Interview: Rob Caflisch
Alyssa Grover wrote this article as part of their Bachelor of Architectural Design 3rd year elective, MADAboutMADA. In the elective, students are introduced to digital media and how it can be relevant to the architecture, design and art professions.
Monash Architecture students are offered many job opportunities in their final year of bachelor and throughout the masters program. These opportunities are often highly competitive for highly regarded roles. Many students must put together their own folio and resume often not knowing what the firm is looking for. This process can be daunting, advice from an architect running their own business can demystify this process. Rob Caflisch is an Architect who runs his own business in Greensborough, Victoria, Australia. “Since forming in 2000, Caflisch Architects has undertaken a diverse range of projects in urban and regional Victoria” (website, accessed: 08/10/2019). The following interview was conducted on the 4th October 2019 at the office in Melbourne Innovation Centre, Greensborough.
AG: Do you take students who are in their Bachelor and/or Masters?
AG: What are the benefits of having a student working for you?
RC: Cheap labour. Cheap and casual labour. I do get something out of the satisfaction of the educational element. I get personal satisfaction from educating young students and also, they bring new ideas into the practice. They have an ability to use technical, technology skills which are jobs which would otherwise go undone. They give you the ability to do the crappy jobs. They do the jobs you don’t have time to do.
AG: When you receive a folio do you read all the written information?
RC: No. You should tailor the work you show to the company you’re applying to.
AG: Do you look for students who have completed class studios which are similar to what you do at your firm?
AG: Do you only hire students who know AutoCAD?
RC: Well, no. Its preferable but most young students have an ability to pick up programs quickly.
AG: Do you hire students who are familiar with Sketchup or other 3D programs over those who have not used BIM programs, 3D modelling programs?
RC: Yes. because it’s something that I don’t have skills in myself.
AG: What do you hope to teach them, just a short response will be sufficient?
RC: Consistent and detailed. Thorough. To respect the full client brief and have an appreciation of the importance of “small design”. The impact that good design can have on any project. It doesn’t have to be big design, every time.
AG: Is it hard having to account for their university scheduled classes?
RC: No, it’s hard to remember (referring to the student timetable). I think the reality is it’s a trade off, for the casual nature, kind of, here’s a day, here’s a day not. With the ability to say no when there is classes on. There’s no pressure about the importance of permanent-ility in employment. The holiday period is significant enough to have. It is important, as it allows full time work and offsets some of the disadvantages of student commitments.
AG: Do you think it is easier or harder hiring students – being so early on in their careers it may allow you to train the basic and useful workings of your office?
RC: Harder because you’re starting at ground zero and there’s a lot of stuff you would assume they know. You assume knowledge based on experience that isn’t there. Especially in research tasks, experienced architects know from the start. Students don’t know what to ask to get to the next level.
AG: When receiving a folio do you look for large volumes of work, or small finished projects?
RC: The second. The first is almost irrelevant. Almost a turn off.
AG: Do you prefer digital or physical folios sent to you?
AG: When selecting a new employee do you expect them to have worked at another architecture office you’ve heard of before? And does this change your selection process if you know of the firm?
RC: No. Maybe. Its more about what I am looking for at the time. I’m looking for somebody that can multitask in a practical way.
Taking from Rob Caflisch’s advice, I strongly believe now, that when hunting for my first architectural job I will focus on my abilities and obscure talents which may benefit the office. I personally benefitted from hearing that practical skills are important, but I was reassured that some firms are looking for creative skills too.
If you want to know more about the business, check out the website below: