7 Things I've Learned 7 Months Out

It's actually been 8 months since graduation, but work didn't start for another month after.  Usually 6 months is a great time to turn and reflect but in the midst of the holiday season and year-ending activities, this will do much better.  This list is a great way to summarize what I've learned just from day-to-day interactions and experiences. Many of these things may have little to do with the actual architecture, which is not unusual for many people that are new in the field.  Some of these may be obvious however until you're truly exposed you may not think of them being a big deal or even important.  This is my take on the working world 7 months in - in 7 bullet points. 

  • Don't do more than the SOW

While school has set many of us with a tone of getting everything done PLUS more, the real world works on a completely different operation.  Since everything costs money and is about how that money is managed, doing extra work that you're not required to will not only harm your productivity and progress towards the project but also cut the bottom line and ultimately lose your company money in the long run.  It may be great to impress your boss, but the first thing you should do is make sure you're getting everything done that needs to be done.  Don't do work you will not get paid for because your education and personal value are worth too much for that.

  • Learn who  you're working for.  Know what they like and don't like and how they want different deliverables ultimately delivered

Nothing is more frustrating than going back and forth doing more and more work because a lineweight is off, a section of a drawing isn't complete enough or there is a lack of detail.  Knowing what is actually expected of you will dramatically increase your efficiency and keep you and your boss happy.  Remember the more efficient you can be the more money you can make.  This actually takes some time though, so when you may work for different people take some time to feel them out and see what they like.  Follow in these patterns and you will have a great relationship.

  • Every little thing will cost money.  Everything

I know.  You, the poor college student (or recent graduate) already know this.  You've spent more money than you could imagine on school and everything associated with it.  But usually that's for books, rent and laundry.  You are now entering a realm where even your time has a price attached to it.  And the client knows this.  Anything you wish to do, buy or even simply look into will have some associated cost whether it is monetary or time, it still ends up back in one place which is the bottom line of a project.

  • Everything will be about how it costs money.  Everything

This deserves two sections of text.  Because everything has an associated cost, that's a lot of what you'll end up worrying about through a project.  Are you spending too much time?  Are you going over on construction costs? All of these things add up and if you ever make it to be a project manager this literally becomes all that you do.  It is important to acknowledge this early on and appreciate the value learning a skill such as budget management can bring you later in your career.

  • We live in a large world, but not really

Remember that bar you were at last week when you had one too many drinks and your mouth kept saying things your brain knew probably weren't the best things to say?  Yeah the guy next to you (even if let's say you were far from work, even across the country) knows somebody who knows somebody who knows your boss whom you were badmouthing.  Eventually things come back to haunt you.  Especially in your career.  No matter how insignificant and irrelevant you may think you are somebody is tasked with watching you and and ensuring you're upholding the mantra of the company.  It's fine to vent, but do it with people you know you can trust.  And remember, don't burn any of those bridges you have literally no idea who could be your boss or what opportunities you may be blowing by saying or doing something stupid.  Be professional and you'll be rewarded like so.

  • Steady paychecks > inconsistent and non-guaranteed money     (for now)

I mean this goes without saying, right?  But in the back of roughly 75% of people's minds you are thinking how awesome it would be to branch off into your own entity.  Design everything, manage all of your own projects. And you even may have the talent to do it even at such a young age.  But remember, right now you're in debt (probably) and have a lot to learn.  There's nothing wrong with doing that for a steady paycheck and a bit of a comfortable lifestyle.  The way I look at it is when your time to break free comes, you will know and you will also be able to substantiate yourself without going bankrupt or running everything you have into the ground. 

  • Everything leads somewhere

I bet there are plenty of kids who get out of school and are doing something they don't want to.  A job that doesn't quite fit their skills or one not even in their field.  The point is that everything you are doing at a  young age is necessary.  Working a job you may not like only ignites your fire to work harder for what you do want.  A different approach to what you're used to will grant you skills others you graduated with may never have. Eventually everything leads somewhere if you take all the correct steps, and even if you don't it still may end up working out for you.  Remember, a lot of professionals talk and gossip more than high school cheerleaders, your name and attitude will become a center of a conversation at one point in time, just make sure it's all positive.