At how many different agencies/companies did you work until you found a job you really like? What advice would you give to people which have not found a job they love?
Seldom will you simply find a job you really like. In my experience, jobs (and my feelings about them) change over time. What might start off as a promising position on a fun team might give way to frustration and tension as the team, work, or environment changes.
Likewise, what might at first seem to be a lackluster situation will often, with some personal investment, grow to be a really unique and rewarding opportunity.
Put your whole self into every job you have, and you'll find that it's much less about the title, benefits, team, or management — it's mostly about how willing you are to make it work.
I've been working as a designer since I graduated college in 2014 and I've bounced from 4 jobs since then before I landed at my current gig (art director at an agency). Simply put, I found myself unwilling to settle with a role and when I found myself unhappy or within the reach of better opportunities, I pursued them.
Recently I left a large Fortune 50 corporation as a UX designer for my current role at a small agency and while the step down was mind boggling to some, after leaving a number of roles for (perceived) better opportunities, I realized that corporate in-house was NOT for me. I learned a lot, saved my work to my own machine, and moved on.
Bottom line is, what's important is your own happiness AND your persistence at creating new, engaging work, no matter your day job. What happens to many designers who are happy OR unhappy with their role, is they get comfy in their 9-to-5 gig and cease to keep making in their after hours. Then, they realize they want to move on to another company, but have to work overtime to churn out competitive work (aside from their day job) to keep up with designers who have been doing that all along.
Last thing: NEVER turn down an offer for a better opportunity under the assumption that your company "needs you". Late last year I turned down an unsolicited job offer at a great national IT Consulting firm for a UX designer role because I thought Big Fortune 50 Corporation needed me.... Needless to say, Big Fortune 50 Corporation rolled out layoffs the very next month (which I narrowly avoided) and the interested company filled their role with someone else who was willing to leave their current post.
TLDR; Doing what you love and having fun is important in this industry, your happiness is within your control, NEVER STOP MAKING STUFF, and don't think you owe anything to your current employer aside from your very best effort.
I worked in several studios sometimes for a few months on contract, sometimes for a year or more....(this was back in the 90's).
During my college years, I lived in a roominghouse for a time with a number of other students...one of which was studying computer engineering. We got to be great friends for the time we lived together.
fast-forward 7 years.
I'd been working for an Ad agency for 2 years, and was somewhat happy, but not overly. I was recently married, and when i got home from work, my wife mentioned that I'd gotten a call from an old friend...it had been so long, I barely recalled the guys name...then suddenly i remembered my old housemate..
In the interim years, he'd gone on to be a developer, and had just started at a new consultancy, and they were looking for an Art Director...he asked if I was interested...
I took the meeting, just out of curiosity....and that was in 1999....
it's now 2016, and I'm still with the same crew....as Creative Director. we've had our ups and downs, been bought and sold a few times...but the core of us have remained, and are doing quite well....
all of that, from just being a good buddy in college.
-so just a thought to you younger folks out there..
you NEVER know who down the road is going to be the person that changes your life forever. Be decent, be cool, be hardworking and give a good impression.... I'll forever be thankful to that guy.... when asked about designers, he remembered his little geeky designer buddy from the college days, and looked me up....after 7 years....
I was unhappy at my agency job for a variety of reasons; the main ones being our handling of clients and poor internal processes. We were a small agency but had a corporate-style structure where even though we had identified multiple issues with the our tools and workflows, management refused to allow us to make the changes that were necessary. We were still using Adobe CS4, if that tells you anything.
After speaking with friends at various other agencies, they all shared similar frustrations. Out-of-touch management, poor client relations, never-ending projects, etc. These seem to be problems that plague most agencies for whatever reason.
My solution: go freelance. This certainly isn't going to be the answer to everyone's problems. But for me now, if I'm frustrated with the way a project is going, or there's a specific tool that I hate using, I'm the only one to blame. I can recognize the problem, devise a solution, and implement it right away. I can go after the clients I want to work with and if a project doesn't go well, I don't have to work with them anymore. Simple as that.
So like I said, it's not going to be the solution for everyone. But if you're feeling like you can't find your dream job, maybe you should stop looking and just create it yourself. I know I'm much happier now that I did.
Just after graduation, I joined a very big agency, I loved the work, very creative and I had a lot of time to think/work on concept but I only stayed there for 1 year before quitting. Management was horrible and my values were definetely not aligned with the agency's vision.
I then joined a small agency, everything went really well for 2 years and started to deteriorate because they started to care more about profit than anything else. I struggled for the next 2 years looking for something else and it hit me: I could not find anything else because I didn't want to be an employee anymore. I gave my notice last month and will start my own design business.
I would advise to do many short internships as much as possible for the people you want to work with, discover company culture, management, people and environment and see if it suits your lifestyle. While working, find time to keep on doing side projects that you can show in your portfolio.
Last: don't settle for a job if you know it's going to be boring, lot of my designers friends did. Now they are miserable and stuck to their well paying 9-5 job.
This is tricky. Sometimes the best job you'll ever have is absolutely awful for your personal/family life. Sometimes the most mediocre of jobs is the absolute best for your personal/family life.
This gets a bit "rambly" now...
If your goal is only the job, my advice would be to keep at it and - especially early on - never shun opportunities. Being real, this is really most important for designers who aren't in that upper 10%. There will always be people who have talent or connections that land them in an ideal spot every time. You know if you are one of these or not. For the rest of us, you've got to grind and prove your mettle.
By this I mean, I've seen young designers get too picky about what they do... the kind of work or who the employer is. They float around complaining about the work, but not taking every opportunity to soak up anything and everything like a sponge. It's those learning experiences that over time really help you get into your ideal role... because you've been in the trenches and understand a bigger picture of the industry.
You have to go for what you want... and work for it. If I were you, I would write down what job you think is the dream job for you 5 years from today. Now, be real with yourself and write down the things you need to work on to get your skill set to that level. Look beyond design. Is it diving into user psychology, communication skills, etc. Is it traveling more and having more inspiration and experience to draw upon? Now, choose roles that will help you learn/grow in a way that will get you where you want. It's about networking, hard work, and seeing things bigger picture.