When you’re in the early stages of career planning, everything can be a bit overwhelming – there’s just so much to choose from. Sure, you can list a few things you might like to do, but how do you know if your career choice is right for you? Specifically, if you’ve got your eye on building design, how do you know if you’d make a good architect?
The most important thing you’ll need is passion. Not natural talent, not construction experience, not computer know-how, but passion. Architecture is a skill, and like any other skill, it has to be honed through hundreds of hours of hard work. No matter how talented a student may be, if he or she gets frustrated and gives up at the first stumbling block, then he or she will never be an architect. Any person with enough passion and motivation to put in those extra hours perfecting every project, learn from his mistakes and seek help and advice when he needs it is on the right track to becoming a success. You’re going to be looking at architecture and thinking about architecture all day, every day – if you’re the kind of person who already does that, being an architect will barely feel like a job at all.
Another surprising thing you’ll need to become an architect is teamwork. Architecture is not an art to be practiced in solitude at the local Starbucks; architects most often work in teams to get a project done, and collaboration is crucial. If you’re the kind of person who can take charge when you need to and also let others lead when the time is right, you’ll have much greater success as an architect than someone who prefers to go it alone.
On a very similar note, a good architect must also be a master of listening and persuading. You’re going to be working with clients, and facing all the challenges that come with it. They’ll want this, that and another thing for their new building, and you’ll need to be able to take their needs into account while coming up with a design that will be functional and within budget. So whether you’re persuading clients to choose your firm for their contract or convincing a client that drawbridge is not a sensible addition to an office building, you’ll need to have sharp people skills if you’re going to do well as an architect.
Something else that any good architect requires is a devotion to organization and perfection. Yes, in an ideal world you would focus on one building at a time and see the entire thing through to completion, but in reality, you’ll probably be responsible for small parts of a variety of projects, all at once. Being able to keep everything straight is a must. Likewise, perfectionism is to the advantage of an architect. You’re designing buildings made from thousands of pounds of concrete, steel, glass and wood. Not only do they need to be functional, but they need to withstand their environment and look pleasing to boot; being the type of person who checks and double-checks everything will prevent you from making any costly mistakes.
Of course, there is some technical and artistic knowledge you’ll need. If you’re the kind of person who like to dabble in everything, particularly art, physics, history and computers – you’ll find it easy to integrate your interdisciplinary interests in a career in architecture. Architects need to draw on a broad range of background information, so if you’ve got the knowledge and the passion for designing fine structures, there’s a good chance that architecture is the career path for you.