- Find an internship during college
Friendly reminder: school isn’t everything – Although your college years may have been the best time of your life, it is important to understand that they do come to an end. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have “fun.” All we’re saying is that it is important to gain experience before applying for your first full-time job. You should use some of your time and efforts on finding an internship. Remember, the architecture internship you obtain during college could become your first full-time job. This takes the pressure of finding a job off you after graduation. What’s better than that?
- Ask questions
When you enter a new organization, you need to be proactive in your learning. What’s the best way to do this? Ask questions. No one knows everything. Even your bosses and definitely your co-workers still have learning to do. Your questions can make them think about a topic differently. Showing that you’re interested in gaining knowledge shows your commitment bettering yourself, those around you and your new organization.
- Show up to work and your interviews on time
Getting to an interview or the office on time is key. But what is on time? You know what they say about college classes – showing up on time means your 15 minutes late. You need to arrive to work and interviews 15 minutes early – even it means sitting in your car for 10 minutes before walking in the building. Believe me, this is a great time to center yourself, prepare for the day and plan to crush whatever goals you have in front of you.
- Don’t Leave Early
One thing I learned early on in my career is that you should never leave the office early. Why? 1. There is plenty of work to do 2. Leaving shows that you are not committed to the overall organizational goals. This is a practice I impress on all my employees. This simply means that once 5 p.m. hits you shouldn’t be up and out of your chair, coat in hand, saying bye and walking out the door.
- LEARN REVIT
AutoCAD is great, but REVIT is the new standard. The first question potential employers are asking is “Do you know REVIT?”
- Become well-rounded / show interest in all parts of the process
You do not want to get ‘stuck’ performing one task throughout your career. To avoid this, you need to make sure you’re taking steps to show interest in all parts of the architecture process. This goes back to asking questions and taking initiative. Ask your boss if you can accompany him or her to a site measurement or permit process. Once you show initiative, you earn trust and your boss will be more willing to hand off parts of the project to you.
- Prepare to adjust to work life
Work is not the same as taking classes in college. You need to be flexible and willing to adjust to your ‘new life.’ Schoolwork is no longer your only concern. Your daily tasks are essential to the operation of the architecture firm you now work for. Understanding this is critical because you may be required to stay late, take a site measurement on a weekend or meet a client outside of normal business hours.
- Pay will not be what your engineer and business friends are making out the gate
This one is pretty simple and straightforward. Architects are compensated for their work, but do not compare your salaries to friends in other professions. Stick with it, and you will be well compensated down the road.
- LEARN REVIT
Again, AutoCAD is a wonderful tool, but REVIT is new industry standard. LEARN IT!
- Find your place
Do you see yourself as someone who will thrive in the large architecture agency or small firm? It’s important to make this distinction off the bat because there are pros and cons to each.
When you put your time in at a large agency, you will eventually work your way up to designing amazing projects (highrise buildings, large community projects, etc.). However, you do not get to experience all parts of the process during your beginning years with the agency.
On the other hand, a small firm gives you countless opportunities to learn and perfect your skills in all areas of the architecture process. But you have to be ready to take on added responsibilities.
It’s also important to understand that you are not stuck regardless which route you choose. Change is always possible.
- Learn to work with other people
When you enter an organization, you are going to be working with people of all backgrounds. You need to be able to integrate and interact with all employees. This doesn’t mean everyone must become a friend, but your working relationship has to be amicable so that you can work towards the goals of the organization together without conflict.
- LEARN REVIT
Yes – I know this is the third time we mentioned this, but because it is the standard now, it is imperative for you to become familiar with REVIT!
We provide these ‘pointers’ because we want young architects to be prepared for the real world. As a young organization, our employees know the challenges first hand. Much of what was discussed in this blog entry was from a conversation I had with my staff. They provided some really insightful feedback, and I recommend that every organization sit down with their staff and have an candid conversation about their architecture agency and the industry in general.
Until next time,
Jose R. Pareja, AIA