As I've been sitting about and contemplating my navel, this thought hit me:
We've been taught this Profession is not singular, but a team activity. It has been hammered into our heads from the first year of architectural school that we will be working with other professions in the building industry.
When we get out of school and those of us who have worked in offices found that this is true and we have to play well with others.
Now, with the down turn of the economy, lots of folks have lost their jobs or new grads have not been able to find work with firms. Those folks have responsibilities, student loans, families that count on them, car payments, rent , food-- well the list can go on. I know that a number of these folks tried to find work and when they couldn't, a number of them decided to open their own shops to make a living.
Ding so, they wound up doing the whole nine yards. They became chief cook and bottle washer. While there is a lot of pressure, it can also be quite liberating.
My question is this-- How difficult or easy will the transition be once these folks go back to offices(and some will). Having had the freedom to do what they fell is the right thing and doing it, then having to follow rules and regulations of the new work place.
I'm interested in when people think about this situation(when it happens)
To Henry's point of "How difficult or easy will the transition be once these folks go back to offices":
Will those that have worked for themselves have a different menatality if and when they go back to "joining a team"? Will they have a better understanding of the way the "whole business" works and be a better team player?
The other side of the coin is whether those whom have worked for themselves will be welcomed or shunned by the prospective employer. They may be seen as knowing more of the business and better able to focus on the needs of the company, but also as people with the ability and confidence to jump out on their own again.
I believe this is really a moot point simply because if they are able to start a successful LA office in this economy, why would they give it up when things get better? People close their own practices when things are getting bad, not when things are getting better.
I've done it.
My answer is, YES, "once self-employed always self-employed".
Usually one had paid a lot of money to get that experience. One was also able to learn out of the made mistakes. This all qualifies for a more valued new chance and position.
OK, there are the usual hick-ups because the boss has to learn that your experienced thinking is different to the guys who never had tried to be entrepreneurs.
I did it to some extent in that I had a design/build/maintain before I went back to school and got my BLA. My perspective was/is totally different after having been self employed and an employer. There is definitely more of an understanding of working for the success of the business not only in producing work, but controlling costs.
The biggest benefits for those working for others after they have worked for themselves is that the observation of how the business is run is much keener, the learning curve of what is going on in that company and the market place around it is much faster, and your ability to disect why THIS company does it THIS way and why THAT company does it THAT way (if you have the added benefit of working for different companies), and because of your prior experience and current performance you are more likely to be privy to a lot more of how and why the business is run as it is.
The biggest surprises to me have been how differently what seem to be very similar businesses are run. Then you begin to realize that they really are not as similar as they look from the outside. Finally you realize that what worked at Company A would not work at Company B because ....... usually that "because" is directly to do with how their work comes to them. Yes, companies go after work to some extent, but in the end it ultimately comes to them - another totally different discussion.
Ultimately, you will be self employed again with a lot more knowledge and experience.
Henry also mentions "new grads" who have gone on their own since they could not find work. I know several older well established design/build companies that are owned by those with LA degrees who never interned or got licensed as LAs. Now that I think of it, some fit the time frame of other down turns in the economy, but I'm not sure that was the reason that they did not intern.
The common theme, as least what they say, is that they had/have no interest in being licensed LAs since they are very successful design/build landscape contractors. If you think it through in practical terms, is there anyone who has invested time and effort to develop a successful business that is going to shut it down in order to intern for someone else so that they can get a license to do what they are already doing?
I'll throw one more at you existing condition in the design/build world out there to contemplate. Many non-LA design/build landscape contractors also bid on and build landscapes for LAs. How many of those LAs will continue to have those d/b s bid on their work if those companies suddenly were LA offices as well?
The license can be a restricting factor if you are in the contracting business as well, simply because other LAs don't want to introduce their client's to other LAs.
Whether it is BLA/MLAs who have become self employed in landscape design or in design/build, there comes a point where you don't turn back. Some of it is because they are too invested and some of it is because they learn that the license, depending on regulations of the state, is far less essential than we are lead to believe in school or by professional organizations and other institutions linked to the profession.
The best (in my opinion) residential design/build here on Cape Cod has an LA degree, but is not a licensed LA. There is a guy that does design only here who also has a degree, but no license and has made a great living for over 25 years doing it. .... and a woman who has done the same for just as long. There is another design/build that has been around at least 10 years which is owned by a BLA who never interned.
I just don't think there will be many coming back to work in the bigger firms after establishing their own offices .... especially if they are contracting. I suspect most that are start ups in this economy are having to be contractors as well whether they want to or not. If they are at all successful, they ain't coming back.
As usual, well said Andrew!
"some of it is because they learn that the license, depending on regulations of the state, is far less essential than we are lead to believe...."
Absolutely with design/build and/or residential. "Landscape Architect" seems to have a certain cache with many clients , but it is a vague awareness at best. Certainly not required.
I am tempted to let it go every year when I am scrambling for ceu's..... Perhaps we are witnessing a great diaspora...