Would you leave ID for this job?

Hi all, I’m in desperate need for advice on this one.

Right now I have a descent NPD job that involves every aspect of product development from pre-BC research, user studies, concept, ID, light engineering, packaging, POS, project management etc. The pay is above average, as is paid vacation. No overtime, very flexible. I don’t dread mondays, this IS my comfort zone.

So suddenly almost out of nowhere I get offered a job in the offshore industry. Think oil rigs, but renewable energy. The pay is more than double that I have now. The job itself is concept development, but not the usual ID problem solving and thinking about the user and brand. Rather “how do we repair/make a crane and ship/install it in 2 days”.

On one hand - how can I pass up this salary? I could climb the ladder my whole career and not reach that point. Or I could make 6-figures USD before I’m 30 y.o. The job itself could be interesting, it’s exciting to work on pioneering technology of this magnitude. But on the other hand - I’m not sure how passionate I would feel about it all once the novelty factor wears off. It sounds exciting to take a helicopter to work, but will it in 6 month?

I’m pretty much decided that it’s an opportunity I cannot pass up, or I will regret it forever. But my question is, do you think it could be beneficial to my ID career when I decide to go back to it, or will it do harm?

I know everyone’s situation and priorities are different, but if you were offered this opportunity - what would you do? Any thoughts are welcome!

You have answered your own question. Experiences are always beneficial to your career, also with the loot you could do your own start up or something.

I’d say do it - you already sound like you’d regret not taking it. ID will still be around when you get back, and this could lead to an entire new career path that you would have never seen otherwise.

Would you leave ID for this job?

I would take the opportunity, sounds like a great experience to have.

You watch Mad Men at all? Take Layne’s advice. Take the money. Seriously.

“A man who has risked his life knows that careers are worthless and a man who won’t risk his career has a worthless life.”

I heard that this morning and I don’t know if it’s true but it’s a kick in the bum.

Wow. Inspiring post, Garrett. Very true.

To play devil’s advocate, I personally would seriously consider the following:

  1. I’m guessing the pay is double for a reason. Try to find out those reasons because those will be the issues you will be living with every day.

  2. Working on an oil rig type thing would not fun after a week I would guess, being locked on a tiny metal island with a bunch of people…

  3. Yes, it is a unique experience, but how long will it last? Once the project is completed does the job evaporate? Going back to ID you will likely be where you are now in terms of salary. The most likely way you are going to keep the high salary is to do similar jobs.

Personally, I have never chased money. I’ve chased happiness, fulfillment, variety, and excitement… and the money certainly has followed through negotiation and appreciation. If the major reason you are taking this position is money, you may find yourself not happy in six months.

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to this since you’re taking a ‘risk’ on both accounts. There’s an opportunity cost for either scenario (forgone progressive ID experience vs salary jump early on). You did mention that you’ll return to ID. Ask yourself how relevant is the experience installing crane to your ID resume 3-6 years from now? I know it’s hard to decide when money clouds the mind. What YO says is true. Chasing happiness > chasing money

Thanks to everyone for the replies so far. I’m yet undecided however.

@gebs: great quote. That resonates with me a lot. Thing is I have had the same 1 job since I graduated and it’s eating me up. I have been wanting to try something else, even if I might be leaving a very good gig (according to more experienced colleagues). As I said I’m in my comfort zone, and I’m the kind of person who is not content with that.

@yo: thanks for the elaborate thoughts! Good point about salary. I realize that I will need to go back to a reduced salary, and I actually worry about what would that be like, could I take it once I get used to the big bump? I make a good living now already, I don’t even spend everything as it is, why do I need the money? On the other hand, it just so damn much of it :wink: I don’t have kids and still have time for some risky moves. Worse comes to worse - I’ll be stuck with this high paying job… (it’s not actually ON the rig, but occasional trips out)

@orrkwankit: that is my biggest worry, that it will be totally irrelevant to ID. On the other hand my next step is a manager of some sort, and I’m thinking the experience with a billion $$ budget, high uncertainty, enormous responsibility, put-you-in-jail liability risk, cut throat deadline project would carry some weight when seeking management positions. I also want to believe the applied creativity on this type of thing would be valuable to strategy firms. Think BP Deepwater Horizon. Solving those type of problems seemed to get many IDers excited about installing pumps and cranes.

Sorry if that sort of sounds defensive, just my process of making a decision. The fact I’m still undecided really shows (me myself) that I don’t chase the money or I would have taken it long ago.

Let me give you this to think about…

Say you currently make $60K. This new offer is double that - 120K. You say you’re currently making a good living, and you don’t spend everything you make already. You work for 1 year and live the same way you live now, that’s like saving an entire years salary. You’re under 30, unmarried, no kids. All you have to do is save that money for 1 year and you’re set on buying a house, getting married, what ever. Set. Trust me, consider the money. It sounds like you will have relevant experience in the end if you hate it. Call it Design Thinking on your resume. I’d do it if I were you.

You don’t sound defensive at all. It is a big decision. Lots of pros and cons on both sides. If you can stay disciplined like NURB says, bank the excess, get out in 1-2 years before you become entrenched, it could work out very well. With a couple of years salary banked you could open a small firm on your own.

Like orrkwankit said, there really is no wrong decision here. First you make a decision, then you make it right as someone once told me. The question is, what do you WANT. Unfortunately that is a hard one to ponder over! Most of our lives we fret over meeting needs, and the luxury of a want based decision can seem almost odd!

I second Yo’s recommendations, and not purely going after the money.

Something to also consider (as you mentioned), is where are you in your career? Do you have enough solid design experience that will help you move on later after this, or will you be “behind”? If you want to be a manager, you will likely also need lots of good design experience and while this opportunity can add to that, it probably doesn’t replace it.

ie. if you have 6 years OK design experience and want to be a manager 2 years, after 2 years doing this new thing, you really only still have 5 years design experience (and at what level)?

It’s not that you can’t get out of ID and back in, but I’ve seen it many times before where designers just “fall behind” doing non-ID stuff while others move forward.

Is there an alternate to consider if you are bored now? Find that kick ass design gig that will push you harder and further?

Money is only money.

Fame. Fun. Fortune. Pick 2.


Never heard that Fame. Fun. Fortune. Pick two line before. Love it! I will be rising that nice piece of advice.

@NURB: thanks, I think I would actually have no problem saving up. I don’t really crave new ipads or designer chairs…

@yo: thanks again. I think I actually do WANT to try it. I think mostly the adventure and the pull of trying something entirely different.

@rkuchinsky: yeah I’ve come to the conclusions that I’m not doing it for money. At the same time - I wouldn’t even had considered it if it wasn’t for it… Been looking at other jobs for a while and there hasn’t been much that interested me. This just happened without looking through connections… and now I’m forced to a decision. Not sure how to judge my experience, I have <5 years, but experience all around NPD as mentioned in 1st post, products on the market (sold worldwide), design & utility patents, overseas manufacturing… thanks for comments.

Fame, fun, fortune pick 2 - the paradox triangle doesn’t work here really though? Many evidence of people having all 3. And just 1. And none. But I would pick fun&fortune I suppose.

It sounds exciting to take a helicopter to work, but will it in 6 month?

A little perspective might be in order, and some things to consider besides the actual work.

A friend of mine is one of the crane operators on oil platform Eureka operated by BETA Operating Co. It’s located 9 miles off shore in the the Santa Barbara Channel. Even though he is only nine miles offshore, he is basically at sea for as long as a month at a time. Granted, Brian is strictly a crane hand, not a “professional” employee (unless you want to define being able to time the rise and fall of a cargo basket to the rise and fall of the crew boat as professional (I would)). And of course your duty period might not be anywhere close to 4 weeks on.

Flying in a helicopter to get to work is not all you’ll get to do. But before you get to do anything you’re going to be trained in the proper donning an use of an Immersion Survival Suit, and you’re going to be trained in helicopter ditching procedures while wearing one.

You’ll be working in a hostile environment; constant, loud noise, constant vibration, high pressure gases, rotating equipment, constant overhead crane loads, high-temperature toxic fluids, work at heights, windy condition, darkness, etc. The decks are made of steel grating … anything you drop will more than likely end up in the sea.

While working, you will get to wear coveralls, a hard hat, gloves, eye protection, steel-toed boots, and a PFD (personal floatation device).

Regular and on-going “Abandon Ship” drills.

You going to be trained in Fire Protection procedures and survival tactics, on a continuous basis.

You will receive Hazardous Material Training

OSHA training

Daily Safety meetings.

Daily Shift meetings.

You might be living in a dormitory type setting, where shift changes every 12 hours, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week are the norm. Roughnecks and drillers aren’t the most refined of gentlemen (I’m not saying, I’m just saying).

You’ll be dining on the finest “cafeteria food” available (free).

Someone will do your laundry for you (free)

You’ll have total access to the movies and television “bay” for entertainment. There will be a gym to work-out in. There will be Internet access. (free)

Oil rigs sway with the force of the sea… so seasickness is a possibility, at least until you get used to it.

Then take the risky moves, unless of course this opportunity conflicts with your ethics and morals.

That said, if ultimately you think this is something that you would enjoy more than design, then so be it, and let go of design. You’ll leave plenty of talented and capable people fighting the good fight for design behind, and there’s nothing that says you can’t come full circle as a design advocate, don’t need to keep up your chops for that now do you?

@Lmo: thanks for the perspective! That sounds pretty much like what I expect, and that sounds really exciting to me. But yeah, it WILL get old pretty fast I imagine. I don’t expect more than 2-3 days/month on the rig - just review the problem, review the installation. My friend there who is some sort of EE did a 25 days straight visit, work everyday 16h/day. He said it was living hell and getting back to the hotel after that was one of the best days of his life. Still, it circles back to the money. He obviously clocked some crazy overtime, and bought a brand new motorcycle - cash - after that 1 month salary. So perhaps it was worth to take a beating?

@Greenman: good summary. That’s pretty much how I feel, and there’s no saying I won’t enjoy it so the least I should do is try.

Thanks to everyone’s input, it’s been very valuable. As you can imagine most people in my surrounding (who don’t get this design passion thing) are blinded by the money and look at me like I’m an idiot when I ask. And other people who I would like to keep as friends, I don’t really want to give away the salary info…

I’ve requested a contract for me to sign so now I wait for that a couple days I suppose…

Go for the oil job. No doubt.