Friday, September 27, 2013

Ha! So I guess I lied in my last post about posting more regularly. Sigh. That's what happens with life catches up with you, I suppose.

I've left Ariba and am now at Netflix. I'm pretty excited to be here. I think Ariba has its pluses and its minuses, and it was a good learning experience for me to discover what I really cared about.

During the time I was thinking about a change, I had many a discussion with other UX professionals about that the "next" option might be, from contract work to design firms to full-time employment -- some things which I've never really considered until now. It is interesting to see how the employment culture has changed, however; previously, I think being a "lifer" was the thing to do. Nowadays, the prevalence of contract work has increased, and we (especially in the software industry) are jumping from company to company more quickly now.

So here's what (little) I've learned about the different possible modes of employment for a UX designer (yes, there are probably more...):

Full-Time Employment
Pros: Stable paycheck, stable stream of work, could possibly switch within company (depending on size) if you don't like what you're working on, potentially great benefits/culture/people
Cons: Harder to leave if you discover you don't like it (culture, projects, people, compensation, etc.)

Individual Contractor/Freelancer
Pros: Flexible schedule, work only on what you like, likely pays a lot more than full-time employement
Cons: The onus is on you to find your own employment (so you gotta get good at selling your own skills), you gotta find/take care of your own healthcare, sometimes there are renewal limits when contracting at the same company for a period of time

Design Firm
Pros: Variety of projects, you can more often choose only to work on the projects you're interested in
Cons: Sometimes the projects don't come and then you don't get paid, potentially long hours when a project is in crunch time

I think some questions that were important to ask myself when assessing whether to stay or start looking again includes:
  1. Am I happy to go to work every day?
  2. Do I enjoy working with the other people here?
  3. Am I learning new things here (from people or tech)?
  4. Are there opportunities to work on exciting things here, or with exciting people?
  5. Is this job sustainable?
  6. Does my manager respect me and help me advance my career?
I'm sure there are more.

If you haven't seen Netflix's culture deck when it made its rounds a few years ago, this is pretty good to look through. It's definitely not a corporate mentality you stumble across very often.