Emerging Professionals Coming to Terms with “Architorture”

in: Academy of Emerging Professionals / 2 Comments
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“Architorture” should not sound foreign to any of us. Whether we learned it pulling all-nighters at University; or whether we suffered through insurmountable deadlines at our place of employment, we all have one thing in common: though architecture is a passion, it rears its ugly head more often than we would like.

Being an emerging professional submits us to more issues than just that of the beast’s head. In today’s market, we have to fight to secure a job and fight even harder to keep it. Employers are not looking only looking at our alma mater or GPA, but also for a solid foundation in Building Information Modeling (BIM), an understanding of what it means to build sustainably, common sense of interdisciplinary relations, public speaking capabilities, and personal motivation and proven initiative to become a licensed professional. As if rigorous work hours and low monetary compensation were not enough, treading to stay afloat in today’s marketplace is “architorturous.”

I fell into the trend of attending a high profile university to secure my Masters in Architecture. Little did I realize at the time of acceptance, that I would be paying a mortgage in loans for a decade after I graduated. The stark reality hit when I considered my first job offer and realized that I would be going further into debt every month, rather than even struggling to stay afloat. Once I found a job that would grant me the ability to pay my loans down, I continued to return to work every Monday morning in battle mode-wondering what challenges will face me in the upcoming week.

Utilization as a young professional is solely based on a tenacious attitude and sharp ability to grow with emerging software. Having taken the LEED exam on more than one occasion and finally passing has also proven to be a slight help in remaining professionally valuable, but success in passing the test was based on one’s desire to do so. Being invited to meet a client or attend a symposium is of the greatest honors a newbie can have bestowed unto her. Through years of Toastmasters to enhance one’s ability to speak with poise in public, and through attending numerous networking events and learning how to hand out a business card when appropriate, are mandatory steps to better oneself in the field, but can only be achieved with personal dedication.

If the aforementioned was not enough, licensing still remains at the forefront of the emerging professional’s mind. It is the classification that separates the non-members from the members. Achieving this credential is a huge burden. Parties of jurisdiction demand it; clients expect it; and bosses want it. Documenting hundreds of worked hours and then studying for hundreds of more is a burden all on its own, without outside influences. To survive the field is a testament to each individual, but especially those that are hit with the mandatory traits of a future architect all at once.


Heather Trezise

Heather has been with HDR in Pasadena for a few years, her current work is focused on science and technology facilities (labs and bioscience), as well as civic facilities (prisons). In addition to doing architectural production on these projects, she also manages LEED roles, responsibilities and requirements. She attended Temple University, Columbia University, and University of Southern California. In 2007 she received her Master of Architecture and Urbanism from USC.

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  1. avatar

    You really saved my skin with this ifnoratmion. Thanks!

  2. avatar
    Eve Hinman

    Thanks for your candor. I have always thought that architects are in a truly tough profession. As an engineer I see that our emerging staff have similar struggles with the realities of the workplace. I think that your observations are correct. Communications skills are paramount as well as being highly organized. I also see that the entire industry is clamoring for BIM and Sustainability skills to remain competitive in the current marketplace. These are not things one necessarily learns in school. Frankly, I think some business courses would be helpful to ease the transition into the work world. Personally your message resonated with me. I feel that I paid a really high price in terms of giving up years of my life to my profession. Although I still resent it, I have to say that in the end it was worth all the investment of time and effort. Don’t give up just yet. Consider looking for niches within your industry where your skills will shine.

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