“If you start with an in-house position, it will be almost impossible to later obtain an agency position.” After finding out that I was applying to both in-house and agency jobs, the agency owner I was interviewing with lectured me on being careful about which I chose. I was fresh out of college, becoming a little desperate for a job and interviewing at both types of positions. I desperately wanted to be an agency designer and his place was epically cool. They created advertising for well-known brands, won numerous awards, and were recognized in the area for their design.
I ended up taking an in-house position - not because I thought it was more glamorous or because I thought it was a great job, but because I needed rent money and it was my only real offer at the time.
I’ll give him credit, because he was partially right. After some time, I was ready to move on from that in-house job. Things began to get stale for me - I stopped learning and being challenged at my job and as much as I pushed for change, the company was never receptive. The only part of my day that kept me sane were the side projects I worked on at night or over weekends. They kept me energized about design and continued to fuel my learning and passion for building.
I knew at the time that I had a steady pay check and while not being challenged was a terrible feeling, I wanted to wait until I found a job I really loved before I made the decision to leave my current one. I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice by jumping at the first offer I had. After redesigning my portfolio, I applied to a small product consultancy, and I was pretty sure it was exactly what I wanted. Designers using HTML & CSS, communicating their design decisions directly to the client - they even had Friday lunches.
I was hopeful. I was excited. And I never heard back.
Time passed and I applied to other companies, completed some interviews, and even had an offer, but nothing ever felt right. In that time, that consultancy opened up another designer position. I sent in my portfolio again, less hopeful than the first time, but this time they got back with me. I began that job six years ago, and I’ve been challenged every day since.
I’ve seen that consultancy go from 13 people in a small office in Boston to over 100 people in 10 offices around the world. Mind blown. I’ve had the opportunity to grow with the company as well, being challenged throughout my entire journey. I’ve gone from never having used git or designing in a Rails app to working in Vim and Terminal, all the while figuring out how to build an app that solves a problem for people. I’ve seen my industry go from static mockups to responsive design, as the very first iPad was released a month after I started. I’ve seen and been a part of an open source community that has rapidly changed how we think about CSS. I’ve gone from a Designer to a Managing Director, opening an office in a new city, to Chief Design Officer, supporting and leading a stellar design team. It’s been a constant challenge and privilege to be part of such a great team. Ever since I took that very first step through the door of our then 3rd floor office in Boston, I’ve never stopped growing as a designer, leader, and person.
I can’t wait to see what the next six years brings.