Should I study Architecture?

Artwork photographed on the walls of Central London, Artist unknown.

If you are are thinking about studying Architecture, this post is for you. Before stepping into any solid 7+ years career path, there is a very important question that needs to be asked and explored. And for aspiring Architects, that question is why do you want to become an Architect?

Deciding your career path is a big decision, and often not well-informed, particularly for those who don't know any professionals within their chosen field and therefore have no familiarity with the industry. So the answer to the above question can be particularly difficult to answer.

But, don't worry, there are things you can do to help yourself make a more informed decision.

The question to pursuing any job, is understanding what the role will entail once you enter the professional world. I recently listened to an interesting podcast where Grace Lordan, an Economist and the author of 'Think Big' was interviewed about the Science behind Career Success. In this interview she talks about the need to understand what day to day task you should be expecting in the career path you choose to evaluate if this is a career you will actually enjoy. Many pursue their dream job due to the prestige or image associated with it and don't grasp the realities of the professional world.

So how do you go about this?

1. Finding work experience – yes this is a pretty obvious one, but it is of course the best method for understanding the day to day tasks within the Architecture field. Work experience at 16/17 years of age is less about working at an architecture practice and more about observing architects in their natural habitat. Asking a practice for a couple days of experience/observation time isn't a huge ask and would be plenty to give you some insight into the field and a good opportunity to build connections for the future. Research a few local practices you like the look of, give them a call and request work experience. If this proves difficult, you could simply ask for an hour of their time where you can pop by and ask them questions about what they do.

2. Social Media – You will find most practices are live and kicking on social media; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, YouTube. Get in and follow, follow, follow. The information available online is gold these days. So many practices or their employees often post about what they are up to, what projects they are working on, share photos of live projects in construction – its all there, you just need to scroll. Many practices also have their own blogs on their websites where they post recent events. It will really give you a good comprehension of the industry and is also a great platform where you can connect with architects. Many universities also have dedicated social media platforms for their architecture departments, this could give you some perspective into the lives of architecture students through out their degrees/masters.

3. Find a Mentor - A mentor is a great way to find out the realities of your future career path, usually it would be someone already or nearly qualified in the profession and someone you could ask all your questions or discuss your concerns.  There are many ways of going about getting a mentor, one which I am familiar with, and an organisation I am apart of, is the Arts Emergency charity. They work with young people interested in pursuing arts and humanities subjects and can be a great resource to put yourself in contact with someone who could potentially become your mentor.

Another key question before making your decision, is what is the actual process to qualify. You can read about the conventional route to qualify on the RIBA website here, and the apprenticeship route here. Qualifying as an Architect is a fairly long commitment and does not come with any shortcuts unfortunately, and reading about the routes to qualifying can help you prepare for the process before you take the leap.

I hope you found the above helpful.