Junior designers, education, industry

October 16th, 2010 | No Comments »

On October 7-8, a great conversation unfolded on Twitter about the challenges of hiring junior designers. Who has the responsibility to train them, schools or business? Here’s the transcript.

Note: I removed the bulk of the cc’ing among people for the sake of readability. All times are Pacific.

Designers! I need to hire a UX Lead and a Director of UX. Big clients and big challenges. Interested? andrew.crow (at) razorfish.com
Andrew Crow, 3:51pm

Hands off, @AndrewCrow! I need Sr UXers and Directors of UX, too! sarah.nelson (at) hotstudio.com
Sarah Nelson3:58pm

Apparently no one hires Jr. designers anymore…
Dan Saffer4:01pm

@odannyboy That’s not true, I know junior designers working at REI and Starbucks.
J. Eric Townsend4:02pm

@odannyboy That’s all I hire. More fun that way.
Karen McGrane4:09pm

@karenmcgrane Cheaper, too.
– Dan Saffer, 4:12pm

@allartburns It’s a rarity. Look at the listings on IxDA. For every Jr. Designer position, there’s 20 Sr. ones.
– Dan Saffer, 4:13pm

Oh yeah, @odannyboy, I’m looking for Jr. Designers, too!
– Sarah Nelson, 4:37pm

@odannyboy nope. And it’s a big problem.
Andrew Otwell4:43pm

@heyotwell @odannyboy I think we’re suffering thru the valley of fewer people entering the field post crash 2000-04.
Bill DeRouchey4:50pm

@billder @odannyboy I think it’s that companies don’t know how to train (or want to train) junior people.
– Andrew Otwell, 5:14pm

We’ll have a second valley in a few years if no one enters the field in 2008-2011…
– Dan Saffer, 5:15pm

I think it’s that the economics of edu has been corrupted by the unreasonable expectations of industry
Dave Malouf5:19pm

Say more about that.
– Dan Saffer, 5:35pm

corps now expect students to graduate as complete designers & have given up their prev burden in edu
– Dave Malouf, 5:41pm

they no longer have paths of mentorship, training, etc, especially as designers.
– Dave Malouf, 5:42pm

where are the “college scouting” & 1st year training programs?
– Dave Malouf, 5:43pm

it is another example where in the US we have forsaken the economy of edu. It depresses me.
– Dave Malouf, 5:44pm

I think prob is design teams too small to support exp designers & JRs simultaneously.
Jared Spool5:45pm

You need a fair amount of bandwidth to handle 2 tiers of experience.
– Jared Spool, 5:46pm

I agree w/ this too.
– Dave Malouf, 5:46pm

At Ziba, we hired out of school not expecting complete designers. Can contribute, yes, but still a bit raw.
– Bill DeRouchey, 5:47pm

Other pressing challenge is having enough Sr designers with time and desire to teach.
– Bill DeRouchey, 5:48pm

@billder wouldn’t you agree that Ziba is exceptional
– Dave Malouf, 5:49pm

anyone else flash backing to @ixd09 and @kimgoodwin’s talk?
– Dave Malouf, 5:52pm

@daveixd It’s very likely. But we also had a company size that could absorb ramp up time.
– Bill DeRouchey, 5:52pm

where were all these cozy jobs with mentors, support and career paths 15 years ago? Already gone!!
Chris Chandler5:53pm

@odannyboy its not that noone hires Jr., its that when you ask for Jr. you get n00b in a down economy.
Nick Finck5:53pm

@daveixd I seem to remember a panel at IxD09 on this topic. Who was the moderator again?
– Jared Spool, 5:54pm

I’m mentoring about 20 ppl right now. Some more high-touch than others. They exist.
– Nick Finck, 5:55pm

@jmspool I remember that panel, but I felt it totally went in the wrong direction (no fault of moderator)
– Dave Malouf, 5:56pm

@daveixd sounds like a case for a redo.
– Nick Finck, 5:57pm

@nickf I’m confused aren’t Jr ppl by definition noobs?
– Dave Malouf, 5:57pm

@daveixd Well, it was a bit of herding cats.
– Jared Spool, 5:59pm

@daveixd I think there is three basic tiers: n00b, jr, and sr. n00b just switched careers or started learning
– Nick Finck, 6:00pm

Mentorsing exists, and some shops have good career tracking but was it ever the norm??
– Chris Chandler, 6:01pm

@jmspool Your guess of 50,000 missing designers might’ve been low, amazingly.
– Bill DeRouchey, 6:02pm

@chrischandler Your right, never the norm. Only done by ppl who are passionate enough to pursue it
– Nick Finck, 6:02pm

@billder I had said 10k designers, actually. :)
– Jared Spool, 6:05pm

Another factor is the projects today are likely higher stakes than…
– Bill DeRouchey, 6:06pm

@jmspool @billder give me some context you two. What’s that from? :D
– Nick Finck, 6:06pm

@billder higher stakes, or more complex? Food for thought.
– Nick Finck, 6:07pm

… in the 90s bc digital/web/whatever is more core to a company’s business, if not the entire thing.
– Bill DeRouchey, 6:07pm

@jmspool Jared, I take everything you say and 5x it.
– Bill DeRouchey, 6:08pm

@billder not me, I just high-five it ;)
– Nick Finck, 6:09pm

@nickf what about intermediate? Someone who is relatively senior but still an IC?
Katey Deeny6:12pm

@followsprocess IC?
– Nick Finck, 6:13pm

individual contributor
– Katey Deeny, 6:14pm

@nickf @billder and you should always salt as you go, just a few grains /cc @jmspool
– Chris Chandler, 6:16pm

@nickf as opposed to a manager/leader which I think of as “senior.”
– Katey Deeny, 6:16pm

@daveixd @odannyboy (1) ixd has whole sr gen of people who stumbled into it; can’t talk about “no longer” having a mentorship path…
Michele Tepper6:19pm

@followsprocess that’s sorta sad. Management is a skill & perhaps a career path, not a level of experience.
– Nick Finck, 6:46pm

@nickf It’s a really common biz model of leveling though. MS uses it, for instance.
– Katey Deeny, 6:59pm

@michelet re: jr ixds in NYC Heck! It seems all my grads ended up there this summer for either jobs or internships. Keep the opps coming
– Dave Malouf, 8:50pm

@michelet re #2: I like what Apple ID does: 4 ur 1st year there, ur only responsibility is to watch & learn. No expectation to contribute
– Dave Malouf, 8:52pm

@daveixd #2: that’s unrealistic for 99% of companies in all fields and also apprenticeship model is built on jrs doing basic work.
– Michele Tepper, 10:11am

@daveixd #2 what’s more Apple ID can take top .001% based on previous work & portfolios. So they’re not just taking a chance on some kids.
– Michele Tepper, 10:13am

Great convo w/ @billder @chrischandler @daveixd @jmspool @odannyboy @heyotwell & @followsprocess. How do we archive this for others?
– Nick Finck, 12:11pm



Leave a Reply