Julie Ng

Julie Ng

Out with 2011 and the employment trap

364 days ago I had a plan.

I was bored nearly everyday at work. But I said to myself, stick around. Why not? I loved the people I worked with, I earn enough for my lifestyle and I get to travel. Plus I would be up for permanent residency in eighteen months. After that I could leave bored for bold.

The employment trap

I had been in a rut for over a year. I knew that. But I didn’t know I was caught in the employment trap. It is a trap of comfort and security, but isn’t tied to a particular job. My boss, whom I adore, left to bike around the world. I tried working with another team and it took us 8 months of work compromises that resulted in something I could have done better myself in a few weeks. It was then I realized I had reached the end of the road at my company. But at least I still had my colleagues in the international team, with whom I loved working. Then came my new boss and my rut quickly became a daily struggle. I needed to leave. But even then, I did not realize I was in the employment trap - because I was looking for a new job.

Rejoining the online community

In preparation, I relaunched my personal portfolio, its first update in over four years and participated in the 10K Apart competition to build a responsive web app. It felt good to test and use some new CSS3 and HTML5 technologies. I started to network and met so many talented designers and developers at Front End Conf. in Zürich and at the Beyond Tellerrand Conf. in Düsseldorf, some well known, many less so. But everyone had something to offer, share and learn. The internet is changing and evolving so quickly that there is always someone out there smarter than you and consequently, always something new to learn - every day. I love that about our industry. 

Breaking out

So I came back from these events and experiences excited about being a designer and itching to build something. But I didn’t have the energy. On the surface, the employment trap is looking being busy at a desk for forty or more hours a week working on something other than your own personal and client projects. If you are lucky, you manage to complete some of this work at night or on the weekends. But even then, on a deeper level, it might not be enough. For me, it wasn’t.

It took several interviews, offers and a few missteps before I realized, I don’t want another job. Right now, I don’t want to work for anyone else but myself. I would love to work with someone, but not for someone to be a cog or gear in their machine. I want to build something for myself, something new and exciting. At my job, we did build some good stuff, good but not great. And although I was in a small team, I wore many hats but never really got to play with new toys like CSS3 transitions or HTML5 local storage.

Maybe it’s a phase and in a few years employment will seem really tempting. All I know is if I don’t try this now, to freelance, start my own agency, startup or whatever, I’ll probably regret it. I know statistics are against me and the first bureaucratic hurdles are already popping up. But I’m still going to try.

So goodbye employment, goodbye 2011, and hello unemployment, I mean 2012!