#ArchiTalks 46 "my first interview..."

I know that this is supposed to be my first interview and I am assuming that it means the first architecture interview...



Of course if it was the first job interview, I think it would be when I applied for a job at a tuxedo shop for seasonal help, measuring men (or women) for tuxedos to rent for prom and weddings.  Well, I could also sell them tuxedos and other formal wear items and then I could make commission.  I just decided one day that I would walk down the street and just apply at every place that was within walking distance of my house, but I didn't want to apply for any food service jobs, and luckily, I was able to get the retail job.  And then my family was moving to San Diego so it was fine that it was seasonal and then I got the job back for the next year and actually gave a friend the free tuxedo rental that i got that year.

giorgio armani tuxedo


So I really can't remember my first architecture job interview.  I was in my second year of architecture at the community college in San Diego and had sent in my application to Cal Poly Pomona (that was the only school I had applied to as it was impacted and we weren't California residents at the time for me to apply a year ahead of time while in high school) and the instructor and head of the department asked if I had a job and I told her that I was working for a tuxedo shop.

Which by the way, that job is a great way to learn how to interact with people. As far as who my clients ended up being in custom residential, I think the more experience that you have working with people and helping them make design decisions during a stressful but probably happy time in their life, the better.

And she said, "why are you working there?  Don't you want to get a job at an architecture firm?" And i said,
"Well yes!" 
and she said, "well, Stephen Davis is looking for someone so here is his number and I will call him and tell him that you are interested.  I have to say that I was glad that I could say that I worked where I did because one of my fellow architecture students and friend worked at Chuck E. Cheese and he had to explain to her that he worked there and had to put on the rat costume because he could fit in it.

So, I brought in some drawings that I had done and I brought in some drafting samples and I got the job  I am not even sure what he asked but I worked both jobs over the Christmas break and then I quit the retail job.  I worked there for the rest of the school year part time and the summer full time and pretty much every summer after that  and breaks.


I think I pretty much was hired at every job I applied for because in those days, in Santa Monica and Venice, if you weren't referred by a professor from Cal Poly, you could be referred by people you knew in school who were working for other firms and that's how you got work. If they needed someone to draft


someone would say, well i know so and so and they can do it and you went and sometimes you didn't even interview, they just had you start working and if they didn't like you they would tell you not to come back.


But I do remember a couple interviews where I did not get the job, well one where I did get the job by a referral and the architect never asked me how much i wanted to get paid.  So on the third day they asked and I told them and then they asked me if I could draft faster.  The problem was that they could not draft very well.  Believe it or not, there were people out there who could not draft well and two of these people had architects for fathers and were both married to architects so if you think that talent will get you everywhere, connections will get you further. These people both would just throw the vellum down on the borco and just start drawing


so as one can imagine, you were always, "is this supposed to be 3 degrees off or is it really supposed to be a right angle?"

which for those people who have never hand drafted
this is rule number one

rule number two is
if you can't do that, you are going to have to hire someone who can

and ask them at the job interview how much they want to get paid (their mistake)
or you tell them how much they want to pay you (my mistake)

So the next big mistake on their part was that they said at the end of the week that they didn't know if they had work the following week and then they dropped off a check to my boyfriend at his office and said,

"It's too bad that it didn't work out" and my boyfriend had to tell me.

And so years later when I said that I was never fired from a job, my now husband said, "well so and so fired you: and i said "no, they didn't, you did".  on her behalf apparently,

my only saving grace for that was that though they did go on to do some pretty good projects but every architect who ever saw their drawings (that they did because nobody was cheap enough for them) made a comment about how badly drawn they were.

But that hasn't stopped them!


the only other interview I can think of that I didn't get was a referral to a firm (firm of two) that was owned by the spouse of someone that my husband worked with and they were looking for someone to draft for them. I had met them several times socially and it was kindof an awkward thing because frankly, I didn't want to work for them, but I didn't want to turn down a chance to interview so I went over to their office with a roll of drawings but I didn't take my portfolio.  And they looked over my roll of drawings and he said,

"ok, you know how to put a set of drawings together, Where's your portfolio?"

and i said,

"Well, I thought that you just wanted someone to draft this project."

And they said, "well, i still wanted to see what your design skills are like"

And i said,
"Oh C'mon, we both know that there is only one person who is going to do any designing in this office"

And I don't recall that they said anything else.

But needless to say they aren't with the partner that they used to be with, they are in partnership with their spouse and I still don't know if anyone gets to design besides them, but they are a successful firm and i still talk to them and i am sure that they don't even remember that interview.


So that was the last interview that I can really remember and definitely the last one that I didn't get, but I feel like every time I meet with a prospective client, it is an interview and it is both the client interviewing me and me interviewing the client.  And I have never really interviewed anyone to work for me before, so that might be something that is coming up in the next few months, interviewing someone who would like to do some work for me.


Sooooo good luck to all of those architecture students interviewing for their first architecture job and good luck to all of those who are interviewing for their 25th architecture job and good luck to all of us who just keep getting interviewed and interview for the next good project and good luck to anyone who wants to work with me.

Those are my recollections of my first interview, if you would like to read about other architects first interviews, please follow the links of the other #ArchiTalks bloggers below!

-->Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Interview -- Nervous Energy

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
"my first interview"

-->Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
My First Interview - Again

Jim Mehaffey - Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
My First Job Interview

-->Mark Stephens - Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
My first interview

-->Larry Lucas - Lucas Sustainable, PLLC (@LarryLucasArch)
My First Interview That Reconnected Me to the Past

-->Ben Norkin - Hyperfine Architecture (-)
My First Interview - Your Next Interview

-->Anne Lebo - The Treehouse (@anneaganlebo)
My First Interview


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