Tuesday, June 28, 2016

(June 2016) Blog Question #4: Pretend you’re writing a letter to your younger self. What would you say about the road ahead? Any advice for future architects?

BOB (Partner Emeritus):

To: 1972 Bob

From: 2016 Bob

Re: Letter to past self from future self (If I had to do it all over again, what I would do differently)

Here are a few words of advice to future me:

1. From now on, you are working for you. You are hereby self-employed. Get that straight now. It will come in handy in the future.

2. Your number one job is sales. Without it you do not get to do architecture. If you want to create really good architecture, learn how to sell. Most clients will prefer mediocre design.  Learn to sell your clients on really good, or even great design.

3. Since you are already self-employed, learn to provide really great service. Act like an entrepreneur.  Think like an entrepreneur! It will come in handy later.

4. Come in a half hour early.  Go the extra mile. Work late, but not too late. Your family comes first.  All those extra hours really do not matter that much. Always have a positive attitude.

5. The best time to start your business was yesterday, or in the depths of a recession.  It will never get any easier. Just go ahead and do it.

6. The competition will make you better. Beat them at their own game. Do a better job than they do.  Do better designs than they do.

7. Creativity in the architecture profession often means being inspired by the best ideas from other designers. Only make them better. Constantly improve! Try new ideas!

8. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and who can do things you can’t do, or you do not want to do.  If you have smart people around you, they will make you look smart.  Dumb people around you will make you look dumb.

9. Keep learning new things.  Never stop learning.  It will come in handy later.

10. Ask for help.  Ask God for help.  God will help you, if you ask Him and trust Him.  Your number one partner in business is God.  Sometimes God’s help will come through people who you least expect to help. Accept whatever help you get and be thankful.

P.S. It is not about you.

JERRY (Partner):

As with any start to a career, one needs to understand their own individual strengths and talents first.  While the appeal of 'architecture' as a career can seem alluring, architecture is not for everyone.  Only those truly with the passion for this hectic career really need to consider it.  However, there are many related fields that one can have near architecture, from marketing to spec writing to interior design.  So my advice would be to spend a day or two with an architect and see if it really is what you 'thought' it would be.  If so, go for it!

JEFF (Partner):

Dear past self,

Quit being hard headed!  Don’t listen to everyone else.  Stay with what you want to do. Started working at 23, eligible for test at 26, registered at 26, name on the door at 28.  Who says you can’t?!

DAVID (Director of Construction Administration):

Dear Future Architects:

When considering a career path it is important to take inventory to determine your strengths, what you are passionate about and what society will reward you for.  The best scenario is an overlap of all three.

I looked for a career that would encompass design creativity, my love of construction and the ability to develop my visions and those of others while building something of lasting value.

A bonus for me has been the opportunity to work all over the world and experience different cultures.  Architecture has been a good fit as well as a fulfilling career.


AMY (Intern Architect):

Dear architect hopefuls,

Whether you are in school, job hunting, working or somewhere in between all of that, work hard and be kind. I hope you know by now that this is not the place for riches and glory, but it is incredibly rewarding the moment you get to see the countless hours of design materialize into something real. There will be projects that bore you to death. There will also be projects that will make you incredibly excited. Find a firm that embodies the design principles that are important to you. Spend time at different firms to get a feel for large office vs. small office culture. Travel and be inspired by architecture & culture in different cities or countries. Do not lose or forget the passion you have, and never be afraid to take risks.

CHRIS (Intern Architect):

Architecture school teaches the idealistic end of the field in how to draw and the design process so before considering it I would say to concentrate on how the real world of architecture works. Join a home building project or something similar to see how buildings are made. Find a mentor architect willing to let you follow them around their office and in the field to see if it is still what you want to do. Then think about learning to draw and build models.

JACQUELINE (Intern Architect):

Dear younger self,

It’s hard to tell you what the right or wrong thing to do is because I’m still trying to figure that out.  I do know that a huge part of making it through architecture school or even through your architecture career is to make good friends who will support you and that you can rely on.  It is almost impossible to go it alone.  Your friends will be the mental, emotional & physical rock you’ll need to get through a final or a deadline.  Architecture school will be one of the hardest things you’ll do in life, but going through it with awesome people makes it a little more tolerable.

Push yourself but make sure you have a healthy balance of work, family and social life.  No one wants a burnt out architect.  Try and explore the world and see all the architecture that is already out there.  This will influence you, whether you realize it or not.  It’s one thing to study famous buildings in a book, but it’s a whole other experience to see it in person.  Warning: you might catch the travel bug once you start! 

Once you’re ready to work, try and find an architecture firm that fits you.  There’s nothing worse than working at a place that makes you miserable.  Finally, in regards to taking the ARE’s, try and set a schedule for yourself to study.  Then when that doesn’t work (which there’s a good chance it won’t), find a study plan that is right for you.  Lots of blog posts tell you that once you start, you must not stop and to take all the tests back to back.  That’s definitely not for me.  However it might work for some of you.  Only you know yourself and what you’re capable of.  If you fail, it’s not the end of the world.  There’s a good chance the architect next to you failed a few tests as well.  These are not easy tests, but keep at it.  No one’s perfect.  Use the failure to make you stronger and more determined to pass the test the next time.  Once you start the road to licensure, a lot of what I’ve just said will go out the window.  Just try and make educated decisions and surround yourself with supportive people.

Sincerely, the oh-so-not-perfect, still trying to figure things out, Jacqueline

JENNIFER (College Intern):

From a 2nd Year Architecture Student to a 1st Year Architecture Student:

Currently, I am 24 years old, going into my 2nd year of Architecture school this upcoming fall. Ever since I was 12 years old, my sister has always been my inspiration for becoming an architect. Just seeing all her projects and what she went through in school amazed me. Even though I wish I would’ve started pursuing Architecture as my major as soon I graduated high school, just like my sister did, I didn’t.  The reason is that when I graduated high school in 2011, my sister was graduating college with a 4.0 GPA with Architecture as her major.  She spent several months job seeking and it seemed to be a mission beyond impossible to achieve. I would constantly hear her say, “I would make more as a part-time waitress than as an architect right now.”

It was finally time for me to start my future as an architect, but my sister’s experience without luck of job offers not only scared me, but also my family and friends.  They made me hesitate with lines like, “You will not make any money as an architect.  Try to do something else.” and “There is no job security with Architecture.”  As a result, I decided to forget about architecture and just major in Business like 90% of my friends. That way, my options for job security would be more flexible and easier to achieve.

Bad idea. I never felt more unsatisfied.  I realized that going after the money, or taking the easy way out wasn’t the answer. I ended up transferring to Architecture, and decided to finally try it out. At the end of the day, with Architecture as your major, there are several other things you could do if, ultimately, being an architect doesn’t work out.

Currently, after a year in Architecture, I could not be happier or more satisfied with finishing the first year successfully with good grades.  I’ve even already been hired as a paid intern in an architecture firm.

A couple pieces of advice while in Architecture school:
-   Make a schedule/routine and stick with it
-   If you have the opportunity to walk or ride your bike to class, do it. Get as much exercise as you can. Considering this is an extremely time consuming career, it is almost impossible to fit in a work out schedule in your already, busy day.
-   No matter what, sleep AT LEAST 5 hours a day. All nighters will not be the answer to your emergencies or last minute problems. Be sure to plan ahead. (One of the kids in my program totaled his car on the way home because he fell asleep on the road)
-   Eat as healthy as you can.  Try green tea vs. coffee. With coffee you will feel tired again after a couple hours.

***If you enjoyed reading our blog question & answer for June and would like to learn more about our firm and the people who work here, comment below and post some questions you'd like to have our office answer.***

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