10 Tips For Young Architects Starting Out in the Profession

Here’s what architect Bob Borson wished he knew when he walked into his first job.

Bob Borson Bob Borson

Bob Borson is creator of the famous Life of an Architect blog, a Texas-based architect at Malone Maxwell Borson Architects and an indispensable guide to professional practice. We are pleased to present a selection of his posts on Architizer, each one providing amazing insight into the complex process that goes into all great architecture.

“Re: Advice for a young architect”

That was the subject line of one of the emails that came in over the weekend. Normally I don’t respond to the newest emails first (especially because I have about 400 still left to answer), but this one caught my eye, and I decided to respond because the subject line included almost all of my trigger words.

I should confess that I didn’t realize that, when I started writing the Life of an Architect blog seven years ago, I would spend more time answering emails than actually writing articles for the site. To be honest, I have a hard time keeping up with the volume, and I’ve undoubtedly disappointed a lot of people who didn’t know just how hard it is to answer every email (nobody asks “yes” or “no” questions), and all they really want is for someone to help them — maybe provide some guidance or insight.

That doesn’t sound so unreasonable, does it? I didn’t think so either. So every now and then, I decide to turn those email responses into a blog post so that I can direct people to it rather than coming up with the same information time and time again. To that end, I received an email from a young man who recently graduated and wanted to know if I had any tips or recommendations for him as he starts his career.

Uhhhh … Do I have any tips? It’s like he doesn’t know who I am because I am full of unsolicited advice. There are about 200 articles or more on my site that would be perfect for him, but he specifically wanted my top 10 tips for a young architect just starting at their first job. Who am I to deny this young man getting off on the right foot?

Via Mirage Studio 7

So, in no particular order, here are the 10 things I wish I knew when I walked into my first day on the job. In some instances, there is a complete article that I’ve prepared on the subject, and I’ve included the link so that you can read it and then “wow” your friends at your next cocktail party.

1. Don’t send an email for everything. It will live forever and get sent to people you might not have intended to read it. See: You’ve Got Mail

2. Be wary of moonlighting “opportunities.” There’s a reason these folks aren’t coming in the front door. See: The Pros and Cons of Moonlighting

3. Perception is reality — it doesn’t always matter if you’re right or not. See: Perception Versus Reality (as a bonus, you can see a 1990 version of Bob Borson)

4. Pay attention to what’s important to you, learn who you are, not who you want to be.

5. Your supervisor/boss doesn’t care why you didn’t do what they asked … “Excuses” and “reasons” sound a lot alike.

Via Mirage Studio 7

6. If your firm justifies long hours as “part of the training process for interns,” you should look for a different firm.

7. Your school portfolio doesn’t have the value you think it does, and once you have a real job, expect to leave it in the closet forever. See: Architectural Portfolios and Their True Purpose

8. Learn how to speak well in public. Take a class if needed. See: Presentation Skills – Tips and Techniques

9. Volunteer some of your time to charity — any charity will do. Let others take advantage of that exceptional education.

10. Hand-drawing is not a gift, it’s a skill, and it has value beyond creating pretty pictures. See: Sketching (various articles)

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This post first appeared on Life of an Architect. Top image via Kaputt! Architecture

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