I worked at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP full-time (More than 3 years)
Excellent exposure to cutting edge projects around the world. Diverse staff and high-energy environment. Large, collaborative teams offer insight into many different disciplines. It is a surprisingly social work environment, which I wouldn't have expected going in. The huge size of the company and the interactions between different studios and disciplines makes it feel like school again. Most of my close colleagues have also left since I did, and I anticipate we will collaborate or work together again in the future having been connected through SOM. This is the case with many great firms in Chicago and around the world: SOM lets you cut your teeth in an intense environment while setting you up for future opportunities. If you can handle the environment you can thrive, and because employee retention is relatively low you can move up somewhat quickly.
As with almost all architectural practices attempting to operate at the cutting edge, the hours are crazy. Don't expect to work fewer than 55 hours a week. The vertical hierarchy can be a little bit oppressive and inefficient as a lot can get lost in the communication in the chain of command, often times major parameters of a project can change at the last minute. or due to the whims of a partner.
Advice to Management
Let the voices of the younger employees be heard. Most of our most successful projects came when younger employees were able to speak up and interface with the decision makers. SOM has a reputation for being corporate and run by old-timers.
I applied through a recruiter. The process took 2 weeks. I interviewed at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP.
Everything went really well with the accounting manager and HR in both the first interview and second interview. It went down hill when the managing partner step in, she wanted a very experienced senior accountant to fill the role, it is NOT what the HR and the accounting manager had been asking for. Basically it's a waste of my time.
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