PREPARATION TO BECOMING AN ARCHITECT
As you desire to become an architect, there are many activities or programs that can prepare you for your path / journey. All of these will further your interest / knowledge in the profession.
First, participate in an architecture summer program. For Summer 2020, most if not all will be virtual or online due to COVID-19. Access the Architecture Summer Program listing by selecting the title above. Regardless, these programs are an excellent opportunity to determine if architecture is the right career choice. Most include design, drawing, and model-building assignments and other related activities. Architecture Summer Programs are also a good way to learn about the architecture program of a particular institution.
The summer before my senior year, I attended two architecture programs: Discover Architecture at the University of Illinois and Experiment in Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Both exposed me to what college would be as an architecture student and the field trips to architecture firms showed me a glimpse of how life would be as an architect. I drew, created and recreated…just like a real architect. These experiences helped solidify my decision to pursue architecture in college. — Robyn Payne, University of Kansas
SUMMER INTERNSHIP / CAREER RELATED POSITION
Although it may difficult to secure, obtain a summer position with a construction company or architectural firm; you may be limited in the tasks you do, but the experience will be far more rewarding than a typical summer position. If securing a position if challenging, contact an architect to shadow for a day or a week.
If such opportunities are not possible, consider volunteering at or providing community service with a design-related organization such as a museum. Depending on your location, volunteer with Habitat for Humanity; always look for opportunities to become involved with the built environment.
EXPLORATION – TO SEE
An important skill to acquire in becoming an architect is the ability to see. By learning to observe buildings, spaces, and their relationships, you become sensitive to issues that concern architects. Explore your surroundings by looking closely at the built environment every day.
Tour and observe your neighborhood or city, and take visual notes about the architecture you encounter. Seek out guided tours of significant buildings in your city, and learn about their architectural features.
Obtain a sketchbook and begin to draw. Sketch from real life to develop your drawing skills and sharpen your awareness of the existing environment. Sketching from life trains you to observe, analyze, and evaluate while recording your surroundings. Do not worry about the quality of the sketches; focus instead on developing your skill of seeing.
When I was a summer intern, I sat outside and sketched during my lunch break. One day I sketched a landscape, as the office overlooked a waterfall. Another day I drew my shoe or my handbag. Yet another day I found some object in the office to draw, like a lamp. Some days I sketched my hand or my foot. This simple exercise was greatly beneficial, as it taught me that the key to producing an excellent drawing is to train your eyes to see. — Margaret DeLeeuw, University of Maryland
One way to develop your drawing skills is to dedicate a specific amount of time—one or two hours—per day to sketching. Be committed to drawing each day. Practice, practice, and practice! Begin reading books, magazines, and newspaper articles on architecture and the profession of architecture. Check the web or your nearby public library for ideas.
Visit construction sites to learn how buildings are constructed. Talk with carpenters, builders, and others in the building industry to learn their perspectives on architecture. In addition, travel throughout your community, throughout your region of the country, or to other countries to experience architecture from various perspectives. As you visit, sketch!
With COVID-19, it may be more challenging to visit actual buildings, but you can many amazing buildings online. Below is one example; for others, simply search – online visits to architecture and see the results.