Members of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and attendees of the Society's events over the years have shared countless stories of meeting someone at a national conference or local chapter event who helped them land their first job, gave them a leg up in their career or became a lifelong friend.
Even as COVID-19 has limited in-person interactions, online networking has grown and remains integral to netting jobs and internships. Throughout all of IDSA's virtual events held over the past year and a half—from 2-day Deep Dives on Sustainability, Medical Design and Women in Design to 1-hour Design Voices webinars on topics ranging from Race in Design to IP/Design Protection to a 24-hour International Design Conference (IDC)—attendees are still making those key connections to further their careers and enrich their lives as industrial designers.
We at IDSA continue to hear stories like the following from Shelby Liu, a recent graduate from Arizona State University, who made a connection during IDSA's free and virtual National ID Day coffee hour in March 2021 that directly led to the next exciting phase of her career.
"I obtained an internship by interacting and socializing with other people within the Industrial Design community in one of IDSA’s events, IDSA’s National ID Day coffee hour of March 5, 2021. I met many people at the event, a mix of students and professionals. Attendees got sent to small groups randomized to socialize, where I met Pieter van Gool from Nelipak. We talked about professional interests and goals. Through LinkedIn, we connected and discovered an opportunity for an industrial design internship at Nelipak Phoenix. I submitted my resume and portfolio, which was reviewed at Nelipak.
We followed up after a second IDSA event, Getting it Made Deep Dive, on March 17 again on the potential job opportunity. Shortly, the Principal Design Engineer of the company in Phoenix contacted and verified my interest in a possible position at Nelipak, resulting in an interview. Two months after the first event I was hired for an industrial design internship at Nelipak.
I did not think this kind of snowball effect would happen, since I am not considered a social butterfly. However, I came to realize that it is worth attending these kinds of events that IDSA has to offer because they not only attract academics but also working professionals who represent companies. Therefore, I encourage young professionals to attend IDSA events. Even though the National ID Day coffee hour did not have a specific topic, this event connected me with various industry contacts."
Nelipak is a leader in the design, development and manufacturing of custom designed packaging for the medical device and pharmaceutical industries. The company operates from 10 production facilities worldwide, including in Phoenix, AZ, where Liu obtained her internship, and Venray, the Netherlands, where van Gool is currently based.
Q&A with Pieter van Gool, Innovation Manager - Europe at Nelipak
What value have you received from IDSA events and networking?
The ability to join engaging events with professionals and carefully selected speakers on a dedicated topic, and the sharing of different visions of industrial design methodologies and how they make an impact in the industry and/ or with users.
The sessions bring the latest technology to the table for discussions when it comes to the creating and making of products. During the engaging events, an interesting variety of attendees join: business professionals, young professionals and students, with different backgrounds in different industries, representing different states in the Americas and internationally. Engaging chats take place and room is given to meet and connect in person for future personal and business opportunities in an accessible way.
What does Shelby bring as a new hire?
Shelby just started at Nelipak and brings industrial design thinking to the table in Phoenix. She can now work for a global leader company that makes packaging to save lives.
Though in-person events will return, IDSA's virtual events have proven beneficial for industrial designers around the world to easily meet, share knowledge, make career connections and build communities online through IDSA's Chapters, Sections, Councils and Committees.
Here are a few more testimonials from attendees of recent IDSA virtual events:
Anna Rindos, attendee of IDC 2020: “I found the IDC to be incredibly inspiring. As a 24-hour Zoom event with speakers from around the world, it made me feel very connected to a global design community, especially during this very disconnected time. It was also a great opportunity to connect with design professionals, whom I’ve continued to have conversations with after the event.”
Heather Blaikie, attendee of IDSA's Getting It Made Deep Dive 2021: "IDSA's Getting It Made Deep Dive was more than time well spent! I appreciated how much real world, behind the scenes nitty-gritty was shared. Not just shiny end products. It was a great way to connect with fellow designers, while picking up some tips, tricks and expert advice."
Lafayette Doty, attendee of IDC 2020: “The IDC was refreshing and re-energized me for any upcoming projects and jobs. They highlighted designers from all over the world, which gave me a new perspective and approach to human centered design, healthcare design and education. I am excited to apply this knowledge further down the line.”