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The coach: ‘Will temporary contracts limit my future career?’

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AJ careers expert Matthew Turner advises a Part 2 practitioner on whether it is wise to maintain a freelance pattern of employment

In the years since I finished my Part 2, I have been on temporary contracts – six months here, 12 months there. I appreciate the flexibility of part-time work, for example last year I went travelling for eight weeks in between jobs. However, I do notice that I only get employed to do one thing, basically to set up BIM. Should I maintain a freelancing pattern of employment, or will it limit my career in the future? 

Matthew turner

Matthew turner

The architecture profession does seem to be mirroring changes in the wider employment landscape. The traditional employee structure and progression is evolving from the traditional Part 2 to Part 3, associate to partner, moving to other formats with more flexible contracts, and it seems clear there can be winners and losers.

You sound definitely like you are a winner in this situation – you offer a skill that is in demand, and unlike many who work on short-term contracts, you take advantage of the flexibility your work structure offers, so you are to be applauded for your positive attitude.

At different stages of our work career we need different types of work

Others might resent employers treating you as a pair of hands rather than a resource to invest in long term, but you demonstrate you don’t have to be negative. Provided you keep your skills current, and take advantage of what short-term work offers, then this is a great way to balance your needs from work, and what you can offer. 

So to answer your question, you are already making it work for you, but you are right to identify that this might not be the case forever. At different stages of our work career we need different types of work. So if you need to secure your first mortgage, a permanent job makes it far easier; while, who knows, when you are in your sixties you may appreciate having short-term contracts so you can develop other activities.

With all the uncertainties facing the economy and construction sector, I would say you are making hay while the sun shines, and building up contacts in a number of firms that may be very helpful later; perhaps think of adapting when you have to, rather than when you think you should.

AJ coach Matthew Turner is an architect and careers consultant who runs the Building on Architecture consultancy. To contact him with your questions, tweet @TheAJcoach or email him in confidence at hello@buildingonarchitecture.com

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