|My aunt wanted me to put a frog in my pocket for good luck. I did not.|
But presumably she wasn't talking about these frogs.
It's really interesting to be interviewing again, although I admit, I haven't spent a lot of time interviewing in the past. I've usually been hired pretty quickly. This time around, I'm really cognizant of the fact that a quick-coming job may not happen. To the professional world, I have a huge gap in my resume. I'm not up-to-date on the latest industry software. And despite the relatively low unemployment (I think it's 2-point-something here in Colorado), I'm not a Millennial candidate.
That last part: being (or not being) a Millennial candidate is turning out to be significant in a couple of ways. There are a lot of companies trying to woo in candidates with their Yoga On Fridays! and Company Volunteer at the Soup Kitchen! Hike A Fourteener (Colorado's affectionate name for its highest mountains) Together! mantras. It doesn't appeal to me at all. It seems really targeted to the millennials who are looking for the same sort of entry level(-ish) jobs that I am.
And then there's the technology thing. It doesn't exactly play out as cut and dry as you might think:
I was born in 1976. My inclusion in Generation X is on the tail end (born early 1960s -1979). For the most part, I identify with many of the GenX traits: somewhat cynical, but adaptable; and understated, but entrepreneurial. Like most GenX, I was an early adopter of technology: I used the internet in high school – a text heavy version – which taught me how to build a box bike to ship my bike from Rhode Island to Texas for college – without photos or diagrams (too much data). I've used computer based design in architecture; in school we did things both by hand and by computer. I know the zen-ness of mylar pen drafting, I keep a sketch book in my handbag, but I always worked on computer at my architecture jobs. I collected a long list of software knowledge in those early days when software companies still battled it out in the architecture market. I taught myself programs by reading manuals and experimenting. I whipped up 3d models and renderings in FormZ and then AutoCAD, both awkward and clunky 3d programs by today's standards.
I share this both 1) to explain that I'm not afraid of technology, even though I'm not updated in the latest and 2) to emphasize that technology is not the sole province of Millennials. Yet, I don't fit the typical Millennial mold either because my technology skills don't match theirs. For me, it's a deal-breaker to say that I have to learn the newest, (in this case, Revit), to even be considered for a position. On the other hand, I'm willing to learn a program before I start a job. There's a really fine line between these two positions. Did you catch it? I don't want to be wanted for just my computer skills. So I'm NOT willing to learn a program to get an interview. I AM willing to learn a program for a job. Also, software is fun. Revit looks awesome. If I learn it – and I might just because challenges are fun to me – the firms hiring with a Revit mandatory qualification start to look deeply unappealing. In fact, maybe I'd rather do something else entirely with my theoretical Revit skills. Does that make sense? People should want me for my ability to think, or my awesome time management skills, or my dedication and determination, or my ability to handle not-quite-logical human beings, but NOT my ability to enter shit into the computer. It's a fine line that becomes bolder the more people I talk to.
And it may be The Line that keeps me from coming back to architecture professionally. I'm different from the person I was at 27, perhaps different from the Millennial candidate, and different from a person who is the same age as I am but spent her professional life in architecture: working for an architecture firm no longer defines me or my self-worth.
Work no longer defines me.
I'm proud of that, because it's taken me a long time for me to let go of being defined by my ability to collect money for my work. Today, I do the stuff I do either on the principle of investing in a better future and/or because I genuinely enjoy it.
Work used to define me. Just like it still does most Americans. We Americans, we never really learned to let go of our work as our identity. We're so tied up in it, that we think the Millennials want to go hike mountains with colleagues to force work to seem more like the life part of work-life balance!
If Millennials are falling for this stuff (I'm not so sure they are) then they are just as delusional as the older generations developing the marketing strategy. COME ON, businesses. Pay people a fair amount with fair benefits. Allow them to have a life outside work by asking them to work a reasonable amount of hours. It's just common sense to me. But it's probably not common sense if you have spent your whole life working under the deteriorating conditions/higher expectations of work commitment.
You know how Brits take a gap year between high school and university where they travel around the world, perhaps working temporary jobs to cover costs? You'll know Americans have finally figured out how to stop defining themselves by work when this becomes common place in the US: either in the late teens or even in midlife!
Back to me: Architecture. We'll see. I can let go of architecture professionally if the only way back in is to sell myself out with Revit skills. I want to stay in architecture because I genuinely love designing spaces. But, you know. I've lived with architecture as supplemental home projects for a long time. Maybe architecture – as Revit – will not be the thing for me to do. Or maybe it will be this cynical GenX attitude that keeps me out. Either way, I'm okay if that's the case. I'm adaptable.