Product design is a notoriously difficult industry to get started in. Getting your foot in the door is challenging, but a career as a product designer is rewarding, exciting and definitely worth the effort. There are far more students studying product design today than there are available roles in the industry, so it’s critical that you can stand out from the crowds.

The world of designing products is a perfect blend of creativity and technicalities. Navigating your way through it is essential for success. If you want to be noticed more than your peers and get some attention from potential employers, you need to put some effort in. As experts in this field, we’re sharing our top 5 pieces of advice for students looking to take their first career steps.

  1. Demonstrate Your Passion

Potential employers want to see that you have a passion for and knowledge of the industry. Use your portfolio to reveal what you truly love about this world. Show that you know more than the average student when it comes to designing and developing new and existing products out in the real world. It helps to stay connected and keep your finger on the pulse with the latest news updates.

Read relevant blogs, listen to podcasts and demonstrate the things you learn from these at every opportunity. Your LinkedIn profile is a great way to reveal your passion for product design, as you can interact with others, share interesting articles or even publish your own thoughts.

  1. Have A Basic Knowledge Of The Manufacturing Process

It’s so much more than just beautiful visuals and elaborate sketches. Employers need to know that you understand the manufacturing processes behind the designs you are creating. No one will expect you to be an expert right away; it takes many years of experience to fully understand all the ins and outs of manufacturing. You just need to demonstrate that it is on your radar and something you are considering carefully when working on your designs.

And don’t forget manufacturing’s impact on the environment. Many companies and inventors out there often want to create their idea the cheapest way possible to maximise profits. However, design companies like 4D Products always encourage more sustainable methods of production and materials used. It’s worth making sure this is now something at the forefront of your mind, considering the ever evolving challenge to positively impact the Earth’s climate.

  1. Make Your Concept Design Sketches Shine

Your concept design sketches are one area where you can truly show off your skills. Use these to convey your creativity and showcase your eye for aesthetics. If sketching is not your strong point, then make sure you practice this as much as you can. There are plenty of industrial design sketching boards on sites like Pinterest, so take some time to work on these and hone your skills. Concept design sketching is very valuable to potential employers, especially if you can produce sketches that are good enough to present to clients and management.

  1. Show You Are A Self-Starter

Potential employers will want to see that you have the drive to get up and get going with a project. We know that finding a job immediately after graduation is a struggle, and if you do have some time before you find a role, use it wisely. Self-initiate some projects and do things that will further develop the skills you have learnt at university. Demonstrating how you are a self-starter will always come across better than someone who is waiting around for their dream job to fall into their lap.

Remember that there are some things that university simply cannot teach you, and getting some real-world experience in the industry can be invaluable.

  1. Share Your Concepts

During your time at university, you probably won’t be encouraged to collaborate too often. Lecturers want you to demonstrate what you can do by yourself, and your solo skills are the most important part of your studies.

However, in the real world, product design is all about teamwork and collaborations. Being able to work with others, take their ideas on board, and even how you handle criticism is crucial for success. Find ways to share your ideas, either during your studies or after graduation. LinkedIn, forums and other networking sites are great for connecting with like-minded individuals and batting ideas around.

The next steps you take after your time as a product design student can define your career. Not all graduates are lucky enough to walk straight into their dream role, and product development is a highly competitive world. Anything you can do to stay productive and relevant during your job hunt will only help set yourself up for success. Following these tips, alongside a lot of hard work and natural talent, you should be on track to land your first product design role.