Speak UpA Former Division of UnderConsideration
The Archives, August 2002 – April 2009
advertise @ underconsideration
---Click here for full archive list or browse below
Moving On

Maybe triggered because I will be in Chicago for the How Conference, or by several of the comments in Defying Gravity: When your Company Exists in the Ether Above your Head, a question has risen in my mind. Once you leave a studio/firm/agency (call it whatever you want) do you stay in touch?

Do you leave with a box under your arm without ever turning back, even to say hi?

Or does the relationship linger for a few more months until slowly it dissipates.

Only to be momentarily rekindled when you spot each other across the hotel lobby of a conference?

Or you consider and actually act on possible professional cooperation?

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
PUBLISHED ON Jun.03.2005 BY bryony
Randy’s comment is:

A nice post to return from lunch to (lunch with the team from the studio I left 6 months ago.)

Professional collaboration is still on my mind as a possibility, but even if that never happens, we're convening at the National Design Conf. and will certainly continue to meet over plates of hot food and in clubs at concerts.

The crux, I suppose, between keeping or forgetting past working relationships is genuine friendship. I'm happy to call my former cohorts friends and hope others enjoy the same niceties.

On Jun.03.2005 at 01:55 PM
Tan’s comment is:

The further along I get in my career, the more I understand the need to make a clean, professional break from my last place of employment.

A professional relationship is really no different than a personal one — there's a bond of trust and commitment that's established, along with dependency on both sides. When you sever that bond to go elsewhere — regardless of how amicable the split might have been — it's best for both parties to quickly move on, and replace what has been lost or damaged. And if you were a manager or director of a team, it's even more crucial that you've clearly relinquished leadership and responsibility to your former team members and co-workers. It's the most professional thing to do, I think. And of course, there are exceptions.

Personal relationship-wise, I think it's only human to want to keep in touch with past co-workers. I keep in touch with old colleagues regularly. Some have become life-long friends.

There's nothing wrong with maintaining friendships and establishing a network. I would just try to avoid coworkers who just want to complain about the old place —�cause it's just not healthy or productive. Remember, you may have left, but other people must still work there — and be happy. You don't want to unintentionally spoil the barrel.

On Jun.03.2005 at 02:59 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> Do you leave with a box under your arm without ever turning back, even to say hi?

I think you have to be either a heartless bastard or have left in really bad terms to just pick up your stuff and never say hi again. Also, in the… how many is it now?... three places that I have left — in good terms! — I have never filled one of those classic boxes and carried it out.

It's great to see old co-workers, it's like high school reunion except… with… um, I dunno, kerning.

On Jun.03.2005 at 04:37 PM
Jared Christensen’s comment is:

Let's face it: if you're leaving one professional environment for another, there has to be a reason. The reason is the fulcrum upon which this issue sits. I recently left one company for professional reasons. When I briefly returned to the city, I had lunch with my friends who still work there. And I did so for precisely that reason -- friendship. While I am very disappointed with the professioanl experience I had, that could and should never affect a friendship. So I have friends that work where I used to, but I don't have any further relationship with the company.

On Jun.03.2005 at 05:33 PM
Keith Harper’s comment is:

Personal relationships are the most important things you'll ever have. I think you should try to maintain professional relationships just as you would personal ones... life is random and you never know when you'll connect with someone personally or professionally down the road. People inherently have conflict with one another. But you make a mistake, you can almost always fix it. Sometimes you may even have to swallow your pride. (especially when you're young!)

On Jun.03.2005 at 06:39 PM
gloria’s comment is:

I have a question that is unrelated to professional relationships, but concerning the HOW design conference/design conferences in general. How do they figure out the attendance cost? Why is it so expensive? Even their student rates are pretty expensive, considering most design students' budgets. (I'm apologize that this is slightly off-topic, so please redirect me accordingly as seen fit, thanks).

On Jun.03.2005 at 11:26 PM
szkat’s comment is:

gloria - got nothing for you, sorry.

re: the topic, i've found that most of my friendships from the office were based on the connection that we worked at the same place, and not much more. when i try to see people from former jobs, we usually catch up on who's still there, how's that account, etc. then there's an awkward silence and we talk about the weather... in three of four jobs, i've left on good terms. i usually check in at the one month and six month mark, then don't give it much thought after that. but i never, ever throw out business cards. if i can throw work to people i know (and whose work ethic/method i'm famaliar with), we both appreciate it.

On Jun.04.2005 at 10:31 AM
Tom Dolan’s comment is:

Interesting. Just yesterday I had a meeting with a potential client set up by my former boss. We remain on great terms and discuss projects and give each other advice when appropriate. He has brought in my studio as a collaborative firm on a couple of occasions. The other principals in our firm are alumni from big firms and we continue to collaborate with them when the job is right. In all cases it's the unique mix of good personal/professional relationships that makes it work. We're not buddies with former studio-mates, but we're still colleagues and we're open to opportunity when the right collaborative project needs to be discussed.

On Jun.04.2005 at 12:08 PM
Kurt’s comment is:

I guess I'm committed as much to people as I am to any firm, company or agency. We establish relationships, professionally and personally, during our tenure at different employers. Sometimes they work and sometimes it's better to make a clean break and start anew.

I recently was let go by one department (wanted everyone at the main HQ) and hired by another within the same company (they didn't mind the long-distance relationship). The one lesson I've learned by all of it is to never burn a bridge, even if your co-workers aren't your best friends (and don't need to be).

Re: HOW - they offer a great conference and it costs money. They are still one of less expensive conferences, relatively speaking.

On Jun.04.2005 at 04:30 PM
Armin’s comment is:


They host over 3,000 people. Fly in, lodge, and pay honorariums to, over 30 speakers. Print brochures, programs, name badges. Pay for venues, refreshments, insurance, etc.

The question is, and this applies to any conference, do you feel the conference is worth $900 or whatever it costs this year? How do you measure the value of a conference? One thing about HOW is that they have 4 or 5 different tracks, so at every hour there is a good chance you will get to see something that interests you. I haven't been to a HOW conference so I'll have a better idea of its worth/value/ROI/funness after this one. Conferences tend to be good money makers but I doubt they are in such a way that they are exploiting designers' good will.

On Jun.04.2005 at 07:08 PM
gloria’s comment is:

Thank you for everyone's responses...I now have a better understanding of the costs. I am new to this conference thing (and the design world in general, as I have only been in school for a couple years now). I saw the HOW conference advertised in Print mag. and I got excited, then I got sticker shock. But I think have a plan for the future: get my school to give out passes to these conferences like on a scholarship-basis. That would be sweet. Anyway, I would like to say thanks again.

On Jun.05.2005 at 11:59 PM
Bryony’s comment is:

As far as I can read in previous comments, you all seem to be pro-relationships as long as… yes, there always is a but in the equation.

Indeed keeping relationships open and communication afloat is great when you are seeking references, or bouncing clients and projects, and you doesn’t love to see “old” friends at design events. But, why do we but so much? Are we over-analytical of things? Do you decide you to continue a relationship with heart or brain? Or, a balance of both? I guess in the end, much of it has to do with a business plan, and gut feeling.

In my case, I have only left the one job in Chicago due to a move to NY. I did not go to with the local competition or did my own thing. There is one boss I am particularly attached to, who will doubtfully lead to any business in the near/far future, but whom I have kept in contact. On the other hand, the design team seems to have scattered as far away from each other as possible. I still can’t understand why. Did we not like each other at all? Did we hate working together? I dunno.

On Jun.06.2005 at 11:20 AM
StormCrow’s comment is:

Well let's see...

Studio 'Z', the last place I 'left' (read 'was dissolved from') folded 5 months later. I still do freelance with former members of the group and one former client.

Studio 'Y' dissloved all at once and I was offered a relocation package to Studio 'Z'. I still do freelance with one of the designers from 'Y'and keep in touch with two others from 'Y'.

Studio 'X' I left for a better spot in 'Y'. I still have an email or two a year with the owner of 'X'.

So I join a studio, after a while it folds, and my contact list grows. I don't like this trend.

On Jun.07.2005 at 11:37 AM
Ty’s comment is:

The relationship between people is like the relationship between neurons in the brain: The connections between them never die, but sometimes fall out of use.

On Jun.08.2005 at 01:57 AM
Bryony’s comment is:



On Jun.08.2005 at 09:22 AM
man, I missed you’s comment is:

There are always people you keep in touch with. Email makes this much easier. Every time I’ve left a place it’s been for a new opportunity someplace else so I’ve always felt good about it, no weird departure stories. I’ve only worked in NYC so I guess that makes it easier distance wise. What I like is there is always someone you never thought you’d keep in touch with that you do I like those wild cards.

On Jun.17.2005 at 02:40 PM