What does an Architect do?

Bob Borson —  April 23, 2013 — 61 Comments

I have good friend Enoch Sears sitting in and writing today’s post. I get a lot of questions from people who want to be architects, love architecture but feel that they aren’t creative enough to work in this field. Don’t worry about that, there is a role for you and today, Enoch talks about a few of those possibilities.

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What is it like to be an Architect? (It’s Probably Not What You Think)

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. Which road do I take? she asked. Where do you want to go? was his response. I don’t know, Alice answered. Then, said
the cat, it doesn’t matter.”

Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Cheshire cat talks to Alice

“Where do you want to go?” – The Cheshire Cat

The cat’s advice is good for (aspiring) architects as well. Figuring out where you want to go is more than half the battle. If you, or someone you know, is considering the field of architecture as a career, here is some information they should read. Trust me … I’m an Architect.

Every architect has experienced it: the awkward pause I get after someone hears what I do for a living. “I’m an architect,” I respond.

Silence.

I try to figure out what the other person is thinking, but never do. I wonder: “Do they think I make lots of money? Do they think I must be incredibly artistic and talented? Or do they think … “I should have guessed, they’re wearing those funky glasses.”

Instead I hear, “Oh, so you like, uh, design buildings?”.

“Uh, yes, I design buildings,” I respond, uncomfortably shifting my weight from left to right. I’ve found this is normally the best response, but what I’m really thinking is – “Sheesh, I’ve never designed a building in my entire career!” but more about that later.

I’ve tried other approaches, but this response seems to keep the conversation rolling.

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So What Exactly Does an Architect Do?

Ask different architects the details of his or her daily job duties and you’ll get a different answer every time. What an architect does on a daily basis depends on where they live (big city or small town), what kind of firm they work for, and a myriad of other factors.

Architect standing in front of a drafting table

This is not what
an architect (today) does

Before deciding to be an architect, figure out what your ideal work day would be like, then look for a match below. Here are a few job descriptions for architects:

Design architect at a large firm – Large firms have entire teams that are focused only on the initial design of a project. If you work at a large firm, you will be living in a large metropolitan area like New York, Houston, Los Angeles, etc. If this is your ideal job, living in a small town is out. It will be commuting and busy streets for you. Design architects are involved in the artistic side of the process: sketching freehand, making initial computer generated images of the projects, and putting together presentations for clients. These architects have strong artistic abilities and a lot of their day is spent on right-brained (creative visualization) activities. If you love creating beautiful images from scratch, can draw well, and are talented with Adobe Photoshop, SketchUp, and 3d Studio VIZ, you will enjoy being on a design team and you should try to work at a large firm. There will still be late nights getting ready for client presentations and competition deadlines, but what is a late night when you are doing something you love? One disadvantage of being on a design team is that you will not be involved in the later phases of a project. You won’t be involved in the drawing of building plans, nor how the project is constructed. Design teams usually consist of a few senior members who are skilled in traditional drawing (pen and pencil) and younger members who are skilled with the latest digital tools. Note that competition for these jobs is stiff since this is what most architects like to do. To compete in this arena you’ll need a strong portfolio showing your artistic skills. However, if you would rather be involved in all aspects of a projects, this job may not be for you.

Production architect at a large firm – Large firms have architects and interns that work exclusively on the production of building plans or “blueprints” (architects call these “construction drawings”). These plans are what the contractor will use to build the building. Young, unlicensed architects on a production team (up to 10 years experience) spend their day correcting or modifying building plans with CAD or BIM software. This job involves long stretches sitting down doing the same thing over and over (drawing screws in a piece of wood for instance). Some architects don’t like this, others do. Working on a production team gives architects the ability to understand how a building is built and how the details fit together. These architects do not design buildings and they do not create the sexy images of buildings that we often associate with architects – that is the design team mentioned above, remember? If you are hungry to participate in the design of a building and draw pretty pictures, this job may not be for you. On the other hand, if you are technically minded (left-brained) you might find a nice niche here!

Principal at a Large firm – a principal or partner has reached the top of a large firm. Principals are well paid ($100-200k) because they have vast amounts of experience (20+ years) as well as profitable relationships and connections (e.g. they bring in new work) . They frequently pull in 6 figure plus salaries and are involved in the design and planning of projects. A very small percentage of practicing architects are principals at large firms. If you make the right choices in your career you can get here by your 50’s. Don’t expect it to be sooner. If you want the quick win, be a lawyer.

Contract Administration – some architects work exclusively on projects that are in the process of being built. They answer questions the builder may have about the construction drawings (‘the drawings’). Their time is spent talking to the builder (10%), researching the drawings (10%), visiting the job site (50%) and coordinating corrections to the drawings (30% – yes mistakes happen). If you enjoy being outside, going to meetings and are cool under pressure (criticism), you may want to go into contract administration. Note that many architects involved in contract administration sit in front of a computer all day. If you truly want to spend your days out-of-doors, go work for a contractor. Architects that work in contract administration are usually senior architects that have been around 20+ years because this job requires deep experience.

Spec (specifications) Writer – some architects spend their days compiling thick books of ‘project specifications’. These are not drawings, but physical descriptions of the quality standards and materials that should be used to build a project. For instance, the specifications tell the builder what paint to use when painting steel outdoors, and the quality of steel used to frame a wall. These architects spend their days researching building materials and editing large Word documents. If you enjoy reading and writing technical manuals, then you may want to consider being a spec writer! Note that spec writing is not an entry-level position, most spec writers are mid-to-late career professionals. These architects don’t draw at all, so if you don’t like to draw or aren’t artistic, you can still be a great spec writer.

Architect at a mid-size to small firm – architects at mid-size to small firms may not have the opportunity to work on large skyscrapers or monumental projects, but because these firms are smaller, these architects get more opportunities to be involved in every aspect of a project. Most upper level architects (20+ years) do a little of everything. They may do a little design, meet with clients, and manage junior architects. I’m pretty sure this is what Bob does.

Sole practitioner or firm owner – many people get into architecture because they dream of owning their own firm or ‘being their own boss’. The rewards and flexibility of starting your own architecture firm are enticing to many, but it is difficult, if not impossible, if you do not have a spouse with a healthy income. Sole practitioners and small firm owners work long hours and deal with tight finances. Typical salaries for solo architects (10+ years experience) lie between $60k and $70k a year, so if you want to get rich quick, think before you jump (p.s. I write about the challenges of starting an architecture firm at BusinessofArchitecture.com). If on the other hand you love wearing a lot of hats, don’t mind the responsibility and value flexibility, this can be a rewarding path.

Interns (0-5 years experience) – I can’t leave out the intern. Before you can reach any of the above positions you need to pass 3-5 years of internship doing (mostly) menial tasks 8 hours a day sitting in front of a computer. The only interns who do building design (the pretty pictures people think of when they think ‘architect’) all day work at large firms as part of a design team (see design architect at a large firm above). Interns at smaller firms might do some creative work, but most of their day is spent drafting on a computer.

It’s impossible to cover all the possible architect job descriptions, but this is a healthy start. If you are considering the career, go talk to some local architects and see if you can shadow one for a day or two. What you learn now will pay dividends later.

It is important to decide what you like doing best so that you can steer your career in that direction. Some architects design houses. Some design schools. Each is a very different experience. Some architects sit at a desk all day. Some architects are outside all day visiting construction sites. Some architects draw all day. Some architects never draw. And some architects do a little of everything. So if we meet on the street someday and you ask me what I do, when I respond “I’m an architect”, maybe you’ll understand.

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About Enoch Sears and BusinessofArchitecture.com

Enoch Sears, AIA, started BusinessofArchitecture.com as a resource for architects who are seeking information about marketing for architects and web design for architects. He is a practicing architect in California and author of the book “Social Media for Architects”. On BusinessofArchitecture.com he interviews architects and shares their successes for others to follow. Find Enoch on Twitter @BusinessofArch.

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  • Mahmudur Rahman

    How can an Asian architect get a job in USA or Canada without going there ? He may go there after getting job. But, how can he get the job?

  • sairam

    what is a firm

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      it is another name for “company”

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  • hoe

    bitch

  • hoe

    all you guys are gay

  • archigirl

    just sent this to an architecture student that I’m mentoring – thank you!

  • Ann

    Right on. When I respond with “I design mostly residential projects” some folks seem to not understand what “design” means and believe I am referring to “interior design”. There is a disconnect as to how a building/house comes to be outside of a construction crew showing up on site and building.

    • GAGS

      yup you are rite……this thing is casual nw a days….

  • Bill Reeves

    Wow, you do get a lot of people asking about architecture as a career.

  • sparsh

    beautifully written…

  • Wildlobo71

    Very Good write-up. I’ve always described architects as existing on a pendulum that swings between technical and design oriented, and yes – you can have a bit of each. The key is to know where you are most comfortable and build on that, don’t suffer fighting the position of the pendulum!. I know I am not a strong designer – but I am really good at applying technical knowledge; I enjoy solving problems in the realm of Fire, Life Safety, and Building Code. My details are beautiful (IMHO) but the few buildings I’ve truly “designed” – they aren’t spectacular design creations (they made the client happy, however, so I did well.) I am an owner and senior architect in a 10 person firm, I love getting involved in all aspects and encourage it of all our employees.

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  • James Hoffman

    Hello I’m a high school student and I’m stuck between deciding whether to become an architect or a doctor, I’m not very creative but I do adore architecture and I can draw very well if I have a model or object to look at and draw after it but I can never think of something of my own and sketch it down…is this a problem if I want to be an architect?

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      IF you think heading in that you aren’t creative and that you could be a doctor … I would recommend the doctor route.

    • Allie

      James, while I agree with Mr. Borson that the medical path could be a better route (you would definitely make more money) I felt the same way you did. I could sketch well but couldn’t come up with stuff on my own. After 3 years of architecture school so far, I can guarantee that they will teach you how to do that. I never knew how to draw inspiration from anything, but now I can come up with 10 different ideas on the spot when they ask me to. They teach you how to think like an architect and how to view spaces differently and how to pull elements from different spaces and structures. So if you are willing to learn and have the drawing/crafting capabilities, it’s always worth a shot!

      • Christyna

        Just out of curiosity, what school do you go to, Allie? I’m facing a similar dilemma. I’m a high school student and I love the idea being able to put the idea down on paper and working to see the actual results. How did you decide?

    • jc

      If you feel you have an equal affinity to both, doctor! If you end up
      doing architecture, you would sit in an office drawing endlessly
      realizing other people’s ideas for the first 5 to ten years; to say it
      bluntly, pretty much a cog in an architecture factory, esp. at a large
      firm. This is if you are really good. If you are a talent, you could be
      one of the very few architects in the industry who can be his or her
      own boss and be creating very inspiring buildings and making a
      ridiculous amount of money, but the chances of this is in my opinion are
      like you becoming a movie star at the level of Brad Pitt (so, not
      always about talent exclusively, but also about timing, the tastes of
      our society in the context in which you graduate and practice, and other
      very subjective considerations). On the other hand, if you are a really
      good doctor, you save people’s life with competence. If you are a one
      in a million doctor, you would probably be on the cusp of coming up with
      a cure to a disease.

      I am a jr. architect (just graduated, not
      registered yet, entry level at an architecture office) and love what I
      do! But if I loved medicine as much as I love architecture I would have
      probably chosen to do medicine; I also consider myself a reasonably
      talented designer…Were I not and I loved both medicine and
      architecture equally, I would chosen medicine with even more assurance.

      This
      is assuming you love both equally (I know it’s hard, how can you know
      without being very familiar with either right?). If you know you love
      both equally, the above is reasonably valid. If you don’t know, maybe
      your first step is to find out, maybe by visiting or shadowing an
      architect and a doctor.

      Hope this helps. :)

  • Miriam

    Hello and thank you for this insightful article. I have always dreamed of being an architect, however do to a fear of not being good enough i found myself second guessing if it was the right career. Now after reading your article for the second time I am now sure that architecture is perfect for me.
    Now that I know that architecture is what I want to study I would greatly appreciate help on how to go about pursuing such a career. I am currently 20 years old, and to tell you the truth I did not do very well in high school I didn’t fail any classes but I didn’t work at my full potential this was do partially because I did not agree with the grading system, my arrogance, and again my fear of not being good enough so why even try (yes i know the last 2 are contradicting but I was young and dumb). The reason why I am telling you this is because I want to know if this could affect my chances of getting into a university with an architecture major.
    I have no idea how to find the right architecture school for me, I have searched for help on many websites but it really wasn’t much help. Any information you can give me on finding a school with an architecture major would come as much needed help. Thank you for taking the time to read this, any insight on the matter is appreciated.

  • Jan

    I always assumed maths was the biggest part of architecture. What is the most maths you would need to be any of these architects?

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      it depends on your role and the type of work you do. Most of the architects I know have a basic understanding of how the structural systems work but I don’t know any who actually generate calculations. If you can work your way through basic trigonometry you can make it through school and the licensing tests. After that, most architects insurance carriers require structural engineers on the projects.

  • MaaH

    hi thank you for your great article

    I Have 2 question of you, your answer will be very worthwhile for me

    I have worked for 5-6 years after my university I planed schools and universities and drafted all days sometime I coordinated corrections to the drawings I worked on details(I like details) I do many thing but I don’t know any thing about architecture. i am

    I am artistic and i don’t like be in front of computer all day but I am serious and I really care about my duty and i like work out and really like traveling

    in your opinion what kind work is suit to me?

    and

    internal decoration is better or architects at mid-size to small firms?(i like both of them but i cant choose)
    thank you :)

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Nobody can really answer this question for you – you’ll have to make a decision and act on faith that you can make course corrections along the way to hone in on the role you want to perform.

    • PunxsutawnyFil

      Have you ever looked into being an Art Director? That would be great if you’re artistic. You usually have to start out being a graphic designer for 3-5 years before becoming an Art Director. They have a surprisingly great salary. 80,000 – 90,000 I think.

  • Helen

    Hello! I am 17 (Incoming senior) and I want to be an architect and this article helped me a lot! However, I’m still quite confused on what steps to take (I am taking the recommended classes in high school though: math, physics…etc). From my research so far, am I supposed to choose a college that is NAAB certified?

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I would choose an accredited program – there are so many NAAB qualified that it would almost be hard not to do so. Also, if there is a particular school (or schools) that you are interested in, go to their websites and look at the curriculum the architecture students take – that should guide you on the courses you might want to focus on in high school.

    • Katie

      Take as many AP and college credit courses as you can. Take them in Physics, Math, English, any core classes that might be required at your university. The last thing you want is to be overloaded with busy work for Gen Eds when you have studio to worry about. Also, visit the schools you are looking at and see what the atmosphere is like and what sort of resources they have (computer labs, architecture-specific libraries, etc). Also look into whether they have a built-in Masters’ Program, because you may be able to get a higher degree in a shorter amount of time.

  • Lopa

    hai bob, this is actually my first time here.
    Here i am at the age of 20, trying to figure out what course to take after high school.
    For some reason which i dont know, i have a soft side to architecture arena.
    I have to say, your blog definitely gives better dimension in this field.
    So thank you for such remarkable article here! =D

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      glad you found the article of value – best of luck with your decision!

  • Dennis Sintic

    Bob, Enoch, thanks for the article. The comments in this thread are just as great. I too am an “office of one”. Having only recently made the decision to try it on my own, I can attest to the varied nature of the sole practitioner. Its been everything from exciting to educational and everything in between, all within a short period of time. However, choosing to be a sole practitioner, (relatively early in ones architectural career) does require a lot of difficult decisions to be made and questions to be asked. Definitely a lot of hats to be worn at the same time.
    Cheers,

  • Tim Barber

    I am one of those who qualifies as an “office of one”. In my office I wear all hats and do everything. The only draws back are the long hours. Fortunately for me I don’t see this as a job. If I didn’t have to worry about money, this is what I would choose to do anyway. I tell people several things about architect. “It is like giving a small child a blank piece of paper and some crayons”. When they ask what I do, in general conversation, I say either “I draw pictures” or more often I say “I design buildings”. I love what I do and I hate to think of the day I can no longer do it. IF you want to be self employed it it very important to have a very understanding wife! I do! As I tell her “I understand you, you tolerate me!” Self employment will not work without support from your life partner. Even thought architecture may be a tough road for many, as I tell my kids, “If you are good at what your do, you will make money”. To clarify, make money to support yourself, not to be confused with getting rich!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      excellent contribution to the conversation – thanks Tim

  • http://twitter.com/Jwhitten1013 John Whitten

    Great article. When asked what an architect does I explain my role as being a professional babysitter that works on really big group art projects with a bunch of kids that may or may not play well together. We provide the vision, organize the chaos, and stop the bickering and make sure there is something at the end to show the parents.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      great description – I might borrow that one.

      Thanks John

  • Derek

    thank you… I wish all architecture schools talked about this during their open house and through years in school xD

  • http://twitter.com/MarciaKellogg Marcia Kellogg

    Although you touched upon it briefly with “bringing in new work” and “client presentations”, the aspect of Marketing was conspicuously absent.

    • Tim Barber

      Marcia, I would think “bring in new work” applies to many professions, not just architecture.

  • http://twitter.com/MarciaKellogg Marcia Kellogg

    Although you touched upon it briefly regarding with “bringing in new work” and “client presentations”, the aspect of Marketing was conspicuously absent. Granted, I am not an architect, but I have represented A/E/C firms for the past 20 years through marketing and business development. Marketing touches every aspect of a firm, yet seems to be the least recognized. And increasingly, licensed professionals are serving in this capacity within their firms.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DasherHurst Tom Hurst

    Great article. I would like to underscore suggestions made by others that young architects will benefit greatly from working for a small firm (3-10 people) so that they get exposed sooner to more facets of the profession. At least I can attest that this approach provided a great foundation for me.

    I was talking with a colleague lately about how it’s interesting that the phenomenon of an intern spending his whole day running prints, doing door schedules, drawing toilet room elevations, etc. is not too common anymore. Other mundane tasks have replaced them but in general, my perception is that, due to changes in technology, these labor-intensive tasks are much more automated, more quickly produced, and as a result young interns tend to get a much broader experience today than they did when I started out 20 years ago. I’m not saying that long hours and hard work are no longer required, just that our profession has become less labor-intensive. In my practice, we spend much less time in Construction Documents but more time in Schematic Design than we used to and spend more of our budgeted time producing renderings and other value-added services on behalf of our clients.

    Curious if others would agree with this.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      It would seem just based on the small sample of responses here that people would agree.

  • http://twitter.com/Alexandrafunfit Alexandra Williams

    If i were considering this field, this article would be EXACTLY what I’d need. Thank you for sharing your experience and insights, Enoch.

    • http://businessofarchitecture.com Enoch Sears

      Well thank you very much Alexandra for your kind words! I hope it helps someone out!

  • Chris B.

    How come I never see facility management or building management on these types of posts? If you want to get paid well after getting licensed or even right out of school, be respected, and basically do a little of everything you imagined architects do, then working as an owner’s rep or facility manager is the way to go!

    • http://businessofarchitecture.com Enoch Sears

      Wow, Chris excellent point! The article was getting so long I thought I had to cut it off somewhere. But yes, I did leave out several great paths, including Facilities Management and working for a Municipality. I work with two great architects who are Facilities Managers and they have very comfortable and rewarding careers.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Chris,

      If you are in this role, why don’t you explain here what it is that you do? Adding your experience and story would make a worthwhile addition to this list.

      Cheers

      • Chris

        Hi Bob,

        I am in this role and so far, it’s been much more rewarding than working in a traditional architecture firm. I really have learned how buildings work and have been pleasantly surprised at how much responsibility I’ve been given at a relatively early stage. I get to do everything from make campus wide strategic facility plans to design individual offices. I also get to work with operations and maintenance and really see what works and what doesn’t from a design stand point. Best of all, you have excellent job security and the pay is very good. The only draw back, and it’s a fairly big one for architects, is that you don’t get to draw buildings all day long. However, you do get to influence the design and that can be just as rewarding as designing it.

        Thanks for letting me chime in!

  • Sheldon Wolfe

    Thank you for including specifiers! If you think it’s tough to figure out what the other person says when you say “I’m an architect”, try doing it when you say “I’m a specifier.”

    Although a specifier is not necessarily an architect, many are. I spent a dozen years as a “real” architect before moving to specifications. The reason most are most are mid-to-late career professionals is that it takes a while to learn about all the stuff that goes into a building. They certainly didn’t teach us in school!

    There are advantages to working at each size firm. Large firms have the luxury of having specialists: specifiers, code analysts, IT staff, marketing departments, and so on. That allows staff architects to spend more time doing architecture, but it also reduces their ability to learn about all of the profession.

    Sole practitioners and architects at small firms (60 percent have fewer than five employees according to AIA) of necessity experience more of the full range of things that architects do. These architects are of necessity closer to the Master Builder of old, responsible for all or much of the total project.

    Another great post, Bob!

    • http://businessofarchitecture.com Enoch Sears

      Thanks Sheldon! I find specifiers some of the ‘funnest’ people to talk to because they are so knowledgeable on the inner workings of details. My head swims just thinking about ASCE-07 and UL test standards, etc.Only an architect would understand, I’m sure. You make a good point differentiating the use of the word “architect”. I stuck to the colloquial definition and left out the legal one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=617743213 Ann Marie Alspaugh

    In my experience, this is an accurate description of the varying paths an architect can take, and/or fall into. If you are in school or just seeking an internship, choose a mid-size to small architecture firm which will expose you to all aspects of the profession. A broad base of experience will help you find your path and leave you more employable during hard economic times. If you start off your career in a “starchitect” firm, you will spend at least your first 5+ years laying out public restrooms & egress stairs, gaining little else experience and then struggling to pass the licensing exam.

    • http://businessofarchitecture.com Enoch Sears

      Thanks for validating my perspective Ann. As you mention, the perception of what we do doesn’t line up well with our daily jobs most of the time.

  • Jeremiah Russell

    I like this post. It’s concise and inclusive. I will add however that interns who truly want to “get into architecture” should seek out relatively low paying positions with very small firms (less than 10 total employees) and really sink their teeth into the practice of architecture. This type of position will force you into positions of responsibility in all aspects of practice from design to client meetings to spec writing to production to contract administration and field investigation. I wish I had done this 10 years ago instead of taking the large firm route out of the gate. I’d have been a better architect sooner.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      There is definitely some truth to your comment. Small firms tend to throw you into a sink or swim situation. Since they don’t have the resources to generally ween people along slowly, if you are not a strong self-starter, small firms would probably not be the route to go right out of the gate.

      Knowing a bit about your strengths and weaknesses should guide you towards a small or large firm. Since I have spent a majority of my career in small firms, I am pretty good at a whole lot of things … my friends who have been at large firms are exceptionally good at a few things. Just depends on your skill set.

    • Sheldon Wolfe

      I agree, Jeremiah. I avoided large firms such as Ellerbe, figuring I might get stuck in the basement, drawing doorknob details the rest of my life. Starting at a small firm, I had the sink-or-swim experience; I had to deal with owners, building officials, and contractors with little help. The School of Hard Knocks is a tough place to learn, and I made mistakes, but what you learn by direct involvement – and mistakes – stays with you much more than what you learn in a seminar.

    • http://businessofarchitecture.com Enoch Sears

      Good advice Jeremiah.

    • http://www.facebook.com/keviny2 Kevin Young

      I am currently an intern and a recent graduate of architecture, and I completely agree with that. I intentionally avoided big firms, because I wanted to be forced into a sink-or-swim situation willingly so that I could learn as much as I could as quickly as possible! It’s a great experience, and my day-to-day is always varied, where as some of my friends in bigger offices find themselves doing the same thing every day.

      Also, love this article (and this blog in general) – gives a great insight into the profession and explains things I didn’t even realize or know about until I started as an intern. I wish students where I went to school were exposed more heavily to this kind of experience instead of just designing studio projects and reading design theories.

      • Tim Barber

        Good decision. I also avoided large firms. The largest firm I ever worked for was 15. Smallest was 5. Good or bad, I always took the job not for the money, but for the experience. I have no regrets although I can see where some follow the money. As an office of one, my experiences have been very valuable to me.
        My personal opinion to someone young. Pursue your passion, learn as much as you can, always be pleasant and upbeat, and make as make personal connections as possible. I tell my kids one of the most important things in life is relationships. If you are an “average” architect and the clients really like you, I think you will be more successful than if you are an “elite” super designer that nobody can stand to be around. I consider myself an average architect, but I have great relationships with my clients. It has kept my doors open for 25 years.

        Good luck with an exciting future.

    • http://twitter.com/Jwhitten1013 John Whitten

      I feel like there is a stigma about big firms being bad for educating interns. Having worked in large and small firms I have seen both sides of this coin. The large firm (130) was really good at mentoring and getting interns involved in all aspects of the practice. On the contrary the small firm (6 people) was terrible. I don’t think this is a Big Firm – Small Firm Issue. The issue is whether or not your firm is providing a mutually beneficial experience.

      Also, I wholeheartedly disagree that interns should take low paying jobs just to get experience. That kind of mentality is why Architects on the whole are seeing fees reduced. if we don’t value our time why should anyone else? There are good paying – good experience jobs out there.

      Remember: nothing in the world happens without architects and that is valuable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513264547 Yousif El Helw

    well, this is depressing.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      sorry. matching reality up with expectations rarely works out like how people think it will.

      I don’t find it depressing, I think most people who find the thing that they are good at and given a chance to excel discover that when they are far happier than struggling at something else.