As illustrated by Bernard Tschumi, without concept, architecture is just a building. This, of course, is also true with life. Without identity, our lives lack meaning. Has anyone ever asked you, “Why did you choose architecture”? I’m asking you now. Dig deep. Deeper. It’s not because you like to draw. It’s not because you didn’t like engineering. And we’re certainly aware it’s not because of the huge paychecks. Once you challenge yourself to find your life’s concept, the design of it, so to speak, should come more easily. Particularly for young professionals, though it’s helpful at every age, knowing why you want to be an architect will direct you toward your passion. Turn that passion into a job, and that job into a career. When the day comes when you can no longer lift a pencil (or a mouse), you can smile, satisfied in your contribution to the world. Life after graduation can be intimidating, if not terrifying. Follow these six steps to help get you started on giving your life concept.
1. Contemplation and Decision
This probably seems like a no-brainer, but it might take more effort than you’d expect. Whether you’re a student, or you’re working, life manages to keep us quite busy. It’s necessary to make the conscience effort to sit down with the intention of identifying your passion. Hopefully, over the course of several years of education, this part will come to fruition sooner rather than later. It might take some time, so don’t give up. Grab a sketchbook or notebook and write to yourself, or talk to yourself out loud - however you work best. Here’s a few questions you should consider answering.
- What brings me joy?
- What am I good at?
- Before I began my path to becoming an architect, was there something else I was passionate about? Can I bring that passion into architecture?
- Why did I decide to go to school for architecture?
- Are there any current issues that pique my interest?
- If I could teach someone how to do something, what would it be?
- If money was no object, what would I do with the rest of my life?
2. If you haven’t graduated yet, pick your thesis topic wisely.
Whether it’s your undergraduate thesis, or your M.Arch thesis, this is the perfect opportunity for your to dedicate time to research something that you think you might be passionate about. If it’s helping children learn and grow, you might decide to study how a school can enhance their education. Or perhaps if you’re interested in bringing holistic design to third world countries, you might choose to study how to capitalize on the use of local materials. Use your results from step one to help you decide.
3. Build your brand.
As you solidify what it is you’re passionate about, you can start to build your image around it. This isn’t dissimilar from when we design a project. You start with a concept, and use it to influence your design. While companies use branding as a marketing tool, you can use branding to market yourself when trying to find work. A good place to start is a mission statement. Verbally communicate what it is you’re passion about, and what your mission is. Then you can reinforce it by visually tying together all the components of your package through different graphic styles. This includes your cover letter, resume, business card, portfolio, thank-you letter, and whatever else you’d include. Unifying all of these elements reads as organized, confident, and prepared.
4. Build your portfolio.
For someone seeking work, this is a very important step. Every interview that I have ever been on has started off with, “Why don’t you walk me through your portfolio”. This is a wonderful blessing if you’re prepared for it… or a nightmare if you’re not. This is where you have the most control because you’re given the opportunity to tell your narrative. Have this in mind when you’re building your portfolio. Think about which projects reinforce your passion and your mission statement, and what order they should go in. This portfolio represents you, and your identity. If something is random or doesn’t quite jive with the story you want to tell, then perhaps it’s best that it’s removed.
5. Go for that dream job. Be passionately aggressive about it.
Don’t be all talk and no action. Know that you have value - find a place that will appreciate that. Use your passion to direct you as to what type of work you want to do, then go forth and own it. All of this thinking and preparing is useless without execution. You might even fail a few times, but not without learning something along the way. There is virtually no penalty for taking big risks here - either you succeed, or you learn and grow.
6. Become both teacher and student.
Don’t ever get comfortable. Stasis is the enemy here. Find new ways to grow and evolve. Use your passion to build yourself an empire that you’re proud to put your name on. Never stop learning, and when given the chance, teach. Pass your passion along to others and let it live on through them. Let your concept be your legacy.
When it comes down to it, the world doesn’t need more architects. The world needs more happy people.
Find your happiness.
Give your life concept.
By Nicholas Fucci