Got so stuck in a position- need advice what to do- please don't flame me for this!


New Member
Hello all!

I've been reading the posts on here for quite a while now, but have been too nervous to post anything. I'm a 36 year old product designer, have been doing this since the day after I left uni, but have a serious lack of immovablility in my design career.

I moved to an area of product design back in 2004 which doesn't use a particularly high level of graphic design- it's basically a part of your clothing (I don't want to post more in case I out myself too much!), as I needed a position that was a bit closer to my home (I'd previously been working 40+ miles from home on an entry level salary but couldn't move due to family responsibilities). The design was fun and I got good at it quickly as I had a background in textile design rather than graphics. It is big business but not particularly "cool".

I got promoted eventually to senior designer but in 2008 was moved 40+ miles again to head office to work- not what I wanted but the money offer was good. I was offered a lot (47k!) to go there and work, and felt that I could bank the money and move on soon after that. As before, due to caring for family I've had to stay in my home area which means a daily commute of 1 hr 15 mins each way.

Head office is tough to work for- most people don't stay for long due to the treatment of them by management and so the high salary does reflect that.

Please don't think I'm trying to be smug or "poor me"- I know that is a lot of money, but it is a difficult job with a lot of hours and travel and stress- I'm not actually sat at the PC designing most of the time (which is one of the reasons I'd like to get more into design again). The problem is that now I've been doing the same thing for 6 years and don't know what to do or where to even start next. I'm not a high level trained graphic designer, apart from some simple print files I'm not experienced in sending files to the printer or organising that side of design (eg printing a portfolio or booklet), I have no web skills and I've become good at my area of product but there's nowhere else on this ladder to go- I can't earn any more or be any more senior.

Basically, I'm stuck now. I've tried to go for other things, and drop my money, but recruitment companies have either turned their nose up and sneered at me (honestly) or I'm trying to tell prospective employers why I want to work for them and accept a big drop in salary.

If the advice for me is to stop moaning and stick with my lot then fair enough- I don't have anyone else to ask opinions of.

I realise that I'll have to drop my salary quite a lot- but I can't even begin to think where to start. I don't have a traditional portfolio and have been upset at the PC as I don't even know what to start with- I should know at my age what to do and how to do this, but I'm really stuck.

I never thought it could make me so unhappy, but I can't see any way out of this. Any advice would be really appreciated.
These are tough situations we can all find ourselves in from time to time. I have nothing but sympathy for you - being stuck in a job that's a long commute, and something you don't want to do for a job - it's tough to take and heartbreaking to have to relive the same nightmare over and over.

I've always maintained that no matter how much money you're on, if you don't like your job it doesn't matter about the money.

I've known people who were on the verge of becoming regular footballers for Premier League teams, and Championship teams, and they quit football because they don't like the lifestyle it promotes.

I know that's an extreme case - but it's true, no matter how much money if flaunted in front of you, if you don't like that line of work why would you take it? Some do - and do a minimal job, take the money and live their lives, but I don't think they are ever truly happy.

What's usually a good idea to do in this situation is to try source from freelance work to beef up your portfolio. I know you have family commitments, and I know you have a long commute. But I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't take on some freelance work to flesh out my portfolio.

It's a rough ride - for 3 months, 6 months - or even a year, it's hard work but pays off.
Thank you both for your very kind words- it really means a lot.

It's funny how you work hard and are really busy doing something you didn't really aim to be doing and 8 years go by so quickly! I will be working very hard on different looks for my graphics, and building up some useful skills. The forums on here are great and I'm really excited about doing new work, rather than trying to get down about it.
I don't even use a Mac or tablet- I literally run an old PC with CS5 and a mouse which doesn't work very well- it's surprising to think how much design work on the high street I've done with that set up!

It is a real boost to be able to post on here, and I'm grateful of your time to have read and responded guys- it means so much!