Fresh grad working in Project Management - Rather be in Design


Graduated in summer 17 and was freelancing for a year (unemployed but actually did some freelance design work). Recently got an offer from a top 10 international PM firm so I was tempted and took the job, which I've been at for around 4 months. I'm already 25 which also played a factor in my taking the job. 

I'm doing well and learning a lot, there has never been any negative feedback and my supervisor enjoys that I learn quickly. However, I'm naturally a creative and have always leaned towards that side of architecture, and I often find myself daydreaming of being in a design firm instead. 

I'm grateful for the opportunity, especially coming from a country where there are none, but I'd like to know how hard it would be to switch back to a Design firm after having completed say 1-2 years in PM. Would my experience here be considered irrelevant? 


Jan 3, 19 4:36 am

Yikes... you're 25? You're right... you are already way too old for any kind of change... I'd suggest you just be grateful for your current position and take some night painting classes on the side.

Jan 5, 19 4:33 am

Funny! Except my actual question was whether my potential 2 years in PM would be in any way relevant/beneficial to a future design career, or would they be considered as no experience when it comes to design employers - but carry on being unnecessarily sarcastic.

Witty Banter

For younger or inexperienced professionals the PM side can be some of the most difficult experience to obtain.  If you are good at design and can show that through a portfolio you should have no problem switching back to a design firm at a later date.  The PM experience will be looked at as a huge asset if and when you decide to make a move.

Jan 7, 19 9:47 am

Thank you!

architecture tends to be a profession that runs on a slower time table. try and be patient. Although, I often had the same feelings you are expressing.

short answer. yes, your experience will be 100% useful/relevant. We actually just did an episode that covers this exact question and others for designers at your age. (questions actually came from this forum). many have found it useful. 

Jan 9, 19 11:59 am

Thank you! Listening to your podcast right now :) very insightful!



What did you graduate from? An architecture program or PM program? Do you have a portfolio? You're not going to just be hired into being a designer. If you have an architecture degree and portfolio you're best best would be finding a small firm that puts you in a range of roles (so you don't get pigeon-holed at a large firm into the more CA-type side of things)

Feb 14, 19 1:03 pm

Architecture program. Yes I have a portfolio - and thanks for the tip!


Just being frank here, everybody that graduates architecture school thinks they're a great creative designer...but why weren't you hired anywhere to do design?

Feb 15, 19 3:30 am
Witty Banter

I don't disagree that fresh grads (I was one too) often (incorrectly) think they have some superior design sense and are arbitrarily being held back. That being said I think we've also all had experiences with a principal or senior staff not wanting to let go of design direction despite less than stellar ability. Many who have "paid their dues" don't want to give up design even if there are better (less senior) options available. Basically a drawn out way of saying it isn't always that simple.


Most people fresh off the boat get hired in a design capacity one way or the other, that's how people enter offices. If you're not even able to land such a starting position, doesn't that speak volumes about someone's design capabilities?


I understand what you're saying, and I'm not claiming to be the next Moussavi, but I did graduate with distinction and got accepted into a design masters program at Glasgow School of Art based off my portfolio (didn't end up accepting the offer). Not saying it's Harvard either but just providing some context. I never got hired as anything before this job, let alone a designer, because I come from a third world country where construction has completely been stopped for the past year and anyway the maximum salary for a fresh architect is 700-800$/month - and the catch is that living here is super expensive (NY or Paris kind of expensive). I took the first job i could find (in another country), it happened to be in PM.


In that case, why not try applying for a "design" job, just to see what happens and if you like it? The longer you wait with trying the harder it will be to make the switch.

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