3 Keys to Success for Young Architects and Planners

Having just reached the decade mark as an architect in one of the world's most prominent firms, Marin Gertler shares what he has learned are keys for career success. Written for architects but equally applicable to planning professionals.

2 minute read

January 7, 2016, 6:00 AM PST

By wadams92101


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breity / Flickr

Reflecting on his first ten years at Gensler—at its San Diego office—architect Marin Gertler shares what he believes are the most important lessons he has learned to thrive in his environment. Written for "up and coming architects," the lessons are equally applicable to planners and other design professionals, particularly—but not exclusively—those working in private firms. So what are the lessons? Without further adieu: 

1) It takes a generalist to become a specialist

Don't get too caught up in the pressure to specialize early in your career. 

A broad skill set and diverse project typology understanding, forges the backbone to becoming a specialist.

. . . 

Project typology or ‘practice area’ trends are constantly being informed by each other almost in a cyclical manner and this tendency is happening faster and faster as cities are shifting towards hybrid or mixed use project types.

2) Find a mentor

This may seem obvious but harder to accomplish. In order to accomplish it, it's helpful to:

  • Be humble - "Be willing to learn from junior and senior colleagues alike."
  • Work smart and hard - "working smarter and not harder is the ultimate goal but true effort is almost always recognized."
  • Be positive - "a contagious positive attitude goes a long way."

3) Start networking early

Junior architects should not necessarily strive to have relationships with the CEO or managing director of client companies. However, they should begin to understand how the client’s business works and who their junior peers are on the client’s side.  Through professional industry organizations, start to build relationships with them. Overtime these junior peers will be promoted and they will take on higher management roles.

Often not taught in school, the business aspect of surviving and thriving in one's chosen profession or in a firm environment "is essential for professional growth and having the opportunity to work with great clients on great projects." The article goes on to discuss in more depth how to execute these "lessons."

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