5 Architecture Career Success Tips For Millennials

Sara Mandeed
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Stop complaining

It’s easy to blame your job for the fact that you’re not advancing in your career. It’s easy to say that if your employer would pay you more, put you in charge of larger projects, or simply give you the respect you deserve, you’d be making more money.

While it’s justified to feel frustrated about the obstacles that you’re up against, complaining isn’t going to get you anywhere. In fact, it’s easy to complain and not do anything about it.

Don’t do it. Instead, make a plan to fix the problem. If your employer isn’t paying you as much as you feel you’re worth, come up with a plan to increase your earning potential. Maybe it’s upgrading your degree or learning a new skill.

These facts are irrelevant to your situation.

Your age, experience, and educational history may make traditional career success tips irrelevant to you … and that’s okay. You’ll be better off designing your own path.

Here are some good questions to ask yourself – questions that will help you define your own career success tips:

  • What is most important to me in a job?
  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • What work do I enjoy, and am I talented at?
  • What do I want to learn? (so that I can enjoy the work I do)
  • What limitations are there on my career path?

"Your salary is effective when you are”.

Can you remember back to your last performance review? If you can, I’m sure that you remember not wanting to leave the room.

The conversation usually goes like this: you go in, expecting a progress report and a promotion, but what you get is something that feels like an ambush. You’re told there’s room for improvement, and that you need to work on your [insert icky thing here] if you want to get anywhere.

It’s important to keep in mind that most of the time, a review is not designed to make you feel bad about yourself or your performance. The goal of a review is to help you succeed in your job, and if your employer is doing their job right, then that’s what they will do.

So how can you turn a dreaded yearly ritual into something productive?

There are a few key steps you can take to make sure your performance review goes your way … which is to be prepared, have an action plan, and most of all, be willing to openly discuss goals.

If you follow these steps, you’re sure to leave the performance review feeling both more successful and more satisfied.

Work at work

In the past, most of the architecture work was accomplished in offices and with pencils. These days, with the advent of new technology, most architecture work is completed right from home. This is also one of the biggest reasons that architecture is an attractive field for millennials.

It’s a very work-at-home friendly field.

Not only that, but the hours leave plenty of room for other passions and hobbies. That can be a huge advantage to millennials. Another big advantage is flexibility. Architecture jobs can allow you to work from anywhere.

This can be a huge career advantage as many other tech jobs are in demand, but not in specific locations.

If you can work at home and work remotely, you can move to any city you want and still have a career in architecture.

Of course, you still can’t avoid some of the downsides that come with being self-employed (less sick time, no vacation, etc.) But the flexibility to be where you want to be is worth it.

Trust me, as someone who has already worked more hours than most do in a lifetime, it is not an efficient use of your time.

A typical workday for me was around 12 hours, and the inefficiencies were extreme enough that after a few years, I developed a serious medical condition because my body could not cope.

There is no point in working hard at something you can’t stand.

It is not about not having fun, it is about determining how to be successful in what you choose to do. Being a millennial doesn’t mean you can’t have a family and have a career you love. But it also means that you need to focus on what is really important to you, right now, in the present.

Does it seem odd to think about the future and the present simultaneously? The most important aspect of life is the present.

If you are thinking about every single thing you do now, with every person you love, every decision you make about your job, every dollar that you spend, every single action you take in your life, you will have a great time. The best way to ensure that you are taking the best step at this time in your life is to write down the plan you wish you had created three years ago.

Try to minimize all distractions.

To become one of the top architecture graduates, you need to give yourself the best possibility… and that’s by doing some important things before it’s too late. To do this, you’ll need to take a sober look at the field and honestly assess whether you want a career in the world of architecture. As is with any career path, all the learning isn’t done inside the classroom and more often than not, your real education comes from outside your formal education. To be an one of the top architecture graduates, you’ll need to learn how to be adaptable, resilient, and independent. When you’re in school, your time might be fully consumed with assignments, exams, and projects. So it’s really crucial to know how to set aside time to relax and unwind.

To become one of the top architecture graduates, you need to set aside time and do things yourself. It’s also important to build on your out-of-school projects and to develop a portfolio that will stand the test of time.

Don’t take advantage of your employer

Sketching out a map for your career path is an important tool, and you need to make sure that you’re going to be an asset to your company while you do so.

The path you choose could mean an easy promotion or a dead end.

Your financial future is determined by your place in the company.

Before you start working for a company, know what they value. Determine what a career path looks like there before accepting the job.

If you get an offer from a prestigious architecture firm in New York City, gather all the info you can about the position and the firm before deciding whether to accept.

How soon does an architect become a partner?

In other words, are you likely to be a junior associate for the next 10 years or an associate for the next 2 years?

How much of your time will you have to spend at night and on weekends working on projects outside the company?

Think about what you can realistically handle in terms of demands on your time and energy and use that information to frame the scope of your career.

Never stop learning

Here’s the truth: the moment you stop learning is the moment you stop working.

Along with learning new skills, you need to be preparing for your career’s future. Technology is constantly evolving, as are the job opportunities for those who can master it. You’ll need to stay up to date with this information if you want to take full advantage of the opportunities that come your way.

Invest in your career now – take classes, volunteer, take risks, and invest in yourself. Your future self will thank you.

Manage your finances

If you are lucky enough to have a steady job after the internship and you have factored in all of your expenses, then you have the opportunity to save up for your future. If you don’t have enough money to invest in your personal retirement account, then you need to start thinking about it immediately. Working as an architect is rewarding and fun, but you need to start thinking about how you are going to retire. It is best to give yourself some time to save.

As an architect, you will likely work until you retire. If you want to retire at the early stage of your life, you need to start thinking about investing in your retirement account as soon as you start working. If your company offers a 401(k) option or other pension plan, sign up immediately. The earlier you start, the more you will save for your future.

It’s important to set up a frugal budget. It’s a good idea to live a frugal lifestyle, but you still need to spend a certain amount of money. Set up an emergency fund if you haven’t done already, and do what you can to save for a house or a car. You can work on your financial goals and then treat yourself with a vacation. It’s a good idea to have fun with your hard earned money.

Create a unique budget for every month and stick to it.

Do not compare with last month. Do not compare with your colleagues or friends. Do not compare with your friends or your peers, or your colleagues, or other people who are doing better financially than you are. If you follow your own budget, compare with yourself and how you are doing financially, you will be fine.

This is one of my pet peeves. People always compare their personal financial situation with others and based on that they make some of the biggest financial mistakes of their lives.