Sick and tired of being the typical intern. When do I become a job captain

ARC Student

I have two years of professional experience. Since I started working here at my company I have been assigned to help on different projects to do the same tasks like picking up redlines, sealing and binding drawings, setting up  drawing sheets and template in revit and doing basic details  such as wall partition types, door schedule etc. They were also nice enough to brought me to the construction site and I worked there for 5 months doing modification drawings/ documents.

The other interns in my office who has the same experience as me are working on one project with a licensed architect. I feel jealous because they are involve in meetings and they get to talk to consultants about projects matters. They are getting the project management training. I feel like if I keep on doing this process, I will never have that chance to manage a project because they will get the offer first.

I talked to one of the principal about my concerns and I made sure that I do care about my work and I would like to get the chance of managing a project. He told me that there are plenty of opportunities and he knows that I care. He also stated to I do not need to worry about it and that I am being paranoid.

How long did you guys worked as a regular intern before getting the chance of becoming a job captain?

Jul 24, 14 11:27 am
Non Sequitur

2 years xp and you want control of a project? It would take one helluva intern before I would dish out that much responsibility at that level. I was just under 3 years xp before I started getting snippets of management experience but then again, I was licensed shortly thereafter.

My advice, learn what you can doing the regular work because you'll be less likely to make mistakes when it's your turn to oversee the same tasks. Another thing too, if you're day-to-day tasks involve mostly design/3D modelling things, best to make a demand for more technical work. It's easy to get pigeonholed outside of the CD and PM phases.

Jul 24, 14 11:38 am

Why did you go strait to the top with by talking to the principal of your firm? Start small: ask your PM, PA, or current job captain if you can get involved with consultant meetings.  The principal of your firm has bigger fish to fry than satisfying the whims of an intern.  Focus on your job, focus on getting your license.  That means IDP and ARE completion.  As I stated earlier, your PMs and PAs should be able to help you fill in the hours you needfor IDP; by bringing you to  the job sites, they have already started...  Your local AIA chapter should also have hardhat tours and other events that can help fill those gaps.  Be patient, work hard, and you will probably be fine.

Jul 24, 14 11:46 am

i think they're asking to be exposed to the management process to gain the experience, not to take control of a project yet.

also, i think talking to the principal is probably a reasonable thing to do, in hopes of getting assigned to projects or with project managers than can help provide the experience they're looking for.  of course that depends on the office size and make-up.  if there is a project manager that can help you, it would probably be worthwhile to ask them for help too. 

Jul 24, 14 12:05 pm

the relationship between an employee and employer is reciprocal.  there is nothing wrong with the employee communicating their job goals with their employer.  nobody else is going to give a shit about the OP's career goals and career path except the OP, which really makes it important for them to be able to communicate said goals.  telling the OP that they're life is too 'little' to be concerned with is unkind at best.

Jul 24, 14 12:15 pm

I agree with you Curt, but there OP needs to go through the right channels.  I've worked a 3 firms in my life.  One small one (<10 employees), one mid-sized firm (~30 employees), and I now work at a large firm (>100 employees).  The only time I felt comfortable bothering the principal(s) was at my first gig at the small firm.  Otherwise, I would go to PMs and PAs with all concerns, including IDP, personal goals, and problems I might have been having in the firm.  OP simply needs to do his job and do it right.  If he is competent, the rest should fall into place.

Jul 24, 14 12:27 pm
ARC Student

@ GraduatedLIcensure, It is not about "me, me, me, now, now, now!" It is more about my career development in the firm because as of now I can see myself working here for a long time. so I would like to emphasize my concerns to them.

I decided to talked to my principal to avoid enviousness and gossip in our studio, which I hate by the way. I would rather speak out my concerns to the source rather than stay quiet and pretend like nothing is bothering me.

I am surrounded with 3 interns with 5-8+ years experience and a project manager who plays favoritism. I took my first ARE test (CDS)  last year and my PM asked me the result. I said I passed and my PM told his old interns about me passing my ARE. His interns started studying again because it can look bad to them if I become licensed before them.

I see interns  with 8+ years working in my office who bitch and moans about their responsibilities and yet not talking to the right person who can make a solution for them.

I do agree with you jdparnell1218 on focusing on my AREs and IDPs, I will try to limit on working pass 5:30pm and focus on passing all of my tests. I do not have big responsibilities yet so I can afford to focus on my licensure.

Jul 24, 14 12:37 pm

If you want to show off some leadership chops, organize an ARE study group with the other interns if they are taking the same tests.  

Jul 24, 14 1:13 pm

ARC Student, good advice here and there from your peers. I was a principal and interns and others came to me too, sometimes I got a little annoyed, but that was because I was chasing the tiger….I understood though. I just tried to calm them down and do a little teaching…it stuck a little sometimes too and I would convey their thoughts and concerns to their PM’s reminding them to keep pushing these guys forward and take time to teach about the career process….so they didn’t worry so much, for selfish reasons too, this kind of worry & discontent distracts from work.

I agree with GraduatedLicensure though, don’t be needy! I once had a young guy come in with a paper list that his wife prepared for him with all of their expenses and how he needed more; I came down pretty stern and later got rid of him. You said “Sick and tired”, don’t ever, ever say that to anybody but your wife; don’t even think those words, if you can. Building a career is more about what you do not what they do.

Years ago “back-rooms” were filled with trade-high school guys and offices only had a few college educated guys, they knew it was slow growth and accepted it. Problem today is everyone in the office has gone to collage have degrees and are given high expectations – too high, many come in expecting a corner office with a plant, they don’t want their job they want your job.

I see a lot of this here and elsewhere, you’re right to reach out and ask, focus on grabbing more responsibility when offered, ask for it, work hard and long and it will all find you not the other way around.

Jul 24, 14 5:19 pm

ARC student, have you ever consider looking for a new job? There are so many opportunities out there. You can even apply for a more project management position. Why stick around a place you feel that the principle is not giving the same opportunity as the other guy. 

If you're confident you can find the job right for you. It seems like your principle has his reasons but then again why should you sit and wait when you feel you can take your career to the next level. Don't wait for something to drop on your lap. Go out there and make it happen. Good luck 

Jul 24, 14 5:38 pm

According to NCARB, you should be licensed in a little over a year. You better get going. 

Jul 24, 14 9:10 pm

You sound like a FOB by the way you write... Am I right?  If so, you'll always have to prove yourself first before other colleagues.

Jul 25, 14 10:17 am

NCARB's rules are based on IDP training hours but they are in the process of revising IDP in a significant way. 

ARC Student, how many IDP training hours have you completed? How many of your core hours have you completed? 

You might try using EPC to complete some training hours. You might try getting some certifications that may allow them to start considering you. Who knows.

You have 2 years experience. They have 5 to 8 years of experience. A building designer with 10-15 years experience is more qualified by real knowledge and skills to practice architecture than probably a licensed architect with only 3 years of IDP and 5 year college degree even though the architect has the piece of paper to authorize him/her. Don't kid yourself, some of these people even though they never bothered to get licensed is better qualified for the job because they have the experience and the knowledge which in real world is what will make the difference between a successful project or failed project. Don't confuse what I am saying as condoning willful violation of the laws such as the licensing laws. 

Don't consider yourself superior just because you get a piece of paper. However, you aren't even there yet. They have years behind them. They may have other things going on in life then to race to get licensed.

The biggest criterion for selecting people for a job position is personality. This is true for promotion. Does the principal LIKE you? A principal isn't going to consider you if he/she doesn't like you that much. Do they feel you have the personality for the job? 

Observe how your fellow colleagues in these positions talk to the Principal?

How is your working / office relationship with your co-workers and the principals as well as those immediately above you. You given a clue of a not so good working relationship because you look at your current work as sucky. They read that in your eyes, in your face, in your body. Your composure says it. When you jump over your supervisor's head, that always results in animosity. When a principal hears this just like the executive board of a corporation, they are going to talk to your supervisor to get his or her take. Remember, they are going to naturally take your supervisor's word over you. Your supervisor will probably describe you as a whiny intern and essentially discredit you. They have perceived  'credibility' by virtue of their position. You have to have material evidence otherwise they don't care because you have less perceived credibility because you are a lower ranking employee.

They have tenure of experience and even employment. You don't. Just to point out a few things.

I do wish you best of luck though. 

Jul 25, 14 12:54 pm

Rrichard-balkins-assoc-aia, you make some good points here, I especially like your insight into personality. You should consider a forum on this subject. You just touched on something that has not been discussed anywhere. Having a good personality….a good attitude and knowing “How to win friends and Influence People” (Dale-Carnegie) should be a primmer for every young architect. It is the lubricant that needs to be applied here. Appearance too plays a big role in our society, sorry don’t scoff, it’s a fact that good looking people use this as a tool to advance. My daughter has a masters, is bright, well read and has won accolades in her profession but is heavy, has a softer personality and can’t seem to get any big breaks. By contrast my niece looks like a model, just gorgeous, only has a bachelors in general studies but got a job selling pharmaceuticals and is just moving into a $500K house at 30. If you do not posses these attributes some can be learned and others can be overcome by just being dam good.

Jul 25, 14 1:48 pm


Thanks for elaborating further. It is something people don't speak about being reasons but it is. People always prefers working with the people they like working with. It is human nature and that is something that will always be.

These discussions are rarely talked about on architectural forums but they are talked about in general occupational discussions. Personality is a key factor and how that personality is compatible to the people in charge. 

There is no hard line rule that says being a softer personality and not having a model's physique is always going to result in being overlooked. It depends on the person making decisions over hiring and promotions and firing/layoffs and it depends on the interpersonal relationship between the parties. Do they get along? Personality and compatibility of personalities makes a difference so it is definitely worth looking into and discussing in an architectural forum.

Remembering that the people making decisions are human beings. We don't make decisions regarding promotion, employment or firing/laying off solely on logic and qualifications on paper. Every day at a job is like an interview because everyday refines the impression. In other words, every action, experience, etc. alters (positively or negatively) the impression others have of each of us. 

Social relationship is definitely a factor and we would be blind if we don't see that. It is something people don't always see it. 

I ruffled a lot of feathers in my time to see how it can turn impression negatively. 

It is definitely a great idea to formulate a discussion on this topic of personality / social relationship and how it can effect people's chances in getting hired, getting fired or layed off and promotions / experience opportunities.

Jul 25, 14 3:41 pm


Thanks for some of the great posts you have given over the past month. I think it would be great for people like yourself discussing from perspectives of a principal because you have been one for many years. I can only speak sort of as a building designer. 

BTW: What was your firm name and website. I might still be able to find info via internet archive / Wayback Machine. 

Jul 25, 14 4:16 pm

I can't stand spammers.

Jul 25, 14 4:19 pm


I concur. Wastes space and disruptive.

Jul 25, 14 4:21 pm

Look at that, the spammer got removed.

Jul 25, 14 4:59 pm

Richard and Carrera made another "ugly truth" point about personality. Everyone has different personalities. It is what makes one an individual. The question is, should one be changing their personality to suit the "principle's liking" to move up a level? Isn't that just faking it? On the other hand if the principle don't like you then it's probably another reason to start looking for another job elsewhere. 

Jul 25, 14 6:09 pm


It can be an ugly truth but also personality in part is behavior. I don't think people necessarily need to change "who they are" but make adjustments like behaviorial manners and things of the sort to become more palatable. 

People do need to make accommodating adjustments especially if you are an employee because the employer isn't going to change and bend backwards for you. Why would they? It is definitely something to be mindful about. Sometimes the adjustment is professional growth. 

I see it is something that needs to be observed. Once reasonable accommodation of behavior adjustments and certain outwardly detected behaviorial conduct is adjusted into a proper, professional behavior and adjustments that you can make that possible to be done... once that is done then if the person doesn't like you, it is a clear indication of changing jobs. The point is how mature and 'dominant' you project like the 'alpha' persona which commands attentions without a single word spoken. This projection of confidence and personal strength... that is important to have and project to others as a "leader". If you don't project that, people will not see "leadership qualities" in people, in general. That can be trained and conditioned with most people even if they have a follower persona. They can trained into leaders because they need to feel confident about themselves and that is a mindset.

It is an "ugly truth" but we only judge people by our experiential impression of people and the qualities we have mental perception about leaders and such. Management positions are leadership positions.

It is a truth that is human nature.

There is also this saying that I've heard from fellow architects and designers... "sometimes you have to fake it until you make it". Once you make it, truth be told. However, care and caution must be taken with faking it until you make it. 

Jul 25, 14 6:49 pm

Richard, thank you for the kind complement and encouragement. I came here to help and will continue as long as welcome. I just got brave and started my own thread on Architects as Contractors or Developers, look for me there too.

My firm? That’s a good question. I wish I could just type out a URL and be done with it but can’t. My ownership changed a number of times over 40 years. My ownership background was mostly in Architecture-Construction-Development Companies. Construction morphed into CM. All of that has evaporated into space. Exhausted being everything to everybody I sought out being strictly an architect for the end duration and bought-in to the firm of Kessler-Francis-Cardoza in Detroit. William Kessler became ill and I took Bills shares. That firm merged with another, they went broke and re-sprouted under another name. Some of the KFC stuff is still around.

Very dubious on this. I think you’re asking to get some perspective on who you are talking to and for that reason I’m answering. As you look, let this stuff be a remembrance of William Kessler’s life, not mine and to the great opportunity he gave me just to be involved with him and his work. Please let me provide a small frame around what you see.

William Kessler FAIA was one of the last great modernists, he started at the Institute of Design, Chicago, later he studied and taught with famed Bauhaus School founder Walter Gropius at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, got his graduate there. Later he worked with Minoru Yamasaki, as Senior Designer of the Leinweber, Yamasaki and Hellmuth, Architects and was of course a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

KFC won literally hundreds of awards, I offer some stuff here to save you time: is Bill’s house

Tom was our lead designer and good, he went off to found his own firm, some of the work he shows like Water Works Park Museum & Learning Center, Detroit Golf Club Swimming Pool is representative of the stuff I was involved with.

The Morris Performing Arts Center’s (South Bend, Indiana) Palais Royale I was involved here with Ed Francis.


Jul 26, 14 2:35 pm

As someone who is going through the IDP process currently, and sometimes struggling to move to where I want toe be, here is my advice:

Your skills and knowledge are important, but the MOST important thing is to be friendly, gregarious, read social situations correctly, and to not be forgettable. 

You should be taking a manifold approach to furthering your career. Working in an office is important, and it is how you primarily accumulate IDP hours, but you should investing in parallel modes of practice.

Find an architecture magazine or blog to write for, get interviews with offices to cover their new works, and you will almost certainly be sitting face to face with a senior designer or principal for 30-60 minutes, getting to impress them with your insightful questions and insight into their projects.  

Be pursuing small projects, furniture, graphics, whatever, with colleagues or partners. Find and enter competitions. Offer specific expertise in a code process or material to a friend who teaches studio or fundamentals classes as a guest lecturer. Do it 4 times, then apply for an junior professorship or lecturer position when you get licensed. 


All those books you read ( or were supposed to read) in college were for a reason! You have to be able to talk confidently and professionally about the practice of architecture using the specific language of the profession. Go to meet-ups and parties. Go to a facades + or autodesk convention. All of these things are oriented towards making you a well-known, well-connected and likeable member of the market in which you work. All of which increase your value through connections, visibility, and the richness of practice and knowledge you gain by truly committing yourself to the profession.


I would really recommend the aforementioned How to Win Friends and Influence People... If you can take a Dale Carnegie class. Sorta cultish, but totally effective. I did a program in late high school that really helped me break out of my introverted nature. Find a friend or colleague you can talk about architecture with, practice just talking about it.

Always go above and beyond. If your boss asks you for a site plan so they can start  working on early plans, include a scale, some fixtures, beds or kitchen fixtures, or whatever he is supposed to be working on. That is not a specific example, but be mindful of your work, anticipate others needs, and deliver precise, high-quality work.

Jul 26, 14 3:18 pm


Thanks for the responses and including the most recent response, as it gives me a perspective of who you are and your background or experiences through the life of a great modernist architect such as William Kessler and which is great as in some degree their work, their lives are imprinted onto you and over the 40 years experience gives a good insight on yourself.

I'm only a small fry. It is great to have someone of your experience here. As for myself, I have experience with a semi-retired (still active license) architect in Astoria, Oregon who along with his former bosses the late Ernest and Ebba Wicks Brown who although I never worked for but knew them and were influential in me being pursuing this field. Ernest & Ebba were architects. Ebba who was the daughter of the famous Astoria, Oregon architect John E. Wicks. Ebba Brown worked for Pietro Bullusci and got her Masters from Cranbrook Academy of Arts under the tutelage of Eliel Saarinen and Ernest worked for Saarinen, Saarinen & Associates.

However, I say this as a perspective on who I am and a little on my background.

Jul 26, 14 4:40 pm

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