My Professional Self-Reflection (Part 1 of 2)

by Kayla Harmon on April 19, 2019

Last year I was given the opportunity to manage and design my first residential project. It allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone. By stepping out of my comfort zone, I was able to push myself past the boundaries I kept myself locked in. My mindset lacked confidence for me to progress. The lack of confidence stemmed from not knowing where to begin, or how I would achieve it once I got there — the fear of failure.

It is so easy at times to fall into a pattern of being content. You find yourself on autopilot, where you keep telling yourself one day you will do this or that. You get so caught up in your day-to-day workload to even think about your future and what that future may resemble. It hit me one day; my reality finally sank in. I noticed that I was waiting around for something different to happen. The feeling that one day an opportunity would magically fall into my lap. One day I would acquire this hidden knowledge, that someone would hand it over to me. I realized that the only person that could change my situation was me. It was time for me to make a change. So that is what I did. I knew that if I wanted to move forward in my career, I needed to ask my employer for opportunities that would challenge me more. This was terrifying and exciting all at once. All I needed was that push in the right direction.

The project seemed daunting at first. I remember thinking about the overall picture, the final deliverable, and how I was going to get there. How was I going to manage a team? How was I going to gain the knowledge that I needed to be successful with this project? I knew though that this was my chance to prove myself, to push myself. I knew then that I could do it, and that I would work as hard as I could, I would not let the client or my team down. I took it one day at a time, and as it turned out, everything fell into place.

The many obstacles to this project taught me how to problem solve. I knew that communication was everything when it came to my client relationship. No matter what the problem was, I immediately addressed it to my client. I would always explain the issue at hand and try and provide a solution. I worked closely with my structural team every step of the way. I kept them up-to-date on every change as soon as it happened. I was very attentive and made sure my team and I were always on the same page.

I learned so much during this project. Getting in contact with a city plan reviewer early on was critical and developed a productive relationship I used as a resource throughout the project and working through the complex information I received from the reviewer and applying it to my design. Given the unique circumstance of the home and the information I received from the city created design restrictions.  Having these restrictions on both ends of the home meant that the new floor plan had to become more confined. Every inch of space mattered, and I needed to create a floor plan that still matched my client’s vision. I listened to my client and made sure that what they wanted was acknowledged and implemented in the design. I kept the project schedule updated throughout the process and sent out weekly status reports. All these things helped me achieve my goal for a successful project.

After the permit set was delivered to the client, a feeling of accomplishment consumed me, that confidence that I once lacked in my career, was there. This project was my turning point, my step in the right direction. Also, at that moment, I realized that the fear that was once dragging me down was no longer there.

(Part 2 of my blog series will dive into the technical side of this project. It will further explain my obstacles and learning experiences, as well as a more detailed explanation of the project.)

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