Much research has been conducted into the content of design curricula yet limited research has been undertaken into how early career design professionals view their undergraduate studies, and in turn if this experience adequately prepares them for entry into the design industry. Research often discusses industry expectations of design education in the context of a lack of satisfaction with the skills and knowledge of recent graduates; while design industry professionals cite the over-supply of poor quality graduates as undermining the sustainability of the industry. Yet there seems to be little engagement by industry professions into the actual content and nature of design curricula. This paper explores the relationship between product design curricula and the professional practice of design. The authors consult with early career product design professionals and the design industry employers to gain insight into both the perceptions and realities of contemporary design practice via a survey and a series of semi-structured interviews. The results of the paper provide a framework for academics to consider when developing design curricula within the UK.