10 Things Architecture Graduates Should Know

After the pomp and circumstance of graduation fades, the time comes for Architecture Graduates to enter the profession of careered adulthood. While architecture classes teach systems and the design process, there are several skills that are left out.

10 Things Architecture Graduates Should Know

This list is not exclusive to architecture nor is it exhaustive; I merely recorded some of the lessons learned and skills refined since graduation. I don’t know all the answers by any means, but I do know that learning is a constant endeavor, and that self-improvement is essential to success.

10. Failing Fast: Failure is inevitable when you are challenging yourself. It is important to recover quickly, learn from it, and don’t make the same mistake twice.

Schemmer - Communicating Effectively9. Communicating Effectively: Conveying thorough, well thought out messages is a skill all on its own, but confirming the other party comprehends what you said is a critical step most people miss. For communication to be effective, the responsibility for achieving common understanding belongs to the one sending the message.

8. Avoiding Excuses: This may be putting it bluntly, but very rarely does anyone care to hear the list of reasons why you didn’t complete a task. What they do want to know is what you’re doing to fix it and if they can rely on you in the future. Similarly, don’t blame others or worry about whose fault it is. Figure out how to recover and ask for help if needed.

7. Knowing Realistically How Much Time a Task Will Take: Recognizing how long a task will realistically take requires experience and perception. Meticulous preparation upfront supports time management throughout a project. The ability to multitask and meet deadlines is critical to consistently producing quality projects.

6. Maximizing Value: Getting the most bang for your buck and optimizing performance are essential components to turning a profit. Efficiency requires intentionality. Past efforts should be regularly evaluated for opportunities for improvement. The constant pursuit of excellence means you are never done getting better.

5. Differentiating Yourself: In a world abundant with options, finding your forte is imperative to setting yourself apart. While employers want to know that you have common skills to get the job done, they are also looking for your edge. That is what makes you marketable. Discovering this talent requires intention.

4. Following Through: Doing what you said you were going to do when you said you would do it should not be an outstanding quality. It should be a minimum expectation. Part of this goes back to No. 9: Is everyone clear about the task at hand? The other part is just doing it. Being dependable is so important; it’s almost impossible to collaborate and accept more responsibility without having this trait.

Schemmer Applause3. Accepting Compliments: Graciously acknowledging positive feedback can be tricky for those of us who grew up in the Midwest where humility is commended. I don’t know why people are awkward when receiving compliments, but I’ve seen it too many times to count. When someone goes out of their way to recognize you for anything, say thank you. Don’t downplay it or dismiss it. They wouldn’t have said anything that wasn’t true and arguing can send the wrong message.

2. Accepting Criticism: Even harder than accepting positive feedback is negative comments. Criticism shouldn’t come with humiliation, but it often does. Instead of looking at it as something you are personally lacking, perhaps consider why the person is providing feedback in the first place. It isn’t because they are mean or want you to feel bad. It is because they see potential and want you to reach it. This skill takes practice because it doesn’t always come naturally. Giving constructive criticism is also an important skill to learn, but that’s a topic for another post.

And the No. 1 Thing Architecture Graduates Should Know is … Trust Your Intuition: We were all born with it. Experience and insecurity have taught us to doubt it. The fear of failing can be debilitating. Remember No. 10? However, overcoming uncertainty and courageously pursuing what you feel is right is rewarding regardless of the outcome. Confidence and victory go hand in hand.

Whether they should be taught explicitly at universities or not, there are skills architecture graduates need to know to successfully contribute to the workplace. There are some key themes that are repeated throughout the list:

  • intentionality,
  • consistency, and
  • bravery.

Growing Professionally

If we aren’t uncomfortable at some point in the journey, are we really trying? Defining goals and benchmarks provides a guide for making decisions. At the end of the day, experience is the best teacher.

The next best strategy is to enlist a mentor who can advise and help navigate development. Schemmer has implemented strategies to help their professionals grow the skills necessary to be effective in their roles. Schemmer fosters a learning environment and supports continuing education.

Liz Meyer - Schemmer Designer and Blog Author

Liz Meyer - Schemmer

Liz Meyer

With a passion for architecture and writing, Schemmer's Liz Meyer started contributing 18 months ago on Blueprint South Dakota, a blogging outlet for architects in South Dakota. As a child, the houses she drew on her chalkboard were drawn in section, and her Lego houses had working dumbwaiters. Her parents knew early on that she was destined for design.

Since graduating with a Master of Architecture from Kansas State in 2012, Liz has gained experience from a variety of fields within the building industry. From drafting at a metal building manufacturer to working at architecture firms to assisting a real estate broker/developer, she has always had a passion for influencing the built environment.

As a designer at Schemmer, Liz enjoys learning new things and refining her skills with help from other licensed professionals. She is pursuing an architectural license and hopes to continue to shape the spaces and places around her in a positive way.

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