Develop the skills, ways of thinking and ethical attitude highly valued by employers and clients through study of the cultures and contexts of design.

The phenomenal growth of technologies has transformed the practice of design. Demand has grown for designers who understand the needs of users and can apply design thinking to all kinds of systems and processes. Design students develop a portfolio of work that shows creativity, originality, and problem-solving abilities. They can focus on animation and visual effects, communication design (including computational graphic design and advertising), fashion design technology (including high-performance materials and wearable electronic devices), industrial design, or media design (such as web development or game design). Students can also focus on cross-disciplinary areas such as interaction design (how people interact with technology and things) or design for social innovation, designing for the future, and researching social needs to design products, systems, and services.

Roles and career pathways

The type of design that a graduate starts out in can depend not only on the area of focus from their studies, but the skills they can evidence in their portfolio. Industrial design graduates may be more likely to work as a product or industrial designer. Media design graduates may work in video production or web design. However, because of the cross-disciplinary nature of their qualification, Design graduates will be adaptable and have a range of theoretical understandings and technical skills that they could bring to a diverse range of roles. Graduates can also be involved in their own entrepreneurial projects or engaged in a portfolio of roles from early in their career. Examples of roles include media designer, graphic designer, web designer, service designer, prototype designer, textile designer, product designer, or usability (UX) designer.

Graduates also move into roles that are not specifically design, but use the creative, lateral thinking, and technical skills that they bring to roles such as marketing and communications adviser, business development adviser, content developer, or learning media developer. Others may move into tertiary education roles tutoring in tertiary-level design programmes, or lecturing and research after further postgraduate study, usually to PhD level.

Completing a post-graduate diploma in secondary teaching (limited entry) may lead to roles teaching Technology in secondary schools. Design graduates can also complete a postgraduate diploma in primary school teaching (limited entry) and bring their creativity and organisational skills to working with younger students.

Where Design graduates work

Design graduates can work in consultancies, government, the not-for-profit sector, and companies across all industries such as manufacturing, architecture, engineering, agriculture, retail, or film. Recent Design graduates have worked for organisations such as:

Build relevant skills and experience

Volunteering or part-time work can help you gain experience designing in response to real-world problems, for example by helping a non-profit organisation set up a website. Making the most of on-campus guest lectures, exhibitions, and events, especially where prospective employers are presenting, can be a good way to find out about future work possibilities. Programmes such as Wellington Plus and Wellington International Leadership Programme (WILP) offer opportunities to gain diverse volunteer and leadership experience.

Make career connections

If you are a Design student or newly graduated practising designer, you can join the Designers Institute of NZ for networking, events, and professional development opportunities. Design Assembly also provides resources, information, and workshops for visual designers.

STUDiO, the Design and Architecture student association, holds regular social events such as talks by invited lecturers, design competitions, and workshops.

The Alumni as Mentors programme for final-year students also helps enhance your connections and employability while studying.

Graduate career stories

Zara Nathan smiles at the camera, the skyscrapers of Manhattan behind her.

Zara Nathan

Design introduced Zara to coding, animating, user interface design, and the user experience process, setting the stage for her career in UX/UI design.

Head and shoulders portrait of Sarah Ky smiling at the camera.

Sarah Ky

Conceptual and critical-thinking skills Sarah picked up in undergraduate and postgraduate Industrial Design have proven vital to her career in process design.