|Profession||Architectural Project Manager|
|Current Location||New York City, NY|
1. How did you get to where you are today?
Actually it was a mix of my previous job and a headhunter (mostly the headhunter). The guy was great, he was the only headhunter to not inundate me with positions in the first call and tried to get to know me first. Ultimately we found a good fit at my current company.
Paying for college molded where I went to college. I got into a few schools, but the University of Houston was the only one we could afford without loans, so the decision was basically made.
2. What do you do at your job? What does your daily routine look like?
Anything and everything, these days. I was moved into a project management role a few years ago, so mostly it’s proposals, contracts, team management (internal and external), client management, information management, logistics, some design, and what I like to call “story telling.” Story telling is my version of creating an information package to send to a group that can be read and understood with no verbal description or walk through. So basically, it’s half and half micro versus macro stuff. My days range from 9 until whenever and I can go weeks without a day off. It’s status quo for the profession from what I understand.
I remember one day I had just finished a booklet for a client the night before, got home around 2 a.m., got a phone call from another client at 5:30 a.m. and was running on overdrive until about 10 p.m. that night trying to get everything together from their request. It’s a service industry, so that comes with the territory, but sometimes it gets out of control.
3. As a child or a teenager, what did you want to be when you grew up? What is your ultimate career goal now?
I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew that I wanted to be in some sort of construction field. I was always interested in construction sites, how things went together – I took apart EVERYTHING I got my hands on, even into my teens – sketching, drafting (they are very different), and talking. Yes, just talking.
Career goals are a bit difficult because there are so many levels to them. Financial, social, personal … at the end of the day I don’t think goals should be realistic, because otherwise, you stop pushing yourself to try for the unachievable. This makes it to where you fall on your face a lot, but at the same time, you really feel like you know what you are made of and you know you’ve tried as hard as you can. To answer the question more directly, I just want to help people, be debt free, and have a good retirement, and at the moment I’m not on the most direct route to all of that, but I’m very certain that I will be eventually.
4. What would you say your general political leanings are? Not party affiliation, per se, but your stance on work-related issues like social security, overseas manufacturing, and unions.
Social security is such a large issue that it almost feels like it should be broken down into smaller chunks. All I see is people finding one thing wrong with a 200-headed monster, so the proposed solutions fail. Seems like we should attack it piece by piece, in my mind. Ultimately, I don’t mind paying into it, but I like the current option on the table of being able to put that money into a 401k instead. Seems like it could do more for the current economy and provide me with a little more safety in my retirement. That being said, some portion of it would need to go to the government because the current system can’t just have people stop paying, which goes back to my first point: It needs to be broken down into small chunks.
Overseas manufacturing I think about a lot, actually. I like my iPhone at a cheaper price, but I hate the fact that we are basically supporting the exploitation of workers in other countries. If a person in another country can live, live well, and live into retirement on the wages some third-world nations are paying, then I really need to revisit my finances.
Unions baffle me. And this could go into capitalism as a whole. I believe in fair wages, fair retirement, benefits, etc. But how in the world can unions say they aren’t being treated fairly? I’m generalizing in a gross way at the moment, but my retirement is exactly whatever I put into it. Nothing more. I look at a lot of the strikes, and I’ve never understood why both sides can’t sit down, open up the books, and talk about it all. Should workers get fair pay? Absolutely. Should CEOs get large bonuses if they do well? Absolutely. Should both sides meet in the middle? Absolutely.
5. How have the past four years of economic instability affected your career?
I’ve been lucky, overall. My career has moved forward with responsibility, but financially I haven’t changed. That’s basically the biggest hit. Things have gotten tighter, but nothing that has really created difficulty. It really just boils down to my total career wage and retirement thoughts. This has become a little more difficult and a little more of a reality, but I know I’ll figure out a way through it.
6. What worries you the most about your job? What worries you most about your life outside of work?
What worries me most is how any of the business regulations that have been spoken about may be imposed upon me. We don’t know what happens with our company’s taxes or their financial structure, so the large unknown of potential trickle-down effects from additional regulations or taxes are very scary.
Outside of work, probably just having an outside of work. It takes 60 hours a week minimum to move up, and with a cost-of-living increase and no pay increase, it is a combination for a very limited social life. On the flip side, the additional effort needed to accommodate finances and schedule make events much more worthwhile.
7. Are you in a union? Does your industry have unions? Do you think your industry should unionize?
Nope, not in a union. I am fairly certain our industry doesn’t have one, and we always joke about unionizing, but it wouldn’t be a good idea in my mind. Only for the fact that it’s hypocritical and we have limited leverage. I do agree with being more financially open with your employees, but that’s the burden of working for a private company, and something that comes with the territory.
8. What is your proudest career accomplishment?
Seeing my first renovation get started. I still remember the day he came in the office. It was at my previous job, he and his wife needed an addition onto their home because she was pregnant and they had no room. It was during the boom, so he couldn’t afford to buy a bigger house with the skyrocketing prices. He owned a decent-sized tooling company, of which he always worked in the shop a few hours a day because he felt like everyone should have a little sweat in their work. His family appreciated everything they had, so being able to give them one more thing they wanted/needed made the look on their faces more worthwhile than anything I’ve ever done.
On a different note, passing the $400 million mark in designed buildings was kind of fun too.
9. If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
This all depends on the day, but I would probably say pension plan mostly. Almost every other worry in my life pales in comparison to “What do I do when I can’t work anymore?”
10. In one sentence, what's one thing you'd like America to know about you and people like you?
Whatever happens by the end, I tried as hard as I could.
–By Jo Piazza / current.com / @jopiazza