I'm an aspiring designer and currently finishing grad program from one of the best universities in US and Bay Area. Most the my colleagues (including myself) who are focusing on HCI/UX in their grad studies are having trouble finding jobs. Its not that we have bad profiles (or even portfolios). We've worked on several of exciting projects and some hard UX problems. Number of us have publications in prestigious conferences like CHI/UIST/ CSCW etc. Yet, most of us are finding it hard to land a job in the areas of UX/HCI/IxD. Also, we are not straight out of school. We are in a grad school and we've worked for couple of years in lot of different roles like engineer, content strategist, editor, graphic designer etc. People tell us that UX folks are in high demand (heck, Quora had an epic discussion on this topic). Still, we feel nobody wants to hire right out of college designers. For example, I have background in front-end engineering and worked couple of years. Yet, whenever I apply to any jobs, following are the reasons I get in rejection:
Solid portfolio but:
Not enough visual design experince
We want someone with strong Information Architecture work
No service design
Too little of mobile UX experience
A friend of mine worked as a graphic desginer for top print agency for almost 3 years and she always gets following responses:
Well, we want someone who is proficient in HTML/CSS
We are looking designer who can build their stuff
No user research background
I totally understand that every UX professional *has* to be master of everything from visual design to user experience, content strategy to information architecture, interaction design to service design. Its not an easy field. But do you honestly want *every* skill in a new grad? Even if you find all these skills in experienced designer; I bet he/she will be a rockstar. Yet most of the companies (currently hiring designers) want to hire such rockstars? Are there enough rockstars first of all? But everyone wants to know why there is stunningly short supply of designers everywhere (not just valley btw).
Compare this to engineering. Everyone wants to hire new grads. As I said, I've worked as an engineer and hired some new grads too. None of the new grads were good enough when compared to experienced engineers at first. Some of them were good at front-end stuff or some really good at back-end work. But they were hardly a complete software engineer that everyone wants to hire. Actually, most of the promising new grads in engineering are really good at algorithms and hardly know one or two programming languages. Yet every single company hires them and *trains* them in number of programming languages. There is learning curve of few months. But the sheer raw talent they bring is worth the hassle.
Of course, it would be foolish to compare engieering to UX given the sheer number of oppportunities. But in tech industry, design is getting its rightful place next to engineering. Designers play important role in every product. So why design (as a field) does not follow engineerng.
Its not a rant. Its a genuine question to this wonderful design community.
P.S. its not entirely true in reality as only handful of biggies hire new grads, right out of college. But majority wants experinced rockstars