The MDes prepares students to work in creative and technical roles designing products, services, experiences, and environments. The diversity of our student body is mirrored in the exciting and varied professional roles our graduates step into beyond the program. Alongside that tremendous richness in career trajectories, our students and graduates are all connected by a deep desire to design with humans and the planet at the center of their work, and a passion for leveraging technology to improve lives.
Our program equips students not just for the jobs of today, but also careers of the future. As the world sees rapid change enabled by emerging technologies, our graduates are expected to work in an ever-expanding set of roles at the intersection of design, technology, and social impact.
This page provides some data on MDes alumni career outcomes, a look at how our dedicated staff provide programs and services to support students and alumni at every step of their career journeys, as well as some characteristics that make our program a great place to launch, pivot, or supercharge your career.
From designing immersive experiences at world-renowned design studios to developing digital products at some of the world’s largest enterprises, our alumni are making a global impact across industries. Here is a selection of roles MDes alumni are working in:
- Designer @ Tellart
- Immersive Experience Designer @ Rock Paper Reality
- Design Analyst @ McKinsey
- Head of Product Design @ Poised
- Designer @ IBM
- User Experience Interaction Designer @ Google
- Product Designer @ Uber
- Head of Design Innovation @ Schoolab
- Digital Insight Product Innovator @ Nike
- XR Designer @ Accenture
- Co-founder, CEO @ milvia
- Materials R&D @ Bilio
- Design Engineer @ 10xBeta
- Product Manager @ Mushroom.gg
- Founder, AR/XR Designer @ BroadAR
- Product Design Manager @ Speechlab
- Digital Sculptor @ General Motors
- Mechatronics Engineer @ Pictorus
Benchmarked against the most comprehensive national data on career outcomes for masters levels students in the US from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, our MDes graduates have higher rates of job placement 6 months after graduation and are earning more on average. Below is some summary data for our two graduated cohorts (up to date as of October 2023).
|Career Outcomes Summary Data|
|Accepted offer before graduation (%)*||44%|
|Accepted offer w/in 6 mo. after graduation (%)||88%|
|Median base salary**||$122,500|
|Mean base salary||$114,608|
|Leadership roles||1 out of 4 graduates|
* Knowledge rate of roles our students are working in is 91%
**Knowledge rate of mean and median base salary for graduates is 45%
Our graduates are working at companies of all sizes, with a little over a third of all alumni at large enterprise companies, about a third at startups, and the rest at small to medium size businesses, as shown in the table below.
|Small-sized business (0-100 employees)||13.0%|
|Medium-sized business (101-999 employees)||8.7%|
|Large enterprise (>1,000 employees)||41.3%|
MDes Fall 2022
Designer at Tellart
The MDes influenced my career greatly; I came in thinking I wanted to work in one specific space and then my mind was opened up to a whole other world. I wasn’t too aware of the work happening at the intersection of the tangible and the digital before I came to the MDes, but I was incredibly drawn to this space the more I was exposed to projects, writings, and readings through my core classes and at Cal at large. Slow technology, tangible interaction design, and emotionally durable design were at the edges of my work and interest for years, and the MDes was able to put them into focus for me. This eventually led to my interest in working in immersive media and immersive interaction design, as it combines storytelling, technology, speculative futures, and tangible experiences. I never would have thought I’d end up working in this area, but I’m so glad my path led me where I am now.
MDes Fall 2022
Innovation Designer at IBM
Being part of the MDes program strengthened my critical thinking as a designer. Being able to apply these skills in real life settings and to be able to think about the implications of technology and how it can be used to help but also hurt people, is something I use in my day to day life as an Innovation Designer at IBM. Right now, I work mostly in design strategy, while continuing to dabble in product design. Design strategy was a field I knew little about, but was exposed to after taking Design Frameworks as part of MDes core curriculum. MDes allowed me to explore speculative design throughout all my coursework, inspiring me to continue to create thought provoking pieces that incorporate technology in my personal life.
MDes Spring 2022
Design Analyst at McKinsey & Company
My experience in the MDes program at Berkeley was instrumental in preparing me for my role as a design consultant at McKinsey. The opportunity to interact and have 1:1 relationships with professors, guest lecturers, visiting industry professionals and career coaches helped me build a strong network of mentors who would provide insights and regular guidance on how to prepare and navigate my career choices. In addition, having a diverse cohort and programs interdisciplinary approach played a big part in developing a holistic perspective on how design interacts with various fields like tech, business and identify my spike.
MDes Spring 2022
Material R&D at Bilio
MDes prepared me for working in Material R&D and project management by developing my soft skills around material sourcing and time management, as well as equipping me with a better understanding of the material processes outside of textiles. I put this into practice at Bilio through managing different programs and sourcing materials. The MDes community taught me the value of cross-collaboration across fields and how that enhances the design process and product. In my current role I work across a variety of fields and translate different design ideas, concepts, and materials across practices.
Career Development Resources
The MDes Director of Career Development, Stephanie Bianco, is committed to supporting you professionally in the program and beyond. She offers a range of programming and services to fuel your career growth. Here’s a high-level overview of the support she provides to MDes students and alumni:
- One-on-one unlimited career coaching sessions
- Our students and alumni get unlimited, lifetime career support through one-on-one coaching sessions with Stephanie Bianco and career coach Arya Zarrinkelk, offered both in-person and virtually.
- Rich offering of design industry engagements
- Every year we host a range of exciting industry engagements from Career Treks to Bay Area companies to hosting panels, portfolio review nights, alumni events and more right here in Jacobs Hall.
- Dedicated mentors
- Career development workshops
- We offer career development workshops across a wide range of topics to help MDes’ians at every stage of their job search, from tailoring your resume to negotiating a job offer.
- Slack access for life
- Our MDes Slack workspace is a vibrant hub for sharing job opportunities, events, resources, and community news. Our students and alumni stay connected to the community through lifetime access to this platform.
- Professional development funds
- The MDes program provides up to $500 per student to engage in professional development activities, such as attending conferences, participating in competitions, obtaining a certificate, etc.
Design@Large: An Immersive Professional Development Experience
An important avenue for professional development in the MDes program is students’ participation in Design@Large during the summer between their second and third semesters. Design@Large is a professional development experience that empowers all MDes students to explore potential career directions and gain important professional skills while they are pursuing the degree. Students identify and engage in an immersive experience outside of an MDes course or studio and apply what they have learned in a broader context, whether that’s through an internship, academic research, an independent project, a new start-up, or working in the public sector. For more information and to see examples of students’ experiences, please visit our dedicated Design@Large page.