“Re: Advice for a young architect”
That was the subject line of one of the emails that came in over the weekend. Normally I don’t respond to the newest emails first (especially since I have about 400 still left to answer) but this one caught my eye and I decided to respond because the subject line had almost all of my trigger words. I should confess that I didn’t realize when I started writing this blog 7 years ago that I would spend more time answering emails than actually writing articles for the site. To be honest, I have hard time keeping up with the volume and I’ve undoubtedly disappointed a lot of people who didn’t know just how hard it is to answer every email (nobody asks “yes” or “no” questions) and all they really want is for someone to help them – maybe provide some guidance or insight.
That doesn’t so unreasonable, does it? I didn’t think so either. So every now and then, I decide to turn those email responses into a blog post so that I can direct people to it rather than coming up with the same information time and time again. To that end, I received an email from a young man who recently graduated and wanted to know if I had any tips or recommendations for him as he starts his career.
Uhhhh … do I have any tips? It’s like he doesn’t know who I am because I am full of unsolicited advice. There are about 200 articles or more on this site would be perfect for him, but he specifically wanted my top 10 tips for a young architect just starting at their first job. Who am I to deny this young man getting off on the right foot?
So, in no particular order (other than this is the sequence in which I thought of them), here are the ten things I wish I knew when I walked into my first day on the job. In some instances, there is a complete article that I’ve prepared on the subject and I’ve included the link so that you can read it and then “wow” your friends at your next cocktail party.
1.) Don’t send an email for everything, it will live forever and get sent to people you might not have intended to read it. [For more thoughts read You’ve Got Mail – September 2015]
2.) Be wary of moonlighting “opportunities”, there’s a reason these folks aren’t coming in the front door. [The Pro’s and Con’s of Moonlighting – April 2010]
3.) Perception is reality – it doesn’t always matter if you’re right or not. [Perception versus Reality – March 2011 … and as a bonus, you can see a 1990 version of Bob Borson]
4.) Pay attention to what’s important to you, learn who you are, not who you want to be.
5.) Your supervisor/boss doesn’t care why you didn’t do what they asked … “excuses” and “reasons” sound a lot alike.
6.) If your firm justifies long hours as “part of the training process for interns” you should look for a different firm.
7.) Your school portfolio doesn’t have the value you think it does and once you have a real job, expect to leave it in the closet forever. [Architectural Portfolio’s and their True Purpose – May 2013]
8.) Learn how to speak well in public – take a class if needed. [Presentation Skills – Tips and Techniques – October 2013]
9.) Volunteer some of your time to charity – any charity will do. Let others take advantage of that exceptional education.
10.) Hand drawing is not a gift, it’s a skill, and it has value beyond creating pretty pictures. [Sketching – various]
11.) You need to realize that the person who can sell work has more value than the person who can design the work
Funnily enough, I still work with the guy who hired me for my first professional job post-college. He is the “Malone” in “Malone Maxwell Borson Architects”. I should ask him how many of these things I had figured out when I first worked with him … he might say none of them, but I know for a fact he’d agree that #3 was particularly off my radar. In fact, I already wrote a post on this subject and he is the “Boss” I mention in Perception vs. Reality. If you haven’t already read that article, I know how you should spend the next 3 minutes of your day.