How do I move forward in this small town architecture job?
December 20, 2010 9:26 AM Subscribe
Where am I going in this career? What do I do or say to move forward? Why can't I just be happy that I have decent job in my field (when so many others are without work)?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I work in architecture. I have worked for my employer since a few months after graduation (over 7 years now—largely unprecedented in this field). I received my masters in architecture and am licensed and registered; I also have additional registrations. (My employer only has his Bachelors and does not have these additional registrations).
This firm is a very small firm in small town. I moved here because I wanted to be near my family (instead of in the big cities that I got my degrees). I knew I was making major trade-offs when I made those decisions but thought that if I worked hard and tried my best, my performance would be rewarded. When I began work here, it was just 3 staff architects and the owner/principal. As the economy improved the owner hired an assistant, then another architect, then an intern. As the economy worsened, everyone but me and the assistant were laid off.
In the heyday of the firm, we were getting 'nice' performance bonuses. The owner bought a plane. He has no mortgages and several residences. He started talking about giving me and other architects ownership in the company (started in 2006). When things got worse, he started laying people off, raises stopped, bonuses stopped. When everyone but me was laid off, I was scared. There was talk that if things got worse, i would have to work without salary just to keep the business going. That never happened, and eventually one of the other employees was hired back.
This summer the owner again talked about ownership; he told me he was going to make me a principal in the firm and give me ownership. The plan is that it would happen in February of 2011. Why don't I believe him? What should I do to make this happen? Should I just leave? Should I talk to him? I am an extremely valuable employee. My computer-programming husband donates time to work on our website. I do graphic work for all of my employer's extra-work activites (Boyscouts & other non-profits). I work extra hours when its needed without a peep. I make him look good, but to the rest of the world I am just an assistant or don't exist at all.
Extra bonus: I also think my employer is paranoid. He keeps our contact with clients at a minimum to none level. We don't know what we're billed out at. We're not allowed to socialize with clients (according to our handbook). I think all of these efforts are to make it extremely hard to compete with him if we left the company. Why am i still here? My family, my husband, our house, the economy makes architecture jobs impossible, and I get deep satisfaction from doing my work well. BUT I can't stay in this same position for the rest of my life. I just feel defeated and invisible, only contributing to the wealth of others. But I am also terrified to leave because jobs in this industry are so precious right now, and I doubt my ability to run my own business because I have been shielded from the sales side of things for so long.