Over the last year, I have learned a lot about what it means to be an independent worker. Mostly it means that you are never satisfied with the project you are on, and that you are continuously looking for new challenges to sink your teeth into. During this past year, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on what types of challenges I want to take on, and have talked to others about this topic at length. It feels like, as a design community, we are always looking for the same big challenges. Working for ABC because they did this campaign, working for XYZ because they did this talk at this conference, working with DEF because only the best designers work there. Talking with my peer review group a couple of weeks ago I found myself asking, are we a profession that is obsessed with reputation? We are always talking about innovation and creativity, yet the majority of us want to work at ABC for the same reasons. How, then, do we expect to foster the principles of change that we all speak of?
What am I trying to get at? I’m asking you as design professionals to tell me the advantages that you see working for the big guys? What products have they produced that are more fun & challenging that Joe Smoe’s website start up? For me, I’m really beginning to think how much of it is what these companies/agencies produce and how much is just for the reputation that they have? We follow these guys like they’re rockstars and we’re the groupies… “John from DEF is speaking at yadda yadda (some UX designer faints from excitement)”, but how different is the work that you are or could be doing for someone that can’t afford to hire DEF? Isn’t it time for our community to expand beyond the big names, isn’t it time for us to start to create different big names and great ideas??
All this being said I know that we are all doing really great work that is creative and helpful in our careers, but my question is would you trade all that work to go to a giant agency? And if so, is it because you will learn more & solve great problems, or is it because of their reputation? I’m definitely starting to lean the other way myself, but that’s not to say I’m not also guilty of being a groupie. What it means is I’ve start asking myself these questions and determining where I want my career to go, and what types of challenges I want to entertain in my future.
What are your thoughts? I would love to hear them!