A question many young architects battle with is whether they should join a big firm or a smaller one to develop their career. In this guide, we will discuss both options and the pros and cons each option has.
Join a Big Firm if you don’t mind grunt work
Joining a large architectural design firm seems like the obvious choice to many young architects. Not only may they seat their favorite architect but they also may have completed many of a graduate’s favorite projects. A bigger firm will give you the opportunity to work with more people, meet more clients, work on larger-scale projects, and long-term financial security. You might also get to work on projects that are abroad, giving you the chance to travel the world while doing your job. What could be better?
Well, you can have all of this but there is a high probability that you’ll have to do pretty insignificant work for years before you’re at that level. A bigger firm requires much more time on your part to give you the authority to design your own projects and take your own decisions. Most of the time in your earlier years you’ll be working on other architects’ projects and probably be paid very little. There is also a chance that you’ll be deemed invisible in the sea of people working at a large firm.
However, if you are willing to push through the ranks slowly and steadily and money is not a concern for you, then joining a firm that gives you the opportunity to work on massive projects is a great choice.
Join a Smaller Firm if you want more independence
A smaller design firm will give you much more authority and independence as a designer. You will be in direct contact with the clients, work on your own concepts and ideas, and lead a team of people through the project. You will have more hands-on work experience when it comes to your design’s construction phase. You’ll be made part of every meeting, and will have a say in the overall way the firm runs.
But of course, at a smaller firm, you may not have huge projects to work on. You’ll probably have to stick with residential and interior design at the start. There may not be a large influx of projects either, so you’ll to deal with slow days. A smaller firm might also not give you a reason to stay with it for a very long time, so in a couple of years, you might have to move to another company for fresher work or start a practice of your own if that is what you want.
So you can see that there are pros and cons to both kinds of jobs. What matters most in this decision is what your long-term goals are. If you want to be part of a large design firm and have a nice job with nice perks, join a bigger firm. But if you want to learn how to manage a project from the very start so you can develop your own practice in a couple of years, a smaller firm might suit you more.