Post School

Many students graduating from this course have gone on to do further study at  Sydney Institute Enmore Design Centre, COFA, Billy Blue and UWS. This is where you’ll develop industry connections and a good understanding of best practice as a designer. After that comes the initiation into the real world of freelance or studio based design practice.

Here are some good tips for that part of the journey, and the best time to start absorbing this advice is now.

So if you’re….

Thinking of entering the field of Product Design? Here is some good advice from people who know

1. When you’re trying to decide which course is right for you, make sure it offers the kind of industry connections you’re interested in. Your placement is the most likely place you’ll find work.

2. Develop the software skills you’ll need to be able to demonstrate. They may not always be the focus of attention,  but they have come to be expected.

3. Drawing skills are still highly prized by product designers. Being able to convey ideas in just a few pen lines is invaluable.

4. Develop your communication and negotiation skills-these are essential elements in any designers armoury.

5. Be patient. In product design the time lag between concept and production can be many years, so you must be able to see it through without becoming jaded.

6. Be flexible-product design is not a nine-to-five job. There will be plenty of late nights.

7. Be a team player. As Hans Robertus puts it “We have no work that is not team work”

8. Learn to forget your views of what is right about design. The best design is one that makes the most money for your client.

9. Start taking things apart. One of the largest parts of the product designer’s skill sets is about knowing how and why things work.

10. Combine maths with art. The product designer is a rare thing, says JIm Dawton, a balance of engineering and art.

Planning to get work as a designer…

Some things to think about at interview.

1. The “Your Favourite” question

This question comes in many flavours, but most commonly, “Who is your favourite designer?” Good answer?; Whoever floats your boat, as long as you can explain why. You’ll get extra points for answers that aren’t overly obvious, thereby hinting that you know your stuff. The worst answer? I am. Even if this is true, it suggests arrogance. You may be asked to name your favourite magazine or ad campaign, all of which indicate your general awareness. The answers you give to this sort of question will give interviewers a better idea of  what you’re like and whether you would be a good cultural fit.

2. The “Why Us” question

“Why do you want to work for us?” is a question that trips up many candidates. Good answers are the most obvious ones, so try “I really like what your company does” , and back it up with some knowledge of what they do, research the people you want to work for. Or.. “I think I’d be a good fit for your company and have plenty to offer” and be able to explain why. The worst answer is the surprisingly common “I don’t know” or the blank stare that’s universally hated by all interviewers, especially as this is the one big question that you can always expect. Just make sure that you avoid clangers such as “Because I live just around the corner” or “I’m not bothered really- I just really need a job and your hiring.

3. The “How would you do this?” brief

A popular brief finds a company comparing your ideas with those of existing staff. You may be presented with a completed project and asked what you would have done differently. A good response is a considered one, with solid reasoning that avoids dramatic changes. Don’t suggest changes for the sake of it.  You may be given a brief that asks you how you’d respond to a client’s update demands when the client is known to make last-minute changes and the developer regularly underestimates. Here your thought processes are being explored. Would you add contingency or charge for your own time?

4. The “Money” question.

What salary are you looking for? is asked in almost every interview these days and it’s best to be totally upfront, honest and not afraid of naming your price.  Be realistic and research the marketplace, and don’t sell yourself short, you’ll only resent a job if the salary is significantly below your initial expectations. One wily company asks “how little will you work for” , expecting candidates to argue for a decent salary. After all if you massively undervalue yourself, why should a company believe that you’re someone they desperately need to employ.

5. The “Deadline” question.

Companies need to know that you can deal with deadlines, and you may be asked, “How do you deal with a deadline when you’re out of ideas?” A good response; “I’d take a brisk walk outside and clear my head, return to the office and rapidly brainstorm words and ideas”. A terrible response; “I’d surf the web until I found something inspirational that I could make my own!” As one agency says “Learning to accommodate work habits without sacrificing the quality and integrity of your work is paramount if you are to complete projects on time.”

6. The “Personal Time” question

Your answer to this question about your personal time could reveal whether you’re a ‘jobsworth’ or just really keen. “We’re interested in people who have personal projects” says one agency. “They’re likely to be a good cultural fit and really into their work”. Many are also keen on candidates who show they have well rounded personal lives and can talk about travelling, engaging in new experiences and so on. Bad answers can include; “I don’t surf the web at home” and “I have a personal business which takes up my time when I’m not in the office”.

More to come…..

Extracts from CA175, with thanks to Ian Anderson (, Dominic Preston (, Sean Singleton (, Tom Muller (, Chris Hassell (, Christi Nishiyama, Casper Kennerdale, and John Bains.

Places to go

Design Centre Enmore

Sydney Design School

Shillington Graphic Design

Billy Blue

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