Re: Education formal or informal or both

29 Jan 2004 - 1:30pm
10 years ago
3 replies
427 reads
Ted Booth
2004

On the other hand, the benefits of 'going the academic' path as a way
to get into interaction design:
1) you get structured exposure to a wide range of concepts, techniques
and principles in a very short amount of time
2) you are challenged to learn, produce and explore in a much more wide
ranging and rigorous manner than in the commercial world
3) and, depending on your institution of choice, it can be *very*based
in practice, in the doing of the work, as well as knowing the theory
behind it
4) plus, you leave with a formal degree which generally gives you a leg
up over other job-seekers and a higher starting salary

For full disclosure, I went to IIT's Institute of Design and am super
glad I did.

t.

On Thursday, January 29, 2004, at 09:32 AM, Todd R.Warfel wrote:

> 3) It's primarily based in theory, not practice.
>
> On Jan 29, 2004, at 11:03 AM, David Heller wrote:
>
>> Maybe I'm alone here I don't know, but I'm adverse to the academic
>> path:
>> 1. it is costly
>> 2. it is still incredibly centered in western, white, and male
>> dominated
>> think and processes

Comments

29 Jan 2004 - 1:49pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Hi,

Just for clarification:
1. I don't think that academia is evil.
2. I was suggesting that there is room and necessity for alternates and
supplements in the career path/education path towards becoming an IxDer

Ted, I appreciate the positives of an academic education that you put
forward.

Just your last point: "4) plus, you leave with a formal degree which
generally gives you a leg up over other job-seekers and a higher starting
salary"

Maybe it might be where I am in my career, but I find that a kick-ass
porfolio presented appropriately will open a door and get you a higher
salary than any education might. Also, as a hiring manager, I value a
real-world generated portfolio a lot higher than a school based one b/c I
know that it was created using real world constraints. I've also noticed
that I hire a lot more people w/ degrees then I compete with people with
degrees. Meaning -- there comes a point in a career where the degree matters
less and less.

Is a $20k degree (I imagine that is the low side) going to generate me a
higher rate of pay to justify the expense? Make me a better designer? Give
me better credentials? Than taking that same amount of time and finding a
job at a kickbutt institution that takes design very seriously where I know
I can be mentored and I know I will be exposed to a variety of projects.

If I saw 2 years at MS's design dept (fill in HP, Adobe, Macromedia, IBM,
Sapient, Razorfish, Argus (back in the day), Cooper, InContext, NN/G, Allen
Marcus, etc.; sorry being very digitally focused; Bose, Phillips, Sony, etc)
vs. 2 years at CMU ... I'm choosin' the first person all other things being
equal.

-- dave

29 Jan 2004 - 2:42pm
Ted Booth
2004

In my time working and hiring, I have met really great IxDer's (or
choose your own label) who are 'self-taught' or have become very
skilled by working in great places. I've also met people that went to
school and are just as good. With the really talented people, it seems
to be less a question of where they learned than of their innate
abilities and talents.

It is interesting to wonder, however, that as interaction design
becomes more formalized and more schools offer degreed programs then
the self-taught route may well become less viable. Larger companies
could very well insist on a bachelors or a master's to even be
considered for a position.

It's true that in most job markets, a graduate degree will *generally*
garner a higher starting salary *for someone who is starting out*. For
job candidates that have been out of school for several years, your
accomplishments, or lack thereof, will have greater impact.

On Thursday, January 29, 2004, at 10:49 AM, David Heller wrote:

> Hi,
>
> Just for clarification:
> 1. I don't think that academia is evil.
> 2. I was suggesting that there is room and necessity for alternates and
> supplements in the career path/education path towards becoming an IxDer
>
> Ted, I appreciate the positives of an academic education that you put
> forward.
>
> Just your last point: "4) plus, you leave with a formal degree which
> generally gives you a leg up over other job-seekers and a higher
> starting
> salary"
>
> Maybe it might be where I am in my career, but I find that a kick-ass
> porfolio presented appropriately will open a door and get you a higher
> salary than any education might. Also, as a hiring manager, I value a
> real-world generated portfolio a lot higher than a school based one
> b/c I
> know that it was created using real world constraints. I've also
> noticed
> that I hire a lot more people w/ degrees then I compete with people
> with
> degrees. Meaning -- there comes a point in a career where the degree
> matters
> less and less.
>
> Is a $20k degree (I imagine that is the low side) going to generate me
> a
> higher rate of pay to justify the expense? Make me a better designer?
> Give
> me better credentials? Than taking that same amount of time and
> finding a
> job at a kickbutt institution that takes design very seriously where I
> know
> I can be mentored and I know I will be exposed to a variety of
> projects.
>
> If I saw 2 years at MS's design dept (fill in HP, Adobe, Macromedia,
> IBM,
> Sapient, Razorfish, Argus (back in the day), Cooper, InContext, NN/G,
> Allen
> Marcus, etc.; sorry being very digitally focused; Bose, Phillips,
> Sony, etc)
> vs. 2 years at CMU ... I'm choosin' the first person all other things
> being
> equal.
>
> -- dave
>
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..................
Ted Booth
edwinbooth at mac.com

29 Jan 2004 - 4:36pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Thursday, January 29, 2004, at 01:49 PM, David Heller wrote:
>
> If I saw 2 years at MS's design dept (fill in HP, Adobe, Macromedia,
> IBM,
> Sapient, Razorfish, Argus (back in the day), Cooper, InContext, NN/G,
> Allen
> Marcus, etc.; sorry being very digitally focused; Bose, Phillips,
> Sony, etc)
> vs. 2 years at CMU ... I'm choosin' the first person all other things
> being
> equal.
>

Ah, but the trick is getting those jobs to begin with. HP, Adobe, et
al. are looking for people with degrees in design or HCI. Tough(er) to
land them without it. And once you start getting to the
Director/Chief/Head level at established companies, forget it. You
typically need a graduate degree to even be considered.

I was a self-taught IxDer who went back to school after having worked
for a decade. Why? So I could not only learn the things I never would
have on my own while working (and yes, there are many of those: not a
lot of design theory gets discussed while in the middle of projects)
but to also be better qualified for better jobs.

There's value in both paths. There's also value in combining the paths.
I'm grateful for my "real life" experiences while here in school: they
let me put things in perspective. But the opposite is also true: school
helps put my previous experience (and hopefully future experience) into
a valuable framework.

At a time when there is a lot of talk about "credentials," formal
schooling provides it. Yes, it's expensive. Yes, it's very white and
male (although three out of four of my professors this semester are
women and nearly half of my class are Asian). But it also provides
practical foundations that are often overlooked while in the field.

So while a graduate degree might not automatically make a better job
candidate, it doesn't hurt. All things being equal, I'm guessing most
companies will take the applicant with the advanced degree over the one
who doesn't have one. It makes them feel better about their choice, and
if they have to present the employee to clients, it provides outside
validation of their skills (rightly or wrongly).

Dan

Dan Saffer
M.Des. Candidate, Interaction Design
Carnegie Mellon University
http://www.odannyboy.com

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