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Ella Dawson
Updated on 01 Oct 2020 · 4 min read

Why I chose to work for a small design agency

Hello! I'm Ella, and I joined the team at Shape around 4 months ago as Brand Designer (you can read about that here). When looking for potential jobs prior to joining Shape, I was lucky enough to have been offered jobs from large corporations to in-house designer roles and from other larger design agencies. When entering the world of design, the type of business you work for should be well-considered and I knew Shape being a small agency was a match for me.

After gaining invaluable insight and advice from senior designers and directors, it made me truly appreciate smaller agencies and I really began to explore and understand the ins and outs of agency life and how they differentiate from larger agencies. In this article, I'll talk about why I chose to work for a small design agency... and why it's great!

The People

Here at Shape, there are 10 of us. Having a small team means a tighter-knit connection, we're more like a family and we know how to push each other's buttons and can steer clear of that (when necessary). We're all extremely passionate about what we do, therefore, when we all work in one open space in the studio, we get to collaborate and bounce ideas off each other.

Being a small team means we're close to all of our clients. Clients speak to the specific designer or developer working on their project creating an open line of communication. This differs from a larger agency where a designer may never even email a client, let alone meet them! 

    Additionally, the head honcho's (Andy & Jay) have a vested interest in the day-to-day operations and tasks of the agency. I work closely with all the team on my projects and we are truly dedicated to supporting clients and each other. We are all emotionally invested in the success of the agency and I get to learn all aspects of this business, inside and out.

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    The Culture

    This was something that was really important to me in choosing where I'd like to work, not because of the early Friday finishes (I mean that's a bonus) but because of the way of working and approach to work. It's so important to feel comfortable in your work environment and Shape makes that a priority. (The studio is beautiful by the way.)

    Even though COVID has put a halt to our nights out and team trips, these also promote communication and camaraderie between team members which is super important for us at Shape. Additionally, with the current climate changing the way of working, I can work from home without having FOMO because we are always connected through Slack and only a zoom away!

    The culture at Shape is second to none and anyone lucky enough to experience it, client or team member, consider yourself special.

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    The Work

    What people don’t always realise, however, is that small agencies are extremely busy and demanding environments to work in, and when you’re part of a small team, your job requirements go beyond the work you do on screen. Every day is different, and every project presents new challenges. 

    I’m always working on a wide variety of tasks and constantly diversifying my skillset. From branding to web design to content for Shape, all of which keeps me on my toes and allows me to constantly learn new things.  It also encourages working quickly and with enough flexibility to adapt to different project and time management styles to fit the needs of specific clients and projects.

      When it comes to working at a small agency, one of the advantages is project ownership. I love being able to see a project from start to finish, whether that be a full project, directing a design, or having an influence in its development. Having that responsibility and freedom on a project is one of the most liberating feelings out there!

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      So?

      With all of this being said, I believe that there are definitely advantages to working for agencies and companies of all shapes and sizes. It is important to note that big agencies were once small too! However, like most agencies that upscale, they have a hard time keeping their cultures intact as they scale.

      A small agency is absolutely the right fit for me and as I start my career, I find that I’m constantly learning new things here every day. Whether you are just starting out in your career, thinking about making a career change, or even thinking about working with a small agency, just remember not to discount a small agency because of its size. Joining or working with one could be the most interesting and rewarding experience!

      Written by
      Ella Dawson
      Hello, I'm Ella. Brand Designer at MadeByShape.
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