I don’t graduate for another year, but the economic downturn has got me thinking about my job opportunities when I do. As I was driving home last night a scenario popped into my head:
I graduate and take a design job that I don’t want (i.e. wrong field, company, people, etc.) because it’s all that’s available. How long should I stay before I start looking again for something I really have a passion for? I wouldn’t want to burn any bridges with my “current” employer, but I also wouldn’t want to languish in a job that I hate. It’s a conundrum.
You haven’t graduated or gotten a job yet. Quit being so pessimistic.
I think a lot of design students (myself included) have that mentality senior year. I remember looking at my portfolio and going “christ, I’m going to wind up designing POP’s for a living” because somehow that wound up being half of my portfolio. I figured I would get my foot in the door in some not so fun career and then move on. Luckily I was able to a job doing product design and never had to worry about making that jump.
If you’re not out for another year don’t worry about the economy right now. Focus on doing great work and building the strongest portfolio you possibly could. Places are still going to be hiring if you’re a good candidate and a good fit.
Cyberdemon hit it on the head. It’s great to have high hopes, but keep your expectations in check. Someone I considered a mentor told me my junior year that most of us have to “eat shit” coming out of school. By that he knew that few get those rockstar jobs with just a degree and that real world learning is what will get you there. Gaining experience trumped job satisfaction when I graduated, keep in mind that it’s all temporary and you’ll be fine.
Thanks for the advice. As a side note I am at UC, so I’ll have some experience right out of school through co-ops. I’m currently on my 4th of 6 total. As a result, I think I have it figured out that I enjoy team-oriented places, whether it is at consulting firms or in-house at a corporation. Dream job would be consulting doing mainly sporting goods.
i’ve had to do that in my career. it involved taking a POP job. it took me 30 months to get back on my desired career path in an industry i loved.
you can still learn from a bad job, and that is what you have to do. that POP job taught me speed, better time management, and honed my decision making skills because of the tight deadlines and budgets. it forced me to learn more manufacturing techniques and i also learned a lot about branding and marketing. it wasn’t a good position, but i still learned from it. i also gained two very close friends that i still keep close contact with some 5 years after leaving.
when you take a bad job in design, you can dwell on the negatives: bad pay, lack of respect from other designers, alcoholic boss, no recognition. it’s easy to do. the trick is to take a bad situation and come out a better designer.
i got a fashion design position at one of the most prestigious companies in the world a month after i graduated. it was not a brand that fit with me at all but i took it bc i needed it. thus, it has been a difficult year in every way except the excellent salary, vacation, and medical benefits.
i started looking for a job 7 months after being employed here and after 12 resigned without another job, citing it as a personal choice. because of the work i’ve been doing here, however, the company offered to move me to a different department that would fit me better and give me more money. i showed confidence that i could get work somewhere else and i believe they saw they need to consider my interests as well.
don’t underestimate your employer’s ability to find work for you, even if it’s not ideal at first.
ps. everyone has a first job and leaves it, or else it would be your last job too! employers understand when you need to leave, esp. when you’re starting out.
working in the wrong field can chew at your sole… The only way you can intelligently get by is to do freelance work on the side. As for when to quit … thats all up to how much money your girl friend has.
I got a call today (Saturday), and got an offer. I’m going to take it. I feel like a dick because I’m going to get trained on some stuff, and I know that it wonâ€™t take a dream job to get me out of there. My mom and my friends that are in business were like, don’t worry about it, it’s business.
Maybe you could talk to your boss and drop down to part time. Nowadays, I would bet a lot of companies might be thinking of how to float that kind of idea on their employees anyway. If you can afford to do it, that time could be spend working in personal design work that can get you where you want to go…
the downside is that they may get along fine without you and your job might evaporate, but even that has an upside… a 6 months “grant” (unemployment)
I have had the same experiences. I have posted before that when youâ€™re starting out you sometime need to take those shit jobs to move up in the industry. I will never forget one of my professor telling me about a friend of his that got a big head and kept holding out for that perfect job. That man is now laying carpet for a living.
When I graduated I also took a POP job with a major cosmetic company. I worked my ass off but I was a contractor and 8 months later I was with out a job. I then went on to do multiple freelance jobs; doing CAD work, sketches, illustrations, whatever I could find. After that I landed my job that I have now. Even when I got my job that I am currently working at now I said that I would not be there long because I do not want to be a package designer I want to work on consumer product. In the past couple of years I have started really looking back on that and I have noticed that packaging is what I am good at and I still strive to be a consumer product designer but as long as I am an Industrial Designer (meaning still working through the ID process) I am still using my skill. I also know many people that work at P&G and they do a lot of ID along with Packaging.
I guess what I am trying to say is that as IDers we are always adapting. Take every job you get as a learning process. Kung Fu is right, no mater what job you take you will learn from it. It doesn’t matter if you are a CAD monkey or working at IDEO you will learn a great deal from you first job. Just think of it as “getting your foot in the door”.
PS. I think the average time to stay at your first job is 2-4 years. That is just my un educated guess.
my career sort of follows P.ID’s. i never really intended to be in the industry i am, it just turned out i was good at it, learned how to expand my skillset, and somehow, some weird karma-type deal gave me a successful career in ID. that’s sort of the interesting thing about life, even your best-laid plans have a way of meaning nothing in the end.
We had a guest speaker in one of my business classes that swore by not taking a crappy job as your first, and he really made it logical in how he presented it. Basically, you can negotiate your job and salary through patience and connections far better than promotions or raises will likely ever give you in the same amount of time or effort. If you gotta eat, you gotta eat, but until then I’d take as much time as you can finding something you like.
I got the same advice at one point and I’d agree as a general rule for college grads. The design field is a bit of an exception in that even professional experience in a less than ideal area, but still design, can be better than 1 or 2 years of no experience/down time.
Like they say, it’s easier to get a job when you have a job. At the same time, though, it’s important to weigh the pigeon-holing effect a potential job could have. Working in POP or strictly CAD for a few years can quickly make you less employable for other design jobs. But you may learn valuable skills that cancel that specialization out. I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule. I guess I didn’t really answer the question
I agree with this. I always tell students that getting a POP job is great, if it is a creative POP firm. This means that if the firm works through a normal ID process than it can be a real great place to work and you can get some really great experience from it. Some POP firms are more or less CAD operators that pump out exactly what the client wants day in and day out. Not a whole lot of creative thinking. No sketching, no research, just out to please the client. It can get very dry and boring.This is what you do not want, but there are some that do store audits, sketch, mock-up and validate with the consumers. This can be a really cool and exciting experience.
This is the same with any field though. But at some point you have to take a job for the sake that you just need to get “you foot in the door”. Remember you are still young and you never know where this huge field of Design may take you.
Crappy jobs often serve up the best lessons. Dealing with an a-hole boss will teach you how to deal with a-hole clients. Working under tight budgets and timelines will teach you to be more efficient and profitable. There is no substitute for real world work experience. The secret is to contantly push forward. Use all your creativity to make every situation you are in better. Stay at a job just long enough to get exactly what you need from it to move up. Leave your job better than you found it. Never ever burn a bridge. Make sure every employer wishes they still had you (you might need them again someday, and they might need you). Take calculated risks. Most importantly, kick major design ass at all times.