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Changing Jobs

Life of an Architect Podcast

Changing Jobs

By Bob Borson, FAIA | January 6, 2020

Changing jobs is exciting and terrifying at the same time, particularly if you are making a drastic change either in the type of work or the size of the firm—something I am experiencing at the moment. Today, we are talking about changing jobs, a topic that seems somewhat fitting given that it is the first podcast episode of 2020 and both Andrew and I have changed jobs. 

If you are a regular on this site, you are probably already aware that I recently changed jobs (in a big way), and I have been getting flooded with emails and DM’s asking me about the particulars because either they have or are considering going through a similar change. 

I left my last job, the one where my name was on the door and I could pretty much do whatever I wanted, where I enjoyed my coworkers and I had amazing clients and projects going on. For about 85% of my work existence, it was pretty ideal. Yet, despite all of that, it wasn’t what I needed to find long-term contentment. I do not ever wonder how I got to be at my current job and now that I am 5 months in, I don’t have any major regrets—although I will admit that this transition has been a lot harder than I anticipated.

I left for two major reasons, and I don’t think that anyone would be surprised by what they were—not because it was obvious due to anything I’ve discussed publicly, but because if you were going to leave a pretty amazing situation for the black abyss of something that you’ve never done before, those reasons should be pretty obvious.

I am at a stage in my career that I did not plan on happening. I am starting to wind down my firm and make transitions to academia. I started teaching architecture design studios at Texas A&M University part-time a few years ago and this past fall I made the transition to full time. While it is still essentially only three days per week, it is moving towards a full-time effort and involvement.

On the flip side, my small architecture firm has been struggling to compete in our market sectors due to large firms simply gobbling up a much larger portion of the available work. When your focus is on public work, the competition was always stiff, but it seems that opportunities have decreased in recent years.

So the plan for my life is in full transition/panic mode at the moment. The next year very well may be a turbulent/stressful/ fantastic 365 days of mystery. But no matter what, I still plan on teaching, making architecture, and contributing even more here on Life of an Architect.

As it turns out, this is either a ridiculously easy question to answer or Andrew and I have been spending too much time together. Even though we took different paths and have different reasons for choosing the answers we did, I guess I’m not surprised we ended up where we did. [43:23 mark]

"If you could domesticate any animal in the world to be your pet – and it would be completely devoted and obedient – what animal would you choose?"

I would be interested in hearing some of the animals that others might choose that would be different from what Andrew and I discussed.

As we begin to wrap things up, there are all sorts of events that are taking place in the next few months, some of which take a little more than usual planning, and we wanted to let you know as far in advance as we could some of the places where we will be this year so that hopefully you can come and say hello should you find yourself in the same place at the same time. We’ll get into those details throughout today’s episode but I am going to include them here just to make things easier. 

Where are we going to be? Let’s start with the first event which is taking place in just a few weeks.

KBIS/IBS: Las Vegas January 21–23, 2020
LoaA Podcast Happy Hour Social Event: Wednesday, January 22
Show Village: Modern Luxury Home (Parking Lot C)
4-6 pm

This is actually a big thank you party from us to you – assuming that you are coming to the KBIS/IBS (Kitchen and Bath Industry Show / International Building Show). I have a bunch of things going on as I will be on a panel discussing how to submit projects for awards, I’m moderating a panel for Building Design+Construction’s “40 Under 40”, we are recording a few podcast episodes, AND we are going to have a massive happy hour event with cocktails, food, and some party gifts. It will give us a chance to say hello and thank you so I do hope you will carve 20 minutes out of your schedule and come have a drink with Andrew and me. A special thanks to the sponsors of our event, Building Design+Construction and Wood-Mode Fine Custom Cabinetry, for helping us secure an amazing space for our event, as well as allowing us to properly thank you with food and booze.

Take a look at some of the goodies we will have on hand to mark the occasion. We ran out of buttons last time we had them made so this time we went all in and there’s no reasonable way we’ll run out!  We also made a new logo specifically for the podcast and we made some t-shirts that will go to some lucky people (at least I think they’re lucky – this is a limited run!).

AIA National Conference on Architecture: Los Angeles, May 14-16, 2020
What can I say – Andrew and I almost always go to the National AIA Convention and other than the numerous seminars and amazing tours that I am already anticipating, it really gives us both the opportunity to see old friends and make new ones. This is one of the events that as I’ve aged and met more people and made more friends around the country allows me to say hello and check in on everybody and what they’re up to.

BQE Succeed 2020 Conference: Las Vegas, May 31 – June 2, 2020
This will be the first time that either Andrew or I have attended this particular event but we are both pretty excited about it. Andrew has been using this software for years and it’s been on my radar screen as a point on curiosity and interest for about as long. 

So there you go—a look at the first five months of the year and a very personal conversation about changing jobs. It wasn’t particularly easy for either Andrew or myself to talk about why we made the changes we did, but talking about those things is exactly why I still maintain this blog site and record new podcast episodes. Sometimes the information we share is deeply personal and sometimes it painfully embarrassing, but either way, I think it is of value because I am confident that there are a lot of people who are going through the same thing.

Cheers, and believe in yourself to make the right decision.  


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