13 Designers Share Their Design Career Goals

In the November 2012 issue of HOW magazine, Terry Lee Stone examines the phases of a designer’s career development in “Design Career Lifecycle.” As part of the article, Stone asked a variety of designers, in various stages of their careers, how they plan to get to the next level of their design careers. Hopefully their answers will inspire you, motivate you, or just reassure you that you’re not alone!

Roseanne Wong

Interactive Designer/Project Manager, Shanghai

What tools or knowledge will help you get to the next phase in your career?
“Not sure exactly. That’s my bottleneck right now.”

What will it take to move you to the next phase in your career?
“Experience. More exposure. To try different things and understand myself more.”

Brad Tucker

Director/Creative Director, Los Angeles

What tools or knowledge will help you get to the next phase in your career?
“I’m a senior-level talent who makes a lot of money in a faltering economy. I think the biggest thing going for me is that I know my industry well. I’ve seen lots of changes, and I’m not oblivious to what’s going on. I’ve also seen the way many people get treated, and I know what I won’t tolerate.”

What will it take to move you to the next phase in your career?
“I recently got laid off. I’m now looking for a studio that has all the qualities I couldn’t find at my previous place of employment, while also exploring other avenues of employment within the industry. My options are go freelance/consult, become a live action director, or look for another creative direction position, perhaps in network television. And I’m sure there are even more options out there. I need to have an open mind and explore all options.”

Amelia Stier

Designer, Sid Lee, Montréal

What tools or knowledge will help you get to the next phase in your career?
“Definitely more hours behind the computer and in the conference room. Of course, absorbing as much as possible from those with more experience than me will also help immensely at my young and impressionable stage.”

What will it take to move you to the next phase in your career?
“Time. Lots and lots of time. In my particular situation, working at a predominantly French-speaking firm in Montréal, learning the language is a major hurdle between me and the next level of office responsibility. I am lucky to work somewhere that people are able to move up the ladder very quickly. So beyond that silly language barrier, it’s mostly about drive, initiative and gaining experience.”

Satsuki Shibuya-Thoeng

Designer/Creator/Curious Explorer, Los Angeles

What tools or knowledge will help you get to the next phase in your career?
“Being exposed and connected to amazing, inspiring individuals doing things that I would love to explore.”

What will it take to move you to the next phase in your career?
“More experience and more learning.”

Yolanda Santosa

Principal and Creative Director, Ferroconcrete, Los Angeles

What tools or knowledge will help you get to the next phase in your career?
“What we do every day at Ferroconcrete—branding clients—helps us in building our own brands. Also, meeting clients (they can be a valuable resource).”

What will it take to move you to the next phase in your career?
“Moving beyond branding and starting our own businesses. Building our own brands.”

Sam Potts

Designer, IDEO, New York

What tools or knowledge will help you get to the next phase in your career?
“I’m in the midst of retraining myself now. I’m learning to work collaboratively, how to work with projects whose outlines are ambiguous, how to design in a broader sense than fonts and paper (i.e., traditional graphic design), how to speak a new language at work in order to have common ground with my colleagues. It’s a process of intellectual re-training more than anything.”

What will it take to move you to the next phase in your career?
“I’m not sure, but I’ll probably find a way to sabotage myself somehow!”

Matthew Manos

Social Entrepreneur and Founder, a verynice design studio, Los Angeles

What tools or knowledge will help you get to the next phase in your career?
“A crystal ball. Just kidding! We constantly immerse ourselves in what is going on in our industry to help determine trends, and make wise decisions on where to innovate and where to position ourselves. The knowledge of our surroundings, while seemingly a simple thing, is crucial, and we will have to continue to do this even more in order to be successful in our ventures. A big mistake a lot of entrepreneurs make is that they forget to look to the left and to the right.”

What will it take to move you to the next phase in your career?
“Every year for the past four years, the business model of verynice has changed slightly. Because of this, we are constantly evolving and learning from our experiences to make our company better (meaning more effective, more profitable, more conceptually interesting). I feel that the next phase of my career, given that our model is entrepreneurial by design, is actually difficult to see clearly. But for now, I hope to continue to learn from what we are doing right, and what we are doing wrong, and be surprised by what is next. If you told me in 2009 what we would be doing in 2012, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Things have really evolved. So I hope 2015 is a total shocker.”

Leslie Kwok

Freelance Graphic Designer, London

What tools or knowledge will help you get to the next phase in your career?
“I think a growing practice just takes time and experience. I’m not sure if there are specific tools that make that happen, but I’m still learning! I do know that working on a range of projects and media certainly gives you a perspective on what type of work continues to make you tick. And it does help in broadening your skill set even on a very fundamental level. It gives you knowledge on how to project manage different types of work, which directly helps with diversifying your client base.”

What will it take to move you to the next phase in your career?
“I see glimpses of the next phase of my career, where I have all the inner workings of how to maintain a competitive, solid and growing practice on my own figured out! I think that’s always been something that I’ve wanted to achieve and am still working to get there. I would like the flexibility of working on projects on my own as well as taking on bigger projects and collaborating with other individuals or agencies/studios.”

Serge Kirsanov

Principal, Screen & Paper LLC, New York

What tools or knowledge will help you get to the next phase in your career?
“Either more knowledge gained through work experience on the job, or going back to graduate school, or perhaps trying to take on personal projects for the purpose of learning a new skill or discipline.”

What will it take to move you to the next phase in your career?
“The simplest way is to build a quality body of work that is unmistakably yours—no strings attached. That work, presented in the right way to the right eyes should elevate you to the next phase.”

Eric Karjaluoto

Partner, smashLAB, Vancouver

What tools or knowledge will help you get to the next phase in your career?
“I need to better understand people: our staff, clients and the audiences we try to reach. I don’t know whether anyone ever really knows all of this stuff, but it seems like the most important part of the gig.”

What will it take to move you to the next phase in your career?
“Lots of continued hard work: strengthening my ability to communicate and motivate others. And a bit of good luck.”

Keetra Dean Dixon

Principal, FromKeetra, New York

What tools or knowledge will help you get to the next phase in your career?
“I would like to have the innate PR gift. I’m terribly introverted. This applies to social media even more than face-to-face exchanges. Twitter is a fantastic way to spread the news of the studios and expansion in your practice. It’s just that I am a shy tweeter.”

What will it take to move you to the next phase in your career?
“Commitment and integration of more “new” into my ongoing studio practice in order to satisfy my learning addiction.”

Amy Decker

Principal/Creative Director, Dig Design, Milwaukee

What tools or knowledge will help you get to the next phase in your career?
“I agree with the cliché ‘one can never stop learning.’ Throughout my career, I read books, blogs and magazines. I also attend design conferences and AIGA events locally to stay on top of the design industry, which is always changing and evolving.”

What will it take to move you to the next phase in your career?
“As an independent, I see myself always working in some capacity. I have imagined different avenues within design, but have never thought of leaving design.”

Annessa Braymer

Communication Designer, IDEO, San Francisco Bay Area

What tools or knowledge will help you get to the next phase in your career?
“I’ve always found a good mentor has always helped me make leaps in my career.”

What will it take to move you to the next phase in your career?
“Time and a good support team, and I feel so fortunate to have them both.”

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