Feeling lost professionally...


I've been working steadily since the middle of 2006 after graduating school.  Spent 22 months at my first firm, almost 5 years at the second, and am closing 9 months at my third.  Each move has been voluntary and on my own terms.  

I'm starting to feel bored and uninterested with architecture I'm currently doing.  I left firm #2 on good terms and they all told me to keep in touch and that they would like to have me come back.  I left there for lots of reasons: I felt I was not very well developed while I was there (and my concerns about lack of developments seemed to fall on deaf ears), a project manager did a real number on my confidence (it's low to begin with so it's been incredibly hard climbing out of that hole), and the commute from Chicago suburbs to chicago loop was starting to wear on me.  

All that said, I keep finding myself wanting to go back and work on the things that I worked on there.  Niche institutional healthcare firm.  I thought the work was interesting, the deadlines fair, the pay good.

My bigger concern is I'm starting to wonder if I've plateaued in skill and ability to grow professionally.  I don't know why I feel this way, I just do.  It's a hard feeling to shake, and I find it eats at me as my adult responsibilities grow.  I find myself worrying more and more about making serious mistakes as my responsibilities grow.

Is this a common way to feel?

Nov 4, 13 7:55 pm

Are you registered? 

It's not uncommon for the work to feel repetitive sometimes.  Focusing on getting licensed might help you feel you're continuing to move up.

Nov 4, 13 8:39 pm

It's on my to-do list Donna, I'm preparing to start hunkering down to study come winter, with the intent to sit for a part for every 2 months.  I graduated when you were not allowed to think about sitting for the exams until IDP hours were completed, the rules have changed now, but the years of being in that mindset have stuck with me.  

Nov 4, 13 8:47 pm

do it now.  plateauing professionally and  (i'm guessing) unmarried?  this is the best time in your life to get a license.  there's loads of crap in those study guides and text books you don't know.

Nov 4, 13 11:58 pm

Studying for the ARE will help you feel more confident for sure and help with the professional plateau that you mentioned. I agree, start studying NOW, knowledge is a confidence booster! You might find you know more than you think after so many years in practice anyways. I don't think it is incommon to think that way, I know I felt that way when I had trouble getting professional development at work too, you feel like a tool. I did an IDP companionship guide workbook too (I think it is called the Emerging Professional Handbook something or other now) which helped me get into the things that were still hidden to me. 

Nov 5, 13 6:43 am

Carhound, Please join the Chicago Young Architects Forum on meetup . com We have a regular monthly Job search IDP and ARE study support group. Having some people who are like minded and you can talk to candidly and confidentially would help you as it has helped me.  City Life is not for every one but thee are probably lots of firms in the burbs near you doing interesting work, so do not feel trapped.

If you are unhappy in a firm no mater how hard you try to hide it people get the vibes your sending eventually. If Healthcare is what you want to do then quietly and carefully make that move. Do not spend any more time than you have to being unfulfilled in a job that you only partially love.


Also I second the advice about the ARE this may open new doors for you and place you on par with that old rotten PM who might think twice about cutting down a peer rather than a subordinate.  Behavior like that is a sign of unhappiness too. 


I hope to see you at the next meet up

Peter Normand


But do come an visit us at Chicago Young Architect Forum, we have a social event tonight and two weeks from thursday our support group.

Nov 5, 13 7:41 am

Aw, Peter, that's so nice of you.  And true, carhound, that many many architects are also feeling like you!

Nov 5, 13 8:55 am

On most days my architecture gig is just my 9-5 gig.  And I would say that most can attest to this.  Some nice projects here and there though.

Nov 5, 13 12:32 pm

i hear ya.

I'm in a similar situation, although I am licensed, I don't think that helps, but the goal did keep me somewhat on track.  on track to where?  who the hell knows.

I feel we are the generation of lost architects....The few lucky ones that maintained employment throughout the recession, only to find that firms are still struggling and people of our experience level are staying underemployed and underutilized.

Personally I want more responsibility, but it does feel like a plateau.  If the work isn't there, what do you do? What do the owners and PMs do?  I think once the current firm owners start to kick the bucket and retire, things might open up a bit...Or when they realize the applicant pool is either people with zero experience or people with 10+ years in the trenches, opportunities might open up...but the work has to be there.

In terms of serious mistakes, everybody makes them, you just have to have a series of checks and balances in place, and hope that you are surrounded by good people that will catch what you didn't.  I had a boss once talk about how architecture is all decisions, if you make 100 decisions a day, and 99 are correct, you did a good job.

I just cant shake the feeling that we are in a profession that doesn't give a shit about the up and comers, underpaid and overworked, but not to make partner or move up, its just some "i did it, so now you do it" bullshit.  

I often contemplate doing something else entirely, but the problem is that I like the problem solving and creative aspects of the profession...

I think about it like this; I could stay in the field and be in the same place that I am in professionally right now in two years, or come out of law school with the education and potential to make a lot more money in a field that actually wants people to move up and become independent practitioners.  


Nov 12, 13 6:33 pm

you're on to something, but if you think the world needs more lawyers then you have your head in the wrong orifice.

Nov 12, 13 10:16 pm

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