Thoughts on moving from a small firm to global firm?


Contemplating a move from a small firm (0-15 people) to a global corporate firm (100+ people). The job title will be the same and I'll still be working within my niche market so my work wouldn't be too different. Any thoughts on whether it's worth the headache to make the switch?

Pros: Potential growth opportunity, looks great on resume, ability to network with more people in the industry, potential higher pay 

Cons: Might be pigeonholed, a "cog" in the machine and less "family feel', more rigidity and formality

May 30, 24 9:19 pm

I think having diverse experience is a benefit. You'll get a totally different perspective on practice even if you are working in the same market niche. 

The office politics and backstabbing are going to be next-level, but even navigating that becomes an important skill long term. 

May 31, 24 9:53 am  · 
4  · 

I think it's worth it. I progressively went larger and larger as I moved firms (not planned, just happened). The great thing is that I discovered what size I want my own firm to grow to that way - it ain't gonna be the next Gensler, that's for sure.

May 31, 24 9:59 am  · 
2  · 

Mingsler has a nice ring to it.

May 31, 24 1:22 pm  · 
6  · 

Skidmore Owings Mings

May 31, 24 8:09 pm  · 
1  · 

Office for Mings Architecture

Jun 1, 24 3:02 am  · 
1  · 

If you are well rounded with a recognized broad skillset, then you are less likely to be pigeonholed. In that case go for it. 

Jun 4, 24 7:21 pm  · 

From personal experience, the higher initial pay, better benefits etc at a larger firm may be good but smaller firms may offer better long term growth in terms of responsibility, $$$ etc. 

Also, in a larger firm you are less immune to stuff like firmwide layoffs etc.

Try it out!

Jun 4, 24 8:18 pm  · 

I just left a very much "family feel" neighborhood-focused firm for a corporate more engineering/consulting heavy firm that's trying to branch out as more of a capital 'A' / fancier design firm contender. Before that I got laid off from a more medium-sized (40-50) but tight-knit and design-heavy firm that I liked as well. The pay is better for the same role (~5k) but alot of the work is more mundane and less inspiring (municipal, corporate programs, office buildings). One of my goals out of school was to test fit how I felt in each scale of firm, and I think small-medium is the one where it's easiest to appreciate your work and touch all phases and minutia of a project, rather than feel like a production cog (many of my current coworkers). I've went from almost pro-bono pocket park designs and press-covered civic spaces to municipal office/police renovations, and feeling like a NARC at times currently, but also grown 25k in salary over that span ~2 yrs.

It hasn't been that much of a headache to nit-pick and course-correct over misc. quality of life and pay considerations about office-A vs. studio-B. You don't need to feel like a close-knit family with your coworkers but good chemistry and camaraderie are very possible in any sized firm with well- adjusted leadership and colleagues. I'm teetering between 'it's-just-a-job' and taking the bigger paycheck mindset with less 'design vanity' projects vs. wanting a more impactful role on the built environment and communities of my city with more of a boots-on-the-ground vibe (likely for less pay, with risk of layoff). Switching again for me would be approaching job-hopping territory, especially while trying to buy a house, so sacrificing salary and job security isn't very palatable just to get some more fancy design project validation. 

Jun 5, 24 10:27 am  · 

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