One would think that finding a job in today’s market was stressful enough. For instance – there aren’t an overabundance of firms hiring, and those firms that are looking for new staff now have a HUGE pool of unemployed architects to choose from. So if you’re looking for work, you have to factor in a shortage of open positions and an increased amount of people who may meet increasingly popular qualifications better than you can – namely degrees [a masters seems to be more and more valuable every day], and LEED certification.
So you’re out of work, only have a bachelor’s, and you’re not a LEED AP – well, at least all that’s left is your resume and portfolio to stress over, right? Think again, my ninjas!
I had heard before about other professions ‘testing’ in various ways as part of new hiring procedures, but Archidose’s post today was the first example I saw of an architecture firm applying the extra pressure. Check out the mess that an applicant will go through to be considered at Robert Siegel Architects:
After making it through the first resume review process, we give selected promising candidates a graphic test in our office. The goals of this 20 minute test are:
1. Drawing ability using a pencil. This is a tool that architects use to communicate. In our office we are always drawing and sketching freehand.
2. Passion for architecture and analytical ability. There is a portion of the test in which you have to draw a plan and a section or elevation of any piece of architecture. Amazingly, either history is no longer taught or the relevance of our architectural past is not integrated into design curricula since most people fail this portion catastrophically.
3. Basic design ability. This is a classic “Architecture 101” test to measure spatial design ability.
Now, don’t get me wrong – this actually sounds reasonable, and makes a certain amount of sense [especially from the firm’s point of view]. But that said, holy shit – that sounds like the the most stressful day ever. I mean, you’ve just finished going through your resume and portfolio, only to have a ‘test’ to complete? My ninjas, PLEASE. Sounds terrible.
For those of us that weren’t involved with architecture at the time, the early ’90s were apparently pretty rough on the profession – much like today [ironically, I’m spending a decent amount of time now doing things I was also doing 19 years ago – namely, spending too much time playing video games and reading comic bookcs]. While most of you are probably aware of this – as I’m sure you’ve heard stories from co-workers who survived that recession – what you may not know is that the lack of jobs in the early ’90s led a large number of young architects to seek employment in other fields, and never return to architecture.
All that said, we now find ourselves in another economic sh!tstorm – and while there may be hope of a full recovery, there’s no way to tell when that can be expected. In the meantime layoffs continue, staffs shrink, and having no / little experience [and less than a master’s degree] means that a new generation of young designers and recent graduates are faced with a dilemma: how long can we ride this out, and if that’s too long what will we do next?
So that’s the question – where do you go from here? And Architect magazine wants your answer. Are you recently unemployed, or a recent graduate without a job? What are your plans? How long are you willing to – or how long can you – wait for hiring to start up again before you have to start getting creative, or looking for a job in another field? Have you already decided to leave the profession? What are you doing now? If you think you have an interesting story and would like to share, contact our ninjas at Architect – and your story could be featured in an upcoming issue.
Think about it, and if you’re interested you can send an email to Amanda Hurley [email@example.com], Senior Editor at Architect.
Good luck on the job front, my ninjas. And remember: it’s not your fault you lost your job, it’s rich people’s.
I was just reading in the NY Times that the government is planning a $5 BILLION bailout for auto-parts suppliers / manufacturers, and it hit me: architects need to stop worrying about getting in on infrastructure projects [there are only going to be so many of those], or tax help for developers’ shovel ready projects. Instead, we need to get in on these sprawling auto industry bailouts – since cars [or the auto lobbyists] are apparently the most important thing to US government.
For instance – why not build new plants? New auto employee recreational facilities? New homes for all the execs, who are laughing at us for being chumps [behind closed doors, of course]?
But really, even that is just thinking too small. What we most obviously need, requiring the construction industry, is new carports to protect our new national investments! If so much of our tax money [and, frankly, the money of our children, and maybe grandchildren at this rate] is going to go to all the different parts of the auto industry – so that they can produce cars that we don’t need and nobody can afford right now, just to employ workers – then I demand money go to architects, designers, and contractors to build beautiful, water-resistant homes for all these cars we’ll be manufacturing. I mean, let’s face it – there’s no demand for these new whips. And since that’s the case, and we’re throwing all economic theory to the wind here – I think it’s only right that we get in on the action and build something useful, protecting our multi-billion dollar national investment from the elements.
Plus, the carports could have re-sale value – think of how many we could sell to China and India at some point.
Arch Record has a number of articles with information for those of us who’ve been laid-off, but I found this one particularly interesting as it addresses the fact that there basically are no architecture jobs [sorry to be so cynical, but that seems to be the reality of the matter]. Here’s an excerpt:
Jobless architects should remember that â€œfirst and foremost, itâ€™s the market, not you,â€ says Billy Clark, director of Jack Kelly & Partners, a recruitment agency for the design industry. While architects may need to take a few daysâ€”or weeks or monthsâ€”to muster up the energy and confidence needed for the job hunt, Clark says they should assemble their portfolio and resume immediately. The longer one waits, the more difficult the task becomes. â€œDo it the minute you get laid off,â€ he emphasizes.
The reality is, though, that even top candidates might not be able to land a position right now. How do they ride out the recession?
“You have to get creative as to what type of work you’re willing to do,” Clark says. While few industries are recession-proof, architects might find work in fields such as graphic design, computer modeling, store branding, facility management, surveying, and product sales. Paola Tocci, president of FD+CC, a company that provides pre-construction services such as cost estimating and scheduling, recently announced at a forum in New York City for unemployed architects that her company is hiring. â€œThink outside of the box and learn a new set of skills,â€ she told the crowd.