1) Alright, you’ve gotten in. You’ve read all of books by OMA and about OMA. You’ve studied their projects and seen all the lectures by all the partners a dozen times. You think you know exactly “how it’s done”. You’re wrong.
2) Architecture is 98% “production”.
3) Never do anything half-way. If you are given a task, do it to the maximum, all the way until you either run out of time, or collapse and can do nothing any more.
4) Stress is the best motivator. That is why you produce your best work when you sleep 4 hours a night and work like crazy towards a deadline just a few days away. Masochistic, but great.
5) If you are asked “A”, answer “A”. But before you answer, make sure you know everything about, under, over and to the sides of “A”. It’s like chess: you don’t only make a move, you predict and proactively address every issue arising from your move (hey, isn’t that what architecture is all about anyway?). You have derivable questions answered before they are asked.
6) However, there is a fine line between not doing enough and doing too much. Routinely produce more than is expected, but make sure not to get carried away to the point where your supervisor/client/colleagues have no clue what you are talking about.
7) And remember: trying to put effort and pay into the same equation is non-sense.
8) Expect there to be no time for yourself. Watch “Devil wears Prada” to get an idea of what I mean.
9) However, whenever there happens to be free time, be militantly protective of it.
10) There will always be people you will not be able to get along with. Don’t fight it. Treat them with respect at all times. Don’t be emotional. Professionalism and self-possession are key in business – just look at Sho or Rem during client meetings.
11) Submission to office culture is better than fighting it. Fighting from start leads nowhere. Starting with submission and then gaining independence as you grow is the best strategy. And once you are there, stick to your guns.
12) Remember: “No Bullsh*t!”
13) However, never say you are not sure if you can perform a certain task, even if you aren’t. Say “YES”.
14) In the process, if unsure – ask. Do not waste your and other people’s time guessing. Wasted time at OMA is much more hazardous than asking a “stupid” question.
15) Identify the challenge and attack it right away. Do not procrastinate.
16) If you are overwhelmed by your “To Do” list, pick one item and do it. It is better to have one thing actually done than a hundred of “brilliant ideas” in merely an idea state.
17) Therefore, learn to work with imperfect but readily available givens. If you continue hunting for the perfect image to start photoshopping, you will keep looking and will never start working at all. So just start using what you have and produce an awesome piece of work anyway.
18) While en-route, remember: keeping your iteration cycle short is the key to producing great work. It’s ok to start with a sh*tty mock-up – just make sure it communicates your idea and you do it asap. Once you’ve shown it to your client/ colleagues/ boss and solicited feedback, you fix it. And again. And again. And again. You’ll be surprised how awesome it will turn out in the end.
19) Don’t think that if you will make it to OMA, you will be a happier person. You might be – for a bit (actually for one moment – the moment you receive the call), but in reality there is no direct relation between being happy and being at OMA. There are a lot of unhappy people at OMA. Probably even more so than in a lot of other places.
20) Disregard the previous point, because it is awesome to work at OMA regardless. As a matter of fact, this has probably been the happiest period of your life so far.