Monday, January 9, 2012

Learning about an Architecture Firm

I actually have about the same background and I live in the Washington, DC area as well.  In addition, I graduated from college in 2008 and I am now planning to return to school for a Masters in Architecture in Fall 2013.  I have one main concern.  I am now thinking about changing jobs from the defense industry to a clerical or low level job in architecture to get some general experience. Would you advise doing this? I noted that you recommended attending seminars, lectures and other events, however, you dissuaded the previous poster from pursuing work in architecture right now at entry level. Can you provide a more detailed reason for this? Thanks. 

If you are currently employed, I would NOT support your changing positions to gain an entry level position with a firm.  First, you could probably better use your skills best with your current position.  Working in an architecture firm does not help you.  Instead, try to set-up an information interview with an architect or tour a firm.  Plus, your salary is better with your current position -- you can use the monies.

Finally, the job market in architecture is very tough right now.  It may be quite difficult to secure a position within a firm even entry level.

Yes, I think you should learn about working in a firm given you wish to become an architect, but you do not need to "work" in a firm to do that. 

1 comment:

dblakely said...

Thanks for the advice. After reading the posts from the previous years of your blog, I understand what it takes to pursue a Masters in Arch (3-4) when you have a bachelor's in an unrelated field. I also have visited Virginia Tech's Arch Department in Alexandria, VA.

I have a more complex question to follow-up with. Northern Virginia Community College in partnership with Virginia Tech allows students (who already have a bachelors degree in an unrelated field) to take undergraduate ARCH classes, and then transfer into the Virginia Tech's Masters ARCH program in Alexandria, VA (not Blacksburg, VA) after 2 years.

This seems like a very interesting opportunity considering that VA Tech's grad ARCH program was recently ranked 12th in the country. I am also a Virginia resident so my in-state eligibility and tuition help the case for VA Tech. I also have a pretty good background so I would probably be competitive for transfer.

I am, however, concerned because I do not want 2 years of lower level classes at the community college to cause me to lose the spark and my interest in the field of Architecture. The whole reason I became interested in the field is because I have always had artistic talent and an eye for design. I recently went to Chicago and was inspired by the Chicago School Architecture of the Sears and Hancock buildings and the many other gothic buildings in the city.

I guess my question is whether you think I should take the opportunity for two years worth of undergrad ARCH classes at the community college and then transfer directly into the masters program at Virginia Tech OR do you think I should pursue a masters program in Chicago or California having taken only a few (one or two) Architectural classes at the local community college? My undergraduate alma mater (UVA) would be ideal for a masters in Architecture, but I do not think that I will be able to get in.

My education experience is as follows: I graduated from University of Virginia in 2008 with a 3.3 GPA and a major in History. I am a mediocre tester and do not expect to do exceptionally well on the GRE. I took a drawing class in college, received an A and saved my portfolio. Recommendations may be harder to find, considering I used the professors I had the best relationships with in college for recommendations for law school, which I was pursuing at one time.

Are you familiar with the program at Virginia Tech? And if so, how does it match up against others such at University of Illinois-Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, or other various other schools in maybe California? Is this an opportunity that I should not pass up at Virginia Tech? Would I even have a shot at a school like UVA?

Thanks and I appreciate your advice.