Shanghai vs Sydney

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    Benjamin Loh

    Here’s the challenge. If you are a young designer eagerly looking for high profile experience, which country would you choose to work in:

    Sydney – very small firm, small scale projects, lower pay, but better city

    Shanghai – international american company, large scale projects with great designers in the team, higher pay, but city is polluted, fake foods, rude people

    Rob Halpern

    If you are a young designer eagerly looking for high profile experience

    I believe you know from your description which you would choose.

    Yet your descriptions are of quality of Life rather than career possibilities. Maybe you should consider harder what your priorities are?

    Benjamin Loh

    Thanks Rob, career is my priority here but I do not want to build my career in a dungeon either. There must be some kind of work + life balance I thought? Don’t you agree?

    Goustan BODIN

    then balance is what you are looking for,  not just career.

    Rob is right, assess your priorities clearly. Scribble something on a piece of paper, 2 columns : career, life Vs 2 rows : advantages & disadvantages. Then brainstorm yourself (and possibly close friends/colleagues/family) on both offers. Let it rest for a couple of days, then have a look at it again.

    About career, you forgot to mention than working for a small firm will get you to touch more aspects of the profession than in a large firm, where you most likely will have to stick to a pre-definite position. It probably will be easier to build a deep professional relationship with someone, and possibly find a mentor (harder in a firm where everyone is ‘on the edge’).

    About life, you forgot to mention than Shanghai is one cultural center of an immensely rich, deep and diverse cultural patchwork. Suzhou and the classical gardens are within WE trip range of the city. Lots of night life and pretty girls as well.

    Have fun ^^

    Rob Halpern

    Everyone falls differently on that. And we make a priority when we are young that we will change as we get older.

    Some people would think the adventure of working for an American firm in Shanghai is not to be missed. Others wouldn’t touch it under any circumstances.

    Doesn’t matter what we think.

    Anne Layman

    Oh great, I don’t agree to this comparison 

    But I love to work in Shanghai


    You should research living expenses of both cities. Would you rather live like a king in Shanghai or a starving artist in Sydney? No point living in the better city if you can’t afford to enjoy its amenities. And Shanghai is pretty up there in terms of culture and things to do. It’s not that bad.

    And don’t think you will stay in one firm and one city for the rest of your life. In our industry, people move a round a lot especially when they are young and able. 

    Benjamin Loh

    Thanks Ida! You comments make total sense to me. I am heading to Shanghai!!!

    Stephen Lovering

    Hey Ben


    Yeah that’s a tough one and Rob has nailed it!!

    I worked for a while in a small firm (9 people) and it was nice. The bosses became your friends, you got to go out for lunches/games of golf etc and the work was manageable. I was about as far from a number as you could get.

    Now had I chosen the larger firm I would have been a number with a mundane office full of “officey” people and a boss that didn’t even know my name. Every firm is different obviously but if you choose the small firm and the people are great you can work your way up and within a year or two you will have the pay rise you needed and you live in possibly the greatest city in the world.

    Sydney is also one of the best cities in the world right now for LA as they have a 25 year masterplan in place and are focusing a lot of money on improving the livability of the city.

    Both are great options, don’t be fooled by the big corporate office and the name is all I will say as those things are all “smoke and mirrors” and will not contribute at all to the enjoyment of the job. My advice to you would be to go and check both offices out!

    Benjamin Loh

    Thanks Stephen, I appreciate your comments and sharing with me your experience. I will think through it again… seriously

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