Ten Pieces of Advice for Young Architects

With another school year coming to a close, many architecture students will be embarking on their professional careers. Here is some advice I wish I had known when I began my career:

1. Ask questions – When starting a new position straight out of school, things can be overwhelming, but don't be shy about asking questions. It's better to have a full understanding of your assignments than to make assumptions about your responsibilities.

2. Take initiative – As a new employee, it never looks bad to take on extra projects or responsibilities, and while you may have learned about it in school, there is nothing like hands-on experience. If there's something you're interested in, don't be afraid to ask about it, you have nothing to lose. Also, make sure you keep up on trends nationally and globally, incorporating supplemental learning into your routine.

3. Public speaking is important – As you grow in your new position, you will get the opportunity to present on projects. Don't wait until the last minute to brush up on your public speaking skills, join an internal public speaking group or create one with other coworkers.

4. Compete – Don't stop designing! I highly recommend signing up for design competitions, it will keep you sharp and it's a way to pursue your passion outside of the office. Not to mention, winning is always a huge plus and great exposure for your employer.

5. Embrace failure – Everyone makes mistakes, especially when starting a new job, but you can't allow yourself to become discouraged. Things are constantly changing, and you have to recover quickly from small-scale mistakes.

6. Find a mentor – Having a mentor will help you develop as a professional. Being able to seek advice and learn from someone more experienced who's been where you are will help your confidence as you grow in your career.

7. Network – You will never know the value of networking until you need something from someone. Make it a priority to get to know your coworkers and to stay in touch with your classmates. I recommend joining an architecture organization like the American Institute of Architects (AIA) or U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to get as much exposure as you can.

8. Prioritize your exams – Deciding which exams you want to take, and when, can be a massive task, but take everything slowly. Prioritize your exams—you don't have to take them all at once, spread them out a little and make a plan so you don't stress yourself out. That way you'll have plenty of study time and pass them on the first try!

9. Sketch – Don't stop sketching! You have this skill for a reason, don't forget to use it by getting caught up with new software. I recommend keeping a sketchbook handy and sketching for 10-30 minutes at least once a day. Bonus: It's a great stress reliever too!

10. Have fun – Most importantly have fun! Don't get distracted by your responsibilities, you chose this profession for a reason. A work-life balance is also important as you don't want to burn yourself out.

I'm so glad I decided to become an architect. Although it was a lot of work in school and can sometimes be a taxing profession, I love being able to say that I've contributed to designing such incredible facilities that play critical roles in different communities across the country.

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