A lot of designers I meet worry about structuring their career in the “right way”. They obsess over which “industry vertical” to work in. They worry if this or that company is the right “next step”.
This was especially highlighted when I spoke at DBA Singapore recently about my work. It made me realize a lot of things that I’ve learned, I have learned in hindsight.
So here are some things I wish someone had told me while I was slogging out there in the design industry.
Don’t worry about some kind of overarching “narrative” in your career
It will make sense eventually (trust me).
Do what you love, learn new skills (even if they are not design related) and work with amazing people.
If you studied graphic design, don’t get too invested in the label of “graphic designer”.
Your career is not a straight up ladder (it’s a zigzag)
It’s a lot of detours, experiments, random events and luck!
Just have fun on the ride while you try to pay your rent.
If you need to learn a new skill, take that demotion if you can. That new and different skill is going to be invaluable to you in the future.
Failure is good
It makes you question and experiment more. It makes you leave your job and try something else. That’s amazing.
The more things you try the closer you are to finding the thing that is going to work for you and bring the story together (finally).
It doesn’t matter how cool the work is
You could be working for the biggest brands, the coolest clients, newest tech, the most funded startup. But it means nothing if the people suck. Work with the best people and teams. You will become a better designer.
Caring too much about the “what” you are working on is a rookie mistake.
It’s ok to quit your job in the first 3–4 months
No it doesn’t “look bad.” You tried something and it didn’t work. It’s ok!
The best time to quit a job that’s not working for you is in the first 6 months. Don’t stay and just make it worse for yourself and the team you are working with.
Go look for something better for yourself.
Thank you for reading!
What did you learn from your design career? Does your design career make sense? Let me know in the comments :)
This post was originally published on Bytes of Candy in October 2017.