So you got through the application process, nailed the interview, negotiated the offer and landed your shiny new architecture job. Congrats! Now what?
Often we get so caught up in the architecture job search that we forget that there is a challenging position waiting for us on the other side.
I have worked for both large and small architecture offices, so I have had the pleasure of seeing hundreds of new employees join the hive. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.
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To keep you on track and set you up to succeed in your new role, here are my 5 Rules When Starting A New Architecture Job.
1. Clearly Outline Your Skills
When you had your interview you probably discussed how you are a Revit Master and can detail any portion of a building. Fast-forward to starting on Monday and that interviewer is nowhere to be found. Then you find yourself working on a concept presentation using some convoluted new Adobe program that you have never seen before. As a result you are slow and don’t finish the presentation in time for the deadline.
This type of nightmare scenario is exactly what you want to avoid when starting a new company. You have to make completely clear to everyone around you what are your greatest strengths and abilities.
This doesn’t mean you should outright refuse to do something you are unfamiliar with, however you should let them know that it may take a little while to get up to speed. Setting reasonable expectations is a good way to avoid disappointment for everyone involved.
2. Don't Be Too Loud
When I say “loud” I don’t mean you come marching into the office yelling on your phone. Although don’t do that either, it is annoying.
What I am referring to is when you are just starting out don’t be a bull in a china shop. I know you are excited to get started and bring your design genius to all of the Baby Boomers in the office.
Of course you should share your insight and experience but do so in a matter that doesn’t come across as arrogant. Touting your leadership abilities to someone 30 years your senior is going to cause some friction.
Be humble and willing to learn when joining a new firm. Learn the culture in the office and where you can best add value.
3. Don't Be Too Quiet
While being too loud and arrogant can be a problem, doing the opposite is also just as bad. You don’t want to just sit in the corner everyday and only speak when spoken to. Try to be as proactive as possible.
Speak up if someone needs help, get up and help someone move that table or figure out why Powerpoint won’t play that stupid video.
If you think another floor plan option is worth pursing, please do so, just not at the expense of the main task.
Architect’s are generally receptive to new ideas (depending on the deadline). It is often better to have an extra set of eyes providing feedback on such a complicated process.
4. Don't Create Work For Others
This is one of my biggest pet peeves and it drives me nuts. When you are tasked with a problem, try to actually solve it yourself.
Don’t bring it back to me with a longer list of problems to solve. Doing so now gives the job back to me that I just assigned to you!
This is outlined perfectly in a classic article in the Harvard Business Review: Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey? (Oncken & Wass, 1974).
"Let us imagine that a manager is walking down the hall and that he notices one of his subordinates, Jones, coming his way. When the two meet, Jones greets the manager with, “Good morning. By the way, we’ve got a problem.
You see….” As Jones continues, the manager recognizes in this problem the two characteristics common to all the problems his subordinates gratuitously bring to his attention. Namely, the manager knows (a) enough to get involved, but (b) not enough to make the on-the-spot decision expected of him. Eventually, the manager says, “So glad you brought this up. I’m in a rush right now. Meanwhile, let me think about it, and I’ll let you know.” Then he and Jones part company.
Let us analyze what just happened. Before the two of them met, on whose back was the “monkey”? The subordinate’s. After they parted, on whose back was it? The manager’s.
Subordinate-imposed time begins the moment a monkey successfully leaps from the back of a subordinate to the back of his or her superior and does not end until the monkey is returned to its proper owner for care and feeding.
In accepting the monkey, the manager has voluntarily assumed a position subordinate to his subordinate."
5. Ask How You Are Doing
Some architecture firms have a set probationary period in which you are being evaluated before becoming a full-time employee. Typically this is in the range of three months. After that time you are given a thumbs up and asked to stay or thumbs down and told to leave.
Regardless if the office you join has an official probationary period I would encourage you to set your own evaluation milestones. Your job performance is something you need to be proactive with in these early stages. Don’t wait six months to ask your supervisor how you are going.
Do you best to get feedback along the way. This doesn’t necessarily have to have an official sit-down meeting, although that would be acceptable. You can just ask occasionally if there was something that you could have done better on a particular area and what you should do differently next time.
Do you best to pick up on subtle hints (or sometimes not so subtle) that you did something incorrectly. Ask how you can improve and take the advice. This proactive approach to your new role will not go unrewarded.
I hope you found these 5 Rules When Starting A New Architecture Job helpful.
Good luck with the new job!
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To help you with your architecture job search, I've created a mega-pack of free resources that includes architecture resumes, cover letters, and an extensive collection of application documents. Click for a free download:
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Brandon Hubbard, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C
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