Why Are Young Architects So Unhappy?!???

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I received a nasty email this week because, in a recent #ArchiTalks blog post I threw the architecture students under the bus by saying:

…I wonder why many architecture students frown upon working for offices that provide production work on construction drawings.  Wait, I do know why. It’s because they have been in academia for way too long—making big executive decisions as a “star architect” on imaginary buildings in an imaginary world. Meanwhile, the institution that they’re paying lots of money to pats them on the back and tells them they are on their way to becoming the next Frank Lloyd Wright, with dollar bills in their eyes.

While I admit to being a little dramatic, I don’t take back what I said. I know too many people (and myself included) whom have had a very rude awakening after architecture school was over and began their careers as entry-level architectural staff.

A Kick in the Gut

Two weeks ago I came across the only interesting article I have ever read about millennials and entitlement. It hit the nail right on the head.

It spoke very directly to me, and it explained many of the entitlement issues I have had growing up, from attending architecture school—and that I frequently see among many younger people today. Especially Architecture Students.

Please read this article and post a comment below, telling me what you think:

Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy


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About the author

Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect who lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon, with his Labrador Retriever. He is passionate about helping Young Architects change the world. In his free time, Michael likes to take very long bicycle rides across America. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linked In.

krestina.aziz@yahoo.com - February 21, 2016

Working on construction documents is not the problem. It’s the lack of ethics that some of the firms have… making decisions to build bad places and packing townhouse like sardines and judging the project great under the single matrix of profitability… No, I am not ready to sell my life away to greedy developers. I dedicate my live to a cause, not a boss… who wants me to work overtime without paying me to produce more crappy buildings so he and the developer can put more money in their pockets…

It is not at all about waning to lead the design. I don’t mind having a small role in a firm that produces good work.

Linda Hopper - April 12, 2016

From about 1990-1994 I worked at the AIA and was the staff person for the Intern Development Program and the Intern -Associates Committee. In addition, I also designed the Inaugural Leadership Institute at the AIA, which we also conducted later through Georgetown University where I worked as the Director for Training and Organizational Development from 1998-2012 until I retired.

In my experience — at the AIA, working with AIAS, and at GU — young architects have been unhappy for a very long time. I have listened to students, interns, unlicensed designers, and licensed architects complain about a variety of issues. The profession has struggled with issues of mentoring and young architect development for a very long time.

Entitlement and “generational theory” (which is by and large just another way to stereotype people) are not the issue. The issue involves the difference in expectations between young architects and their managers.

— Young people want to be mentored, trained, and developed.

— Firm owners want the scut work completed.

— Young architects want the opportunity to complete the tasks necessary to become licensed.

— Firm owners are hesitant to delegate complex tasks to new employees. When we developed the learning objectives for the IDP, a ‘star’ architect said new architects could do what he did … Lie on his reports to NCARB.

— Young architects want career development,

— Small firm owners may not be able to offer that.

I could go on. And on, but you understand that this issue is complex and should not be attributed to young people feeling they are owed something unreasonable. In fact, what they want is what world class employers provide, and there are architecture firms who meet that description.

No one wants to be a performance pony, jumping through hoops, dancing to silly music, and being paid peanuts. No one. Young architects are not being “entitled” when they expect to be treated as professionals from the day they start work.

I wager no current firm owner did either.
And for the record, my generation of Baby Boomers were accused of the same stuff. It wasn’t true in 1965 and it’s not true now.

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