During an interview for a podcast recently I mentioned that you really need to know yourself before you can decide if you should be working in a web agency or be working for yourself.

Today I want to expand on that thought a bit more.

I Took a Job

In late 2011 I took a job working with the web agency 10up. I had recently had a number of clients give me the runaround on payment and my stress level was pretty high. When I talked with Jake at 10up and realized I would get to do the same work without worrying about making sure I got paid I was totally in.

What I learned was, I’d rather be my own boss and deal with the payment headaches. There is certainly nothing wrong with 10up, it was not the right place for me though. I have no doubt that Jake would say the same thing, 10up was not the right place for me in his opinion either (He hasn’t said that to me actually but I would say that about me in his shoes).

One of the big things I took away from working with 10up (aside from the new friends in the other devs I worked with) was a new knowledge of what stresses aren’t ultimately a big deal for me. Ultimately chasing clients for pay is something I’d rather do.

Even In a Quiet House

I have also learned that I work better with headphones. 4 out of 5 days, my wife and kid aren’t even home but I wear headphones all day in a quiet house. I simply get more done with headphones on. Can’t tell you exactly why that is, but it is.

It took me a year to realize this about my work habits.

So that Agency Thing???

So when you ask me if you should work at an agency I ask you if you know yourself. Do you know if you like having a boss? Do you need direction in the day? Do you want to take 2 hour lunches and not have to make up the time? Are you really green in the field and need mentorship?

I think it’s a good idea for all starting devs to work in close relationship with those smarter than they are. It’s going to help you learn your craft faster. I think it’s a good idea for all developers at any point in their career to be getting and giving code reviews on a regular basis. It’s going to give you a window in to the thought processes of another person and someone else is going to ask you to justify your approaches to problems.

But if you’re always an asshole, stay away from others and work by yourself in your parent’s basement.

The End All Caveat

No matter what I’ve said above we all need to remember what our top priorities are. Mine is to be a good husband and father. That means I need to make sure my family is fed and clothed. I would totally go work for an agency, or any job I didn’t have moral issue with, if I needed to make sure my family was fed. Remember that when you’re telling people what you will ‘never’ do. Never tends to mean something totally different when you’re looking at living on the street.