job market may lead recent graduates of architecture schools
to believe that the only question they will likely be asking
their future bosses is, "Do you take sugar with that?"
But a year after getting their first position, there are certain
to be questions that these young architects will have wished
they had asked. In an attempt to minimize this regret, archrecord2
asked architects at small, medium, and large firms how smart
job seekers can put their potential bosses in the hot seat.
was just so glad to get a job where people paid me money,"
says Dick Hudgens, of Richard Hudgens Architect, in Selma,
Alabama. Hudgens emphasizes the importance of landing at a
firm where job diversity is the order of the day. "How
much variety will there be in the work that I do? I
wouldnt want to get chained to a desk doing the same
thing all the time."
kind of responsibilities will I have in the next year?"
asks Jonathan Marvel of New Yorks Rogers Marvel. "In
my firm, we throw out a bunch of responsibilities to new hires,
and its sink or swim. Its very important to be
given responsibilities at lots of different levels to round
out the architectural experience."
Matzkin of Philadelphias Friday Architects asks, "What
am I going to get a chance to do? Will I ever design anything
or get to be a project architect on a small job? Some firms
have a monotony about them, so you better know what youre
Nicholas of Chicagos Nicholas Clark echoes Matzkin.
"What happens in medium to large firms is that you get
cubbyholed into a specialty. Id want a firm that would
allow me to grow into a role."
says architects who are starting out need "a level of
self-confidence. A lot of this comes from the relationship
a young architect has with the partners in the firm. You must
feel comfortable, intuitively sensing the presence of dialogue."
that a young architect feels that
sense of dialogue, James Williamson at Williamson Pounders
Architects suggests you go to the top: "Ask principals
to say something about their vision for what the firm should
become in the future. It would tell the employee about the
firm; whether its desire is to increase gross receipts, win
an AIA award, or improve relations with customers."
with the firms senior members ("Who am I going
to work for?" asks Williamson) isnt merely a question
of access, its an issue of continuing education and
preparing for the next step.
crucial question to ask would be how to address issues of
responsibility and the real coaching one could get from a
partner or a project manager," says Carlo Frugiuele of
Urban Office Architecture. "I often try to expose students
and people who work for us between the [New York and Milan]
offices to all phases of the design process, from client interviews
to the production of documents and site administration."Matzkin
adds, "Hopefully, youre going to use all of your
skills to move ahead or advance to another firm."
theres a danger in asking questionsyou want to
get a job, not to come off as an investigative reporter. "When
you start off, youre afraid to barge in and ask them
anything," says Hudgens. "You cant feel inhibited."
it were me, Id want to know what I might be exposed
to in the first two years that will allow me to see the full
range of professional experience and give me a better view
of where I want to proceed," says Chris Hayes of William
McDonough and Partners. "The more aggressive you are
about it, the better."
young architects ask may make the difference between spending
the early part of a career designing skyscraper bathrooms
or using it to learn skills that make a better architect.