The summer semester has just ended and as I evaluated projects and filed my final grades a student asked me about carreers in Web design. I thought my advice was worth repeating:
“The internet is a growing field still in it’s infancy, or at least its toddler years. The opportunities exist. The way I see it there are two paths to choose from ahead of you. There are opportunities and rewards down each however there are also difficulties.
Working inside an agency, design firm, or company is the easier of the two. The jobs are out there. However you will have to pay some dues. You’ll enter on the bottom rung and have to climb. That can take time. The advantages of this path are stability and at least the illusion of security. The downside is starting at the bottom, having to rise in the ranks, having to adapt to the design sensibilities of others, and perhaps a ceiling that you’ll hit eventually. There are plenty of jobs out there but there’s also a lot of competition. You just have to be sharper and present yourself better than the others.
The other path is the one I’m walking and it’s harder however the potential rewards are far greater. That’s freelancing and/or starting your own company. On this path your only limitations are those you impose on yourself. However this way leads to anxiety, longer hours, and not even the illusion of security. On the plus side it leads to freedom and personal satisfaction. The rewards can be huge.
So. No easy answers. Do I think you have a shot? Yeah, yeah I do. I think you have the sensibility for this type of work. Will it be easy? No. No it won’t. No matter what your decision there’s a good chance that somewhere in the future one night at four in the morning you’ll be cursing me. However there’s an equal chance that you’ll be sitting on the beach watching the sunset and will lift your glass and toast me. This is not an easy life, but if there’s one thing that I’ve learned it’s that life isn’t meant to be easy. It’s meant to accomplish something you love and make a difference in people’s lives.
And that’s where both paths lead.”