Every year, the DLA Architects team participates in “Career Day” activities at our client schools.
We’ve had a variety of professionals from the owners of the firm to the designers to our interns speak, and while we all focus on our own personal experience and the background that helped us get where we are, the thing we all have in common is an interest in learning and a passion for what we do.
It makes you think
Developing a talk about what you do for a living is a wonderful time to step back and take stock in the choices you made that brought you to this point in your career.
For an architect, the paths to licensure are fairly direct: college, then (most likely) grad school, then the structured IDP Training Program. By the time you’re licensed, you’ve dedicated ten years or more of your life to the pursuit of your career, longer if you take the time for military service or a family.
One of the things we emphasize to the students we speak to is that a career is really about the path you take.
It takes time to accomplish your goals, but having at least a general idea of where you want to end up will be your guide as you make the choices that result in your career.
It brings you down to earth
Speaking at Career Day can be challenging, and unless you have an especially exciting profession, a bit humbling. The challenge here is engaging the students and finding that connection that will keep them interested.
It’s important to have an outline of what you’ll discuss, but keep it simple. With any luck, there will be questions that take the conversation on interesting tangents. The more interactive, the better, but come prepared with stories that they can relate to.
We often discuss a project in the very building we’ll be talking in. Explaining how technically challenging it is to suspend a running track above a gymnasium and how the green roof next to it counteracts the forces of the load makes a whole lot more sense when you’re familiar with the space.
Students are often surprised at how the very math and physics classes they’re enrolled in really do arm them with skills that might apply to their job.
It pays it forward.
We might be experts now, but that wasn’t always the case. We’ve all been there. We’ve all had to decide what we wanted to be when we grow up.
Every student we speak to won’t be interested in following our career path. In fact, it’s possible that some of the students we speak to might have started keen on being an architect but, after hearing what the job really entails, run.
But there is always the chance that one, just one, might catch that spark. They might be inspired to take that road less traveled. The exciting thing is, that they will know a little bit more about what to expect. They just might end up better prepared as they start that journey.
…and that is priceless.