04.30.15
Bonnie Siegler | Dear Bonnie

Dear Bonnie: Indecisive in Detroit

Dear Bonnie,

My first job right out of school was great. I was part of a small in-house design team at a big company, so I had a close-knit group, but worked in an exciting, busy environment. I left that job to try my hand at freelancing, which I've been doing for the past year. I love it, but I really miss working in a team and have been applying for full-time jobs. 

I've been extremely lucky and have two amazing offers. I know this isn't a terrible position to be in, but I'm stressing about the decision! One job is at a bigger design firm/agency, the other is in a small, boutique studio. My first job definitely spoiled me by giving me the best of both worlds, and now I don't know which environment I'd get more out of and be better suited for. What do you think I should do?

Indecisive in Detroit

Dear I.D.,

Congratulations on your career so far! Getting different kinds of experience right out of the gate is a great thing. It’s like trying on lots of different uniforms until you find the one that fits you best. And you may very well be surprised by what you find. No words of advice can replace first hand experiences.

Broadly speaking, bigger studios are great because they can handle larger projects and you can always find someone to brainstorm with or at least someone to agree with you, but you usually have to endure a fair amount of office politics. Some people thrive on navigating these waters, while for others, the more straightforward, everyone-does-everything approach keeps them more focused and productive. Also, in a smaller studio, a younger designer will definitely have more access to the entire process.

There is no right answer to this question, which thankfully means there is no wrong answer either. You should say yes to the place that inexplicably “feels” like a better fit. Were you just a little more excited when one of the offers came in? That’s the one for you. The other place isn't going anywhere. If the job you take doesn’t work out, or even if it does, one day you can call the other place and tell them you’d love to see if they have a spot for your more experienced self.

I faced a similar decision not too long ago when I was offered the opportunity to be a partner at an internationally well-known design firm. I ended up happily sticking with my own "small boutique studio,” but I know how stressful these huge life decisions can feel. It's worth picturing yourself in the movie version of both jobs and then deciding which role (and set and supporting cast) you prefer. In the end, I am a firm believer in going with your gut. You know yourself and your heart better than anyone, so trust your instincts.

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