Interview with An Architect

Posted February 07, 2012 by

* What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field?

My official job title is Entry Level Architect II. I work for a state agency and I’ve been doing this for a few years. I went back to school to become an architect a little bit ago. Before that, I had been working as an engineer.

* How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

Personally, I think that everyone thinks of Mike Brady from the Brady Bunch when they think of architects. I did anyway, but in reality, I can not afford a housekeeper and 6 kids! In addition, I would never entrust my plans to my children to deliver to a customer while we were on a grand vacation. My work basically entails making the customer happy and delivering a quality product in a certain amount of time. Budget concerns are also important as are building codes and code inspectors. Sometimes I feel like I should be a magician trying to keep everyone happy! In order to be successful in this field, you need good interpersonal skills. I think most people do not realize that.

* On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

My job satisfaction is probably around a 6. I love to design and I love architecture, however the problem is that you do not design buildings and structures in a bubble. You need to learn to interact with your customers and other coworkers. You need to know building codes, restrictions and other things. Modifying designs that I’ve created in order to conform to budgets and customers perceptions can be painful, but it is part of the job. Frankly, I was surprised at how little time I actually spend designing. Most of my time is spent in meetings, on the phone, or trying to “sell” my ideas to clients. For those reasons, I rate my job satisfaction as a 6. In order to unleash my full enthusiasm I’d probably need to re-write a number of building codes, change customers, and such.

* Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

I really do not think that there is anything unique about my situation. However, I do know someone who has a bachelor’s degree in social work that is now working as an architect which I think is pretty unique for this industry.

* What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

I’m not really sure I can say it! But the strangest thing that ever happened to me was coming around the corner on a job site and realizing that the woman in front of me was actually going to the bathroom in a hole that had been dug on the construction site. I’m not sure if she was some homeless person or if she was a worker. However, the porta-potty was only a few yards away from her at the time. That was pretty weird and I remember thinking “I wonder how I should handle THIS”? I ended up just turning around and pretending I hadn’t seen what just happened!

* How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?

My job can be very stressful. I am able to maintain a good work/life balance because I make an effort to do so. I try to not take my work troubles home with me. I really do try to set firm boundaries between work and home life and I do my best to express those boundaries to my co-workers. For that reason, I do not spend a lot of time at home checking my emails and text messages. I’ve found that if I am available or if there is the perception that I am available, the boundaries between my work life and home life get blurry. I work with some guys that never really leave the office. They are always on call, so to speak. I do not personally want that kind of a life. Of course, there are times when you get called in or you get an urgent message that needs to be addressed. I’ve already had to leave soccer games and other family events simply because something happened at work which needed immediate attention. That goes along with having this sort of job.

* What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

I’ll be honest–I make good money doing what I do. Frankly, that is the reason why I went into this field. I wanted a certain type of lifestyle for myself and for my family. I started at $65,000 and I got nice bonuses and raises each year. I currently make about $75,000. My wife also works and we have a very nice lifestyle. I was able to afford the house of my wife’s dreams and we take nice vacations every year. The kids can attend private school, too. Affording things like braces, music lessons, and other things is not a big deal which gives me peace of mind.

* How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

I’m not sure one can ever take enough vacation! I could work 24/7 for 365 days a year if I wanted to do so. I do get a lot of time off where I work. However, it can be difficult to actually take the time that you do have. I personally make it a priority to take the time I’m entitled to take.  There are people who love to work 24/7, and that’s great if it works for them because in this field you can do that. But I draw the line when people expect me to work 24/7 because they enjoy doing so.

* If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

If I could write my own ticket, I’d really love to work as a consultant and have more control over my life. I’d love to be able to work when I wanted to work! I know some of my friends who have gone on to teach at universities. That appeals to me, too. Realistically, I need to stay here until I get the kids through college. By that time, the house should be paid off too. Then, I can re-evaluate my career goals.

This is a true story as told to DiversityJobs, where you can find the job you’ve been looking for like this architect did.  Visit to find a career in your desired field today.

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