My Career Change From Architecture

young architect walking
My Career Change From Architecture

My Career Change From Architecture And What I’d Say To My 30 year Old Self. 

Just this morning I was sitting on my couch with my coffee, taking a moment to breathe quietly before everyone else woke up and just before plunging into today’s to-do list. I just turned 39 two days ago and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking as I enter my last year as a 30-something year old. My mind flashed back to when I had just turned 30. That was nine years ago now, but so much has changed, and there is so much I wish I could go back and tell her. 

Here’s a bit of what I’d say… 

1. Observe And Cultivate Your Interests. 

From about 13 years old, I knew I was going to be an architect. My career path was forged. I was really good at staying on task and doing everything between then and university to get into the school and program that I wanted. When I graduated, all that work compounded and I think I felt like I had to work even harder. Little else mattered. I remember quitting piano, painting and group sports because I was laser focused on getting into architecture. 

My advice today? Watch others. Volunteer your time. Create. Spend time outdoors. 

Studying and direction is good, but don’t miss out on play. 

2. The Job Does Not Determine Your Worth.

I remember being so worried about every single task, what others thought of me, my work and how fast I could deliver. My main concern was my success (and failures) at work and how they would carry into my evenings and weekends. I’d spend so much time worrying if I made a mistake or if someone else did something better. But the truth is, that job and that person I was those ten years ago was only a small part of who I am today and what I am capable of and the good that I can provide others.

3. Prioritize Your Mental Health.

Those eight years of architecture school took so much out of me. Completing it was a daily.mental.grind. The constant studio critiques, the all-nighter culture, and the competitiveness between architecture students that the professors encouraged left more damage than I could write about in this blog post. It continued into a few architectural firms I worked for after graduating and eventually I just grew angry and then all together stopped caring. It took me a long while to see it. If I could go back, I would have stood up for myself and advocated more for mental and physical health over anything else in those years. 

4. It’s Ok To Change Your Mind. 

And no one will come to your house at night with pitchforks! I remember feeling like I had put in so much work, so many tears and fought so hard for the world of architecture. How could I ever give it all up and leave my dream job? I’d disappoint everyone. Becoming a licensed architect was the only thing I wanted for almost 20 years and I was really good at it. 

And leaving was so scary. It took me a long time to let go. 

But friends, it’s not all lost if you do. There’s this thing called transferable skills. After leaving I slowly began to see that I had acquired so many valuable skills – work experience in general but also years of education, design process, visual communication, programming languages, project management, technical skills, design hierarchy, sales, graphic design, user experience design, coordination, team management and damn hard work. These and so many more that have been so incredibly useful in my business today. In fact, I’d even go so far to say that I’m actually grateful to have done it and learned all these skills because they give me such a unique perspective and ability to help others in a very pragmatic and design-forward way. There’s always a different path if you want it. 

architectural office
My Career Change From Architecture

5. We All Find Value And Joy In Different Places. 

And it really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. I was probably my worst critic but I can’t deny that I felt a lost of pressure from others to continue to push through and that I’d be silly to leave it all behind. But what matters is what you want and what drives you. You owe it to yourself to follow that inner calling. Follow it. 

6. Do It Your Own Way. 

For me, this meant being less concerned with what was expected and more compelled by what I felt was right or needed. Be curious, don’t be afraid to ask questions and give people something to ponder over when you walk into a room. Your unique approach is what will change the world. And just because someone is telling you how they would do it, well that doesn’t mean you should do the same. Forge your own way. 

7. I’ll All Work Out. 

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my adult years it’s that there’s never just one way. And one way or another, we adapt and find a way to make it good again. I worry less about the outcome because I know there’s always a choice. And what’s more, what you can’t control you need to let go of. 

If there’s one thing I would like you to remember from this post is that. What you can’t control you need to let go of. Years of battling anxiety taught me that there is not a single good thing that will come from worrying about things that have already happened or might happen. And in recent years I’ve learned that we can choose how to react and move on. It’s a choice. And if you really try to understand what that means, as you read this you’ll see that this moment right now is the only thing that is real. Everything else is a memory or a thought. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s just how it is. 

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My dear friends, don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone and create your true place. There’s a pot of gold at the end of the journey. One way or another. 

As always, thanks for reading!

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