Would graduate school even help?

I graduated with an ID degree four years ago at the top of my class, got a job working for an architectural firm shortly after. With the downturn especially effecting the architectural field I was one out of the 300 + they laid off throughout all of their satellite offices. Now coming up on the two year anniversary of being laid off, I am still without a job, still without a single in person interview and painting houses like I did when I was in school which absolutely blows!

I mean, is it just me? Is anyone else thinking of going back for their master’s in a last ditch effort to rack up more student loan debt in an attempt to find a job? Any job…

I apply for drafting… nothing.
I apply for 3D modeling…nothing.
I apply with architectural firms, ID firms, manufactures, design build, etc…
Internships, assistant positions… you get it.

I personalize every CV, I take the time to learn about the company, I gauge my portfolio towards what they do plus others to show diversity. I have moderate experience (3 years) its not a lot and I know that, I am not asking for a ridiculous salary (hell, I will paint houses on the side if I have too), I would even go with out benefits to get in the door, all I want is a job, gain more experience, get back up to date with techniques and software that has emerged.

I know that I need to get my work back up to date, its a little hard when you travel a four state radius running manual labor work for asshole clients that expect you there in a couple hours, guess what jackass I am in another state (can’t tell you though) otherwise I might loose the contract.

Any thoughts, different approach? I am working on updating my portfolio, working freelance, and am loading my truck this week to drive to perspective employers across the country to personally deliver my portfolio, and say “My name is… and I would like to be considered…”

Graduate school? What does anyone recommend?

I don’t know if a Masters would really help you at this point. For the most part everyone will tell you that a Masters in ID is really only necessary for management or teaching. And to make matters worse, people get the negative false stigma of “Those who can’t, teach.” I think if you were to look into a program like IIT where they are more focused on User Research, etc, that might be different, but I don’t think it would help you much at this stage in your career.

I hear what you’re saying though, it’s a really shitty time to be looking for Industrial Design jobs. I got let go in April due to company downsizing and I’m still looking. I have one promising prospect right now with a company that I’ve been talking to for a few months, but I’m not sure if it will lead to a full time job or contract work. The catch is they are in Calgary, Alberta and I’m in Wisconsin. I’m willing to make the move, but I’m not sure what their position is going to be yet.

Other then that I just interviewed for a prepress job at a local printing company yesterday. They told me they probably won’t be hiring for at least a month though. I’ve done quite a bit of Graphic Design for Print as part of my previous design jobs though so at least I can say I’m using some skills. This is all cruising awfully close to the end of my unemployment in Nov. unless I do qualify for the extension. I’m not looking forward to the prospect of stocking shelves on the graveyard shift at Walmart if nothing pans out. :frowning:

If I do get my unemployment extension then I’m thinking quite a bit about taking a 4 week intensive Solidworks training course. A friend of mine runs a software training company and has a pretty good track record of placing people with jobs after they take his training. At least then I’m hoping that I would be able to get a contract job as a CAD monkey through a staffing agency.

Have you guys thought about that?

I know it’s a definite step below ID, but at least it would capitalize on your 3D modeling skills. Some of the guys they hired at my last job were basically fresh out of a 2 year community college Mechanical Drawing program and they landed a job through the staffing agency. I know being a CAD monkey doesn’t sound like a fun job, but with all due respect to the OP, it’s better then painting houses.

All I can say other then that is hang in there guys. It took me 7 months after graduation to land my 1st job, and 9 months while I was still employed to land my most recent job. It isn’t easy. Like Variant said, getting out there and meeting people can be a big help too. IDSA or even trade shows are a great environment for it. I found both of my professional design jobs (and hopefully this next one if that company in Calgary comes through) by going to industry trade shows for furniture. I did extensive research about the companies attending beforehand, I made some emails or cold calls in advance to try and set up some meetings with people at the show, and after I exhausted my pre-planned meetings I just started walking into showrooms and asking if I could talk to someone on their design staff. I would say 7 times out of 10 I was able to talk to another designer, company president, or VP of Marketing or whatever. If they were interested enough I got to spend some time showing them my portfolio too. So far I’m 2-0 for getting jobs from doing this at trade shows. Hopefully this company I’m talking to from Calgary comes through too. You can’t beat talking to someone face to face vs. being just another PDF out of THOUSANDS that an HR person receives in a week.

IMHO, I think you might want to try just staying put for 3 months, find some income that lets you survive and do several personal projects to try to make yourself competitive with the types of designers who may be getting jobs you apply for.

at the same time, I’d research companies, people, and design gatherings… meet people, buy designers lunch, do informational interviews, and get practical advice from them. Use it to improve your personal projects, and keep a sporadic dialog… if you re-do a project they’ve suggested needs work, show them you took their advice and it made you a better designer. etc. etc

There’s a lot of disagreement about masters programs, but if you can’t get traction and don’t like working and improving all alone, I think MA ID programs can help you get competitive and improve. The degree it’self won’t win you jobs, nor even get you a higher salary, but it might catch people’s attention that you’re seriously investing in yourself for design. I know designers that went this route and some came out winners, though some still didn’t make it. It also gives you some structure and deadlines, and if you pick a university like Cincinnati or some similar, you could lean on their networks for intern-ships in better positions than you’ve had previously.You could start looking into that, as it takes several months to get everything together for school.

Lastly, you might try posting your work here… people do that and it’s impressive to see how much they improve from the peanut gallery of feedback here.