Kimberly Suczynski, M.ARCH./M.C.P. Student, University of California, Berkeley
Suczynski graduated from the State University of New York, Buffalo, in 2006 with a B.S. in architecture and a minor in environmental behavior and design. She expects to graduate from Berkeley in 2009.
- I know I want to go work at a firm and get licensed. I'm not 100 percent sure where in the country, or even if I'll stay in the country. I haven't really actively looked [at firms]. Whenever I see a project I'm interested in, I always keep it in the back of my mind.
- My focus now is on trying to prepare myself in as many skills as possible. I added on an Engineering and Business for Sustainability certificate program. I've been trying to round myself out; the big task will be finding a firm that would encourage me to continue [in that].
- All the people I know who've worked for corporate firms. Lots of them like it, but they get cornered quickly. There aren't too many opportunities to work on multiple projects at the same time. Personally, I like to do a lot of different things at once.
- I learned AutoCAD through my internship [in 2006 at Young + Wright Architectural in Buffalo, N.Y.]. It was a great firm. They really cared about their people. After being there for three months, I was kind of bored. I was just doing redlines. They were very responsive [when I told them].
- I know how to use AutoCAD and Vectorworks and can do some 3-D modeling. I'd like to go to a firm and learn BIM. The older generation really rely on us [for technology support] a lot. It's an interesting relationship with your mentors.
- I really like the idea of a firm encouraging people to volunteer at a school to help students learn how to draft. And firms that, after you work there five years, give you a couple of months to travel abroad. I like the idea of gym benefits.
- I feel like Berkeley's done a really good job of preparing us for the complex issues of being an architect in our culture. I think my generation is at a point where we're realizing the impact of our actions. I'm studying to take the LEED exam. Everyone's going to have to be LEED-accredited and designing green buildings.
THE HR DIRECTOR
Mary Cain, Director of Human Resources, Gensler
One of the largest architecture firms in the world, San Francisco–based Gensler employs nearly 3,000 people in 29 offices across the globe. The company hires 60–75 recent graduates each year.
- What we're really looking for [in new hires] are people who have a lot of talent and people who have certain competencies. We pick it up from there—we expect to train people.
- We're looking for people who are very adaptable, who are able to listen and learn from others. One of the hallmarks of our culture is that we expect people to work very collaboratively. And since we're a global firm, that can sometimes be more challenging—and frankly interesting—but you have to be open to it in the first place.
- A lot of recent college grads don't have that much real-world experience. But we can still get some indicators of their level of talent by seeing some of the projects they've done in school. [Their experience] beyond that would help as an indicator of talent.
- We can't say there is a tendency [to prefer one educational approach], but as one of our executive directors has pointed out, we need to encourage people to use their college years to learn conceptual ways of doing things. Once you're on a job, you're expected to meet client needs. It's expected you'll have that conceptual work in your head, and pretty solid.
- [BIM] has been a pretty dramatic shift in a shorter period of time than most of us would have predicted. This is a good time for schools to start responding to that.
- [Working globally] is kind of a double-edged sword. There are folks who in a heartbeat would go on an international assignment, but the opposite is also true. There are some people who really don't want to be involved with that much international work. We need both.
- We are constantly looking at sabbaticals, compressed workweeks, part-time arrangements, phased retirement. It comes down to flexibility. And it goes both ways. We expect our employees to be flexible as well, to manage the needs of the firm, the clients', and their own. We are very much about work/life balance.