September 16, 2009 at 12:06 am #172921
Or is it? Ben Bernanke thinks so. How long will recovery take for AEC and when should we start forwarding resume’s again?
My guess is that we’re not out of the woods yet and that we won’t see any real employment prospects for another 6 months or so. Even then it seems the game, or at least the rules, have changed.September 16, 2009 at 12:38 am #172933Jason T. RadiceParticipant
Bernanke is trying to spin…all I’m seeing in the financial news is that the banking problems are JUST HITTING the commercial banks. Record defaults and foreclosures on commercial properties, and the banks are not lending for projects. There is also plenty of retail and office space built and available (at least in this region), much of it new. Couple that with the amount of projects that have already been on the boards and ready to build before the financial crisis, and it will be some time before the AEC design industry recovers. Sorry to be so down, but it doesn’t look very good. Not even government jobs are safe!September 16, 2009 at 5:09 am #172932
So, in the meantime, what’s the answer?
Edit: for brevity…I’m tightening my belt.September 16, 2009 at 3:34 pm #172931Sherman C. Runions, ASLAParticipant
Ben, I wish I could be that hopeful. Some say as long as another 18 months to 2 years. It seems as though we LAs in private practice are weathering the storm much better than the employee types. I know of several large firms that have closed their offices here in the southeast and have layed off the entire staff. This is why I respond to the kids getting out of school to try and start a small design service for the time being and waitout this ugly recession.September 17, 2009 at 3:05 am #172930
And look at where a lot of those people who lived through the first great depression ended up, many very successful and even well off later in life. I think there’s something to be said for being resilient in these tough times and doing all you can to learn how to live a more modest lifestyle, but I feel ya Jim.
I’m planning on coaching skiing this winter. I don’t see the point in relocating to a place I don’t want to live just to make a meager salary and weather the storm so to speak. I want to live in Denver, so I suppose if that means making a more meager hourly wage doing what I truly love and just getting by, so be it. I’m thankful i don’t have a lot of overhead and can get by working a ski job. If the situation was different I may consider going back to school I guess, but for what? Maybe real estate or architecture, graphic design.
Jim, I know we’re in different points in our careers, but it sounds like we’re on similar wavelengths, cycling through similar thoughts and ideas. It’s a little scary and disconcerting to think I may have to do something else for a while. This is basically all I’ve done for ten years, whether it be landscape construction or design. I try to think of it all as a blessing in disguise, an excuse to play for a while and pursue things I’ve been curious about for too long.
The other thing that makes this difficult is living in Cherry Creek where it’s hard to tell there’s a recession going on at all. Maybe it’s a good thing, not all doom and gloom all the time anyway. I kind of feel frozen in time. A year ago i would have thought I would have no problem as a prime candidate for the best jobs, now the game has changed; keep fresh, keep thinking, and survive.September 17, 2009 at 3:09 am #172929
So what are some educated guesses for a rough timeline of a turnaround?
For those that have lived through previous recessions, how do the mechanics work, what are the earmarks of recovery?September 17, 2009 at 3:47 am #172928Mike TupaParticipant
The recession ends when you and I start making more than we did last year. Just that simple.
Sherman makes a good point. Times are ripe for new firms to start up. You have to look for work where others are not looking. Look to small developers, builders, contractors, etc. for a starter project or two. Nothing wrong with following the “for sale” signs in the up scale neighborhoods for possible work. Or talk with realtors about where new homes are being developed or new owners are moving in. Residential design may be mundane but it is design work and builds client skills while your counterparts are waiting tables or serving coffee. You never know when that CEO you did a residential design for will be looking for a corporate headquarters master plan. It happens more often than we think. He won’t be asking you for that master plan when he’s ordering coffee or another beer..
If you think of doing something else now and waiting for times to get better for your LA carreer, you will just be waiting that much longer. It’s my belief that you have to keep working, keep the art going, keep the contacts up and build your network for when the times get better. ( Just my opinion ) Remember, this is also when a lot of LA’s leave the profession and move on to other interests…. how committed are you to the profession?September 18, 2009 at 5:19 am #172927Tim MartenParticipant
After a few weeks of pacing my hallway bemoaning my unavoidable graduation, wondering what the potential thermal value of my trio of diplomas is and watching way way to much Bloomberg News I can agree with both you pessimists out there and the more optimistic folks as well. this great deprivation ends when the bucks start stopping in my wallet verses being figments of my imagination. The real question is what shouldn’t we do and what are we going to bring back to this field when (tentatively used) we find our feet again? I
To be honestly and frank with everyone, the quciker we all get moving again in any direction the sooner we all can send out a resume or proposals and get the response we stay up late dreaming about. When in hell keep on walking before the devil knows your there.October 23, 2009 at 12:49 am #172926Jessi SeglarParticipant
Economists couldn’t see the recession starting, so why should things be any different for the recovery. For now, I’ve had to put my resume and portfolio packages away and buckle down with a sales and fabrication job at a welding shop so I can pay for the lovely 6 years of education I’m not currently using. I guess being flexible and able to keep one’s wits about them during these hard times is triumph enough. A potential employer sent this Michael Van Valkenburgh article from LA Mag to me, which has given me a great deal of comfort in these trying times. I think it’s worth a read to anyone who has to hit their career road running completely uphill.October 23, 2009 at 1:00 am #172925
Im with you Jessi. I read the MVVA article a while back. It is comforting to know that such an accomplished person came from a relatively modest upstart and the he an probably others like him, understand the realities we’re all facing.
Thanks for the attachment and I hope you hang in there. I wish I knew how to weld.October 23, 2009 at 1:45 am #172924David J. ChiricoParticipant
You can’t claim to be out of a recession when the unemployment rate is still close to 10%. We were at 5% last year. When we see the rate going down, then Bernanke can celebrate.
What to do in the meantime? Get LEED certified and become a LEED consultant. Thats not going away any time soon. I had an idea on the back burner to approach home builders with the option of selling homeowners a “green” package. As a landscape architecture consultant you could provide a master plan for making a home more efficient with options such as rain chains, bio beds, reducing impervious areas, permeable pavers, rain barrels for irrigation, compost area, so on and so on.
If anyone takes this one on, let me know how it works out for you!October 23, 2009 at 2:03 am #172923Jay SmithParticipant
I agree with a lot of what Valkenburg said in that article. This is definetely a time to explore other interests, to be resourceful, etc, etc. But, I’m sorry, I just can’t help but feel somewhat annoyed by people handing out advice who are not out there right now trying to find a position (I’m speaking of Valkenburg). There were some very idealistic suggestions in that article, I just don’t think people who have maintained their jobs during this ‘atomic bomb’ understand. Valkenburg went through the recession of 73-75. Do a little reading, and you’ll learn that recession paled in comparison to what we face today (as did many others).
Finding work in an allied field, or unrelated field just isn’t the answer today, because nearly every industry is hurting right now, and in every state. And to be honest, I think recent grads may actually have a leg up on some of us who have been in the field for a while, because 1)employers that do hire are often looking for cheap labor right now (I’ve seen it happen already), and 2) new grads are often years ahead of their more seasoned colleagues because they are up to speed on the latest and greatest software coming out of school.October 23, 2009 at 5:16 am #172922Jessi SeglarParticipant
I too feel annoyed by people who hand out the advice, but mostly because it’s very impersonal…for example: “this will pass,” or my favorite, “This can’t last forever,” or the well meant, “Best of luck!” And yes, this is worse than the previous recession periods we’ve had in the past, but recession is recession, and it doesn’t mean that others haven’t felt the effects from the past minor periods, I don’t believe people should discount lessons learned just because our recession is bigger and badder.
Also, I found a job in an unrelated field. I’m a landscape architect who acted on a contact and is now a salary welder for a fabrication company. Granted, fab-ing pipe foundations, cutting strut, and working outside sales for bolts and such is less than ideal, but it’s something for right now. Furthermore, the business and sales lessons I’m learning in this small company worth their weight in gold, which I may add, are lessons few new graduates have adequately learned from their studies.
Finally, a few quick thoughts: The sexy new software is ultimately not difficult to learn if someone feels the need to, and most community colleges offer inexpensive night courses on them (in reality, these programs are sweet for presentation graphics during the end of a project, but they are cumbersome when trying to work out something in prelim or schematic design when things are rapidly changing…I’ll take my old fashioned tish and sharpie any day!). Additionally, I don’t believe that cheap labor necessarily means new graduate. For example, a person with 6-8 years experience may be more time and cost effective at managing themselves or a project and need less assistance or training from the company, which is in fact a drain on a project budget.
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