Natalie graduated with a degree in product with furniture design from De Montfort University.
I graduated in 2006 after completing a degree course in product with furniture design from De Montfort University in Leicester. I currently work as a product designer and would have to say that my degree was totally relevant in the role I have today.
I gained work experience straight after university with 2D AutoCAD contract work for a company producing conveyor systems. While I was building up an attractive portfolio of work, I used the internet, newspapers and recruitment agencies to look for jobs and came across an ad in the local paper for a graduate design engineer for a lighting company.
I applied for the job, tailoring my CV and portfolio to match the job description, and got it. I stayed at that company for a little over a year, gaining formal training on SolidWorks 3D CAD software and LIF (Lighting Industry Federation) Certification. I also gained vital industry experience with regards to design for injection moulding and manufacturing techniques. I wanted to vary my range of experience in industry so moved to a design and engineering consultancy, P1 Technology, where I gained the opportunity to tackle a wealth of different projects, ranging from plastic products to machine design.
I knew what I wanted to be before starting university - designing products was my main goal, and learning the problem-solving process through my degree was vital in my training in being successful as a designer. The furniture design side of things hasn’t been too relevant but, in a consultancy, you never know what’s around the corner.
My degree was also useful for my day-to-day activities; the design process and methodology is constant and I use it every time I approach a new design or every time I have to make a decision within a project.
Currently, I spend most of my day at my desk on the computer or sketching, bringing all developed ideas into SolidWorks, verifying and developing the design in 3D CAD to prototype and then manufacture. I have regular meetings or phone conversations with suppliers and clients, keeping them up to date on progress. Sometimes I have to move to the workshop to supervise the engineer who is fabricating the projects I have worked on and tackle any problems that arise. I also check on the junior designer to see which tasks he has set out for the day and give advice when necessary.
What I really enjoy about my job is the range of different industries that I get to learn about and design products for. However, you do have to juggle lots of different jobs all at once and work towards tight deadlines, keeping all clients happy.
I would advise any other product design students to gain experience and to take anything and do anything, even if it seems boring at the time or not quite so relevant and not quite what you want to do. Being within a working industry environment gives you the opportunity to absorb lots of information and figure out how the real world works.
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