Thursday, February 3

Welcome to the Real World, kiddo.

I am TERRIFIED of getting a job.

[...exhale. There. I said it.]

I've had a degree in Architecture since July, which is basically a nice way of saying I've been unemployed for eight months.

That first summer after graduation, I didn't look for a job because I wanted to decompress from sleeplessly shredding my way through a five-year program in four years. A niiice, leisurely, three-month pat on the back, if you will.

Then, I didn't get a job because I wanted to tag along to Europe with the mister. (Was blogging a job? Nnnno. There's this picky little technical requirement called "income.") (But I'm still glad I did it.)

Well, it's been two months since we got back from living in Sweden, and I still haven't sent out a single resume. This is so painful to confess. I attribute it to 25% laziness, and 75% paralyzing fear of failure. Obviously, neither of which are any kind of excuse.

For those of you who aren't in the field of architecture, it's even a little more complicated than just sending out a couple sheets of paper. If you're serious about the job, you need to send them a portfolio of your best work.

If you're a super-duper Matthews-er reader, (Hi. I love you.) then you might remember from a previous post how insanely perfectionistic architecture students are. So imagine:

       horrific fear of failure
    + OCD perfectionism
    + no real deadline assigned 
       nitpicking through my portfolio for MONTHS. Redrawing projects. Rearranging pages.

...Not to mention procrastinating from nitpicking.

I'm not just afraid of getting turned down at interviews. I'm afraid of getting hired, and then my employers thinking that I know nothing about architecture. Because I feel that way myself. Don't get me wrong, I did well in school and everything, it's just that THERE IS SO MUCH TO KNOW in this field-- you have to juggle geometry, physics, psychology, graphic design, art history, even ecology for crying out loud. Plus, you know, this silly little thing called building code.

I'm not even bragging. I'm panicking.

But then, I remind myself, this encyclopedic knowledge requirement is exactly why I chose it. I'm so in love with learning about our world that I purposely chose the career which requires you to harmonize the hugest number of subjects. (Booyah. No red squiggly line under the word "hugest.")

And then, I remind myself that there's no way I can be an expert in architecture, even after busting my ass through four years of school. This is why they require four years of hyper-documented internships after school before you can even apply to get your license. Then you have actually pass the licensing test. So I'm probably right where I should be and am expecting way, way, way too much of myself.

And also, I need to get out there and get a job because: can you imagine me as a housewife?? (Okay, yeah, maybe a totally batsh!t crazy one. The house would be in a constant state of remodel, and the kids would get their faces painted like zoo animals every day before school.)

THAT being said, I'm printing out my portfolio this morning. It will never be 'done,' but I'M DONE. Done with these weird confidence issues. Done feeling like I'm mooching off of Jason. Done feeling guilty about having any kind of fun, because I should be working on my job search. Ready to step out of this comfort zone I've been in my whole life, called "school," and put it all to use.

{photo credit}

P.S. Sweet and inspiring reply from the talented Kelley Maria! Thanks Kel! (2-11-2011)


Markie said...

You go, girl.

Sam said...

I know exactly how you feel! I have a job, but it has nothing to do with my major, and I took it because I knew that it came with an expiration date (no fear of commitment attached). Now that job is ending, and I am moving to the live music capital of the U.S. where I am supposed to pursue all of my aspirations to be a music journalist...yeah right! The more I learned about journalism, the more I realized that it's not for me. I don't want to get to know people. I don't want to explore the depths of humanity. I want everyone to keep their problems to themselves and focus on ME! I also suck at grammar and spelling, and I'm not a good writer (minor details). I can totally relate to the following around the mister thing. I am moving to Texas so that Tack can pursue his film career. What the heck am I going to do with the rest of my life? Good question! I am telling you all of this so that you will know that you are not alone. I think we are all sailing in that boat. Chin up. Chin up.

Kristie said...

I called my mom last week crying (yes, actually crying) about the same worries. What she said to me was very helpful: you (and potential employers) can't expect you to know everything right out of school. School is not the final word on everything you will ever know about architecture, it is just a springboard for diving in (a 4- to 5-year-long one, but so be it). So deep breath; you're exactly where you need to be.

I hear you on the portfolio. I actually have a printed portfolio (finished last May) that I was too embarrassed to send out, so it's been sitting on my shelf for months. But as we know, the shelf isn't gonna just jump up at us with a job offer (don't I wish). At some point, you gotta press print, seal the envelope, and stick a stamp on it.

Plus, in a twisted way, the good thing about a bad economy is that if you get turned down, you can chalk it up to that, rather than any kind of personal failure. Even if you don't get the job, you can still think of yourself (correctly) as awesome as ever.

Casey said...

I can tell you that, after working for 2 years now for an Architecture firm, the thing that worked best for me was to show how much I could do, and how versatile I could be. It's not all design in an office, and there is so much bureaucracy attached to firms that after being students for so long, we forget there is that other side of our field, the clients and the day to day things like detailing and CD's and meetings and drawing what someone else designed, whether it's good or not. I've come to realize that you have to love what you do in this field and go into it knowing that whatever you end up doing, you can enjoy the field around you and you'll learn something every step of the way.

April said...

Thanks, Markie : )

Sam, I agree with everything you said except for the fact that you're not a good writer. I could listen to you talk about yourself all day long. In fact, I did just that for an entire school year, and enjoyed it ; ) It's blogtime, lady. Do it.

April said...

Kristie, I just realized another reason for this little panic attack last night. I was looking through some more firms' websites, and realized I had been comparing my website and drawings to theirs. Really smart, hon, really smart. Not like the work of 20 experienced people went into that single perspective or anything.

Casey, thanks for the advice! I tried to make my portfolio as well-rounded as possible so people will see I'm up for anything. And I'm totally prepared to be a CAD-monkey for the next couple years : )

Little Wonder Lauren said...

I'm not an architect, but I can totally relate to what you're going through. There's a lot of us out there that are afraid to apply for jobs -- and when we get a job, we're afraid our new bosses will regret giving us the job. I keep trying to explain to my new boss why I did something in a particular way, or why I missed something when I was proof-reading. I keep trying to prove myself -- and the other day, she said to me, "You don't have to explain about that. That's why we have someone else proof-read a document." I think my boss has more confidence in me than I can imagine, and more confidence in me than I have in myself.

Take the plunge and see that first job (or first couple of jobs) as another learning experience. They know you don't have your license yet and are expecting to have to train you more. You'll feel stupid sometimes, but if you accept that as a given, it won't be so bad... and I'm sure you'll end up a really talented architect if you dedicate yourself to learning more while you're an intern.