Category Archives: Architecture

A New Start?

As I’m sure many of you know, I’m not exactly happy or content with my current job situation. I have two degrees, and yet find myself working part time in retail, stocking shelves and attending to customers. This is not what I’ve been trained for, and definitely not what I want out of my life. But rather than complain and gripe yet again about my situation, I come to you today to tell you that I have (at the risk of sounding grandiose) taken my first steps in a while to digging myself out of the hole I have stumbled in.

Today, I start looking for architecture jobs again.

What motivated this, you may ask? Well, the jerking around I’ve been getting at work definitely had something to do with it. But I also finally got around to meeting with the internship coordinator at my former school. We had a good discussion, about what I can do to increase my chances of getting a job in architecture.

It’s not going to be easy, of course. In fact, it’s probably going to take a lot of soul-searching and hard work on my part. And while I’m feeling pretty motivated right now, I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to sustain that drive after a little time has passed, or when The Funk comes slouching home again.

And so I’m putting this out there, my intention to finally find a job in architecture. By doing so, I hope that I can somehow make it a real thing, or at least a project that other people know exists. I’ve found that far too many things are easy to start and set aside after a little while, especially if no one knows about it. So I give you permission, my dear friends and readers, to pester me, to ask for updates and details, to help me make sure I stay on task. If being held accountable to some outside party is the only way I can motivate myself, then so be it. Let’s try it, and see how it works. I don’t quite believe all these words yet, but hopefully that too will change.

What’s the worst that could happen, right?

It’s A Small World

A funny thing happened to me yesterday. My girlfriend and I were visiting her parents in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary. I was running something back out to the car when who should I run into but one of my professors from grad school. It turns out his in-laws live in the same community. Small world, huh?

There’s more to this story, of course. After all, I can’t just write about an amusing anecdote without some sort of psychological baggage, can I? Well, this wasn’t just any old professor of mine. He’s also the internship coordinator for the entire architecture school. One of his jobs is making sure his students can get their careers going as quickly and easily as possible.

So of course, he asks what I’ve been up to since I’ve graduated.

Seeing as I’m an honest person (and he’s the kind of person that would draw honesty out even if I wasn’t), I tell him. I tell him that I’ve been working retail, keeping the bills paid, but I don’t really have any prospects in the architecture field right now. According to him, however, the market is picking back up. He suggested I contact him, set up an appointment to go over my options and opportunities. I took his card, and said I would indeed follow up.

Why does the universe take such perverse pride in ripping open old wounds?

I’ll admit, I’ve basically written off architecture at this point. Heck, on the bad days I wonder if I’ll ever make it out of retail. I’ve tried to get out, as so far every attempt and interview has failed (obviously, or I’d have moved on). So a large part of me had given up, since there’s only so many times your hopes can be crushed (or slowly eroded) before you move on in an attempt to save what dignity and positivity you have left.

But running into my professor, especially that professor, forced me to reconsider my declaration of defeat. Is there a chance that I can still get a job in architecture, even with my skills as rusty as they’ve become? I’d like to hope so. Is architecture something I still want to do? Well, I’d like it if my $38,000 graduate degree wasn’t a complete waste of time, money, and energy. Am I ready for what’s likely to be, given my previous experience up to this point, round after round of rejection? I don’t know.

Needless to say, I’ve got a lot of complicated feels stampeding through my psyche right now. I’m going to meet with my professor, of course. I just need to work up the courage to do so. After all (famous last words), what’s the worst that could happen?

 

P.S.: Sorry there wasn’t a post yesterday. What with the anniversary party, decompressing after a long week of work, and getting home in time to watch Agents of SHIELD, it was around 8h30 before I realized I had forgotten to write. Oh well. Even if it doesn’t matter to you, reader, consider this an apology to myself. And hey, at least I’m not opening this entry with an apology! That’s an improvement, right?

99% Invisible

Despite having gone to school for architecture, I don’t get many chances to indulge the design skills and passion I paid so much money to hone. For whatever reason, moving products around on retail shelves just doesn’t hold the same cachet. But I recently discovered a podcast that allows me to feel engaged in the world of design, however fleetingly: 99% Invisible.

99% Invisible is an independent radio show/podcast about design. Not just architecture, but about everything that is designed, and how it affects in ways we may not realize. Topics can vary from the importance of reading building plaques to stories about statues that are no longer there; from how engineers reversed the Chicago River to how Warsaw almost-but-not-quite recreated their historic Old Town after World War Two. It potentially covers anything in our world with some designed aspect; that is to say, everything.

The first few episodes are short (under five minutes), but later ones, as the producers become more familiar with the podcast format, can last 15 or even 30 minutes. The wide variety of topics covered keeps things interesting, and the people working on the show obviously love what they do. I get easily annoyed by people having “high concept” conversations where they read too much into simple decisions (it seems like just so much intellectual masturbation to me), but this show manages to be educational without being preachy or out of touch with reality

So if the philosophy of design interests you, or you just want to hear some of the stories behind things we take for granted, I can highly recommend this podcast. The one piece of criticism I would offer is that it’s discouraging to listen to intelligent discourse about design while stocking shelves and moving pallets, but that’s likely a personal problem. It just throws the contrast into too sharp of a relief to be comfortable.

Sorry, didn’t mean to be a downer, there. 99% Invisible: check it out. It’s fun and educational!

That Joke Wasn’t Too Popular at School

What’s this? A conclusion? The most recent cynical ploy for more posts now draws to a close! Will this be the last time the rules are bent to fill an arbitrary quota? (no)

So yeah, I’m a bit disillusioned with architecture. I’d like to think it’s not just because I’m bitter about not having a job in the field, but I can’t rule that out. I really do think that there were some fundamental differences between how I looked at architecture, and how my professors and fellow students did.

Looking back at what I’ve written the past few days, it could also be that I was turned off by the “ivory tower of academia,” where things were allowed to be insulated from real world concerns. But when you feel compelled to add meaning to things just to feel useful, it might be time to take a good hard look at your priorities.

I guess you could say I like the idea of architecture, not necessarily of being an architect. My girlfriend had a similar experience: after going through college and grad school studying archeology, she came to the realization that she didn’t necessarily want to be an archeologist, she wanted to be Indiana Jones. Unfortunately, the job market for lantern-jawed, rugged grave robber/tenured professors is awfully slim.

Where does that leave me? I don’t know. I’d like to think that my time and money weren’t completely wasted. But it’s hard to let go of your goals, even if you get to the end and realize the prize wasn’t what you expected.

And I think that may be the case for architecture, at least for me. An experiment that didn’t pan out. I don’t feel like I’m giving up, but I guess I kind of am. But I’m okay with that, at least for now.

A: “Do You Want Fries With That?”

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post, shamelessly split in two in an attempt to build up a buffer.

The second issue I had, and one that was hard to articulate (politely, at least) while at school, is that a lot of architects seem to be really full of themselves.

What do I mean by that? The answer is multifaceted, and a lot of it has to do with why I don’t like literary analysis. But before we dig into it, here’s a picture of Le Corbusier with Albert Einstein:

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Q: What Did the Architect Say to the Engineer?

As many of you probably know, I graduated with a degree in architecture last year. As you may also know (or at least been able to figure out), I am not working in my “chosen field.” Instead, I spent a couple months unemployed immediately following graduation, and then managed to find a basic retail job, which I have been at since. I have looked for jobs in architecture, but the sea of “entry level” internships asking (and getting) 3-5 years’ experience was discouraging, to say the least. But one nice thing about a mind-numbing job is it gives you plenty of time to think.

And I’m starting to wonder if architecture is really what I want to do after all.

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Catch-22

Imagine if you will: you go back to school for an advanced degree, one which will qualify you for a very specialized type of work. As part of this education, you have the opportunity to receive professional certifications and accreditations which will make you more marketable in the coming job search. You graduate, but fail to find a job in your field, most likely because of forces outside your control. However, your professional credentials require continuing education and upkeep. This requires money that, since you’re not working in your field, you don’t have. You could let the credentials expire, but then it would be even harder to find a job. You need the credentials to find a job in your field, but you can’t afford to keep the credentials without a job in your field.

Sound familiar?

If you’re me it does.

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