to be, or not to be an architect. that is the question.

“life is a tale told by an idiot. full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” – Hamlet

Recently I was out at a local social event of young professionals. We were sitting around drinking wine and just chatting away. I was trying to ignore the fact that I was the oldest person in the room by more than a few years, when I discovered another intern architect at the table. We chatted for a few minutes and I began asking about her tests and how far along she was in IDP. The answer I got was not necessarily typical, but it was common. She is in the middle of IDP, took one test and failed and questions whether or not to continue testing to get licensed.

This comes on the heals of NCARB announcing not only their latest version of the ARE which will launch in 2015, but also an announcement regarding proposed changes to the IDP process. You can read my thoughts on that here.

The question I found asking myself at the time was – What do I tell this person? What do I say to try and convince them that their education wasn’t a waste and that it is worth it to stay the course and keep pushing forward to their license? At the time I was struggling to find an answer. I had not quite finished my own exams, and though determined and focused it was still difficult for me to come up with much in the way of positive reinforcement for this young intern.

The simple truth is Architecture is not an easy profession and there are many challenges, especially at the beginning of your career. And I think that is for good reason. In order to stick it out in this business you have to have your own internal desire, determination and passion to stick with it. You have to be your own cheerleader, because there really isn’t anything that anyone else can say to you that is going to be convincing enough to keep you motivated.

So what do I say to young interns now who wonder “is this for me?” I simply say “that is something you need to figure out on your own.” Architecture isn’t easy and in my experience is one of the few professions where there really seems to be no turning back once you set your mind to move forward. I spent 10 years chasing after my license. 10 years practicing under other architects with 20+ years experience on me, learning everything I could about design, detailing, contracts, client relations, everything I could soak up, preparing for when I could finally call myself an Architect. Once you set your mind on that goal there is no turning back. Be your own cheerleader and get it done.

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3 thoughts on “to be, or not to be an architect. that is the question.

  1. Great post. I wonder if this is a new phenomenon since interns can now take exams during IDP. I had to complete IDP first and I didn’t have this experience. I was able to focus on the work and learn it thoroughly before attempting the exams. I think it would have been very discouraging to fail an exam while you’re still getting your bearings in the profession. Thanks for the post.

    • Eric, thanks for commenting. I agree completely. I was able to start testing after 1 year of IDP. I failed my first two exams and immediately questioned if I was cut out for the field. I almost left architecture. I was not I a hurry to take any more tests and didn’t until about 6 years later when they instituted the rolling clock. Even then I wasn’t convinced I could do it. But I pushed forward and became my own cheerleader. I sucked it up and got it done. And I could not have done it without the experience I gained along the way. The exam is about more than information, more how you apply information in particular situations, which can’t be learned in a book. I think the old model of IDP then exam is better than the current and FAR better than what is currently being discussed.
      Thanks again!

  2. Great post. I wonder if this is a new phenomenon since interns can now take exams during IDP. I had to complete IDP first and I didn’t have this experience. I was able to focus on the work and learn it thoroughly before attempting the exams. I think it would have been very discouraging to fail an exam while you’re still getting your bearings in the profession. Thanks for the post.

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