Final Project Grade: One year on
Not long ago was my first anniversary of having finally finished my final project in architecture. Very shortly after that I started to work for myself. Although this year has flown by, there’s not doubt that I’ve had to confront more than one issue I hadn’t expected.
Let’s take them one at a time.
> Final projects are absurdly overrated
“Your final project is your calling card”, “Your final project is where you prove everything you learned in your studies”, “It’s really important to have a good grade on your final project if you want major firms to hire you”… I don’t know how many ridiculous things like this I’ve heard over the last few years. Although one thing I can tell you for sure, very few things are as overrated in our trade as the final project. Over this last year, no one has asked about my final project grade or which school I studied in. Well, that’s not actually true. They did ask when I joined the architect’s association and that must mean something.
> Architects don’t value their own work
Forgetting about the overall poor situation our country is going through, the attitude that many of our colleagues have of the profession is inexplicable. The same people who complain there are too many schools (and therefore too many architects) are filling their firms with recent graduates lacking standard employment contracts and with unpaid “interns”. The colleagues that complain about fees being so low then go out and submit bids for tenders with more than 50% reductions. And let’s not even talk about the requisites for participating in some of these tenders. Some of them should have the names of the future awardees printed right in the specifications. The icing on the cake is social architecture normalising precarious work, or worse still, placing it on a pedestal while irregular workers toil away. But what is most shameful of all is that heavy shroud of silence that looms, gripping those that well aware of what is happening and preventing them from making the slightest move to put an end to it.
> Dignifying the profession
This is the true challenge. In the face of this prospect, real alternatives for professional development need to be put forward. But above all, awareness needs to be raised about the unsustainability of all of these practices in the medium to long term. You can’t talk about social benefits if you work in “voluntary bondage”. Nor can you play on an even playing field with those who aim to corner a substantial chunk of the profession through rather murky competitions.
I suppose that those of us who are new can only be told to give “fewer lessons and more exemplary behaviour”. All in all, I’m as fed up with the situation as I am with all the purported solutions. Year after year, new professionals graduate and are doomed to professional exasperation by the same people who should have showed them the way.
The thing is, the people who talk the most about change are the ones who want to change the least.