June 05, 2014

1 year work anniversary!



I do not know if putting the “Underdog Architecture Student’s Blog” on my resume was a good decision, but coupled with my work experience,  I think it alluded to my personality to garnish my capabilities.

For the past few months of working I began to see the similar interests with my colleagues at work. Just about a year ago, after months of cold calling firms, applying to job postings and constant portfolio revising, I was hired by a boutique architecture firm that wanted to take a chance on me. I am grateful because it was a lot of grunt work to find my first full-time job in architecture.

I thought for this post, I’d share some things that I have learned or am learning as I hit the one year mark at my job. Here’s some things you will realize once you enter the workplace #ArchitectureStudents


You’re 30% proficient as a recent grad.  
First thing I learned in my first week at work. Your learning in architecture school is really a minor foundation that you need to build upon. The other learning rests in jumping into the deep end of the real world and swimming. 
Some might use the argument that they’ve trained up themselves to be fast in the design software. Even so, there are other challenges like trying to pick up how the firm does their work particularly and what is their design sensibility. Tapping into the way things are done and designed takes years of experience and working with your bosses to know how what they like. 

Don’t say words like “Parti.” In other words, don’t sound pretentious. 
So apparently, I was one of the first in my office to use the word “Parti” and let’s just say I blushed right after. I also used words like “permutations” and “iterations” which I was told was rarely used before I came, and I blushed right after as well. Fluffy vocabulary might have saved you in school, but it can truly screw you over in the workplace. You have to learn to explain in the simplest terms to clients and your colleagues. 

Assertiveness: Ask help when you’re stuck.  
I had a hard time doing this when I was a student: To ask help when needed. It kinda stems from a pride thing, but also this feeling of “unworthiness.” I felt as if I was unworthy of help, especially when I fell behind. However, in the real world you have to ask help and make it known to your supervisors when you are stuck.  It is better to ask questions now than make mistakes that might impact the way the project is built and designed or drawn. Some mistakes have great repercussions that may last a long time to fix up. So, when it doubt – ask help. 

Clear communication.  
Be articulate when you explain your decision making process when you design. Also realize the rationale of why you did what you did at work when it is questioned when designing. 

The Construction Process: Beyond conceptual design.
As much as school will try and teach you the things you need to know about construction and the phases of getting a building to permit, I actually learned more of it at work – what type of information is needed to be shown in my drawings at what phase and when to develop the drawings further. There is more to the sketches and computer imagery you do in studio, at work there`s things like pricing, marketing, area calculations, zoning research, preparing a scope of work, zoning application and building permit forms, and the list goes on and on. There are even the tasks for operating a business. I've assisted in going through receipts and tallying up business expenses.  

Money & Time 
Two things school might’ve tried to teach, but work will throw you into the deep end to pick up and be strategic in handling. I had to learn what tasks are needed to be done and what could be left for later because of money and time constraints. I had to learn when to let things go or be extremely meticulous to it.

The Value of Teamwork
Great design comes from iteration, but also through collaboration. The way you see one thing can be seen from another point of view. Getting feedback and being challenged for your design moves and getting feedback helps you to open your mind a look at other issues you might have overlooked in the design. One mind can conceive of one design, but the power of a three or four can create a greater outcome through collaboration and discussion. 

Thinking at both micro and macro scales of a design.  
In architecture school, the workload pressures can make you lose focus on the little things that are critical in a design. The process, the story, the little details that make the space meaningful. Working in a small residential architecture firm has taught me the importance of looking at the little things. To think about how people can use the space, and to know the size of what I drafted make sense. 

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Collaboration & Communication
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1 comment:

  1. Hey Ulysses, I put my blog on my resume because it's a professional personal website. Would you want your employer to see this should be the biggest deciding factor. Also what you put online stays there forever they say.

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