Being a young lead designer has it's pros and cons. One of the best things about it is the fact that I have opportunities to advance much quicker than some junior and intermediate designers. I also gain more personal and professional experience in things like - project management, delegation, employee/client relations and communication.
My professional goal is to sit in a big ass chair in an office with a window and a plant - if you don't work in an office, these 2 items are somewhat symbols of high status, believe it or not. But for now, it will get worse before it gets better. I honestly didn't know how I landed in such a position with only 4 years of experience. Upper management must have more faith in me than I do. But now, I think I have an idea why.
I blame it on the boom of Oil & Gas in my city. People who made it through that boom are most likely the ones in upper management in present day. They aren't juniors or intermediates anymore. They are seniors, partners and project management staff or even owners of their own firms. They are also the ones who are getting paid. When I say paid, I mean well over 6 figures a year (sometimes 7) on triple digit hourly wages. So who takes their place?
A bunch of wannabes and college students hoping to take advantage of the benefits and opportunities that were once open to their predecessors. Who exactly are they? There are two kinds:
1. Kids in school that have an idea of the success some people have in the industry based on who they know and what the industry has done for those certain individuals.
2. People in the work force looking for a career change with that exact same idea, hoping to one day reach that level in their soon-to-be professional career.
I don't hate these two kinds of people. In fact, I fell into number one. What I do hate is number one, breeding an inflation of drafters and designers that don't know anything and come out of school with a sense of entitlement, expecting to get paid big money when they don't know how fucking Viewports in AutoCAD work. This is like the black plague in the industry. An inflation of out -of-work junior designers/drafters looking for the same position that's less in demand, yet don't know anything and expect huge bucks right off the bat. This is why people get laid off ALL the time - because they suck. You can't come out of school and think "Well, shit. This guy I know makes $75 an hour, I can do that to, I'll just need to graduate." Pay your dues, you over privileged bastards.
For the working class - You have to pull your weight, you have to gain experience, and ultimately, you have to know your stuff. You need all 3 to do well anywhere, really, but it needs to be emphasized more in Oil & Gas nowadays. Do your work and learn. Obtain different levels of experience, not years of experience. Keep learning and maintain it. Too many times I've seen guys do a single task and mindless drafting for years, then call themselves Senior Designers based on a 5 year stretch at some company doing red-line drafting. When this "Senior" leaves the company and applies AS a Senior for huge money, one of three things will happen - he or she will:
1. Not find a job.
2. Land a job and get laid off once they find out you're a flake.
3. You stay at this job and work your way around the fact that you're an idiot.
This happens a lot. So what's the point in this post? I'm in a position where somebody, with 10-15 years of experience, should be. Do I have a ton of experience under my belt? Nope. I'm here because other people are stupid. I'm not saying I can't do this job. I do know my shit and I know it well. But that's where the problem lies. I know too much to stay as a regular designer, because we can't find anyone that knows anything. I don't know everything obviously, but enough to lead. And due to this little problem, I'm forced to learn at a much faster rate than most. Which is good for me, anyway.
Which brings me to this: Older people have a problem with taking me seriously. Because I'm young, some people look down on me like I have no business there. BUT, some people embrace it. Some people know what I can actually do for the company. And some people generally see me as equal. But for some, it's the contrary.
I have a line of older people that work under me that I basically delegate work to. Some of these people's kids, are essentially, my peers. I'm sure, because of the way they interact with me, they have a problem with that. For me, they are unmanageable. They can't follow orders from someone who is 20-30 years younger, much less take what I have to say seriously. If I tell you how I want something done, why question it? That voltage is this and that dimension is that, take it and run with it. If it's wrong it's wrong, point to you. But I hate striking up discussions questioning stupid things that are obviously right.
Some woman today goes over my head and talks to upper management because she disagreed with my design standards, which is essentially the company's. Mind you, this person is brand new and unfamiliar with how we do things and has "20+ years of experience". If the argument is valid, I will look into it and discuss it with you because I am reasonable, but the arrogance in the "I'm older and more experienced, so I'm right" attitude is taking it's toll. I firmly stated how I wanted things done, end of story. Then she proceeds to go over my head and complains to someone else about it and often calls me out. This isn't the first time I've had to butt heads with her regarding the way I run my project. Now some of my ACAD drawings look like ass because she decides to do whatever she wants with it.