Monday, April 5, 2010

Managing Up: I'm the Intern, You're the Architect...right?

An intern in my office, whom we'll call K, recently commented to me about an architect with whom she was working on a project. She was helping this fellow with a DD deadline, and she began to notice over a short period of time how disorganized, inaccurate, and inattentive this fellow was. For example, she wasn't sure what to call a large concrete wall with an open grate on it that looked down into a pit that had mechanical equipment and pipes in it--she had never seen this sort of thing before, and the architect never mentioned any nomenclature for it when giving her some very loose directions on the drawings she was to do. In a pinch, she named it "Mechanical Access Well and Grate". Upon seeing this, the architect exclaimed, "Yeah! That's perfect!", as if he'd had no idea what to call it either. She thought (but didn't say out loud), "I'm the intern and you're the architect--how is it that I'm coming up with this stuff and you can barely put two thoughts together to tell me what you want me to do?"

Here's the unfortunate and yet hope-inspiring truth: the ARE only tests candidates for minimal competence. It doesn't test someone to see if s/he will be an amazingly awesome architect, just a barely competent one. And people who test well aren't always good at their jobs. (Likewise, people who are very good at what they do aren't always good test takers.) This is unfortunate news, because it means that there's a good chance that every intern out there will work for someone who is disorganized, volatile, lazy, inept--in short, a walking dumpster fire. The reason that this is also hope-inspiring is that you really have nothing to fear when it comes to taking the ARE. Just study and give yourself time to prepare, and you can pass it as well. As my husband sometimes says, "Remember that half of everyone is below average." That includes architects.

I'm not done waxing philosophical or practical on this topic, but I'll at least wrap this post up with the truth: you will sometimes work for people who aren't very good architects, and doing so will force you to be a better intern (and therefore architect) because you'll have to be on top of things to which s/he won't be paying attention. I've done a few posts on managing up, namely here, here, and here, but I know this won't be the last word on the subject.

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