Assistant Architect by Xi He Qing Ling
Chapter 4: Hiring
This string of questions made Zhang Siyi even more on edge. Before seeing Gu Yu, he had thought the job was his and had planned out what he was going to say about his salary. Now, he was drawing a blank. He didn’t have any answers in mind for Gu Yu questions.
However, since the Director asked the question, Zhang Siyi had to answer. Besides, the situation had become so embarrassing that he didn’t think it could get any worse than it already was. He might as well just say his honest opinion and let Gu Yu decide its worth. With a deep breath, he said: “Actually, it was influenced by an alumnus of my high school.”
Gu Yu: “Oh?”
Zhang Siyi: “When I was in high school, there was an alumnus who had studied architecture at the University of T. He went back to my alma mater and give us an inspirational speech. He was ranked number 1 in the class of our local college entrance examination and was admitted to the Department of Architecture with the second highest score in the province. He said something at the time and left a deep impression on me.”
Zhang Siyi has always liked architecture. As a child he dreamed of having the title of an architect. He once thought that it was his life’s goal and that his destiny was given to him by god to help build his motherland. Hearing this alumnus speech greatly reinforced his feelings so naturally, he sought a course of architectural study at a university.
Indeed, at home, construction is one of the most desired courses of study at any university, especially a school as prestigious a school as T University. This was inevitable. During a certain period of time, development of land and large-scale construction projects were at its peak in the country. All localities were engaged in construction. Because of the media’s exaggerated reports on the employment prospects and salary of the construction industry, many students rushed to the architectural field of study. The high demand for architecture in society forced Colleges and Universities to open architecture departments. Even many literary and film works have shaped “architects” into life-winning heroes.
However, once he got involved in this field, Zhang Siyi discovered the reality, It was one fucking huge pit!
Gu Yu was silent for a moment in thought then smiled suddenly: “This is the reason why you pursued a career in architecture?”
Zhang Siyi did not expect him to smile. Twice now he thought Gu Yu had a cold attitude and thought very little of him, however in this moment his faint smile let Zhang Siyi feel warmth, like the warm spring breeze melting winter’s ice and snow.
Watching Gu Yu’s expression soften, Zhang Siyi felt more comfortable. Maybe this was a good start?
Gu Yu looked directly into Zhang Siyi eyes and asked: “Do you still remember him and what he said?”
Zhang Siyi: “Ah, that… I don’t remember…”
Because of all the many hours staying up late studying, drawing and building architectural models endlessly in university, Zhang Siyi also felt confused about his original intention. Especially when the construction segment of the economy had changed so drastically in the last couple of years. Looking for a job has become very difficult. He doubted whether or not his career choice was correct. As for the words that the alumnus said a few years ago, they are but a floating feeling without any lasting effect on Zhang Siyi heart. While thinking deeply about his changing sentiments he said: “But I felt that at the time, the senior was very cool, so I always used him as an example.”
Gu Yu looked at the resume in his hand and said: “But you did not enter T University.”
Zhang Siyi: “…”
T university was the most prestigious institution in the country. It wasn’t a place for the casual person to apply. More than that, all of the old eight schools that were famous in the country, have impossibly high admission score standards. Even if Zhang Siyi’s high school grades were acceptable, the score needed to apply on the national exam was beyond his ability. Since Zhang Siyi wasn’t willing to go to an ordinary school, he asked his family to study abroad.
Zhang Siyi inhaled then exhaled. Inhale…. exhale… ok, calm!
“Um, I thought I would go abroad to study architecture because it would broaden my horizon and give me more opportunities for the future,” Zhang Siyi said cautiously. “I heard that China’s current architecture education system was completely based on the West, so it’s better to study the subject from the original source.”
Nodding slightly in agreement, Gu Yu seems to like his answer.
His little action let Zhang Siyi’s confidence grow and in response, he continued to answer Gu Yu’s questions enthusiastically. He explained why he choose to send his resume to Boundless by using nothing more than the summaries written by netizens on the forums.
Finally, when it came to career planning, for everyone who pursued the career of an architect, the primary goal was undoubtedly to obtain a personal license. Only then can a proclaimed architect be truly counted. The title “National Level Registered Architect” was almost the highest proof of identity for domestic architects.
But the title is not something that casual cats and dogs can earn, and strictly speaking, any unlicensed building practitioner is called a designer.
Newly graduated student of an architectural program, such as Zhang Siyi’s, were only called “Assistant Architects”. By default, when they apply for a job, they become apprentices. By diligent hard work alongside a licensed architect can they improve their own skills and become architects themselves.
Different countries also have different criteria for judging the qualifications of an architect. In China, obtaining an architect license required a professional academic background and a designated field of work. Once that was obtained then they were eligible to participate in the national unified qualification examination. However, the test was divided into nine grades. It was not simple to pass. It is said that many practitioners spent years, even decades working on the test. Therefore, seeing Gu Yu with the title of architect can only mean he was an exceptional person; a gifted genius.
Zhang Siyi was an undergraduate of the accepted architectural education standard in the UK. His qualifications are recognized by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). If you want to apply for a RIBA license in the future, you need to supplement your relevant design work with related experience plus the completed architectural works. It is only the British professional judgment requirements that are more stringent than domestic ones. Some people get a license when they are in their 40s and 50s. In the RIBA circle, they were regarded as being ‘young’ architects.
Architecture was a long road. Therefore, many people have turned around in the middle. Fu Xinhui and Jiang Hai were such examples. They originally went abroad to get a foreign education but now, they pursued other career paths. Influenced by them, Zhang Siyi was also confused and hesitant. It seemed like the only one out of their classmates that was most likely to actually be an architect was Su Yuan.
“I don’t have any particularly long-term career plans,” Zhang Siyi said frankly, “and now, I’m just looking for a way to help me continue to grow and learn as well as to accumulate a bit of experience, and plan for the future.”
As he finished speaking, a “buzzing” sound was heard. Startled by the phone vibration noise, Zhang Siyi, jerked his hand and touched his pocket thinking he has a call. However, the call wasn’t for himself. It was Gu Yu’s phone.
Gu Yu looked at the phone, frowned and said to Zhang Siyi, “Sorry, I’ll be a moment,” and picked up the phone from the table to take the call outside.
Zhang Siyi breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed his tightly wound nerves. He also took out his mobile phone to look at his messages and saw dozens of unread notes in the WeChat group that consisted of his college friends:
Su Yuan: “Is little Yi going to the interview?”
Jiang Hai: “He left early in the morning. He was in the bathroom for so long, I didn’t get the chance to shower. [Hides]”
Fu Xinhui: “Why not come to my room? I have a separate bathroom.”
Jiang Hai: “Oh, I forget. Are you awake?”
Fu Xinhui: “I can’t sleep. Him going to the interview made me nervous.”
Ren Mengyu: “Why do I feel that you are getting more and more gay.”
Fu Xinhui: “…”
Su Yuan: “When you are going to get a job, Fu Xinhui? You are still unemployed even though you have returned to Haicheng.”
Fu Xinhui: “Ah, I’m not in a rush. What’s the hurry?”
Su Yuan: “Don’t say that! I graduated with you. It’s disgraceful.”
Fu Xinhui: “…”
Su Yuan: “I wonder if Little Yi got the job.”
Zhang Siyi quickly scanned over the messages and he couldn’t help but type a brief word to the discussion group: “Nothing.”
The group soon exploded and asked him what happened. Zhang Siyi saw that Gu Yu was back, and he had no time to explain. He only sent two crying expressions and quickly put the phone away.
After sitting down again, Zhang Siyi noticed Gu Yu was slightly frowning. He was a little unsure of himself and couldn’t tell what the Director was thinking based on his expression. Insecurity was starting to develop inside of him. Was his interview going well thus far? Did he say something wrong? Even though he thought his performance seemed to be going well, he was starting to lose hope. Also… that cup of coffee.
Gu Yu opened the portfolio collection brought by Zhang Siyi with one hand and squeezed the bridge of his nose with the other. After a long period of time without talking, he sat there and looked carefully. He did not ask Zhang Siyi any questions.
Keeping silent, Zhang Siyi dare not speak, but his eyes involuntarily followed Gu Yu’s movements, watching him very intently.
His hands were very beautiful. Not too big or small. His wrist bones were distinct and his fingers were slender. They look unyielding yet soft. His eyelashes were also very long. When he looked down at the papers, they hovered over his eyes like two small fans. And his skin…. so smooth…. Zhang Siyi was extremely puzzled. How can someone so young be a director?
While looking at him intently, Gu Yu suddenly looked up at Zhang Siyi. Zhang Siyi immediately sat up straighter. Feeling distraught he started sweating. The anticipation building up inside his heart overwhelmed him. He couldn’t take it any longer. What was the verdict?
Gu Yu took a pen and gently pointed at the book and asked: “Can you work overtime?”
“Ah?” Zhang Siyi said, stunned. His mind couldn’t help but replay the words that Su Yuan said last night – even if the interviewer asks you something you rather not do, you have to say ‘yes’.
Attitude check: You are willing to learn… Is this the turning point? There is a chance? Zhang Siyi hurriedly replied: “Yes!”
Gu Yu looked at him and smiled: “There are a few basic concerns. You can’t be late…”
Zhang Siyi was happy in his heart and nodded again and again: “I won’t be late!”
Gu Yu: “The things you agree to must be done without exception. If you don’t understand something, please ask. Don’t make your own assumptions.”
Zhang Siyi’s nodded his head vigorously: “Yes, yes!”
Gu Yu said the last point: “You can’t chat with friends online while you are at work.”
Zhang Siyi: “…” So he had heard yesterday!
Gu Yu raised his eyebrows: “Can you do that?”
Although, a feeling like he had signed a treaty of shame lingered, Zhang Siyi replied: “Yes. It’s not a problem.”
Gu Yu closed his portfolio and got to the point: “The wages of new graduates is 8000 and there is a probationary period for one month. The salary is 5000 after tax. The bonuses are dependent on the project and a pay raise is possible after your six-month performance evaluation….”
Ah, ah…. Zhang Siyi’s heart had been exploding in excitement like fireworks. It didn’t matter to him how much money the offer was!
“If you can accept it, start working today.” Gu Yu pushed the book back to him and stood up.
“Ah? “Zhang Siyi stayed seated and questioned: “Today?”
Gu Yu took a moment, then looked at him in the eye: “Do you have something planned for today?”
Zhang Siyi quickly shook his head: “No, nothing!”
He was thrilled. To think, Gu Yu didn’t discriminate against him from yesterday’s catastrophe was amazing. He didn’t know how to thank him for being so kind and generous with his employment opportunity.
“That….” Zhang Siyi called out to Gu Yu, who was about to leave, blushing. “Yesterday… I am really sorry.”
Gu Yu paused for a moment before answering: “If you care so much, you can get a deduction in wages.”
Zhang Siyi: “…”