Learning the Process, and the Local A/E/C Firms

I have to admit, I was enjoying that first week of work without the pregnant lady who was supposed to train me. (I had nothing against her; I had never met  her.) It was just that it forced me to introduce myself to other staff that weren’t in the office when I was first taken around to meet others. It forced me to think logically about how I would go about taking care of the admin tasks I was hired to do, instead of doing it the way the pregnant lady might have done it. Plus, I had the desk all to myself (I  know, that may sound silly, but it was my first real desk in an office; you can understand that, can’t you?). While the office manager showed me a few things, I basically felt I was on my own that first week. But you know what, I really was okay with that.  As I started settling in (eventually the pregnant lady was feeling well enough to return to work and train me how to do her job), it dawned on me that I was loving this industry. While the firm didn’t have any architects on board and did not have the construction side in-house, I supported a number of engineer types – civil, structural, chemical, and electrical. I even helped the marketing guy with proofreading (which was kind of cool, because it helped enforce what I knew was in me all along – I was pretty good at proofreading and editing).

As the months went by, I began to understand the (typical) overall process: If the firm wanted to go after a project, the firm responded to Request for Qualifications (RFQs), then Request for Proposals (RFPs), then was shortlisted for an interview. Prepare in-house for the interview and then go do the interview. Get selected by the client to enter into negotiations. Execute the contract. Begin the project. Complete the project. Start the process over again for the next project.

And, as I kept up with the filing, I also started learning the names of other local A/E/C firms this firm partnered with. I might not have recognized it as a precursor to networking while working there, but becoming familiar with other A/E/C firms (at least the company names and what those firms did) kept me in the loop of what’s going on in the local area. I started paying attention to which firms were working on the high-rise buildings being built. I started noticing the signs posted at the construction sites. As I did the office mail runs, I’d pay attention to the industry magazines that staff subscribed to, noticing who is in the news, the projects that are in the news, and the RFQ/RFP notices.

I was hooked, and was very interested, in all things A/E/C.

About a year into that firm, here comes another child.  I decided to hang at home for a while to raise another cool kid.