Oct 3, 2015

sea change

Overall it´s been a busy month. After being approached by a friend and offered a place at his workplace, I considered for several months before deciding that it was the best course of action. I gave notice at my office at the end of August, and Thursday last week, I started working at a new firm.

There is so much packed into this. The short version can be broken down into top five lists.

Top Five Categories in my List Comparing Workplaces
1) potential for growth and education as architect
2) salary
3) how are the bosses to work with
4) actual working hours
5) commuting hours

Top Five Reasons I Left my old office
1) the career trajectory I was following was not in the direction nor the speed at which I wanted, and the office could not offer me the experience I feel I need.
2) I was tired of just handling graphics.
3) the hours were longer than really necessary.
4) the salary was too low considering all the other factors
5) too little creative autonomy in light of the competitions we were doing.

Top Five Reasons I Didn't Want to Leave
1) Boss had done me and Saori a lot of personal favors well beyond professional obligation, including hosting Saori her first Christmas here alone.
2) Boss was actually good to work with and I could learn a lot from him.
3) Majority of the employees were nice, and it was starting to feel like the office was finally cohering.
4) Easy commute, grocery store and several lunch options in walking distance
5) High end, high concept architecture work

Top Five Things I Like About My New Office
1) Return to actually doing architecture closer to the real world, giving me experience in project management, detailing, designing with budgets, cost analysis, etc.
2) Only- German speaking office means I will quickly improve my German skills
3) More money
4) 28 days of paid vacation, shorter working hours, friday afternoons free.
5) Two of the team are friends of mine
6) Microwave oven, good coffee machine, always pastries in the kitchen

Top Five Things I am Disliking (so far) About the New Office
1) All German all the time is really frustrating and very draining since I have to work really hard to understand and respond on top of everything else.
2) The office is located way outside of Stuttgart, in a sleepy village at the foot of a big wine hill. When I ride with coworkers, its about a 45 minute commute, door to door. When I take public transit, its over an hour door to door.
3) I have been out of drawing projects architecture for about six years now since the last time I worked in an office like this was DWL back in 2010. Coupled with my weak German, I feel like the village idiot all the time.
4) The design concept is weak and watered down and cheaped out. It's how the real world works, but it doesn't make it any better.
5) No lunch options at all, unless I want to eat the grapes off the vines covering the building. Which I have actually done. They are really good.

In the end, nothing is really ever as clean as "top five" lists. My old boss was at first surprised and sad that I was leaving. Then he was a little angry and finally dismissive. My two supervisors were also shocked. My coworkers were sad and came out to drink friday to celebrate my departure with me. I baked a bunch of pumpkin bread for the office and bought some fresh pastries for my last day coffee and cake break. I used too much vacation time last year at the old office and so I didn't have any time left to vacation before starting the new job. It was literally one day one workplace, next day another workplace. I think I wore the same pants.

Saori bought me a lovely and expensive laptop bag to take to work. It makes me feel older, and more professional. There is totally different feeling at the new office- at the old office, we are the crew of a private luxury yacht. Fussing over every detail. Handpicked ports of call and too many cadets. Fifty shades of beige and muted color minimalism. White glove architecture. This new job is a commerical fishing boat. We are out there with no fuss, no frills, pulling in fish and getting the work done with economy and the experience of seasoned hands.

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