Gaining Experience Versus Going Solo
Question: I am currently in my final year of a Product Design degree. I've always dreamed of starting my own business. First it was an architectural practice that would one day rival the best modern firms. Then it was a design consultancy—one with worldwide acclaim. Now I'm stuck between creating my own digital consultancy or my own start-up.
Should I start a business straight out of college or get some experience in first?
I have been working freelance throughout my studies, so I know a small amount about handling clients. Or should I put it off for a few years to see where my career path leads? What should I do first?
Answer: You should get some experience in first. Freelance work while studying does not a clear career path make. Look at how many times your dream has morphed already.
I appreciate your ambition, but in sounds like you're putting the cart before the horse. Realistically, you have more to prove before customers will want to hire you for big-ticket projects. You also have the rest of your life to work for yourself. Why rush it?
Starting out at a company benefits you in two big ways. First, it lets you tackle your learning curve and make mistakes on someone else's dime. This is important. Especially if you don't have buckets of money lying around. Second, it widens your network. The colleagues and partners you cross paths with are potential resources for the rest of your career. Connections are even more important when you strike out on your own.
Go to work for a company in the area you're most interest in right now. You'll know pretty definitively whether it's an industry you're passionate about building your own firm in after a few years. And if it's not, you're free as a bird to try something new.
Now, on to the hard part: Actually landing a job. Good luck.