President’s Blog: Careers in Design

Date published

A Different Approach to Preparing for a Career in Design

Design professions are changing rapidly. There are many new roles for architects and designers—from innovation managers in large corporations to directors of energy management and designers of user experience—all the way to traditional roles of creating designs for products and buildings.

Because of this, our goal at NewSchool of Architecture & Design is not only to train students to succeed in a job, but also to prepare them to change with the profession over time. They need to know how to think and how to evolve. I don’t want a client or employer to look at the work of our alumni and say that person graduated in the ’80s, ’90s or mid-teens. I want someone to look at their portfolio and say “that person is a really good thinker.”

Having a DesignMindTM is the foundation for that. Being agile and able to move with the profession—not just the advances in technology but societal attitudes and the role of design in culture. That’s our challenge: To find the balance between training and career preparation and preparing students for lifelong learning.

One way we do that is through our faculty. At a typical design program, about 85 percent of the faculty is full time and they do 90 percent of their work inside the university setting. Only about 15 percent are practitioners. That ratio is reversed at NewSchool. Our faculty is made up mostly of current practitioners who work in product development, construction management, architecture, and other related fields. Our students have very immediate, hands-on relationships with people who are practicing what they teach.

Another way we do this is through the global influence on our programs. It is impossible not to be touched by the international design community, and designers must work cross-culturally. For example, one of the finalists to design the Obama library in Chicago is David Adjaye, who was born in Tanzania and has offices in London and New York.

We have a tremendous advantage in this regard because we are 12 miles from an international border and have strong design program and Global Design Degree with our sister school in Milan, Italy, Domus Academy. The Domus Academy School of Design at NewSchool of Architecture & Design gives students access to a truly global classroom. In addition, through our vast network of study abroad opportunities, our students are able to view the world with an eye toward multiculturalism. Right now we have two exchange students from Madrid and 16 of our students are in Milan for the spring quarter. A global conversation is part of life at NewSchool.

What students learn here in San Diego and abroad, with our practitioner faculty and those in other parts of the world, will contribute to their DesignMind and their preparation for career success.

What do you think contributes most to career success?

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