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Unfulfilling Job

Ghkarch

I am a M.Arch graduate with 2 years of post graduate work experience and 3 years of internship. I have a new job in NYC and been working there for 2 weeks. 

The work experience has been disappointing so far. I have been tasked with the same responsibility. For the past 2 weeks, I have been doing only exterior and interior elevations. 

At the job interview, the boss said that I will gain responsibility as my experience increases. At the moment, to my boss, I lack the experience, so I am only doing elevations and I wonder how long it will take for me to advance within this firm and do different works.

Because it was difficult for me to get the job, I will have to stay here for sometime. My tasks are such that I'm not learning anything new and I find myself thinking I am wasting my time here at the office.

Do you have any suggestions about my situations? 

 
Oct 18, 21 7:46 pm
Non Sequitur

2 weeks in and you still have not been given a top quality class A international project lead design role? Damn, better start looking for a more reasonable office… or you can talk to whom ever is managing your time and ask about other opportunities.  In the mean time tho, keep going, those elevations aren’t going to draw themselves.  You expect the licensed folks to do them for you while you make your grand design statements?





Oct 18, 21 8:21 pm  · 
3  · 
citizen

^ Irony Man competition winner

Oct 18, 21 8:56 pm  · 
2  · 
newguy

My first arch job out of grad school, I was doing surface parking layouts, trash room test fits, and driving permit drawings to various city agencies. It was boring. Yes, I could have stuck it out and paid my dues. But instead I updated my portfolio and started looking at other jobs. Less than 6 months after that job, I landed a job where I was working on smaller teams chasing pursuits and working on projects through concept design to construction drawings. Years later, and I don't reference that first stop on my resume anymore.

The point is, if you're bored at your job, and you think you can bring more to an architecture firm, then update your resume and portfolio and start interviewing at places that might be a better fit. Employment is a two way street, and if you're unhappy and have the means to do something about changing your position, you should.

Oct 18, 21 9:09 pm  · 
7  · 
midlander

Two suggestions:

Talk to your boss, see what else you can do that is more challenging.

Start looking for other jobs.

There are indeed many firms selling possibilities that they don't actually have, when all they need is routine drafting work. But 2 weeks isn't enough time to judge it - there might really be good things for you to do, and just need some time to get you involved on it. Even my best jobs have taken 2-3 months to settle in on meaningful work.

Oct 19, 21 12:34 am  · 
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Koww

why does everyone think the world owes them fulfillment? and don't say you're not learning anything. you're learning what it's like to be a guy who has been drawing elevations for two weeks.

Oct 19, 21 2:20 am  · 
1  · 
Wood Guy

Not just elevations, but interior AND exterior elevations? There are months' worth of things to learn to get the basics down for each, and a whole career to refine your skills. 

Oct 19, 21 8:20 am  · 
2  · 

OP - two weeks on interior and exterior elevations?  

Are you drafting redlines or designing?   

How large and what building types are the project or projects these elevations are being done for?  

I ask because on say a 100,000 sf middle middle school it would take around a month to draft the interior and exterior elevations of the project. 

Oct 19, 21 10:07 am  · 
2  · 
Jay1122

Draft? Don't we "model" the interior and exterior elevations in Revit for a project that size? 

Oct 19, 21 11:53 am  · 
1  · 

Yes. However you'll also use drafting components and annotations. Also I was using the term 'draft' to denote non design work - aka picking up redlines.

Also the OP may be working ::gasp:: AutoCAD.  

Oct 19, 21 12:56 pm  · 
1  · 
tduds

I'd kill to do nothing but draw elevations for two weeks. That's where the architecture is!

Oct 19, 21 11:18 am  · 
3  · 
Jay1122

I actually am curious on what OP considers fulfilling and wants to pursue.

I am gonna put OP in one of those big corporate firms and do stair design and detailing for 2 months. Not even the grand ceremonial stairs, the dreadful egress stairs. After that, I am gonna put him on another big high-rise project doing doors, door schedule, and hardware for a month. After that, he will be the bathroom guy for the skyscraper project. At the end of time, OP will come out like a new man freed from the prison. Appreciate the elevation drawings he is currently working on.

Anyway, real advice. Architecture is a competitive field. So compete for it. If not, just make sure the pay is good enough to justify the bore.

Oct 19, 21 12:10 pm  · 
3  · 
randomised

Either quit or get yourself fired, no other options(!)

Oct 19, 21 12:52 pm  · 
1  · 
Non Sequitur

what about promoted?

Oct 19, 21 12:57 pm  · 
 · 
randomised

yes option nr 3, buy out the boss and take over(!)

Oct 20, 21 2:18 am  · 
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bowling_ball

As somebody who's been fired from 2 of 3 architecture jobs, has never detailed a stair nor touched a door schedule, but became a boss, I suggest everyone look into these recommendations :-p

Oct 21, 21 9:56 pm  · 
1  · 
whistler

I graduated and started a job in a decent firm where I had done some part time work the year before.  I lasted two days and quit to go work for less with a buddy doing renovations and single family.  The staff at the first firm had all changed since my part time position and everyone was miserable and bitching about the projects and job that I had to leave.  You come out of school so jazzed and ready to take on anything and everything and it was just so depressing. I walked home and almost cried after the first day. I left, felt shitty for about two days then wrote the principle a nice card and just moved on.  Still encountered dissatisfied staff at various offices but chose a better strategy for myself in those circumstances to learn and grow my skills and experience.



Oct 19, 21 1:26 pm  · 
3  · 
CrazyHouseCat

Oh boy, join the club!  I used to lead round table discussions at the local architect events to talk young architects through the pursuit of fulfillment.  We will be dealing with this struggle our entire career / life.  

  1. Overcoming the shock and disappointment upon entering the "real world" after graduation
  2. Navigating the career path maze, evolving from minions, and deal with disappointment upon arriving at higher position and find no higher fulfillment and possibly even more contempt at mid-career.
  3. Reconciling the role of the "rainmaker" with the desire to draw and design at principal level
  4. ....

Some are better than others, but there are few (if any) firms that provides fulfillment. And everyone defines fulfillment differently.  Ultimately, it's up to your passion, your willingness to struggle as well as to let go.

Oct 20, 21 8:08 pm  · 
1  · 

I find it odd that so many people express the idea that only principals do design work. I've been designing since my first job after graduation 19 years ago.

Oct 21, 21 12:01 pm  · 
3  · 

To follow up on my comment. I'm not that talented of a designer. If I can do it, so can you.

Oct 21, 21 2:06 pm  · 
1  · 
CrazyHouseCat

I was referring to the opposite, and not so much to do with design. What I see a lot is: once you become principal, you have a financial obligation to your firm and your colleagues. Therefore, a large amount of time is spent being "rainmaker". And many of us did not become architects to become business people. And I've seen this cause a serious lack of fulfillment in principal level folks. And cause hesitation and pause in growth in those who genuinely enjoy spending 2 weeks polishing up a great set of elevations, but can no longer be afforded to do so at higher billable rate. This is likely the more difficult dilemma than what we face when we first enter the profession. More prevalent in large companies, but occurs even small firms.

Oct 21, 21 2:32 pm  · 
 · 

Ah! Sorry for the misunderstanding. I've experienced the same. Principals are in charge of bringing in the work. Not something I'm interested in. Hence I know I'll never run a firm or go out on my own.

Oct 21, 21 3:28 pm  · 
 · 
newguy

I feel personally attacked by item #2

Oct 21, 21 3:37 pm  · 
 · 

Being a minion is great! The cool goggles, that cute secrete language. Lets not forget about steeling all the stuff! Also if you're into it you can always get a bit freaky and turn into a rage monster will cool hair.

Oct 21, 21 6:09 pm  · 
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chris-chitect

A few years ago I was hired to work with an engineering firm that specialized in thrill rides and rollercoasters. The job sounded amazing in the interview, I spoke with the boss about the projects they had ongoing, how I could work with the company and even saw some of the challenges they wanted me to help overcome. On top of that, almost all the projects were foreign so there was a lot of opportunity to travel. It was right up my alley as I would get to explore my passion for detail design and problem solving. 


A few days before I emailed the boss about the finer details as to my first day, where to show up and exactly when. I ended up being directed to another manager. His department was overwhelmed with a large project to get out of the door. I was put into a chair and spent about two months just placing viewports onto sheets and adding dimensions. I was barely designing anything and on top of that, the hours were long, and frequent weekend work. For quite a while I wondered what I was doing there. 


It was a bit of a rough initiation, but then slowly came the work that I was hired to do. I got into the design, the analysis, planning and growing my technical skills. It took months but then came some of the travel, experiences that I could have never dreamt of, and I became passionate about what I did. However it did take a bit of my own initiative to push my employer towards the work I wanted to do. 


So, you're probably not going to design rollercoasters, but it's normal for the start of a new job to be dull or overwhelming. 

Oct 21, 21 1:23 pm  · 
1  · 
zonker

say what? you're working aren't ya? then you have an architecture dream job - at least you aren't on unemployment 

Oct 21, 21 1:26 pm  · 
 · 

That is the wrong attitude to have and horrible advice. If the position you have isn't furthering your career advancement and aligning with your goals and values then it's time to find a new place to be a team member at. 

This is especially true in today's market. 


Oct 21, 21 2:08 pm  · 
1  · 
chris-chitect

Yeah, I have to echo that point. At the start of the pandemic I was thankful I had the job I have, but that like of thinking can keep you doing something you're not enjoying for years to come. If it's just a few weeks you could hold out, but when it's six months or more, that's probably as good as it gets.

Oct 21, 21 3:37 pm  · 
 · 
bowling_ball

I agree but as a fresh graduate (in an unknown market), it might be best to spend at least 6 months, even if the job sucks. You'll still learn something, and then at least you can put it on your resume. At that level of experience, you're basically a burden to the company. Once you get a free years experience, feel free to jump around every couple of years if you want. Just beware that your reputation will follow you. It's great for getting a wide variety of experience but you'll accumulate no real depth at all. I know several people like this.

Oct 21, 21 10:05 pm  · 
 · 
b3tadine[sutures]

You were hired based on your portfolio, correct? If that assumption is correct, and you were placed in a position of creating "hellevations", then you need to ask yourself this very simple question; what is it that I'm demonstrating in my presentation, that would give the impression that is all I'm capable of doing, or what am I missing, that would leave one to believe, that's all I'm all capable of doing?

Oct 21, 21 6:33 pm  · 
 · 
newguy

I don't know, man. That's placing a lot of confidence in the hiring firm into putting people in their "natural positions," to borrow a soccer term. Sometimes people just get put in the wrong spot that doesn't match with their skillset or desires. It happens. Not every office is highly tuned and expertly managed. In fact, most aren't. Some firms just want to get warm bodies in the door with little to no regard to the needs of younger staff.

I don't think it's particularly fair to start with the baseline assumption that the issue always lays with the applicant/employee. Sometimes its just a bad fit. Sometimes firms just suck.  It happens.

I have a portfolio that usually puts me in the design camp, but I've also gone into interviews where it's quite obvious that the firm just needs to throw staff at a large project they just won without a clear longterm vision of where that potential employee could fit.  I've also gone into interviews where they advertise the need for designers, but after the interview it becomes quite obvious that they really want/need a project manager.  But it takes a few years of experience to be able to snuff that out in the interview process or early on enough during employment.  Can't really fault a fresh grad for not being able to predict that

Oct 21, 21 7:22 pm  · 
2  · 
burgerbarn

For new fresh grads who have never really held a job or internship, sure. The original poster has 2 years and 3 internships already and should know how to better evaluate a place. And based on their circumstance of not able to change anytime soon makes me think there is something more going on (crappy employer offering sponsorship?).

And really, two weeks in is too early to call it quits for someone with experience. Maybe elevations were needed to be done.

Oct 21, 21 7:32 pm  · 
 · 
b3tadine[sutures]

I guess my broader point is this; a company, especially now, when labor is so tight, hires for the role they need filled now, and if your work reveals an ability to fill their need, they'll fill that need. At the same time however, looking at what you've used to rep your ability, should be re-examined.

Oct 21, 21 7:35 pm  · 
1  · 
newguy

"Maybe elevations were needed to be done."

"especially now, when labor is so tight, hires for the role they need filled now"

But this is entirely my point. Sometimes firms just want warm bodies to throw them at the work that is piling up with no regard or longterm vision of how to grow the firm and nurture their talent. It happens. A lot, if we're being honest. I don't really blame someone for sniffing that out. If OP has no insight into whether or not he/she will be put on projects that excite them, then it is also possible that OP will be cranking drawings in the 400 series (or wherever) until he/she finally gets tired of looking at Benjamin Morris paint chip samples. Some firms feast on young designers who simply don't know any better to demand exposure to different aspects of design. OP might be at one of these places, and I don't think we should start with the baseline assumption that he/she did something to merit being unhappy with their work

Oct 21, 21 7:42 pm  · 
1  · 
burgerbarn

I get what you're saying. My last sentence was really just meant to say that two weeks in, maybe the employer needed elevations done. Maybe it's crazy busy and this experienced person can do it while they arrange something else in a little bit. I don't know, maybe it was a desperation hire with both sides at fault. Don't read too far into it.

Some people just need any job to fulfill whatever, likewise for employers. I don't believe solving this larger problem is as simple as quitting two weeks in because of boring tasks. The labor market is not some satisfaction factory, it trades money for services. A lot of people think that one job is going to make them happy--that perfect job, that perfect place, that perfect role. Nope, work is work. Go about it under management or alone, work is still work. It's deferring fulfillment and happiness to something uncontrollable and really kind of naive to think any person is able to offer that in a simple package. As some think a nice car brings them purpose in life, so too is the flawed thinking that a job is a spiritual calling. 

Oct 21, 21 8:30 pm  · 
1  · 
midlander

i think most of the comments (and the OP) are trying too hard to read meaning out of a single data point. 2 weeks is about the minimum time required for any work task with modest independence. "doing elevations" is a pretty vague description of the work. we are kind of reading into this that OP has been tasked with routine documentation work, but maybe the firm is actually looking for him to demonstrate some design sensibilities and good work habits before giving him responsibility for a bigger job.


or maybe this is just work that needs to be done, and if he's not doing it the principal will be in on weekends drawing up the elevations. in which case this might be useful work for building up a strong relationship with the firm leadership.


or maybe the firm is finalizing negotiations on the next project and as soon as they get the mobilization payment OP will be reassigned to a team doing concept design work.


who knows? the value of any work can only be defined within the context of how important it is to the firm's business and how much exposure it provides to the decision making process of a design.


the fact the OP hasn't expressed any consideration of these questions makes me doubt he is quite ready to take on the kind of work he aspires to. design isn't something done independently of making the drawings and talking to colleagues - you need to understand the purpose and value of every part of the work to be a good designer. this is extremely common in young architects, and one the things people mean when they say responsibility will be apportioned according to experience!

Oct 22, 21 1:03 am  · 
3  · 
midlander

for example i can say in my position as a design director there are still plenty of two week periods where my work consists of nothing but sitting through internal meetings, doing expense reports, reviewing drawing sets, and preparing portfolios for prospective clients. I do feel like quitting every time i end up between active design work, but i understand enough about the business to trust those opportunities will come again, and do the necessary dumb work when time requires it.

Oct 22, 21 1:07 am  · 
3  · 
Ghkarch

Thanks for all your comment. I would like to clarify my situation.

The company I am working for consists of 7 people. There are 5 senior architects and two new younger designers, which include me. 

There are several ongoing residential projects and I have been asked to update elevations of those. My tasks are usually short in duration and I often have to ask a project manager for a new assignment. I was recently asked to update the interior kitchen elevations of an apartment because the height has been changed. Before that, I was tasked to update the interior elevations of a townhouse. I expect to be asked to keep updating those elevations, and at the moment, I am not sure when I will be able to do different tasks.

Although I am still a young architectural designer, I have a professional degree and work experience. At the previous firm, I was able to do more than elevations. However, at this firm, the boss thinks that I lack the experience to do anything other than my current tasks, which are currently minor updates to elevations. 

I have been working for this firm for 3 weeks now and I am aware that it is too early for me to think about changing a job. I know that it is not good on my resume if I quit the job too soon. Also, at the job interview, I was told that I would be able to advance my position as my experience increases.  Therefore, I am thinking about staying here for a while and trying to learn anything I can. 

Do you have any further suggestions about my situation? Do young architectural designers have to go through what I am experiencing to reach a more advanced position?

Oct 23, 21 1:16 pm  · 
 · 
bowling_ball

Yes, literally every junior staff goes through this. Every single one. You need to walk before you can run, and right now you're barely crawling. Have some patience - architecture is a marathon, not a sprint. Check back in a year and if nothing's changed, move on. A few weeks isn't enough to evaluate a new job unless you're seeing something illegal, being harassed, etc. Take a breath, it'll be okay

Oct 23, 21 1:32 pm  · 
1  · 
Non Sequitur

What you’re going through is normal and expected. What did you expect to be doing 3 weeks into this gig?

Oct 23, 21 1:46 pm  · 
2  · 
bowling_ball

3 weeks in and wants a more advanced position. SMH

Oct 23, 21 5:33 pm  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

I can't wait to see what the expectations are at 3months.

Oct 23, 21 5:37 pm  · 
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midlander

so basically this is the kind of firm that has very varied work to be done, but a small team to do it, and you're the junior staff. there will definitely be chances to advance as you demonstrate capability, but no one is going to trust you until they see what you can do. focus on getting to know your colleagues and understand how they do their work. once they know you can do what they do they'll be more open to sharing the work.

Oct 23, 21 9:08 pm  · 
 · 
midlander

since you're comparing this to a previous firm, why did you change jobs? what kind of firm were you at before, and what did you like better about that job despite leaving? why do you think this boss considers you too inexperienced to do anything but elevations?

Oct 23, 21 9:11 pm  · 
 · 

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