James Yates, creative product design engineer

James became a creative product design engineer at HORIBA last October (2012). A versatile role, he’s found himself working with product R&D and marketing as well as working on visualisations for large scale projects.

James Yates “This variety keeps the work exciting and provides a great opportunity to gain valued experience in multiple departments,” he says.

Educational history

Throughout school, James had an interest in art and design, and particularly enjoyed the hands on approach with model making and prototypes while studying product design at A level. He continued to develop his skills throughout his studies at Bournemouth University, where he studied industrial design.

“The course was highly creative and promoted independence in forward thinking whilst ensuring we learned skills in multiple design sectors such as product, interior, creative architecture, CAD, graphics, manufacture, and user centred design. It was this versatile aspect of the course that provided opportunities since graduating to venture into various design fields. To date, I have worked as a point of sale designer, interior visualiser, graphic designer and product stylist in both freelance and permanent positions,” he says.

Trying to find a graduate job

James has applied for hundreds of jobs online since graduating, many of which he heard no reply.

“Any graduate will tell you it’s not easy to find a job out there. Graduate jobs are hugely outnumbered by the number of graduates, which has made job-seeking processes tough and demotivating. I have found it’s far better getting in contact with people directly and enquiring about opportunities. Networking is the key to landing a position,” he explains.

“I found just getting your foot through the door is the hardest part. I started with HORIBA working as a handyman on a contract basis and assisting in warehouses. Through word of mouth within the company, I got the opportunity to create some design visuals for big projects, initially as a freelancer doing contract design work for HORIBA and other companies.

“If the jobs are not out there, give yourself a job. Contracting is a great way of gaining experience as well as contacts for job recommendations. It’s worked for me, and it led to me being offered my current full time position at HORIBA.”

Job expectations

Having contracted with HORIBA before, James had relatively clear expectations of what the work would be like, so he didn’t feel like the ‘new guy’.

“I have been lucky enough to utilise a lot of my skills, and my design work has gone through production for clients including leading car manufacturers. Expectations from university have changed because it’s a step into the big wide world and not everything can be so creative driven. You have to understand the business aspects and work within budgets,” he notes.

What’s life like as a working engineer?

James considers life as a working engineer ‘interesting’.

“It is a career where your mind is always worked, and you are constantly gaining knowledge. It can be tough with deadlines to meet, and your work is constantly under review. Visual work, for example, is judged instantly so you never want to disappoint,” he explains.

“The open creativity is the best aspect of my job. I discuss with supervisors the intended outcomes of projects, but essentially it is my input that creates the design, which can result in a great deal of satisfaction.

“The hardest aspect is working under the pressure of time restraints. It can also be challenging to work in (or for) numerous departments, and prioritising work so that everyone is satisfied. “

His advice to those entering the workplace?

“Just enjoy it. Have a positive attitude to your work, and make the most of any experience that comes your way. It can open many doors.”