architects getting f'd on Craigslist


file, i agree with everything you say except this sentence: 'having a full time job that contains an element of 'clerical' work is significantly less degrading than having no job at all, or even a 1/2 time job'.  i think having a job that's way beneath your qualifications is more demoralizing than having no job, and definitely worse than having a 1/2 time job--if you work 1/2-time, you at least have ownership of the rest of your time, which has its own value.  and if you have no job, you at least have the possibility to improve your situation in other ways.

if i had a firm, i'd do as much as i could to keep it going, including fix the toilets.  but i would be doing that by choice and out of a sense of responsibility.  i totally respect that you do that, and that you value your receptionist. 

AND, if this was a 1-5 person office, yes, they'd have to answer the phones and take out the trash.  but it's PERKINS AND WILL!  1450 employees and revenue over 350 million in 2010, and they can't afford a part-time receptionist?  come on!

regarding the living wage, they are asking one person to do two jobs.  i guess i don't have any proof that that means overtime somewhere, but in our profession, it's a good bet.

i also think it's curious that you guys think one full-time job is preferable to two part-time jobs that could help two people in need by giving them work suitable to their qualifications.  receptionists have to eat, too...

Oct 26, 11 2:18 pm  · 

ps this doesn't seem like a little satellite office to me--check out all the key staff they list:

Oct 26, 11 2:29 pm  · 

well ... following your logic, I guess firms could split all of their full-time architectural jobs into five 1-day-each week jobs so five unemployed architects could have at least some work.

to me, this feels like a "no good deed goes unpunished" situation -- neither of us know the circumstances at P&W's Houston office or why they designed this hire in this way -- I'm sure they had their reasons and, knowing a little bit about P&W, I"m not inclined to assume their reasons are evil. you choose to go the other way.

I'm just glad they're willing to hire an architect and I know any number of recent graduates who would be more than delighted to get their career in architecture started in this manner.

hell, it's definitely no worse than the 10-15 hours I spent each week making service deliveries and running blue prints on the ammonia machine during my first real job in an architecture firm. I never felt that work was 'beneath me" and I somehow managed to become a principal in a successful design firm a few years on. in hindsight, that work gave me a pretty useful perspective on what really goes on in a design firm. 

Oct 26, 11 2:42 pm  · 

'well ... following your logic, I guess firms could split all of their full-time architectural jobs into five 1-day-each week jobs so five unemployed architects could have at least some work'

how does having 2 people do 2 DIFFERENT JOBS equal having 5 people split ONE ARCHITECTURAL JOB?? 

Oct 26, 11 2:44 pm  · 

hey ... is that genuine cowhide on the reception desk ?   cool .... bet none of the cad monkeys in the back have that nice of a workstation.

Oct 26, 11 2:45 pm  · 

lighten up, elinor ... you're going to have a stroke.

Oct 26, 11 2:47 pm  · 

Well I have no dog in the P&W fight but I did just send a polite and helpful copy of the US Department of Labor's unpaid internship criteria to the firm in the ad Jonathan Livingston posted.

Oct 26, 11 3:00 pm  · 

meh. This is Perkins and Will we are talking about here. Their business model for the last few years has been as follows:

  • Step 1: Buy as many nearly defunct offices as you can. Make yourself look big like the big guys.
  • Step 2:???
  • Step 3: Profit

Where ??? could be anything from praying to Jesus to firing everyone and rehiring them as secretaries. (our office boasts 400 LEED certified secretaries!)

One thing sticks out here: answering a telephone is worth as much $/h as knowing for to operate revit. Seems right. We are in it for the pain anyways. 

Oct 26, 11 3:02 pm  · 

Rusty....ya must give Good Phone!

Oct 26, 11 3:07 pm  · 

i actually think the intern architect is probably cheaper than a qualified phone answerer...and you can throw him/her on a deadline...

and under '???'--don't forget 'design 30-story single-family tower'.... :)


Oct 26, 11 3:07 pm  · 

You all should see your faces when...

With the exception of the lowest of the low-rung administrative assistants and office errand runners, most of your architectural support staff generally makes more than most entry-level to mid-level architects.

The reasoning for this is generally that these kinds of people are in demand across all professions and industries. You don't need to know anything about architecture to send faxes, answer phones or do light accounting for an architecture firm.

Other professions pay experienced comptrollers, office managers and financial managers upwards and past the six-figure mark. If anything, architecture is actually pretty low when it comes to office management. Look at Monster for office managers in New York City for established companies— they get paid somewhere between $70-90k a year. You'd be lucky to see $55k for the same job at an architecture firm.

And because architecture, for whatever reason, does not keep competitive in this arena, you better and brighter office-types are ending up in banking, healthcare, insurance and marketing firms because of the higher pay, better benefits and less chaos.

Oct 26, 11 3:21 pm  · 

What exactly does an "office manager" DO?  Because based on my understanding of the job I'd be good at it.

Sadly I don't really know what any non-architecture office workers do but then I can't really explain what I do either.  But maybe that's criteria that defines a manager?

Oct 26, 11 5:04 pm  · 

The fact that anyone at all would defend, or shrug off as normal, the Perkins & Will job listing only reinforces my sense that architects in general suffer from a king of group PTSD. Although our great-great grandparents may have had to sell matchsticks on the street as six-year-olds, we no longer compel our own children to do the same because--at least in this respect--societal standards have improved. On the other hand, we architects continue still consider it normal when profit-making corporations demand that young professionals in our field, equipped with skills and qualifications and hopefully intelligence, enthusiastically slog through whatever shit is put in front of them, all because someone once made us spend hours feeding paper into a toxic blueprinting machine.

I agree that the logic behind the job listing is that a recent graduate from architecture school would ask for a lower salary than a professional office assistant. You almost have to admire the corrosive cynicism.

Oct 26, 11 5:08 pm  · 

An office manager pretty much does exactly what the job position sounds like...

You manage the "physical manifestation" of the office, itself. An office manager makes sure the rent is paid, the office is clean, the Nespresso machine stocked, the bathrooms have toiletries, the files are filed, the printers have ink, the server is free of pornography and so on. This is the person who keeps down hard costs too— negotiating with various vendors about prices for paper, water and other supplies. Writing nasty letters and withholding rent when the landlord gets behind on repairs. Making sure the bills are paid, airline tickets are purchased and hotels are arraigned.

In smaller offices, this person may also be the HR representative, the IT technician, the marketer, the debt collector, the accountant and sometimes even the graphic designer. But while this sounds like a lot of work, it usually isn't a "full-time" job. You'd be lucky to even have 30 hours worth of work to do a week.

But if a person say with graphic design and rendering experience is looking for an administrative job in the creative industry... why would someone choose an architecture firm when an avionics or an industrial design firm pays three times as much for doing a few hours of errands a day and perhaps popping out a render or two? As both an office type and a graphic designer, I've been able to "demonstrate" my value when I explain how much contract graphic design actually costs versus letting me bill out an additional 5 hours a month.


It's become one of those things I've recently learned where I, for a long time, was applying to architecture firms all over the place looking for these kinds of jobs only to never hear much back. Decided to look into other industries. Getting lots of calls, e-mails and quick interviews back now for salaries much higher than I've ever seen from architecture.

As much as I'd like to do a combination job of urban planinng/graphics/office work for an architecture firm, $65,000 a year inputing invoices, changing out water coolers and vacuuming the floors of a marketing firm for ~30 hours a week is more and more tempting.


Oct 26, 11 5:29 pm  · 

samspade: "all because someone once made us spend hours feeding paper into a toxic blueprinting machine"

You take my post way out of context. While I did spend time feeding paper into a print machine, nobody "made" me do that -- I elected to take that particular job and I knew that was part of the job when I accepted the offer. I was free to walk away at anytime. I stayed because I felt I was gaining useful experience overall and I was earning a salary in my chosen field. I have zero regrets about that first job.

Most importantly, I definitely did not feel that I was being 'hazed' nor did that experience cause me to feel the need to 'haze' entry level staff at our firm today. We treat our interns with respect because we know they have "skills and qualifications and ... intelligence".

Now, having said that, I do not condemn P&W for this ad, nor would I look down my nose at an unemployed graduate who choses to pursue this employment opportunity. Whether you want to admit it or not, the current economic situation is not all that different from conditions during the Great Depression (as explained to me by my Dad).

Work is hard to find in our profession. I would never think badly of any individual willing to take a less-than-totally-desirable position in order to gain valuable experience and put bread on the table. For too many, the alternative is unemployment or employment outside the profession.

But then again, I guess I don't approach the profession from a position of either elitism or arrogance.  Different strokes for different folks.

Oct 27, 11 10:57 am  · 

I'm sure the P&W posting is not a dream job for anyone.  Hopefully some young arch. graduate will fill it and turn it into a long career.  There are 4.5 pages of much worse "opportunities" posted!


Oct 27, 11 11:06 am  · 
On the fence

A couple of these don't sound all that bad IF you are applying for the position right out of high school or with an associates degree as an intern or basic drafter.  One ad said you were to measure existing tenant spaces for $10/hour.  Which for that kind of work, and again, out of high school or with an associates degree, is not all that bad.  More experiance and foot in the door type work.  People here may not agree but that is what that kind of work is worth and if you were applying for this type of job with an M.arch or B.arch, you are over qualified.  The market will only withstand what it can and paying someone $30 per hour to measure spaces because they have advanced degrees is rediculous.

Oct 27, 11 11:32 am  · 

"But then again, I guess I don't approach the profession from a position of either elitism or arrogance.  Different strokes for different folks."

That sounds both arrogant and elitist. Sorry man. Perhaps you lost some empathy to fellow man over the years.

The truth is that P&W job post would NOT have existed as such 4 years ago. Everyone is taking advantage of a horrible economy, in most classless, self-destructive ways. 

Future of this profession has never looked more bleak. Even when/if things recover there will be that awkward moment: "hey man,remember when we paid you $10/h to work on Revit models? hahaha. you were borderline homeless while working on multi-million dollar projects. ha. And the best part is you couldn't really leave for there was nothing else out there harhar."

I blame Reagan and Howard Roarke.


Oct 27, 11 2:12 pm  · 

"its an it should be free"

I want to know what firm this is so I can call NCARB!!!

Jan 12, 12 5:17 pm  · 

Screw it, I just replied to that CL post with a polite but firm email stating that their offer is illegal according to DoL standards.  Fuckers.

Jan 12, 12 8:54 pm  · 

Donna, I just got your e-mail, I forgot to mention we are offering free lunch to the intern, so it's not completely unpaid....

Jan 12, 12 9:02 pm  · 

Here's another $10/hr. architecture job from Craig's List. There should be a "Wall of Shame" so that all these job offerings could be pinned up for ridicule:

Jan 12, 12 10:03 pm  · 

Repeat offender. theses guys are at it again....

Award Winning Interior Design and Architecture Firm Garret Cord Werner seeks a full time architecture Intern. We are a high-end residential design firm located near downtown Seattle.


-Complete red line drawings from other project team members
-Design and development of construction drawings including schematic drawings and construction details
-Create project renderings for clients and company marketing

Required Skills:

-Hand sketching
-Computer Rendering
-Presentation skills

Must be extremely organized and motivated. Being able to work independently and as a team is essential. Interior Design or Architecture Degree required. Previous experience in the Design/Architecture industry is a plus.

Please respond if you match the above requirements with Architecture Intern in the subject line along with a Resume and Work Samples. You will not be considered without work samples. Please no phone calls about this post.


Location: Seattle, WA
Compensation: Unpaid Internship
This is an internship job
Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
Please, no phone calls about this job!
Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

Feb 7, 12 1:35 am  · 

And once again, I sent this firm a polite but firm email with a helpful link to the DoL unpaid internship requirements.

Feb 7, 12 11:43 am  · 

simple...if the firm benefits from the intern...intern has to be paid!

I doubt that doing construction documents is not making some kind of profit for the company.

Feb 7, 12 12:18 pm  · 

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