help!!! which job should i pick?

I graduated a year ago and have had some experience in a small one man design firm. But now i have been offered two jobs, each with their own pros and cons.

One job is with company that manufactures and designs custom plastic blow molded bottles for beauty, healthcare and household products. They are VERY close to home, and I would be one of 2 designers on staff. It is a larger company of about 60 or so. The pay is pretty good, in the mid to upper 40’s. As well I would have the opportunity to learn a different and very powerful type of CAD software. Its not the most design conscious company, but feel I could have the opportunity to change that. I also like the idea of working with a larger company, with more people on staff.

The other is with a new one-man design firm. His work is more varied and probably a little more interesting. However it pays considerably less (mid 30’s, no benefits) and I would have to relocate as its a little too far to commute. And of course its a bit riskier…for instance if he loses a client or the new firm doesnt work out…i assume i could potentially get laid off.

I would like to work on my own projects on the side no matter what job i take, and relocating for the small firm would make it a bit harder, as i already have resources at home (i.e parents car, shop tools).

I dont think either choice will affect my career path too too much as Im rather young, early 20’s, and still have time to move around and try other jobs. But still want to make an informed choice.

So what sounds like the better OVERALL opportunity too you guys???

I would say go small and learn allot and get to be the most creative…as long as they pay you enough to live & party on.

I would strongly opt for the first option.
Wouldn´t even consider the second one.

The newly started fresh thinking one man show will falter within 6 month.
Or you will have to do lot´s of overtime to compensate the shortcommings of an unproven business model.

Doing design for a blow mold manufacturer might not look too tempting now, but it sounds like a rather good
option for me. You won´t be able to change them to “designmindedness”. The basic “design” aka style of the packages
will probably not be done there. If you are ready to learn a lot of new skills and want to work close to manufacturing
and engineering, as I would, this should be your road.
If you are more interested in “hot” “concepts” and can live on the verge of desaster try the second.
IF the founder of the new agency is an absolute genious it might work out also.

But always check YOUR bottom line.

My advice

Yours mo-i

Based on info provided Option 1 sounds like the best fit. Bringing ‘design sensibilities’ to a manufacturer can be an interesting challenge, but you would have another designer to partner with.
Don’t discount benefits - health insurance, 401k and VACATION!
Close to home also makes your money go farther, but moving away from home opens up your horizons and provides new perspective.
Access to more powerful software and the resources of 60 people could also help you with any work you may want to do on the side.
You indicate that you already have experience with a one man design firm, so you should know what to expect there. I would suspect longer hours, so you would likely have less opportunity to pursue extracurricular work.
You could always use Option 1 to negotiate higher compensation from the one man design firm, or take Option 1 and work freelance for Option 2 (don’t burn that bridge or relationship).

Good luck!

I think you really need to take the choice into context of your long term plan of what you really want to end up doing. Have a look at the following recent thread;

The ‘better paid’ job just sounds like structural packaging to me, which is cool but might end up limiting your opportunities afterwards. It’s not going to be ideal to go to an interview for your 3rd job in 2-4 year and say ‘I’ve never designed anything to be manufactured using injection molding’.

In my opinon, and this is only my opinion, you need a job where you’ll benefit from someone elses good experience-ie you need a mentor. So if you feel that the one-man shows work is good, and you feel he has a lot to offer you, then I’d take that. Money shouldn’t be the objective this early in the game.

It’s a nice position to be in though, at least you’ve got the choice to make!

overall, given what you’ve described about the positions, I’d take Option 1 if only for the stability and opportunity to get some practical manufacturing knowledge and idea of the inner workings of a company under your belt. Jobs like Option 2 can be interesting, but also unsstable, and there are always plenty of 1 man shops that need designer around so i’m sure you could find something comparable later on in your career to get a more broad, creative experience.

from my perspective pay at this point should not be the main deciding factor, but given a higher pay (and likely better benefits from Option 1 it just strengthen the appeal of the job in my opinion.

Plus, if you do have the chance to introduce design sensibilities to the company, who knows what could happen. There have been plenty of examples in the past of manufacturing oriented companies turing into design powerhouses once introduced to the “magic” of design and product!


I agree with Gorgeous. You are young and this is the time to take risks and work for low pay to see where it goes. You might want to work for a one man shop after 5 years at that bottle manufacturer, but by that time you will have car payments, maybe a house payment, and maybe a family… you won’t be able to take the pay cut to an unstable place. Now is the time.

You most likely won’t be able to freelance working for a small firm (you would be a direct competitor!) but you will learn HOW to freelance (as that is what this guy is doing but now on a larger scale).

In the end, do what you feel is best. I would go with number 1. There is time to go corporate cush later.

I would have to say that after working in a manufacturing company for a few years that it can be very difficult to change the way they think. You will not have a lot of opportunity to do you own thing. It will take you a few years to probably get to the position where you can do your own thing.

The choice is whether you want to get caught in the manufacturing world or take a chance on something new.

These kind of opportunities don’t come around all that often and there will always be the manufacturing world to fall back on.

You are still young take the chance on the one man design firm.

Just reference this:

As this relates to my own experience it’s kind of ironic. I graduated with an opportunity to work in a large corporate environment as a model maker earning 40+ starting. I didn’t like the social environment, it was the epitome of corporate, and besides I wanted to be a designer more than a model maker (I do love making models though). I was told they don’t allow employees to shift into other roles and that I would be on a set career path there which is complete hogwash. So I stuck to my guns, turned it down and worked 3 very different non-design jobs for a few years until I joined on with a one-man design shop earning in the low 30’s. It was not all it was cracked up to be. I learned alot about about attention to detail and what it takes to run your own show and we worked for some fun clients, but at 30k I was told it was a 40hr a week job and in the end I found my boss expecting me to put in the same hours he did, 60 - 80 a week.

So now, 5 years later, I work for a company that has several different social aspects, lots of fast and interesting projects, manufacturing, and cool people. I’d be making alot more if I’d signed on as a model maker 7 years ago, but I’d certainly be miserable and bored.

I won’t tell you which one to go for, you have to know for yourself. Each is a risk in my opinion, You have the risk to fail financially (for a while) and on the other hand you have the risk of un-happiness in your career. Never make the assumption that these 2 things are related to one another.