The third job was the one that was the most difficult to leave, but as with any new opportunity, I was looking forward to the new challenges. Being the year 2000, a technology company was also an exciting place to be a working at, but one that would not last. That darn dot com bubble was bound to burst, I’m just glad I had the opportunity to live it first hand, as I learned so much about myself, design and business in the process.

As I have before, I list the five lessons I value the most in no particular order:

1. Know Your Professional Priorities

I had left the past job partly because I wanted to grow as a designer, and as great as the opportunity that I had, working on just one website all day did see some of my skills start to stagenate. Even though I was hired as a website designer at the new place, I took any opportunity possible to work on limited print collateral in addition to my other duties. By the end of my three years of working there, I had worked myself into doing all of the print and web projects, partly because as the dot com days were coming to an end, anything to save the budget by then was approved.

2. Leave the Office

When stuck in a rut, and deadlines looming, nothing was faster at getting ideas flowing than changing the environment you are in. There is a reason all Starbucks seem busy during the day, you can get stuff done fast when nobody is hanging around your cubicle. Me and the copywriter that was on staff would take a 2 hour break and head to Borders. The boss didn’t seem to mind when we came back with new ideas, may have been different if we just came back with a latte.

3. Working Full-Time Isn’t Always More Secure

When you get a job at a place with around 200 local employees, and by the time you leave, there are only 3 left, you lose a lot of the image that working full-time makes you more secure in your job than working for yourself. I started to go with the assumtion that having multiple clients was more secure than having one boss. Gaining and losing clients is common in the freelance and agency business, but rarely do you lose them all in one day. If you do, there is probably a pretty good story behind it.

4. Keep Busy

When working for a place that is re-organizing, nothing feels worse than sitting around doing nothing. You know projects are in limbo, certain things will get changed, but just working on projects does make the day go by quicker regardless. We had to be there forty hours a week during these times, so I tried to make the most of it. A few projects I finished just to have for samples if for no other reason.

5. Creative Budgets

A lot of business to business work is customized, or sent in quanitites of 50-200, so knowing how to design for low quantities in good quality, but to keep costs down is highly important. Learn the limitations of the in-house printers, and what they do best. Getting a stack paper cutter so custom sizes could be used was huge, as was a saddle stapler. Almost all of my current company mailers and printing is based on the experiences I learned while working at this fourth job.