10 tips for where to work as a designer, depending on the ambition


10 tips for where to work as a designer, depending on the ambition

Translation of the article “Where Should You Work as a Designer? 10 Things to Consider ”by Carrie Cousins ​​and posted on the designshack blog.

Knowing that you want to devote the rest of your life to design, the first step in this direction is very important and it is important to get it right. If you are still studying or are already looking for a job, take 5 minutes of your time to choose the type of employment that suits you best.

How to unequivocally understand in what atmosphere it is better for you to work? At different moments in my life, I would give different answers. Young, impulsive and emotional designers always need a “stickman” to channel their ardor, teach them how to work with a team, and help them grow professionally.

More experienced ones may notice that the less pressure and control they experience, the more productive and quality their work becomes, and the more they want to control projects on their own.

Below are 10 questions you might answer and follow my advice by becoming a freelancer, employee, part of a team, or part of something bigger!


1. I’m just getting started and I don’t know much

If you are a beginner but have a background in creativity, teamwork is your best bet. You can try to get a job in any studio that has vacancies in order to “test” yourself and your skills: will you cope with the proposed job or not.

But do not forget that you are looking for a job to continue your studies, so the company must have the capabilities and resources for your training, because if no one teaches you, working with real projects can jeopardize your reputation and the reputation of the company.

Ask about this at an interview, do not hide something from HR specialists – your fellow designers will understand what’s what in a day.

The best choice: design department in a large company.

2. I find it difficult to focus and move in one direction

Admit it. It can be very difficult to focus on solving a problem and you need people to help you stay focused and stay on course. This is completely normal and, believe me, there are a lot of such people.

Knowing and understanding that somewhere nearby there is a person or a team that will not let you start hovering in the clouds, but will return you to the ground is a great way to work productively. Working in a large team, where each participant performs his task and many depend on each other, motivates him to focus and do his part of the work perfectly.

The best choice: large firm and strong manager.

3. I have never loved and will not love deadlines.

Some designers are intimidated by deadlines, while others, on the contrary, are amused. What type are you?

Very often, a mountain of urgent work falls on the shoulders of a designer due to the appearance of a new major project. Luckily for you, rush work is an integral part of any design profession, so don’t get discouraged. And you should come to terms with this: to estimate how much time is left, and how much work and calculate the maximum possible feasible result – this is skill.

The best choice: startup, freelance, large firm with a large staff of designers

4. I love being part of a team

If your best friends are your colleagues and you want it to be, then almost the only option is a startup. Only he will allow you to spend long work (and after-work) hours together discussing your project.

Even large firms often have their own “design get-together”, whose members like to linger after work and talk about design topics and just chat.

The main thing to remember is to separate work and personal relationships as much as possible.

The best choice: startup or large company.

5. I want to work whenever I want

Some people are totally unhappy with working 9 hours a day and 5 days a week. Unfortunately, not every job can satisfy these demands.

If you want to work the way you want or when you have a creative mind, then a freelance career is the surest way (another option is remote work on a contract with an hourly pay for the company).

Best choice: Freelance.

6. I want to see the results of my work … everywhere!

It’s hard to find a designer without an ego. Think about it: it turns you on when you hear or see the results of your work, and even if everyone admires it, doesn’t it?

Well, if that’s your goal – to see your work everywhere – you need to grow. Grow to the level of working with large clients and orders.

The best choice: large firm.

7. I want to do what I believe in

Perhaps catching the admiring glances of people looking at your work is not what you strive for, but you firmly believe that your style is unique and the works you create are the best in your field? And in addition, do you have enough self-motivation and skills to work without a team and constant control?

Many start-ups, small companies and non-profit organizations very often need a “multi-employee” – a person who would skillfully combine a designer and, say, a marketer or a PR specialist. But the job can actually be very well paid if what you do is really your life’s work. In such companies, you can also often attend specialized events to gain additional experience, because there is no one else to study design besides you. And this is a big plus.

The best choice: small firm or startup.

8. I am independent and have no difficulty working alone.

Many designers like to think that they can work alone. This happens every time the art director submits edits or a more experienced colleague advises to redo something. But do you really have enough independence and organization for this?

Many start-ups and small firms, where only a couple of people work and everyone is busy with their own business, need such employees who will themselves monitor their work schedule, solve tasks and set themselves time intervals and fit into them.

If you have a penchant for online cats and procrastination, I think this is not the best choice. a lot will be expected of you as the only specialist in your field whose work no one else can do.

As in the case of freelancing, you will work alone, but not physically – there will be no people around who would understand and share your views on things, would help with an idea or appreciate the work from a design point of view. If you are willing to go for it, your choice is a small company.

The best choice: small firm or startup.

9. There is nothing better than living in a metropolis

If you do not see your life without noisy streets, for example, New York, London or Los Angeles, your only way is a large company (do not forget that you can easily live in these cities, working as a freelancer).

In megacities, businesses gain access to resources, clients, and talent. Plus, these cities are media capitals where most of the design content produced is consumed by their residents.

The best choice: large firm or freelance.

10. I am quite ready to do only part of the work on the project.

Are you an average executive designer or a perfectionist designer who wants to be on a project from start to finish, overseeing every stage of the work? If you can say unequivocally that you are ready to do any work on a project, turn it in and take on the next one, a job in a large firm can be a good option.

In large design teams, the entire task is broken down into many small ones, each of which must be completed by one person. You get your part done, hand it over to a superior colleague, and move on to the next part of this or another project. You have to accept that you only slightly affect the overall result and cannot control the entire project on your own.

You also need to be prepared that you will transfer your work to the next team member, who will complete and redo it, so much so that nothing may remain from your efforts. This may seem particularly cruel to novice designers, but this is the case in large projects.

The best choice: large firm.


Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of job opportunities for a designer in the modern world, but no one can think of an unequivocal piece of advice that will help you determine how you should work.

Assess your current lifestyle, imagine what an ideal job would look like, how you would like to spend your daytime and weekend time.

Do not think that having made the wrong choice of a work schedule, you cannot change anything – everything is in your hands!

Cover photo and article: ShutterStock

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