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Bike design jobs

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Every so often, I get emails from industrial design students or recent graduates who want to know how they can get a job in the bike industry. I usually ask them to send me any bicycle related projects in their portfolio that I can consider for posting. Quite a few people in the industry read this blog, so the exposure doesn’t hurt if you have a concept that you are particularly proud of. Beyond posting your concept though, I can’t really offer much help (remember, I design products outside of the bike industry). I can say that now is probably the best time ever to get a job designing bicycles; all you have to do is look. I pointed out recently that bicycle sales are on the rise and I think that trend will continue as the industry expands further into markets that it has not traditionally tried to reach. That, of course, means that the number of opportunities for designers at bicycle companies will continue to grow.

In just the past couple of weeks, I have noticed or heard of several bike industry design jobs. An ID position at Giant was featured as the job of the day on a Core 77 post not long ago. Soon after I saw that one, I received an IDSA newsletter, which had a listing for a design position at Serotta. You can read more about that one on their website if you are interested. Finally, I have heard from several people about a few open ID positions at Trek. As far as I know, they are still looking for a staff designer and for an experienced designer to work on helmets. On top of those three, I have heard from headhunters about a few other positions in the industry that are open right now and I am sure there are several more that I don’t know about.

Yep, it’s probably as good a time as ever to break into the bike industry, but I imagine that means stiff competition for design positions as well. The best advice I can give to design students is to work hard and make sure that your portfolio reflects your interests. If you want to design bikes, then take the initiative and work on some personal projects in your free time. If you have any sketches or renderings that you are particularly proud of, send them to me and you might just see them show up in a post.

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  1. Anonymous April 3, 2008 at 11:58 am -  Reply

    I actually heard (from some guys at Trek) that sometimes it’s better to be “green” in the knowledge you have of a particular industry. Which really meant I knew too much about bikes to design them, there’s no doubt this one can be argues both ways but give it some thought when applying to design bikes that they don’t think bikes are your only influence and only design drive.

    -nick hardrath

  2. James April 3, 2008 at 4:21 pm -  Reply

    Good point Nick. I agree that it is often valuable to have an “outside” design perspective… that is one of the reasons why companies with internal design departments hire consulting firms for certain projects. I have mentioned in previous posts the value of hiring designers from outside a particular industry to provide a fresh design perspective. Cannondale’s design director Torgny Fjeldskaar, who came from Mazda, is a good example. Roxy, the designer from Pottery barn who worked on the Ibis Mojo, is another. Certainly I didn’t mean to imply that anyone should gear his or her entire portfolio to one specific product category (bikes or any other). It is important to have a diverse portfolio that shows your ability to tackle a variety of design challenges. When I look at someone’s work, I like to see many different sketches and not just a few polished renderings because it shows progression and an ability to think through solutions. Pretty pictures are nice, but a portfolio is really just a tool that illustrates an ability to think creatively.

    That said, I still believe that it is important to have a portfolio that reflects your own personal interests. Diversity is good, but I believe that, to some degree, you should tailor your portfolio toward the types of products and projects that you really care about. Students and recent graduates are going to show some projects from school that may not necessarily reflect the type of work that they wish to do professionally. That is fine, but I think it is also a good idea to work on a few personal projects based on one’s individual interests. If nothing else, doing so shows prospective employers that you have a degree of initiative and a passion for the design process.

  3. B. Nicholson April 4, 2008 at 2:22 am -  Reply

    The truly important ingredient is personal confidence in yourself, of course. There is no substitute for belief in one’s own ability to meet and overcome adversity. Raising your own spirit and unflagging effort are two indispensable self-assurances in any life’s endeavor.

  4. Ron April 8, 2008 at 8:22 pm -  Reply

    Good discussion here. I think hiring depends on the industry as well. Some companies trump experience over everything else. Others hire and keep fresh talent, foreigners,people outside their specialization etc in their design teams to help diversify the design process. More ideas,knowledge,interesting perspectives are essential elements some companies look for.

  5. Stephen March 16, 2012 at 3:20 am -  Reply

    To whom in may concern

    I wrote my final school exam 2005 in South Africa. I then went to Ireland. In the 5 year of staying there I re did the last 2 years of the Irish school curriculum to gain points to studies first year mechanical engineering. During this year i worked with Solid Works and AutoCAD 2008/2009. folowing the recession I had to came back home. In 2011 I studied at CTU Bloemfontein. Details in the attached CV.
    I am mechanicaly minded and love to design concept idears on Inventor in my spare time.


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