Hey guys,

I am currently working as an interning for Gensler in DC and becoming full time in their SF office. However, I have also applied to other places, and SOM has responded asking now for my full portfolio (before i sent them resume and sample page). I'm not sure if that means if they like what they see, i'll most likely get an interview...but assuming that i do...should i hold off from saying yes to Gensler? How do the two offices compare (work environment, people, office, salary)? I'm very interested in China as well, but not ready to go right away, and Gensler wants to send me to their Beijing office pretty soon...meanwhile I know SOM SF does mosltly China projects, but not sure if they send people out to China for their projects. Anyway, let me know! Anything will help.

Aug 14, 05 4:53 pm

ouch! sounds like nobody cares to discuss this. I was curious to hear what people had to say though. are these two companies just not interesting enough to you?

Aug 14, 05 5:35 pm

its 630 pm est on a sunday give it a lttle bit of time. SOM has a practice of gearing up and then firing people after a project finishes...go with Gensler they gave you a shot, and at least they have nothing to do with WTC...

Aug 14, 05 6:35 pm

in another post about different firms, someone posted a website where interns rated their employers, work atmospere, and benefits...I recall gensler sf and a lot of others being on there....

Aug 14, 05 6:57 pm
juan moment
Inside Arch
Aug 14, 05 7:12 pm

beta's right. gensler offers excellent job security and easy relocation opportunities...speaking for people who actually work there. they love it.

Aug 15, 05 12:09 am

but they won't pay you anything. this is important since you will be in sf. they'll give you a "estimated" salary, but this won't be the exact number on your paycheck. they really try to fudge the numbers to get you in the door.

great benefits, but no cash for living and saving.

shop around. plenty of offices doing work in china.

Aug 15, 05 12:29 am
Philip Gentleman

which is better, herpes or genital warts?

Aug 15, 05 6:25 pm

For what its worth, Gensler's new SF offices are probably the nicest of any firm I've seen in SF: they are open, bright and enjoy views out to the SF bay and treasure island. And there's a brewpub on the bottom floor.

Aug 16, 05 4:06 pm

interesting how no one is talking of the work that they do...probably its bullshit both ways

Aug 16, 05 4:28 pm
A Center for Ants?

som and gensler are both corporate. they're not really trenched in "designing"

however, i have friends that work at Gensler LA and SF. both say they really enjoy it. gensler seems to have better job security. they're currently the most profitable firm in the nation (i saw this in Arch. Recordi think).

Aug 16, 05 4:37 pm

hey guys, thanks for everyone's responses! i will be driving out to SF, and meeting with the managing principals and hiring committee at Gensler early Sept, so hopefully things will turn out. I think I'm mainly interested in them b/c they will most likely send me to their Beijing office, vs. SOM may not have that opportunity... And yeah, I did hear that their office is gorgeous. Thanks again!

Aug 16, 05 8:46 pm

I have worked for both of them!

GENSLER: has an interesting culture whwre they are trying to empower their employees. You will get paid less than SOM - they will tempt you by saying that they have a structured bonus your overall compensation is competitive. What they will not tell you is that you will be taxed on the bonus and they will continue to earn interest on it...further if you are laid off or fired it will happen just before your bonus is coming due. ( ie they get to pocket it). For starting employees gensler can be a good place. It has a firmwide CORPORATE structure and they may send you to other offices if there is a lack of work at a certain location. gensler bagan as an interior design firm, this is still evident. Only 28% of Genslerites are licensed - which translates into less critical experience within the firm. Gensler is service based firm where account relationships are valued - so sometimes you will do shit work just to maintain the client realtiosnhip which might surprise you.

SOM: is more ego-maniacal, political, and hierarchical. The quality of work they do often will surpass Gensler. You will be treated like shit. In most cases you will have responsibility without the authority to make decisions. It is a hire and fire kind of environment. A good resume builder, but a lousy place to work. Your self esteem will take a hit. However you will be paid more than Gensler. Eventually you will leave because of office politics or get canned because poor workload forecasting. Almost 60-70% of the professionals are licensed and is more professional with critical experience under their belt. In comparison to gensler they are a true Architecture firm, and actually somewaht weak in the Interiors front. The management team is stuck in the 50's. Majority of the work is abroad, coz US based Developers and Corp's. cant handle their attitude. SOM is a primadona type firm and commands higher fees and does one off's and less repeat work. If you can grin and bear it, this is good place for you to learn about high end design. Its a PARTNERSHIP and there are serious competitive politics between the partner silos, it is hard to change your allegiances or location with little work sharing between loactions.

Good Luck.

Mar 30, 07 1:42 pm

SOM has a shanghai office. if i'm not mistaken, their shanghai employees work primarily in urban planning.

Mar 30, 07 3:00 pm

I agree mostly with rtktk2. I heard that SOM in sf has an average of 60 hours week. It's definitely a resume builder. Gensler pays overtime but the starting salary is really low. And the projects are not as good as SOM for sure. Good luck!

Mar 30, 07 4:51 pm

i have worked for SOM NYC, and liked it. I know alot fo people have negative things to say about SOM and that office in particular....but if you get the right architects to work under, it can be a good experience. You work hard, but are very involved and depending on the project managers, you can be very well taken car of. (ie; meals paid for, car servies, hotels for long nights, etc.)
I am actually starting at the SOM SF office soon... will let you know how that is...
cLoo...maybe you already work there, or at Gensler...since this was started 1 1/2 yrs. ago.... maybe we'll runinto eachother!

Mar 30, 07 5:07 pm

yeah i was gonna ask if any noticed this was posted in 05...

Mar 30, 07 5:12 pm

so rktkt2 revived it...

lletdownl.. goog job of noticing it

very interesting thread to read indeed

Mar 30, 07 6:09 pm

i'd vote no and no.

Mar 30, 07 9:05 pm

question, i am thinking of visiting Baghdad next Sunday, should i bring sunscreen?

Mar 30, 07 9:09 pm

i heard baghdad is lovely this time of year...

Mar 31, 07 1:32 am
Living in Gin

I've met some Gensler people here in Chicago and they seem pretty happy with their jobs.

On the other hand, the running joke is that nobody respects you as an architect in Chicago unless you've been fired by SOM at least once.

Mar 31, 07 2:28 am

Tell Tanja Andy says hi! I miss her.

Mar 31, 07 5:38 am

rktkt2 has worked at both firms or knows them by talking to others. It's one of the best bare knuckles discriptions of the two firms I've seen posted anywhere. They're both good firms, and they both have warts, it just depends what you want to get out of your time at either.

Apr 3, 07 10:25 am

Hi, folks. Sorry to open this can up again. I'm looking in the DC area for positions in interiors. I'm considering SOM, RTKL and Gensler but want to make sure I'll have a reasonable schedule so that I can study for certification and LEED. Experience with any of these firms? I read rktkt2's entry and that was helpful. Just curious if there's any DC specific info out there. Thnx.

Mar 12, 08 2:11 pm

One of my favorite coworkers worked at Gensler DC in their interiors department. She only has good things to say about Gensler. She said their mentorship program was great and extraordinarily beneficial for a recent grad. She has never mentioned an extreme workload while working there. I'm sure that may depend on a team-by-team, project-by-project basis.

She has mentioned that her salary in our current mid-sized Southern city is significantly higher than her salary at Gensler DC. She was pretty shocked as the cost of living here is significantly less than in DC.

Mar 12, 08 3:54 pm

Thanks. That helps a lot. Now, any good advice on how to back out of an acceptance from one firm in order to take another offer?......shit.

Mar 13, 08 11:19 am

hi everyone 

Hope all is well with you all.

I have some questions, if anyone can help that would be awesome.

I had 2 interviews at Gensler San Francisco and they seemed so excited about my portfolio and my experience.

They called and asked me when can you relocate? Then told me next step, HR will send you some paperwork.

I just know housing is very expensive there.

I don’t know what does that mean but if they offer me I don’t have any clue about salary in San Francisco as I live in Texas. 

The position is intermediate interior designer and I have 4 years of experience in interior design for workplace and hospitality.

I also, have master degree, 

could you please let me know what is the salary range for this position in San Francisco? 

Specially if anybody has experience with Gensler.

Also, I want to know do they have any package for relocation? 

Did anybody relocate and got help from the company? 

How should I approach that? 

Please let me know if anybody has any experience regarding this matters.

Thank you so much in advance.

Oct 13, 18 8:36 pm

Hello Niky,

Check out archinect salary poll below, this maybe a good start. and congratulations on landing a job offer at Gensler SF. Great firm and city, but living cost is quite expensive. Good luck on your salary negotiation.

Oct 14, 18 12:11 am

Niky, I’m sure you are already settled down, but I would guess it’s around $70k. It could be little higher if you are from a well known firm. 

Jan 10, 19 12:33 am

Go to Gensler.... Especially if you're doing interiors.

I loved my time at Gensler, i always tell people if you have an opportunity to work there take it! I never worked for SOM, but when i was at the big G I worked closely with a team from SOM. The SOM people were a great group, all very knowledgeable very professional and all seemed pretty happy with their jobs.  

Salary is tricky at Gensler, there are 2 bonuses and you get OT. So your base might be lower but if you get on the right project with the right team you can make some good bank. If you have any specific questions message me direct.

Jan 10, 19 4:31 pm

Yes, a Gensler job offer will contain some interesting salary/bonus arithmetic. The bonuses seem like kind of a deferred compensation scheme. The low base might not be fun if you live in an expensive city.

Gensler pay is low and yearly pay increase is the most 2% if you are lucky. You also might not get a raise. They also tell you not to tell your studio co-workers if you get a raise.
Doesn’t matter if the firm is profitable or not.
There culture has changed and not the same as when it was founded due to new upper management based on rewarding themselves.
Also, very political promotion process based on social skills not actual professional skills.
Gensler does lay-off as well, but it keeps them very hush hush to preserve their reputation.
I would look at other opportunities.
Jan 12, 19 1:56 pm

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