spending. Since I graduated from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, I've experienced two major down turns. Friends losing jobs, no salary increases, project shortages, etc., all are effects the overall economy has on the construction industry. So how can you prepare for a downturn to remain marketable? Expand your skill set during the up times. Learn the latest computer software, take certification courses, make contacts with professionals in related fields such as building products, become an expert in a specific area. If you prepare in advance for change it's
not a frightening experience. It's simply part of this industry that isn't mentioned in the academic world.
2. This is an industry full of strong egos and personalities. Unlike the art world , the architecture scene is more cool and reserved. I once worked in a famous architectural office in Cambridge as an intern. Some architects would not even say hello at the coffee pot. I developed a thick skin, but it still does not excuse bad behavior. I don't care what degree you hold. For a young person this can be a harsh industry and it's not for everyone. You need to develop an internal dialog that lets you rise above the nonsense of industry hierarchy.
3. When you interview with a company take a moment to be fully present. What is the atmosphere like? What does the space convey? What matters to the company? How is the interview process? So many small signals are lost because you "really want a job". Try to find an environment that suites you as well. I'm not saying this because the employer owes you something. In fact, you need to offer talents that benefit the employer, but when you feel most comfortable you'll bring your best A game.
4. Attend a few client meetings with your boss just to observe. Ask questions afterwards about the dialog, decisions made, and outcome. Knowing when and how
to speak with a client is an art. The best sales people know when to be quiet, when to speak up, when to politely disagree, when to ask for the order, and when to close a deal. On the job training in this area is important. Ask for it. Read about it. Don't think you're not selling. You're always selling ideas!
5. Architectural reps are some of your best resources in the industry. They will know who is hiring, who secured a big
project, who's leaving etc. Create positive relationships with this network of people.
6. Try to think like your client at least half of the time. We often know the design process inside and out and forget
that others may not. If they don't know what programming is, explain it before you proceed. If they're really concerned about budget, offer options at various price points. It's not their job to explain to you what they don't even know.
It's your job to figure out what meets their needs and sometimes it's even beyond the technical aspects.
7. Know when being Right is all Wrong. I once had a commercial client that read an article in the Harvard Business review. He trusted this source and since it mentioned a specific carpet manufacturer as being "green" or having a "green story", we were directed to reselect within this product line. Ok, this sounds reasonable, right? Except one little detail...the actual carpet that got installed was not part of their "green program". There are times when you'll have to go against your better judgment because the client directs you and ultimately you work for them. Note: as long as it's not illegal or
8. It's ok to turn down the wrong client,
the wrong promotion, the wrong job offer. Being selective in who and what you allow in your life is ok.
9. Each job you take will teach you something. Figure out the takeaway. Do you prefer a large corporate company, a mid- sized firm, or a small family environment. Do you like job sites, travel, client meetings, product research, drafting, CAD, codes, specifications? Where do you shine? What feels effortless? It's your responsibility to know yourself and surround yourself with those that
push your creativity.
10. School was like a quick sprint and a
design career is like a marathon. Scenery changes, people pass you, and time goes by. You set the goals and
dreams you have for your career so don't rely on people giving you opportunity. Seek out what you want and remain flexible in your approach. People who get what
they want are the ones who never give
The built environment changes how people feel and interact. It has a huge impact on the world and most importantly on people. I'm always amazed that through design I can make a positive impact for others. I hope this insight is helpful to those students reading it today. Please pass it along or add your comment about working in the industry. - Anita Bhattacharya Oates