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It's been 2 years since I graduated with a B.Arch, and after working at a small firm with mainly interior design work (which I got to get a small amount of CA experience) in China, I moved on to an international firm that does mainly competitions and big projects in China that are quickly handed off to Local Design Institutes, after Design Document stage. The work is fun and colleagues great, but I worry that when I'm not exactly getting the kind of experience that will make me an "architect" (IDP concerns included).
Ideally, I would love to have accumulated decent CA experience by the time I reach 5 years of experience, and could go on to work as a project architect at wherever I go next. As comfortable as I am right now, I worry that my career path is a bit derailed...In addition to that, my bf and I are also looking into moving to Europe after our stint in China, possibly in 2-3 years. I worry that no one in Europe (or anywhere outside of China for that matter) would take on me with the kind of experience I'm getting at the moment. I'd like to hear from anyone who could have travelled down this path (spending their first coupla years doing fluffy-ish designs but wanting to get back on more concrete work) more insight into how I can possibly steer myself back onto my "Ideal Career Track"...thanks all.
2 words. Hakuna Matata
You will have to find an office in Europe that works in China (which are there quite a few of), get in the door, and start exploring what other "real" (so to speak) work you can do and start working towards IDP etc. One of the few good things about our profession is that it take forever to get anywhere, so we do have a lot of time!
2 years since graduation? C'mon. Some of us spent 2 years trying to find a job! Heck, I just finally found a job after 5 years (I was self employed for 3 years prior, limited to small interior design).
As the post before, our profession is a process. That process is long and I wouldn't be concerned about not learning "fast enough". You'll get there, we all will. Just be glad you're actually in a position to learn and surrounded by fellow architects whom have plenty of experience. You'll be surprised at how willing they are to help you become a "well-rounded" architect. They probably would love to answer questions regarding the whole process. We all do.
Thanks for the replies so far. I see that there's no hurry in terms of acquiring experience, but I guess what worries me specifically is the TYPE of the experience that I'm getting right now - mainly, I've been doing exclusively design work (3d modeling, conceptual & schematic design, design document sets), but very little in things like construction and coordination. I'm grateful for my job, but i do wonder if the work my company gets is limited to just that and that i will come out of this with experience that will limit me to just paper architecture everafter...hope this makes sense!
Trading "down" to a smaller and/or more boring firm is probably an option worth thinking about. That includes both more conventional/boring work and/or firms located in smaller cities or in different neighborhoods within the same city. I'm not sure how it will all pan out, but I chose a job at a relatively commercial firm over a job with a minor starchitect because it offered more hands-on experience and much better pay.
You need to get into a job that exposes you to all aspects of design from schematic, design development, consultant coordination, construction documents, bidding, contract negotiation, construction admin, shop drawing review, client hand holding, figuring out how to deal with contractor mistakes, shitting your pants when you realize something was specified wrong in the drawings and it falls on you personally.
Even 5 years of doing all that, it is going to be a push to become a "project architect", its good that you can see your current position is not moving you forward, now you just have to take some action to get you in to a position that will.
I wouldn't worry about it. You're getting good exposure to earlier parts of actually landing a project. If you were only drawing details and CA you may feel like you were missing out on exactly what you're doing now. Are there any personal projects you can do to supplement what you're missing out on?
thanks, i think your comments have helped to put things into perspective. I have indeed been exploring the possibility of taking on some personal projects, such as small apartment renovations, but I can't realistically imagine anyone wanting to leave that to me, someone with only 2 years of work experience (less than half of which deals with actual construction)...perhaps I need to be more imaginative in my approach? Volunteering maybe?!