The Architecture Office: Stay or Go? 

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click to enlarge Man with computer
The Former Architect: Shannon Beauchaine

What was your title and what did the job entail?
Designer (as in graphic designer for a leading global architecture firm), initial visioning session meetings with the client to find out their goals, concept design to design development to design drawings to production, presenting work internally and to clients, dealing with vendors and getting pricing for jobs, I worked mostly in print design and environmental design.

Has leaving an office setting given you a chance to pursue your dreams?
In a sense. I've always had my own local, smaller scale (less corporate) clients all along. Now I'm trying to figure out how to continue to work with clients like these but make it more lucrative. I'm also trying thinking about how I can turn my love of food and graphic design into a business.

Do you keep in touch with your former co-workers?
Yes, but only really the others that got the axe. We hang regularly and are working together on new projects and ventures.

What do you miss most about office culture? And the least?
I miss bitching about the company and our bosses at lunches out at places like Adrienne's Pizza Bar. I miss the daily social- and work-orientated interaction with my coworkers the most. I DON'T miss trying to say "good morning" everyday to someone who should have been my mentor and getting no response or a grunt if I was lucky. I DON'T miss the fake camaraderie of studio meetings.

Was there a moment when you realized "office life isn't for me"?
I kind of felt that after the first two months, but I tried so hard to drink the Koolaide and be what they asked for another four years. The moment I really thought I was doing it and actually progressing in my career (in a place that is not known for moving up the ladder), I got laid off. Now I realize how lucky I am to not be there and how much happier I am, living financially month-to-month, but happy. There is no such thing as corporate loyalty. Nothing beats working for yourself. You make it happen.

Was your office more The Office or Mad Men?
The Office, because of a select few very interesting, quirky characters among us.

Where do you steal office supplies from now?
Starbucks. My 87-year-old grandmother is horrified I'm stealing Splenda.

What are three things you think someone should know on their first few days outside of the office culture?
1. It's so not you're fault. Don't harp more than a week on why. There are so many among us. We are a growing tribe.
2. Take some time for you and to travel inexpensively if you can. Visit family or friends. With a clearer head, you can plan after what you are going to do about the future.
3. Relax. You will be OK.

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