Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Architecture and Beyond: Opportunities Abound by Lee W. Waldrep, Ph.D.

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Lee 199x300 Architecture and Beyond: Opportunities Abound by Lee W. Waldrep, Ph.D.

Dr. Lee Waldrep

 

For many students, graduation is just around the corner.  As you approach graduation and ponder your future career path, do you still wish to become an architect?  When your family, friends, faculty, or even prospective employer inquire about your career goals, what do you share?  Do you quickly outline your path as one of pursuing internship, passing the ARE and becoming an architect or do you hesitate and state with less conviction, “I do not know,” as you are worried and not sure of your future.

Regardless of your answer, be confident, as an architectural education is a springboard to a myriad of career pursuits both in architecture and beyond.  But, what are these career fields and how do you approach them. 

 Reflect on your education and the skills that you are still developing and how they will launch your career.

  • Communication – amazingly, communication is the most sought after skill of all employers yet most graduates do not recognize its power in both their job search or career pursuit.  Each semester, you presented your studio work; now, tap that ability to present your “self” to prospective firms and possible new career fields.  Contact professionals in and beyond the field to conduct “informational interviews” and learn firsthand their discipline.
  • Collaboration – perhaps, one weakness of an architectural education is teamwork.  Unlike the “real world,” you do not collaborate in teams or even manage people.  However, do not underestimate the skill set of working with people and its importance when you enter the workforce.
  • Integrating – in studio, you were “integrating” what you learned in previous studios and other courses along with new information and skills.  Upon graduation, strive to continue this integration as you determine your path and profession.
  • Research – One of the most valuable skills learned while in college is research, but graduates soon forget to use when seeking their career path.  Truly research possible firms for hire and aspiring career paths.  Contact a professional association or the Bureau of Labor Statistics to research an occupation to pursue.
  • Creative Problem-Solving – perhaps more than other skills, graduates develop problem-solving skills that can easily be transferred to any career field.  But truly think about what problems you wish to “solve” in your career and pursue it with a passion.

Anecdotal estimates suggest that only 50% of architectural graduates pursue licensure.  If this is true, you should be learning ways to show how your hard-won skills from architecture can contribute to success in a number of fields.  As well, consider networking with other professional and business groups, informing them of the broad skill set you possess. 

Over the years, numerous resources highlight careers that “look beyond architecture,” — landscape architecture; interior design; lighting design; acoustical design; engineering; construction; urban and regional planning; architectural history, theory, and criticism; and environmental and behavioral research.  Once such resource is Archinect with its ongoing series entitled, Working Out of the Box – http://archinect.com/ (search for Working … from homepage) that profiles individuals educated as architects in pursuit of other paths.

So, the next time someone asks of your future, reply confidently that you intend to use what you have learned to improve the quality of life in the built environment and are just pondering the details to fully implement your desired path. 

As Leslie Kanes Weisman, of the New Jersey Institute of Technology has stated, “I am certain that architectural graduates who are in command of the powerful problem defining and problem solving skills of the designer, will be fully capable of designing their own imaginative careers by creating new definitions of meaningful work for architects that are embedded in the social landscape of human activity and life’s events.”

 Below is a list of careers/professions that an individual with an architectural education could pursue.  The careers are organized by the World of Work Map (http://actstudent.org/wwm/world.html).

 OUTSIDE OF TRADITIONAL SETTING

Architectural Historian

Architectural Lawyer

Architectural Products and Services

Corporate Architect

Construction Manager

Developer

Facilities Architect

Government Architect

Public Interest Design

University Architect

 

WORKING WITH IDEAS

Applied Arts (Visual)

Animator

Architectural Renderer

Artist

Fashion Designer

Furniture Designer

Graphic Artist (Software)

Industrial Designer

Interior Designer

Photographer

Set Designer

Video/Film Editor

Social Science

Geographer

Urban Planner

 

WORKING WITH IDEAS AND THINGS

Engineering & Technologies

Aerospace Engineer

Architect

Cartographer

Civil Engineer

Computer Engineer

Electrical/Electronics Engineer

Environmental Engineer

Industrial Engineer

Landscape Architect

Marine Architect

Materials Engineer

Mechanical Engineer

Solar Energy Engineer

Natural Science and Technologies

Ecologist

Forensic Scientist

 

WORKING WITH THINGS

Construction and Maintenance

Building/Construction Inspector

 

WORKING WITH PEOPLE AND IDEAS

Applied Arts

Critic

Editor

Journalist

Creative and Performing Arts

Movie Director

Writer/Author

 

WORKING WITH PEOPLE

Community Service

Counselor

Student Services Specialist

Lawyer

Education

College/University Faculty

College/University Dean

Educator – Architecture in the Classroom

Teacher

 

Below are career fields/occupations pursued by architects; for example, the current President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Chrysler Group LLC, Saad Chehab, and the founder of Pinterest, Evan Sharp graduated with degrees in architecture.

 Advertising

Automotive

Book Publishing

Clothing Design

Energy Conservation

Environmental and Codes

Environmental Scientist

Ethics and Sustainability

Ethnoarchitect

Fabric Structures

Fashion Design

Festival Architecture

Financial Services

Floral Arrangements

Furniture Design

Gaming Environment Design

Graphic Design

Global Web Technologies

Historic Preservation

Magazine Publishing

Media and E-Commerce

Product Analysis

Production Designer

Sales and Marketing Management

Set Design

Social Media

Space Architecture

User Experience

 

Lee W. Waldrep, Ph.D., is Assistant Director in the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He graduated with a Master of Architecture from Arizona State University and completed his doctorate in counseling and student development from The American University.  Waldrep is the author of Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design.  Also known as Dr. Architecture, he can be contacted at lwaldrep@gmail.com.

Blog readers receive a 20% discount on the purchase of Success by Design by using the code Blog20.

 


 

Comments

One Response to “Architecture and Beyond: Opportunities Abound by Lee W. Waldrep, Ph.D.”
  1. Grace H. Kim says:

    I’ve often told interns or other architects lamenting about our profession or the current state of the economy that the training we receive actually prepares us well for Business Consulting. What is that and how does it relate to architecture? It’s problem solving minus the buidling. Business consultants are called into review an aspect of a company and suggest changes to improve stated problem.
    Business consultant does research into the business sector and the company’s practices much like how an architect would consider a buiding program. Then they propose possible solutions and implements the one that the Owner selects. This field would be much more lucrative and open architects up to a new area of influence.

    We are creative people and the training we receive really does apply to many fields/professions – if only we take a high level look at the actual skills we possess.

    Grace H. Kim, AIA
    principal, Schemata Workshop

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