We are not your Boomer/Gen X'er Architect. The millennial architect will no longer accept long held and outdated traditions in the architectural profession. We speak out against the path to licensure, we start our own firms, and we work for and with people in need.
Past generations of architects merrily went about their careers toiling away as interns, while getting little to no pay doing monotonous, low-level drone work. They were told that that’s what it takes to be a great architect. The payoff will be worth it. The trials and tribulations of the tortured artist will one day yield a masterpiece and that they would be richer for the experience. One day, they'll catch the carrot on the end of the stick and be designing their dreams.
However, we saw that the carrot was rotten and it made people gassy. Our bosses, mentors, and teachers left the profession in droves, complained, became jaded, got fired, closed their firms, and embarked on new careers in different professions. We understand the consequences of the traditional architectural career path and it’s unappetizing.
Some say millennials are impatient. The reality is that we saw and learned from past generations. We know that waiting for our dreams to come and “putting in our time” doesn’t necessarily result in fruitful outcomes. We know that if we want a meaningful and happy life, it must be now, not after ten years of misery. Therefore, if we aren’t getting what we need, we make it happen.
Some say we are unrealistic and idealistic because we uncompromisingly want to follow our passion. However, we are the most educated generation in history and we understand the complex realities of the world. We understand that it’s unlikely for every workplace task to leave us with a sense of meaning and fulfillment. However, we don’t resign ourselves to this fate. If our individual tasks are not always imbued with meaning we demand that our employers represent our values themselves in how they conduct business.
We value helping those in need and making the world a better place. We understand that one job may not fulfill these expectations completely so we work one or multiple part-time jobs instead and demand work hour flexibility.
We know our goals may seem lofty but we are committed to actually achieving them, not just talking about them. That is why we prefer results-oriented work environments (ROWE) and crave consistent and frequent feedback rather than yearly reviews.
We aren’t ok with perpetuating the work/life balance myth, which attempts to steal just enough life hours to make up for the soul crushing work hours. Instead, we want work/ life integration where our work selves and our out-of-work selves synergistically make our whole selves happier and more fulfilled.
So, we demand specific and compatible workplace culture, we drive less, we are conscious of our carbon footprint, we volunteer more, we vote more, we read more, we are more connected, we adapt more quickly, we think more holistically, and we are better at multitasking than anyone in history.
Give us 6-8 hours of homogenous low-level work per day such as model building, drafting, or spec sheets and our highly educated, talented, and skilled selves are out of there. You’ll be stuck with a $25,000 bill and it’s your fault. We are the most entrepreneurial generation ever, so we aren’t afraid to quit and venture off on our own.
We aren’t afraid of work; in fact, we expect to be available for work 24/7 but that work must be meaningful. Can’t figure out how to employ us with meaningful work? Than you deserve your employee turnover rate, lowered productivity, and unhealthy workplace culture.
Architecture profession, take a cue from the tech industry and start competing for the top millennial architectural talent by offering drastically higher pay, work hour flexibility, work task diversity, nourishing workplace culture, and be committed to the triple bottom line.
In return, you will get some of the most creative, smart, innovative, complex thinkers and doers you have ever seen. We will create architectural successes analogous to Apple, Google, Facebook, Tesla, and Space X, while simultaneously contributing to the common good like Tom’s, Revolution Foods, Warby Parker, and the like.
We won’t be your CAD monkeys, we won’t jump through hoops or churn through meaningless work and we won’t allow our talents and passions to be wasted or neglected. We are confident in our abilities, uncompromising in our values, and dedicated to actually getting meaningful things done for the good of us all.
By 2025, we will make up 75% of the workforce. If you blink, you won’t be competing for us, we will be your competition.
Top image via Delta Lenders