Last month, a promising structural engineering candidate applied for a position at Patel Burica & Associates of Irvine, CA. The Candidate was being interviewed for a Team Leader/Project Manager position. The Candidate received this email:
I have a potential opening I would like to discuss it with you. Particularly, I am looking for a team leader / project manager specializing in high density wood framed buildings, 4-5 stories tall, wrapped around parking structures or podium type, with parking underneath. Please send me more detailed information about your experience with this type of work. Perhaps we can arrange for a Skype meeting soon.
Sharad T. Patel, Principal of the firm
The Candidate was traveling to Southern California for a bunch of job interviews, so (s)he thought it would be easier to arrange an in-person visit in Irvine, CA. The Candidate felt it would be better to see the office environment up close.
Patel Burica & Associates is a structural engineering firm that specializes in multi-family and other low-rise buildings. Founders Sharad Patel & Mike Burica were formerly of VCA Structural Engineers.
The Candidate was being interviewed about his/her design experience. The Candidate was asked by Sharad Patel how (s)he would be managed. The Candidate said it would be no issue working with Patel Burica & Associates Principals and Founders Sharad Patel and Mike Burica. Also, why would a Candidate need supervision if (s)he already knows how to do the job? We understand that this Candidate wanted to learn how these Principals do their job well and take no issue with it.
Later, in the interview, Sharad Patel performed a bait-and-switch on the Candidate. Sharad asked the Candidate whether (s)he would work as an independent contractor. The candidate asked why that was. Sharad Patel stated there would be work in Northern California, but not enough to warrant hiring a full time engineer.
Patel Burica & Associates Principals and Founders Sharad Patel and Mike Burica discussed a pretty stupid engineering issue. As many people know, apartment buildings are quite huge in plan area. They are usually made of wood. The California Building Code allows these apartment complexes to be huge but the area has to be chopped up through the use of fire walls. This safety feature allows only one part of the building to be on fire so that the occupants of the complex can safely get out. Sharad Patel asked the Candidate about running structural members through it such as a collector strap. The Candidate rightly said this was not allowed. For all intents and purposes, each plan area needs to be analyzed separately for gravity and seismic forces. Sharad went off on the Candidate and told the Candidate that this was allowed because he said so. The Candidate rightly stated that the fire department did not allow anything to pass through the fire wall because it would act as a conductor and transfer heat and a fire risk to the neighboring units. This means that Patel Burica & Associates is only in the market to rebuild apartment buildings every so often. Can you say this new name: Structural Stupidist Sharad?
The Candidate received this email a few days later:
Thanks for coming in. At this time, we will not be offering you a full time position. However, we do have several projects in Northern California, and should the need arise for engineering support as in independent contractor, I will be sure to contact you.
This was clearly a bait-and-switch. Ask yourselves: who would want to relocate in Irvine, CA, for a part-time opportunity? For all the Candidate knows, the opportunity may not even exist.
For all we know, Patel Burica & Associates could be using this Candidate’s outstanding accomplishments to get work for the firm without that Candidate actually being employed there. This is a scam in so many ways. Here is how it works: the firm saves this person’s resume. Using Adobe Acrobat, the firm changes it back to a Word format so they can edit it for themselves. The unsuspecting architect/client has no idea this is happening and they will have no way to check it because the Client firm will leave off identifying information such as a California Licensed Structural Engineer number, personal portfolio websites, and personal email addresses. It’s truly the sign of an unethical company like this one may be.
This candidate experience demonstrates many things. It proves that Patel Burica & Associates does not value their employees. In fact, they see their employees as disposable.
Because when Patel Burica & Associates uses a bait-and-switch tactic, it means at least one of the following:
* Patel Burica & Associates is unethical.
* The principals of Patel Burica & Associates are unethical.
* Patel Burica & Associates’ environment is chaotic.
* Patel Burica & Associates is going through a reorganization.
* The corporate culture of Patel Burica & Associates is abusive.
* The job is different from what it was told it would be.
* Patel Burica & Associates will rescind other things it offers its employees, such as bonuses, benefits, or vacation time.
The Candidate was glad this proverbial card was played. The Candidate has decided to publicize the bad experience. It was last seen at the Irvine Spectrum Center.
So if you encounter a scam like this one, take note of this engineering firm called Patel Burica & Associates and run away from them immediately.