Too high a price for innovation
I met my friend David the other day. He was looking great - slimmer, fitter and the bags under his eyes had disappeared. I told him so, and he said it was all down to his new job. He had left the cutting-edge, innovative, ambitious small practice he had been working for to get, as he put it, 'some commercial understanding'.
That meant that he had joined a large commercial practice that certainly demands its pound of flesh - but possibly not a couple of kilos and a bit of the bone as well. The result? David was working, if not exactly nine to five, then nine to seven. He was sleeping more, eating better and he had even started playing football again.
What does this mean for you? Think carefully about the lifestyle on offer, as well as about the type of work that any practice is involved in.
When a practice like the hugely imaginative Foreign Office Architects says that its imaginative and freeform way of working 'has come at a price: no nine to five, no holidays, no weekends', it is not joking. And remember, unlike law and accountancy, harder work probably means lower pay as these practices hope the excitement will draw acolytes for virtually no pay.
What about David? I am sure in a year or two he will return somewhere more imaginative.
But the rest will have done him good. And his commercial experience will stand him in good stead when he looks for a more easygoing job later in his career.
Even if you can take the pace and survive on the salary, few cutting-edge practices will welcome you when you are in your mid-forties. So have a couple of easygoing, well-paid - if duller - years now, and it could pay dividends later on.