June 25, 2015 at 6:44 pm #151889
Today, people are changing careers either through, necessity, desire, or numerous other influences. I’m looking for thoughts, and opinions, about firms, large and small, hiring recent LA graduates who don’t represent your standard, young, 20-something hire. I’ll be 41 when I get my BLA from Cal Poly Pomona and fear that age will hold me back in landing jobs. LA encompasses so many interests I have that I feel it is the career I was meant to have. 16 years in the pipe trades has offered much to my family, and to myself, yet career satisfaction has been difficult at times. Any thoughts are very much appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time.June 25, 2015 at 11:31 pm #151902
Mark Di LucidoParticipant
I was 37 when I got my BLA. One reason I got hired quickly was I knew Autocad, so if you’re proficient in any of the knowledge, skills, and abilities used in LA, getting hired as a non 20-something shouldn’t be an issue. For entry level positions this usually means Autocad and/or experience in apps like Sketch-up, Photoshop etc. Hand sketching is a major plus too.
The other reason I got hired, according to my eventual boss, was that the production staff in the ‘backroom’ hadn’t yet learned to be professional, i.e., how to exude the confidence, warmth, and conversational timing necessary to gracefully interact with clients. This is usually something older hires do well. Also, don’t forget that a ‘do whatever it takes’ attitude conveyed at interviews (and on the job) goes far. Bosses know they can easily teach someone the apps but not attitude, how to play nice, and work habits.
If you have the opportunity, hook-up with an internship while you’re in school as many times these turn into real jobs after graduation.June 27, 2015 at 2:46 am #151901
Thank you Mark. Your insight is greatly appreciated.June 27, 2015 at 12:42 pm #151900
Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
I was 35 when I got my BLA. I have no idea if age helped or hindered in getting an interview.
I have personally been involved in hiring a new professional in an engineering office. We interviewed a lot of people with various backgrounds. One thing the office was very concerned with was how much they would disrupt someone if they hired him/her and they did not work out. It was not the deciding factor, but it was a factor. We hired a young person who had been out of school for over a year, did not have a job in the profession, lived with parents, and could commute. It turned out great.
Be aware of perceived added responsibilities an employer may feel they need to take on if they hire you as well as which they will be avoiding by hiring you. Try to subtly mitigate them (if they exist) in your cover letters.
I’d be concerned as a potential employer (something that may happen at some point not too far away) whether someone wants to join my team or just use me to adopt my network and get licensed whether they are 22 or 42. I’m not going to be interested in a person who perceives my job description as his/her job description – I don’t think I’m alone on that. I have read a lot of resumes of people right out of school who seem to be applying to be a principal rather than a team player. It seems like youthful optimism coming from a 22 year old, but more like arrogance from a 42 year old. Be careful not to come off that way.
Being calm and patient is an asset in this profession. Those are two things that are difficult when you restart your life in your 40’s, but also two things that should be more developed at that age. Try to show that you are calm and patient.
Patience was the single hardest thing for me to deal with as I entered the job market and for several years afterward.June 28, 2015 at 12:08 pm #151899
I received my MLA from the GSD when I was 38. It was my first LA degree, my BA being in Public Administration. In my first year working at a firm I brought in a client (an embassy job), which had not happened there before. I was great at participating in meetings having been director of a state public art program before grad school, and investigating problems and solutions. What I was not at all good at was sitting at a desk all day cranking out drawings. I eventually started my own firm and became licensed long after graduation. Am I better suited to running my own company because I was an older LA grad, or just because that’s how I’m wired? Can an older grad fit in with a firm’s culture and other much younger entry level hires? Again, I think it’s more than age related. But, do you bring special gifts to the table due to your experience before school? If so, how might they benefit a firm that’s hiring? That’s valuable self-knowledge to have and effectively communicate.June 29, 2015 at 7:26 am #151898
You will have a harder time landing a job in an office where the primary role would be to work in the back and assist more senior staff. These jobs are usually low pay and maybe long hours, which young people who are single with a lot of energy would not mind filling. Employers know this. There are however, offices who needs a more well-rounded individual to also do the front-end tasks, meeting clients, marketing, etc. Somebody more mature and with more work experience would fit in better in this kind of situation.
Whether your age and your work experience can benefit you or not depends largely on what the employer needs. Luckily there’s quite a lot of variety of offices in the LA profession where you could fit in.June 29, 2015 at 11:55 pm #151897
Thank you Andrew. What you say of maturity makes sense. Also your thoughts on mitigating any aprehensions on the part of the employer , and displaying a calm persona are helpful thoughts.June 30, 2015 at 12:00 am #151896
Thank you Cheryl. I know my previous experiences will seperate myself from graduates. I have to remember to allow the employers to see this as a positive. All your suggested questions will give me something to consider.June 30, 2015 at 12:03 am #151895
Thank you Ida. Knowing there isn’t just one type of office gives me hope that I will find my fit in the industry. I need to research more on the different avenues of employment available.June 30, 2015 at 12:09 am #151894
I was just re-reading your post. I was concerned the that my previous career wouldn’t transfer to LA but understand now that the maturity I’ve gained through the years, not only in my personal life but in the workforce, is just as important. Thank you Mark.June 30, 2015 at 2:49 pm #151893
Craig Richmond, RLAParticipant
Jacob I think your age is a hindrance, as well as an advantage. Employers will have to consider whether or not you’re still pliable, or if you’re set in your ways and not willing to learn. Most employers understand that there’s a lot of value in having a seasoned individual that just knows how to provide basic customer service to clients. So the age issue is cancelled out if you’re able to use it to your advantage.
I think the most important thing for you to be conscious of is the energy issue Ida mentioned. You’ll be competing with young people with bright eyes and youthful enthusiasm. Feed off of their energy to give yourself the extra boost you’ll need. Remember that you have developed certain skills just from being alive and interacting with other humans for so many years. Make your time being an employee, provider and non-traditional student work for you. You’re entering a very demanding career, so you’ll have to be committed to learning just like someone in their 20s. You’re at a great time in your life to start a new adventure though – Best of luck to you.June 30, 2015 at 5:36 pm #151892
There are a lot of skills you have that’ll be to your advantage, while the disadvantages may actually be in your favor (so you won’t be the most attractive candidate for a firm that pays little and expects 85hrs/wk… not exactly a bummer).
As Andrew mentioned, some employers have been skittish about taking on someone that may have to move, but many will pull the trigger on the right candidate. One thing I have noticed is that it’s hard to find a recent graduate who has good soft skills and a good attitude toward ‘starting over’ -as the profession is so different than school-. A good chunk of a firm’s time can be in construction administration and an understanding of a trade’s point-of-view can be invaluable to a firm for quality control and basic communication. I still remember being ‘scolded’ by contractors for drawing details that couldn’t physically be constructed with the tools on site early in my career.
If you can, establishing a network through internships in areas you want to move to post-graduation can be very helpful for future employment. Cal Poly Pomona is a great program with a good alumni network, so you’re in pretty good hands.June 30, 2015 at 10:59 pm #151891
Thank you Craig. I have been concerned about the “old dog, no new tricks” mentality I may find in a new field from new employers, I hope the act of returning to school at a later stage in life will not only show that this old-youngish dog (I’m only 36) is eager to learn new tricks, but has the experience in life, you pointed out, that separates me from the rest of the pack.June 30, 2015 at 11:09 pm #151890
Thank you Tosh. It’s funny. I have seen details like the one you describe and remember thinking, ‘how the heck are we supposed to pull that off.’ I appreciate what you say about a “trades point-of-view”. Sometimes, Architects and Engineers are not fluent in tradesman-speak which can be frustrating at times. Since I will have a foot in the past and future of each, I can find my ‘foot-in-the-door’ niche and serve as an interpreter while performing my actual duties as a LA. Just a thought.
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