put them in positions where their competencies can shine. I’m also guessing, but probably 80%+ of your projects are closely related to a PO? In POP (at least in my cul-de-sac) 80%+ is unpaid spec. work with little chance of PO. So a little different in that regard.

Maybe 40% is PO work, another 25% may be negotiated, and the rest is purely spec work. We close about half of the spec work.