What did you do before you were a designer

I thought it would be cool to see what everyone was doing before they became a designer. You know those jobs that no one knows about. I’ll start.

High School -I was a maintance guy at an office building.

College -I was a cook and a Pizza delivery guy.

High School

  • Golf Caddy
  • Surveyor’s Assistant (I stood in traffic holding a 10 ft pole)
  • Cook @ Steak N Shake


  • Assembly line worker making Semi Trailers

Worked in a computer store.
Was a lifeguard.
Did desktop publishing.

I’m still doing all of those things in a way…

Interesting question…

Around 10 yrs old I started mowing lawns for $$
Umpire for Little League Baseball 12 yrs+
Worked at Arby’s through HS
Worked at an Engineering company assembling PCBs for a couple summers in HS
Helped family friend build garage and reroof his house for $$ over a couple of summers.
Ran Track through Uni (scholarship…think again if you don’t consider this a job while going to school)
Drove a forklift a couple summers in Uni
Then Internship kicked in and I have been designing to some degree or another since.

arch and engineering modelmaker, then right into product design with a few diversions into false teeth, boat building and electronics.

Middle School:
Shoveled snow, raked leaves, cut grass for neighbors, self employed.

High School:
-Still did snow, leaves, etc.
-Sold my little debbie lunch oatmeal cookies to classmates. $2 profit from $1 box.
-Used cookie profit to keep collecting comics. Would sell them occasionally.
-Track+Field, Martial Arts

When old enough to get a real job in High School:
-Friendly’s cook in mall, didn’t last very long
-Chuck E Cheese cook right before graduation

Work study jobs:
-Building monitor
-Continuing Ed phone receptionist
-Computer room monitor
-Metal Shop monitor
-Head Security Shuttle Driver
-Student mentor
Summer job: Telemarketing (left to do freelance ID project for school)
-Physical Plant: School grounds maintanence- cutting grass, pulling weeds, sweeping, trash, etc.
I’m sure I’m missing some, I was constantly working at least 3 work study jobs simultaneously.
Personal job:
-House party / Club DJ

Continued DJ’ing parties, clubs, and raves once working in ID.

ha, good thread. not so useful, but interesting none the less. roundup of my gainful (and not so gainful employment)- some design influenced pre-pro.

?- wrote “parking tickets” to cars on my street and held court in my parent’s basement. adults had to come to court and pay a fine ($0.05?)…

gr. 2- sold “art” to my parents and families on my street.

grade 3-
founded “design company” doing drawings of stuff for friends (think "gimme a unicorn for my birthday card invite), and also first foray into product. made combo school supplies (like a tape dispenser with a pencil sharpener glued on), custom pencils (paper wrap around the outside), also designed custom “fonts” (write your name in a selection of handmade fonts i madeup). actually made some money, and with my profits invested in a few new colored markers and fancy pen with metallic ink.

gr. 5- delivered papers and flyers. crap.

middle school- sold a few baseball cards on the side for arcade $.

high school-
camp counsellor
cut some grass
did an internship in a graphic design studio
did some work in another graphic design studio making web banner ads
“worked” (no pay) as executive producer and visual director for high school fashion show
also did baseball umpiring for a few years.

telemarketing (MBNA mastercard, anyone?)
a few internships in design companies
1.5yr co-op placement in a product design consultancy
also did some freelance graphic design and corp id, and some concept work for a product design consultancy.
AV loan dept in architecture dept. loaning out camera, projectors and the like.
TA for intro to design courses and computer course

6 months work at Banana Republic while working on my portfolio (gotta pay for all that printing somehow, + good discounts on interview clothes), then straight into the shoe biz, never looked back.

now running a new footwear design consultancy


This is cool. I didn’t excect to get any replies. I guess I need to go into more detail.

grade school,

Soccer and Baseball was my life. no time to work. except house hold chores

Middle school

Still sports
Cut grass
Sold paintings to friends

High School
Maintenance man. Ran 2 office buildings in the summer
Classes in cartoon illustration


Cook at mexican and Italian place
Delivery man
Interned in summer
Rec Lacrosse

Keep them comming!! Intrested to see what everyone did and when they knew they where going to be a designer.

High School: Played lots of football & track. Farmed & ranched for my family (a 4000 acre cotton/hay/grain operation with ~5,000 head feeder feedlot in Arizona)-farmed 35 acres (cotton) of my own by my senior year.

College: worked the ramp and air freight for Delta Airlines in Phoenix at nights to put myself through school.

High school/early college:

Misc. office jobs, misc. graphic design.

Video section of college library (educational part…not the fun part): distance learning support ( shooting videos of lectures, making multiples of cds, dvds…an occasional video/audio tape for cave dwellers), captioning videos, restoring old tapes, tv studio equipment maintenance…lots of random stuff.
ID internship.
Worked for an ID freelancer when he was in a crunch several times.
Sold stuff I made.

grades 1-5 : mowed lawns, raked leaves, sold lemonade with sisters to people stuck in traffic.

middle school: helped family friend chop wood to sell to people for burning for heat in winter. first “real” job: cleaning up shop of furniture craftsman (worst job ever, I had to vacuum cobwebs from ceiling with 20’ piece of pvc tube attached to a shop vac)

High school: fetched shopping carts at local grocery store, pumped gas as gas station/ car wash in town.

college (first time): Ice cream shop, mopping concrete stairwells in medical building

Delivered furniture for 5 years, got first bartending job, decided it was time to go back to school

college (second time) More bartending (great college job, lots of potential dates, great money, learning how to be in front of a crowd of people with out being intimidated, honing observation skills, easy way to meet designers 'cuz we all know how much we like to drink), Assistant teacher for foundation level studios

internship at architecture firm: building models, organizing materials library, coffee runs

Current: designer at small arch firm

wow, haven’t thought about that stuffin a while, that was kinda fun

My dad built our family based on his business, so I really cannot say it’s my dad’s business, because it’s all of our business.

Anyways, in Asian society, it is by default that the family members help out in family business no matter how young or innocent you are, so before 12, I was helping the guys in the factory by fetching caps for the packaging process, while keeping them amused. At 12, my uncle taught me how to drive a diesel fork lift and so I was moving stuffs around the factory at the moment’s notice. When I grew a little stronger, I started helping with carrying/loading goods, 20kg each.

At 14, I got summoned into the office and began translating business letters between English and Chinese.
Then, I moved on to translating chemical technical data as well as MSDS. So basically, I am quite familiar with Chemical MSDS and all of them are about the same.

Also helped in the lab doing R&D work. Basically, just did what my dad told me to do. Mixing colors, weighing chemical contents and doing recordings.

At the dinner table, my dad would interrogate me with questions like “What flaws in the company’s operation have you noticed” and “How would you improve the efficiency of our factory operations”… I can’t leave the table until he’s done. So if you want to talk about tough dinners, here I am!

16, I designed the UI and graphics for my dad’s company’s website. It’s still up today, but will be replaced soon. I didn’t build the site, got a software guy to do it. He made a big typo on the front page, and was never corrected.

Then on to designing catalogs as well as display boards for exhibitions, but my dad always wanted it his way, so he never used my designs.

From time to time, I have been doing illustrations for my dad’s product catalog and technical data to explain how his products work, which is pretty much like what I have to do to explain my own concepts.

And no, never had any cash handed to me for any of these, but they do translate to college tuition and love.

Oh, and a few internships during college, which was great, cus I could totally depend on myself and not bother my parents. Whatever was left went directly to the following semester’s expenses.

12 - 15 >> shoveled snow, mowed lawns (I hate both to this day)

15 -16 >> McDonalds (yup, fry guy)

16 - 20 >> Stock boy at a mega pharmacy super store (like a huge Longs Drugs that had salon products, and a huge cosmetics department… and cosmetic counter girls… smart beyond my years I was, no more fry guy!)

17 - 21 >> Picked up an extra summer job helping out a wedding caterer (free booze… did I mention I smart beyond my years?)

18 >> Short order cook at a place on campus at college (free food… smart beyond…)

19 - 21 >> Building monitor at my college (got paid to do my liberal arts reading… genius!)

impresssive, looks like you and I have been “doing it” from the get go.

Hehehe…you reminded me of THE BEST JOB A GUY COULD EVER HAVE!!! I can’t believe I had this job in University either…

Can anyone beat: Photographer for Fraternity and Sorority Parties?

Heheh…I surely took some incriminating photos of people in high places :wink:

Cop, graphic artist, DTP, Industrial Desinger now Packaging Designer.

… and you got paid for that??? You got me beat!


Nice to see there is another Pkg guy out there. How did you get into the field? I always feel like it is the bastard child of ID. We tend to be the middle between ID and graphic design. Packaging is such an important part of the process but we tend to get over look. Just wondering what your experiences have been. I work for a corprate company so it may be different at a consulting firm.

I got paid stupid well for that. I still look back and shake my head wondering how I landed such a gig.

I told ya…I can’t imagine many people having a better “job” during University.

Forgot one…

Post Grad Summer - Beer vendor working the stands of Reds games…