Photo by Austin Distel
Photo by Austin Distel

Beware! Avoid Having Your Professional Development Depend On Your Firm! Diversify Your Development.

In order to progress and grow in your career, you must be able to learn new skills and gain knowledge that helps you to improve as a professional, and find solutions to your mistakes. If you are consistently depending on your firm for the resources you need to improve, then you may be limiting yourself and your potential. Listen up!

There are plenty of examples of architects and designers going above and beyond for their client and their firm, yet what is not mentioned, is all of the extra time and work that the architect puts in to create the best version of the project possible.

For example, in the US Architecture industry, many firms practice specialization of craft. What does this mean? Architects and Designers are expected to focus most, if not all of their time, improving in their specialty. This can lead to silo thinking within a firm, and makes it difficult for Architects to think outside of the box and take a diverse set of skills to achieve the same goal.

Take that extra step out of your comfort zone

The only way you can truly challenge yourself and the skills you have developed up until this point, is by getting out of your comfort zone. For example, an incredible Architect we interviewed recently, Luis Tena, mentioned that he is always trying to test his skillset by taking on new technology and trying to understand if it will make his life easier. Another example he gave is when he started working more on the construction phases of projects at the last firm he worked at before starting his own studio in Malibu called Luis Tena Design. Why did he start working in an area that is not his strong suit? Because he was honest with himself about the areas where he needs to improve before taking on the responsibility of leading your own firm, he was able to turn his self-improvement into a process.

Part of this process is being honest with yourself about how you need to progress in your career, and what it will demand of you in the future. Whether it be one year or ten years, you have to have a plan and a strategy that is constantly assessing your skillset and experiences.

How pro-active behavior can be infectious?

When you turn your curiosity and passion for architecture into a pro-active behavior that can be replicated and applied in all facets of life, you will be able to pass on this positive energy to your co-workers and counterparts. Architects and Designers feed off of one another’s passion and love for the craft.

Just as you are contributing to the history of Architecture, you are doing the same in your professional group. If you strive for excellence then so too will the others in your life. Once you have a whole village behind this positive message, it is a self-propelling cycle that gains steam.

Jack of all trades, master of none

This saying above touches on the previous concept of silo thinking, where Architects and Designers are told to only focus on a handful of specialities so that you become a master of your craft. Yet, one of the main concerns that we hear from Principals is this idea of the silo effect, which happens when separate groups within a firm don’t have a system to communicate effectively with each other. This can manifest itself at a firm via specialization and the level of siloing depends on how flexible the admin is willing to be when it comes to the roles and responsibilities of each architect.

Remote environments, managerial differences, lack of collaborative tools, and misalignment on goals are all factors that may impact the firm negatively. So it is your goal to challenge yourself on your own, not just your firm.

Here you can find a great article that talks about the negative impact of information silo, and how it negatively impacts team collaboration, which is the backbone of architecture firms.

When considering your next career move, plan proactively and create Portfolios that include your best work. Consider looking into finding a mentor with Architect-USand improving your Portfolios with our Portfolio Plans and Career Advice Program. We provide coaching and personalized mentorship, so you can have a professional and experienced take on your next steps in your career, as well as a great team to confide in.



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