I’m approaching my last year at Tech (hopefully), so I’ve started to look into potential employers who want to make use of my degree. Encouraged by the recent success in the past few years of members of my major at the Inventure Prize, I took a moment to look over the list of employers attending the career fair and noticed something surprising. Of the 352 companies attending the fair, a mere 14 were looking for industrial designers. Compare this to the 281 looking for mechanical engineers, a field very closely tied to industrial design and one which designers work very closely with.
I’m simultaneously surprised and frustrated by this. I am surprised because our field has been on the forefront of tech news a lot lately, especially in relation to the Apple-Samsung lawsuit. Design has been shown to be both something incredibly valuable when applied correctly (e.g. all of Apple’s recent products) and something worth being protected and fought over (e.g. the aforementioned suit). Why are companies then not seeking to employ designers who have been demonstrably proven to grant a strategic advantage? Is it because the field is still not well known? Perhaps it’s because Tech does not advertise the fact that we have an industrial design program? I don’t know the answer. This is a question for the business and design communities at large to ponder.
More importantly, I was frustrated to find that the student board responsible for organizing the career fair did not contain a single student representative from the College of Architecture (CoA), which consists not only of industrial design but also architecture and building construction. I mention it because I believe that having a member from the CoA will improve the number of companies at the career fair looking to employ industrial designers. A CoA board member could talk to potential employers and educate them on the value of industrial design and why it is both important and valuable to employ designers. I pose this as a challenge to the Campus Career Fair Team: next year, recruit one member (or several) of the College of Architecture to the team to help us gain visibility and help those of us seeking employment or an internship get our foot in the door, just like all the other majors represented at the career fair.