Many students these days are looking for employment post their graduation or for internship. One common question that is faced from students is, “which architect or which firm should I join?” Frankly, it is student who should decide this depending upon his/ her interests and liking. But, to make it easier for students, I have laid down some factors, along with pros and cons below:

1. Change the question.

You are not looking for an architect to work with, you are looking to work on projects of your liking. Right? Somebody has said, “Love your work and not the company. “

Decide, what kind of work you like, or what kind of approach. Architects belong to diverse schools of thoughts, from “Form Follows Function” to “Function Follows Form” and more. There are firms who religiously practice and follow ‘sustainability’ in their works. there are firms which firmly believe in deconstructivism. You will come across all kinds of firms. Look back and see what has been your liking. Make a list of firms who work in the areas of your liking. Following two links may be help to you:

1. List of Indian Architects’ Websites: http://www.posts.architecturelive.in/indian-architects-websites/
2. Projects by Indian Architects: www.architecturelive.in

2. Size does matter.

Small firm, medium firm or large firm? Unfortunately the size of firm is decided by the number of employees and the annual turn over. It should be the size of work. Quality of work is subjective and debatable, so I am not delving into it.

Smaller firms, with lesser number of employees and flexible working pattern give you more chances to interact with the principals, whereas in large firms you may only get to interact with your immediate seniors. Smaller firms let you take more responsibilities and at times also allow you to interact with the people on site and owners, whereas in large firms, your focus is majorly on drawings (not design), and you may get to visit sites. It may sound like as if I am favouring small firms, but large firms have their advantages. The biggest is the kind of clientele you deal with, you learn office management skills, you get to participate in events and also get an opportunity of networking with the influential people in the industry. Larger firms deal with bigger problems, and so it is a bigger learning.

3. City.

If you thought you will slog in some architect’s office for 16 hours a day, and you will learn architecture. You have misunderstood it. Architecture cannot be learned only by working in office. Knowing your city, culture and people around you, is must. If this is first time you will be employed, I strongly suggest go work in a city you have never been before. Architecture in any city is very much influenced by local culture and lifestyle. This is one place where I am against globalisation, and where every building has started looking the same. When in new city, explore local places of interest, like art galleries, temples, museums, food joints etc. Carry your camera along.

4. Keep away from family and friends.

Do not work in your uncle’s firm or family friend’s firm. Chances are high that you will be taken for granted and you will take the work for granted. Working in new firms could bring in sense of discipline and responsibility in you.

Make new friends in the new city. Keep the old ones too. But nothing like turning a stranger into a friend in a new city. Better, if the friend is local. He/ She will help you explore the city and with learning a new language too.

5. Research and learning should never stop.

Architecture is a lifestyle, not a job. Work with a firm which gives you enough room to indulge in some research, learn new things and allows you to hone your skills. Every project is a new experience and a new learning. Document and record your experiences in a diary. *Look who is talking* 🙂

5. DO NOT WORK FOR FREE.

Never work for free. Money is important, as important as learning. You will need money to be able to sustain yourself in the new city. Respect yourself and your time, and ask for what you deserve. Also, overtime at times is okay, but do not make it a habit. Avoid any kind of exploitation by your employer.

Last, have fun. Love your work.