My blogging reticence notwithstanding, the past few weeks have kept me rather busy. I am now working three or four five days a week instead of the planned two, which tells me either that I’m doing well or that my coworkers find my sunny personality irresistible.
The firm is small, located in a suburban business park nine songs and six coffee stands from my home. They just downsized significantly, and right now there is only one principal, a computer specialist, an IDP intern, and me in the office. It’s quiet, except for the hum of the plotter and the ring of the phone. I spend my lunch hour reading lit crit in my car. This is my first job ever, so I’m naturally nervous and spend too much time working up the courage to ask my boss what he wants me to do next.
USC begins teaching AutoCAD in second year, so I’m relatively ineffectual when it comes to doing “real” work around the office. My tasks include delivering plans, typing billing statements, compiling contact lists, clumsily collating 24” x 36” sheets of paper, and embarrassing myself on the phone. I got to update the firm’s letterhead; I got to choose the typeface (Helvetica, of course) and that totally counts as a design decision, so that was pretty thrilling. I suppose my most important job, besides making the coffee, is taking the occasional set of field measurements and photographs. These are tedious, mostly because I’m never sure how precise I should be and the pretence of knowing what you're doing is hard to maintain convincingly for more than a few hours at a time. Worse, they are quite possibly hazardous to my health: one day I had to measure the width of a mezzanine window. Standing at the top of a narrow metal stair and positioned precariously in front of a solid door that out toward me, I leaned out over the railing to measure the width of the window frame and imagined some cranky fat executive with an ugly Rush Limbaugh tie wondering what little yellow snake was creeping across the window sill, throwing open the door to investigate, and watching my body and clipboard tumble down twelve very carefully measured 7” by 3’6” treads to the concrete floor below.
Paranoia aside, it’s mostly enjoyable. Unfortunately I’ve seen very little real design; all the projects seem to be in pre- or post-production, as it were. I sneak glances at the other interns’ CAD screens, but all I’ve ever caught them doing is labeling things and making legends. Most of the work, and not just mine, seems very mundane. I don’t know what I expected, I guess, but everything is so prosaic and straightforward and nothing like studio at all. I’m trying to absorb everything I can, from little IDP tips to general office management. Emphasizing the “learning experience” aspect of the job makes the fact that I’m being paid minimum wage a little less depressing.
Right, so here’s the bait so I can feel validated by the comment count: what architectural periodicals do you recommend for students? I’m getting Architectural Review right now, and it seems mostly interesting, but I’m clueless as to what other publications are out there and especially which would be particularly important from a student’s perspective.