As soon as you graduate architecture school you are facing a huge milestone – finding your first job. While looking through job offers and creating a portfolio it is also important to ask yourself a question: do I want to work in a small or big architecture company? Work environment may change your working experience and how you perceive your architecture job. In this article we are going to give you 10 reasons why considering working for a small firm is a good idea.
1. LEARNING FROM THE BEST
Main advantage of working in a small business is the fact that you are going to know everybody there and probably working closely with the main architect. This means that you are going to learn directly from him and other architects working there. Bigger companies tend to have a certain hierarchy, which often leads to young architects not even knowing the leading architect. You learn from the person directly above you, which diminishes your learning opportunities. However small teams are more like a family, often working together, helping each other and teaching each other giving you more chances to develop.
2. SMALLER TEAM – BIGGER RESPONSIBILITIES
When the team working for a project is small, it means you need to divide responsibilities to less people. This translates to you getting more responsibilities. It may sound scary, but having more duties leads to getting more experience. You learn more and you can become a better architect faster.
3. MORE EXPOSURE
You not only get more responsibilities, but also the tasks you get are more varied. You can work on a concept for a project, then go visit the construction site. You are not only drawing sections, but have all sorts of different tasks to do. It is definitely more exciting in a small firm and also better for your personal development.
As there are less people in the company the decisions regarding it and the design process can be made much faster than in a bigger firm. Meaning you can way easier jump between the tasks and learn all sorts of different things. You need to be flexible yourself too and be able to work one day on a presentation for a client and then jump right back to drawing plans.
5. MORE FUN PROJECTS
This is not the rule, however generally speaking smaller architectural companies tend to choose more freely their clients and work on smaller designs or competitions. Meaning you can be a part of more fun, smaller projects that are interesting to create. You won’t bore yourself at work and you will be able to design something exciting. Smaller companies also tend to experiment more with how they present their projects – not only creating photo-realistic visualizations, but also playing with other styles. For example if you enjoy creating collages, you may kiss them goodbye in a big company. What is more, smaller companies are often more independent in how they find solutions to design problems leading to more creative work on your side.
6. FRIENDLY ATMOSPHERE
As we said earlier – smaller companies are often like families. This is due to working together all the time and knowing each other. At a big company you often don’t know half of the people there. A small team means that the atmosphere at work is more at ease. It may not be the most important reason, but as you stay at work for long periods of time, it is much more pleasant with the right aura. Sitting together at one table, rather than alone in the cubicle, is not only better for your mental health, but also for creative development.
While you work at a big company you still do a lot for the project, but as a young architect your name might not be on the list of authors, as too many people work on the design. This won’t happen at a small firm, where you have not only more responsibilities, but also you are actually credited and acknowledged for your hard work. Thanks to that you can further develop your own portfolio!
8. SENSE OF IMPORTANCE
Having more responsibilities, the ability to work with the leading architect and getting credit for your work means that you feel important. In a small company everything needs to work perfectly – less people means that everybody counts. You are not just a small part of a bigger picture, but an important cog in a well oiled machine. This also means that you may feel safer in your job. When doing it well and being important for the employer, you won’t need to worry to lose the job. Usually smaller firms rarely rotate their workers – when you are a part of the team you are relatively safe. Of course this doesn’t apply to recessions which still happen, however we believe that smaller firms hold on to their employees longer than the bigger ones.
9. FLEXIBLE WORKING HOURS
This is also not the rule, but generally speaking smaller companies do not have the regiment of working hours that are in the bigger firms. Employees often acknowledge your schedules and are flexible with them. There may also be days where you sit in the office for two hours, because you’ve already done everything you could. Of course all of these apply as long as you are getting your job done!
10. EXPERIENCE THE WHOLE DESIGN PROCESS
Last but not least – in a smaller company you often get to experience the design process from start to finish. You are doing so many different things, therefore sooner rather than later you get to do a little bit of everything. This means you get to know how the whole process looks from the early concepts, through meetings with clients to visiting construction sites. It is not only exciting, but also a great learning experience we believe that every young architect should get as soon as possible.
Of course if you choose to work for a bigger company it doesn’t mean your experience will be worse. It will be different and it may suit you just fine. However we believe that giving a try to a smaller working environment is worth it!
Are you working for a small firm or a bigger corporation? What are your experiences and are you happy with your choice? Let us know in the comments below!