I Graduated. Now what?
My idea for this digital garden was framed around the early professional years, let's say, 1-3 years after graduating where you feel like you learned architecture by drinking from a fire hose, and also feel like you still have to learn more to be an active participant in your first job. This is common and I hope to dispel some rumors and instill confidence with these pages to share how I grew into being an architect.
If you thought that architecture school taught you how to be the lead designer in any company where you were hired on the first day on the job, welcome to the club. When I graduated I got my first job and wanted to change everything from the website to the business cards. I quickly realized that my role was nowhere near being in charge of design, but as a smaller gear in the machine that produced building designs. At first, I felt deflated, to say the least, but after some time I realized that school was just one part of a larger process to becoming a licensed architect.
It also helps to have a great boss or manager that can soften the blow of not being the head of design. I was fortunate to have a couple of great employers that coached me through those early years so I could still feel important while I learned how to work in architecture.
This is why I decided to write all this down, I want to share my experiences with the next generation so that you can feel more at ease that you are in the right place, and just need a few tips and tricks to get the most out of these first few years in practice. I know I may say this more than once throughout this garden, but architecture is 100% a marathon and not a sprint. There is so much to learn that it is impossible to cram it all into the four to six years of the architecture curriculum.
The first thing to remember is that everyone in the office is on the same team, and if you don't feel welcome or included, then you should think about finding a company that is willing to give you the space you need to become great. I used the word team instead of another commonly used term, family, I do not think that people at work, no matter how much you love being there, is your family. I am a firm believer that no one would write on their headstone "here lies (your name) they worked a lot". I love architecture and feel like I found my passion in this career, I also have grown as a person that is working hard to not just identify myself as an architect.
This list of onboarding documents is just the basics of what I believe are key things to know when getting started fresh out of school. Not all may apply to you and your first job, but if you stick with it long enough they will make you indispensable to your team. I realize that this garden is not the only resource available to you, but I do hope it adds to the broader conversation of improving the profession by making it more transparent and accessible.