The Road to Becoming an Architect
The First Step: Can you help me?
Shortly before the beginning of 2019, an area high school student named Morgan Jensen reached-out to inquire about internship. Currently a senior at Okoboji High School, Morgan has been accepted to Iowa State University (ISU), my alma mater, for the Fall of 2019 and intends to major in Architecture and Interior Design. In her initial email, Jensen explained that seniors at this school are required to intern or job shadow during the time between first and second semester. While, until this point, I had never had an intern work in the office, I am a strong believer in exploring careers and gaining "real-world" experiences before committing to a field of study. I was also immediately impressed with the email I received, as I am not sure I would have written such a thoughtful message requesting this opportunity be afforded when I was in high school. After an initial meeting to discuss logistics of the week ahead, Jensen spent several days assisting with projects in the office.
Below are a few thoughts Morgan wrote, when asked to describe her interest in Architecture:
"From a young age I had always had an interest in buildings and their structure and how they went from a couple pieces of lumber to a standing building. It completely amazed me how that had happened. Now that I am older I still wonder at the amazement of structures and how they come together and the bigger picture behind the building and the story that comes with each and every one. When I was in Elementary school my family went down to Ames to attend a basketball game, somehow we ended up over at the college of design, which is all the way on the other side of campus. We went through their building and walked down to where one of the studio's were and I looked through the window and saw this magnificent rectangular building made out of cardboard and I looked at it and thought to myself, I want to build that one day. I want to work on the more residential side of the field, I love all the creativity you are allowed to put into a space and that what you are building is going to matter to someone because you are putting a roof over a family's head as well as turning it their dream home and a place where laughter will be shared and many memories will be made."
During the Journey: How can I help you?
Though the response to "what do you want to be when you you grow-up?" may come easily to some, spending time immersed in the day-to-day activities of that profession may prove to be a different experience. Furthermore, everyone in the same field, with the same or similar degrees, performs the same tasks or has the same past work experiences. My journey as an architect has been full of invaluable learning experiences that are unique to me and my chosen path. To me, this is the most valuable aspect of spending time with those practicing in your desired field, as one professional's "normal" may be "unusual" to another.
During Morgan's time with 712 Design, it was my intention to show her examples of typical, day to day activities performed by an architect living in rural northwest Iowa. While these activities may vary for each professional, there are critical steps required to become an architect. Below is a link to the "basic steps" to becoming an architect, by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). May this resource serve as an outline (map) for future architects.
Where Does the Journey End: What I Learned
Having an intern was a learning experience for me, as well. It served as an opportunity to grow as a leader, through providing daily tasks and demonstrating skills at are invaluable in architecture. Furthermore, this served as an opportunity to provide mentorship in my chosen field.
I am grateful to have had an Intern in the office. This was a great opportunity to share the work load - many hands make light work. I look forward to growing my team and, in the future, hope to have another intern or employee in the future!
I remember the first architect I ever met, the first art teacher that encouraged me to have big dreams, and the first math teacher to prove that math had a place outside the classroom.
To all of them, I say "Thank you!".
Assisting students in determining their career path has always been a passion of mine. No matter the age, children/ students at every level of development benefit from exploring careers, having new experiences, and preparing for what he or she might do as an adult.
While summer is already in full swing, I have been reflecting upon the past school year. During the 2017-2018 school year there were numerous opportunities for local citizens and businesses (not just Architects) to spend time, both in and out of the classroom, with Spencer students. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to shake hands and discuss professional appearance with Spencer High School women, participate in a discussion panel for young women interested in STEM careers, and perform mock interviews with Sacred Heart sixth graders.
I am sure there are many examples of professionals reaching out to young people in Spencer that I have not documented here. However, below are links to events I was personally able to be a part of:
Looking ahead to the 2018-2019 school year, young people in Northwest Iowa have the unique opportunity to participate in a mentor-ship program, led by area architecture, construction, and engineering (ACE) professionals. Through this program, I hope to connect with more young people, in search of a path after high school.
For more information, including how to register, visit the links below:
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