Kevin G. Sneed, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C
It is said that if you start early in your life with a love for a particular talent, your devotion to it may include many practice hours on a road leading directly to what you love. This early start can apply to Musicians, Athletes, and even Architects. Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, suggests 10,000 hours of increased practice could improve one’s ability to become virtuous in their skill.
In my case, I had someone on my side that saw my potential, invested in me planting the seeds, and seeing if it would grow. My love for architecture all started with a career day in my third-grade class. I never knew who he was, and I never saw him again, but he brought the tools from his job, which ignited my love for my career as an Architect. The triangles, scales, and a T-Square were the tools of his profession that made me so curious about the profession of architecture. I also had a grandparent who provided me with books on the subject and introduced me to her former students familiar with the profession. All of these instances led me in the direction of a career in architecture. This exposure was a spark for the flame that would keep my interest burning even to this day.
From my first drafting classes in middle school to an architecture magnet program in high school and finally to college, my direction was set. My path was not smooth sailing; some obstacles would attempt to get in the way. Whether it was understanding the difference between an axonometric versus an isometric in drafting class to make certain that I was in the right college, the right program, taking suitable courses, and calculating the structural moment of a beam, once college courses began. You must anticipate and know what issues may arise.
Dr. Architecture asked if I would be a part of the book (The Journey is the Destination) Becoming an Architect – A Guide to Careers in Design, the book is a resource to help anyone considering a career in architecture. As I contributed to the book, I found that even as a seasoned professional, this reference guide caused me to reflect on my career from where I was at that time and where I was going. As you have just read, my architecture path could be considered a typical process for anyone interested in any career. However, the exposure, the time you spend cultivating and tending to the path, and education for that career in architecture will help assure that your approach is set just as these steps did for me.
Mentorship is another significant resource to help guide you in the best approach based upon your goals. At different points in my career, I had three significant mentors to nurture and guide my direction toward architecture. I had one mentor, whose role was as the traditional mentor to help me stay on a high school to college track, senior-level, or master who was well known in the profession whose influence I could not have done without.
I had another mentor whom I consider my experience equal, who would relate to my career path’s trails and tribulations. Finally, I had another mentor though slightly younger, to collaborate with me as I forge ahead with the next generation of architects. By setting your path and investing the time in gathering knowledge, using education and resources, your way to becoming an architect will be a successful journey.