15 Pieces of Advice for Young Designers

Core77 discussion board Moderator and Director of Innovation at Newell, Justin Coble (aka PackageID) recently posted 15 thoughtful pieces of advice for young designers. While the list is directed towards designers about to start their careers, there are some golden nuggets and humbling reminders in here for designers at all levels. The following is a brief excerpt:

It has been a long time since I have posted on these boards. Life has gotten in the way but I told myself this summer that I was going to try to get back to being active in the Core community again. So hear it goes. I posted this article on LinkedIn and thought I would share.

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As the new school year is upon us and I just marked my 15 years as a design professional, I thought I would share some advice to those about to start their careers. I have learned a ton, got to work in some unbelievable businesses with some amazing people, and have had the opportunity to create some truly meaningful work. Here is what I have learned. Enjoy!


I thought I would start with the hardest. Whether you are a new grad or a seasoned veteran looking to move on, you have to take control of your career. If you are a new grad, know what you want and make a plan to go get it. If you are and experienced designer looking for a new opportunity make them want to hire you. Lay out your goals, short and long term, and work hard to make them happen. This may mean extra work, learning a new skill, or pushing outside you comfort zone. Do not wait around and expect and opportunity to come to you. It won’t happen. Just because you have a degree, or have been at a firm for a while does not mean someone should give you a job or a promotion. You have to prove to them why they should care.


No one comes out of school a “Strategist”. I am so tired of interviewing entry level designers that tell me that they want to do “Design Strategy”. You cannot do design strategy until you understand your craft. You need to go through the process and understand how products are designed, manufactured, influence consumers, and impact the business. Without these experiences everything is theoretical.

Take the time to get your hands dirty, pump out thousands of sketches, build prototypes and CAD models. It’s what you went to school for and what you are good at. If strategy is your thing, it will come after you learn your craft and truly understand the entire ecosystem of product development and how design influences other functions of an organization such as R&D, Marketing, Finance and Sales.


We have all fallen victim of thinking we need to over prove ourselves when we are hired. Coming in guns blazing and start laying out our resume at every chance. Spouting out “at xyz firm we did it like this” and consistently trying to show “better” ways of doing things. Bringing past experience is a good thing, but consistently quoting your past can comes across as insecure, not being a team player, and having doubt in the team’s capabilities. Remember you were interviewed by the team. They know your past, know your skills and they hired you for a reason. Find constructive ways to bring your past into the team, but don’t be patronizing.

Read Coble’s full 15 pieces of advice hereDo you have any tips for young designers in addition to Coble’s? Share your comments in the thread below or within the original Core77 discussion board!


(Thumbnail and header image credit: SurfaceID)

Source: core77

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