Ever wondered what it would be like working as an architectural designer in one of the United States largest architecture/ engineering firms? I know I did, and it wasn’t a very comforting thought initially. But don’t worry it could be better than you think…
Welcome to my life at the moment (Summer 2015)
This is my neatly organized desk (compared to some)… I currently work at an international firm located in Dallas, Texas. There is always work to do, hot coffee on tap and plenty of co-workers to learn from.
In the professional world of architecture, there are different size firms ranging from the solo, freelancing architect, to the corporation swallowing international sized firms with more than 10,000 people in many related fields. Metaphorically, I think of this large firm as having grafted architecture as a branch of its gigantic tree of a company. I am but a leaf, falling off the great tree when Fall comes to finish my academic career.
Knowing what I do now, this tree has helped me grow and I am ready to take what I have learned with me.
So without further ado, here are the do’s and dont’s from my experience:
- Don’t ignore replacing the coffee pot, someone will spot you… people are a different species in the morning.
- Do get involved. I joined the company’s activity group in a chance to meet my co-workers on a more personal level, which only improved how I felt about working there.
- Don’t bring your bike up the lobby elevators. You will get an embarrassing call on your way up and everyone in the cab will look at you funny.
- Do take the service elevator with your bike or lock it up outside.
- Don’t press “send to all” in your work email. You don’t want 10,000 people around the globe reading what you wrote to your friend on the other end of the building.
- Do get to know other disciplines if available. Understanding what other disciplines do can only improve the way you work. Plus people love to share their expertise!
I heard prior to my experience that working for a large firm you will feel like a number… That couldn’t have been furthest from the truth. Culture was there and people were ready and willing to learn about me and my passions in life.
Young professionals can expect to experience at least a couple of different firm sizes during their careers to figure out where they fit in. Don’t be nervous to work at any size firm despite things you may hear. There is something valuable to learn from every person you meet. You never know, the people you associate with at a large firm may lead to the best opportunities you could ever want.