NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Q:I'll be graduating design school in January. My desire is to create a line I can place in stores.

I'm currently looking for design jobs I qualify for...I'm also just thinking of connecting with a showroom and making my way individually. I'm confident of my skills and also realize it's brutal out there. How do you think I can make my way without getting crushed by competition on every level?


While the design world is completely foreign to me, I'm assuming it is much like any other highly competitive, creative profession. If you decide to become an independent designer (now or in the future) this will be your reality. You sound like you understand this intellectually.

That is the easy part.

Having the "knowledge" that doors will be slammed in your face and actually having them slammed repeatedly, are two vastly different experiences.

I think it's obvious that you will keep designing. You've already invested a good deal of time and money in this pursuit. The fact is you're young and this is the time to take chances.

However, I reject the notion that this prevents you from working at a design firm simultaneously. In fact, the two complement one another. Working for a large design firm wouldn't be a hindrance to your professional development. It's an introduction to all the elements you will encounter in your field.

Working for a firm can be an immense educational asset as you make your way!

It will seem simpler if you minimize "all or nothing" thinking. It isn't necessarily about being an independent designer versus working with others. It's more a balance of the pragmatic aspects of becoming a more seasoned professional.

Let's face it, when you leave an academic setting and actually earn money working within the industry, you will begin a whole new education.

Benefits to working with experienced professionals:

  • Finding mentors to help champion your design line and provide you with unique insights with which to navigate this new terrain.
  • Creating and growing your "binder" or "book" of like-minded designers, producers, suppliers and clients; not only a network of peers to cheer you on, but a supportive group of working professionals.
  • Make money rather than just spend; giving you financial resources, not only for your lifestyle, but also to continue your independent design work.

Above all, never be ruled by fear.

You've already chosen the challenging "road less traveled." Just remember you're equipped with the excellent education, talent and guts to make your mark!

Have confidence that you will be able to define your future as you wish, although you can be sure it may take time and sacrifice.

Let's see what happens! Thanks for the question.

As always, please send questions and comments to ASK NOAH at

. Have a profitable and peaceful week.


This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Noah Kass is a psychotherapist specializing in addiction, relationship issues and work stressors. He has been Clinical Director at The Dunes: East Hampton and Realization Center in Union Square. Mr. Kass was a frequent guest on MSNBC's "The Dylan Ratigan Show," featured in a segment called "Kass' Couch" and regularly blogs for The Huffington Post.