Career: Taking a break or taking a step down?


Hi All,

Looking for some sound advice. I have put myself through an expensive  but great graduate program which I accredit for getting my the opportunity to work at a notable firm. Great, except nine months in at this firm and I am burned out, creatively deprived, and it has really started to wear down my mental and physical health. I know a lot of you can probably relate and I would love for you to give me some advice. I find the studio structure very top down despite what I was told during my initial interview. The project I'm working on is apparently unique to the office in that it is extremely fast paced, meaning I've been consecutively working 60 hour weeks for the past 9 months. I don't feel invested in the design and I am constantly being micromanaged by the Project Manager, who has maybe one year's experience on me but is not technically oriented whatsoever. It's gotten to the point where I have been looking into other opportunities at smaller firms that do not do as interesting of work, but I would get the opportunity to be engaged in design and management opportunities. 

Would you stick out the starchitect firm with hopes the next project is better and I get more design/management responsibilities or would you switch to a smaller firm with more work/life balance and design impact? 

I greatly appreciate any and all advice! Thanks

Aug 17, 17 10:59 am
Non Sequitur

There are better firms out there. Don't get sucked-in by shiny lights and starchitect names.

Aug 17, 17 11:04 am

Arrange a meeting to discuss take your letter of resignation in with you and have another job ready.

Aug 17, 17 11:12 am

Seems to me foremost a problem of the wrong PM. Are you the only one on the project doing 60hrs a week or is the PM and other staff there with you? Don't know how long the project will last and when your contract ends but it could be just the wrong person managing projects, maybe with another PM or with yourself having more responsibilities it might get better. Or not...what do I know?

Aug 17, 17 11:25 am

9 months is all the experience you have in architecture office, and your PM has less than 2 years experience in a firm?

you're still in the honeymoon period. 

Aug 17, 17 1:51 pm

just gut it out - in the long run you will be glad you did - I had to work 60hrs/week when I started out too -

Aug 17, 17 1:57 pm
Non Sequitur

but clearly you didn't know any better back then.

And still don't know any better.

null pointer

You are a glutton for punishment, Xen. I've worked 60 hour weeks probably 10 times in the past 10 years. If you're working 60 hours a week and you aren't on the client-facing side of the job, you're being exploited.

A PM with only two years experience is not ready to be a PM. I do some PM stuff at 5/6 years and sometimes feel like I'm over my head (but that is how you learn). A PM with two years experience hasn't even had the time to take a single project the entire way through the process.

Aug 17, 17 2:15 pm
null pointer

I ran a contract with 300k in fees when I was 2 years into practice. Our owner undershot the fees by a factor of 2 and couldn't afford to put a full-time PM on the job.

Don't assume everyone's an idiot.

We delivered an amazing product and I kicked my 3 team members out at 6:30 every day to the chagrin of most other people in the firm.

Funny thing is that at the end, my spreadsheets for tabulating hours, fees and task times ended up being used in most projects in the company.

I did make a lot of enemies. When clients want to talk to you, and not the old dude who has no idea what's being done (who spends an hour a week on the project and is being kept on for the sake of appearances), the old dude quickly starts to dislike you, even while the firm owner loved me.


Seem to me like like things will improve for you once this particular project ends.   Stick it out for at least 3 more months.  

1 year of starchitect on your resume is ok,  2 years, better, less than 1 year, not good.

In the big picture, switching jobs at some point is probably good.  There is a great diversity in the way firms operate and there's much to be gained by experiencing different approaches.

Aug 17, 17 2:29 pm

Thanks for the advice all! Just to confirm, I have 8 years of experience and licensed. The PA on the job has maybe 8. 

Aug 17, 17 2:35 pm

What was confusing about your original post is that you really played up your expensive education. After 8 years in the trenches no one gives a shit where you went to school. And you also made it sound like this was the only job you ever had and there were no other job experiences for you to compare to, Thus you are getting exactly the kind of feedback you are getting in this thread. At 8 year mark your communication skills should be superb.


Wow,Rusty. I thought I was the one full of negativity. I hope your unwarranted insult makes you feel a little bit better about yourself, at least. I beg to differ that where you went to school makes a difference. I did not come from a privileged background so I worked my ass off to get into the program after working several years to pay for it. I value my education and the skills I learned. I would say 90% of the people at my firm have an ivy league background. It's really unfortunate and unfair that many firms are structured like this but I am confident I would not even had an interview had it not been for my degree.


Your reply basically confirms the part where you said you have 8 years of experience and are licensed are a complete fib. Stop lying on the internet in order to receive ego affirmation. No fully baked professional is this juvenile.


I washed a few bently's when i worked at a car wash in the hamptons as i was putting myself through an up echelon design school program, all that said, I have 10yrs of work experinece and diff btwn 8-10 is not really all that significant

Run, Forrest, run!

Aug 17, 17 3:00 pm

haha I feel like it. Unfortunatly I think my whole team feels this way.


Does the PA's boss know or care about the issues you and other team members are having working under this person?


Take 'em with you, it's much nicer to run together unless you prefer running with music on.

Sit down with yourself and have some quality time, write down what it is you think you might want to be doing, then spend time doing that. 

Aug 17, 17 3:16 pm
This sounds like I firm I work for. To the tee. As someone else said, get another offer lined up, then walk to the bosses cabin.
Aug 17, 17 10:22 pm

It can help to gain some energy and focus if you take a break, but you need to have something to go to, rather than away from.

I've "quit" architecture entirely twice in my career so far. Both times I switched to investment finance. Both times I lasted for about a year before I got really bored with that and itching to go back to designing buildings. It helped to put things in focus for me.

No matter what you do, I will repeat the advice I was given early on in my life and which I have always done well to heed: Don't work to earn. Work to learn. The time to move on is when you aren't learning anything from what you are doing and just clocking in to collect the paycheck.

Aug 18, 17 12:26 pm

Brian, fuck off mate.

Aug 29, 17 11:28 am
Non Sequitur

who is Brian?


Some guy who spammed this thread and whose posts have since been deleted.

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