Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ask and ye shall receive (mostly)

Walking into an architecture firm with little to no experience can be pretty frustrating and intimidating. I have no problem saying that part of this is the fault of your schooling. For four to six years, you've been told that you're a designer, you're brilliant, and you have all the answers. Suddenly, you end up in the workplace and you have zero answers, but you're supposed to have those answers because you just spent four to six years in college. And college is suppsed to prepare you for the real world, right?

Well, not exactly, not in terms of architecture. Nearly everyone ahead of you at your office recalls that same feeling, however faint, of being confused and freaked out because you don't know what any of the acronyms mean or how to detail a window. You know how to think and how to design, but you're going to need some time to learn the nuts and bolts of the profession. We licensed architects know that. And because we know that, we're expecting your questions. We're more surprised when you don't ask us for help or advice than when you do. It makes us wonder what you're doing over there at your desk when we know that you're right out of college or only have a year or two of experience.

So if we know you don't know a lot, why don't we just explain everything to you when we first tell you to do it? Well, a few reasons: we're in a hurry, if you have a little bit of experience then we're not sure what you know or don't know, but most of all it's that the things that we need to tell you are second-nature to us by this stage in our professional lives. We have no problem explaining things to you, it's just that what we do is so second nature that we forget the reality of your situation.

So, ask. Ask, ask, and ask. It helps to get a few questions together at once if you're having to interrupt a busy boss, but ask. Ask your boss who you can ask when s/he's not available. Ask your boss if they're comfortable with you asking the contractor about details and for input, and then ask the contractor. Sometimes, you'll meet with some attitude from a manager regarding your questions, but that's their problem. Either you can ask and get the info you need, no matter how basic or self-evident, or you can not ask and mess something up big time.

No comments:

Post a Comment