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Monday, February 21, 2011

The Next Chapter

I have been somewhat of a dead-beat blogger lately. Well...I've been a little preoccupied...

I am now 6 months pregnant and expecting a baby GIRL in May! I couldn't be happier about starting my family at this time in my life. My husband and I just felt that this was the right time for us - and the right time is because we're ready and didn't want to wait any longer! Of course we could always come up with an excuse to put off having kids for a while but when we projected out on those terms, we were afraid would never feel ready. Our careers are never going to stop, open a window, and spell out now is your time. If we wait for this thing I've heard people refer to as financial security, well then it would probably be beyond scientifically possible for us to have children! So now is the time.

The next big question is how will I manage being a new mother and juggle a new career? I'm confident that I'll be able to manage it. I expect there will be difficulties along the way, but I'm prepared. In some respects, I feel like all those years of architecture school may have given me the self-discipline I'll need to tackle this next part of my life! Maybe the sleep deprivation I suffered through 7 years of college was better training for being a new parent than being an architect? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Commence Countdown...

This week I received a letter from the state of Kansas saying that I have been approved to begin taking the A.R.E. What have I gotten myself into? It’s all becoming so REAL now!

I don’t even know where to begin. However, now that I have some sort of deadline (5 years out) I am hoping I’ll be able to stay motivated and get ALL 7 of those tests out of the way sooner rather than later. Here's hoping.

Any advice on where to begin and what to expect is welcome.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Grass Is Always Greener...

I’ll admit it. I don’t think I have the same drive and work ethic that I used to. At least it seems like I may have lost some steam over the past few years.

Once upon a time I was one of the students who had passion and worked as many hours as it took to get a project completed to my liking. Then somewhere around my 6th year of college, which translates to my 4th year of architecture school, I started to lose that drive for success and was satisfied with good enough. I was no longer willing to stay up all hours of the night, multiple nights in a row to have a great project. There was a timer in my brain that said: if it is not done by 1:00 a.m. then it’s not going to get done. It was simple. It was black and white with no gray area. I like to believe that this happened simply because I was burned out, not because I lost my passion for design and success. When this phase came over me I would reason with myself saying that it will be different in the future when I’m actually getting paid for this or at least on the job I won’t have to worry about classes other than my studio

Here I am now. Slightly past one year out of school, creating more excuses as to why I shouldn’t have to work more than 40-45 hours per week and always being satisfied with work that is good enough. Only now the reasoning goes something like: it would be different if I actually got paid a decent salary or it would be different if I actually had some say in the work I’m doing

This is my wake-up call. In all aspects of life it seems like we’re always saying the grass is always greener on the other side instead of being present and making the most of our current opportunities. Well I am going to start applying that into my work life and attempt to regain some of that lost passion and ambition. There will always be a lame reason not to do something. I figure that some of my reasons for not wanting to go the extra mile in my work aren’t completely ridiculous but at the same time I need to just suck it up and make the most of where I am at right now. Hopefully this will help me to see the grass as a beautiful shade of green everyday and my opportunities will expand.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Scapegoat

Do you ever think to yourself: “I can’t win for losing”? Unfortunately this thought crosses my mind too frequently on the job. As the least experienced designer in the office I feel like I am the scapegoat for any and everyone. Something modeled wrong? The intern probably did it. Something was noted incorrectly? The intern probably did it. Somebody said the wrong thing at the wrong time? Intern.

I get it. The odds are in my favor…or should I say not in my favor that I would be the one to make mistakes due to my lack of experience. However that’s not always the case. I feel like because of my inexperience I am more thorough in my work in fear of incompetence. Hence, you can’t win for losing. I’m beginning to think that my real lack of experience is in bullshit (pardon my French). Sometimes it seems like the more experienced designers and architects have just mastered the art of bullshit (pardon). They know more than me in general, yes, but how much? I’m starting to believe that they just have a better poker face than me.Should I practice poker in order to further my career?

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Today was a GREAT day! I passed the LEED AP BD+C exam! I am so relieved to have both the Green Associate exam and AP exam passed and off my shoulders! At the risk of gloating, I'm really proud that I passed both on my first attempt. I did study my ass off though, so it's not like I can claim it was an easy feat. In fact when my exam time ended and my heart was beating out of my chest as I awaited the final results, I was certain that it was going to tell me FAIL. I barely finished answering the 100 questions in the 2 hour time frame. I had noticed that my timing was poor around 45 minutes into the exam and started panicking. I knew that I had to speed up and we all know how that can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to test taking! However it when it came down to it, I was well prepared and I knew in my mind that I knew the answers. So I calmed myself down as much as I could while still trying to go through the questions much faster and I tried to think like those tricky bastards from the GBCI that write the exam.
My advice for future LEED APs: carefully read the questions and keep in mind that the questions are written very specifically and can easily be misread if you're not alert. The GBCI/USGBC has no qualms about writing precarious questions.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's Not Saving Lives...

I am extremely grateful that I have been given the opportunities to work on the projects that I have worked on and that my colleagues have put trust in me and my ability to do the work. However I often wonder when will I have the confidence to do any of this without fear of jacking something up? I can say that I am definitely more confident in my abilities now than I was 3 years ago when I began my first internship, but some days I still feel absolutely clueless. I wish there was there was an easy button that I could push that would automatically enlighten me. Unfortunately I’m starting to realize that in architecture, no two projects are alike. Each project offers new scenarios and issues that we all must address and solve on a continual basis ranging from unforeseen site conditions to budget issues.

With that said, I am getting pretty far in completing my IDP hours and am struggling to get experience in a few categories. Last week I invited myself to go to a subcontractor meeting on site of a project that I had worked on with my coworker. I felt rude at first for inviting myself but came to realize there’s no other way to get the experience. Nobody else is going to invite me along because they’re not thinking about my career and experience as much as I am. Why should they? They have their own careers and matters to worry about. It turned out to be a great learning experience for me and my coworker was happy to bring me along. It just proved to me that I need to be proactive to get things accomplished.

I am still curious as to how I’m going to gain all the necessary experience before becoming a fully licensed architect? I’ll probably be asking myself ‘when will I know it all?’ when I retire too!

For now I’ll put my mind to rest knowing that it’s not saving lives, it’s just architecture.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Building A Network

Last week I participated in a social networking event sponsored by AIA KS and Emerging Professionals. I was one of seven people to present a Pecha Kucha style presentation on “What Inspires Me”. The presenters represented all levels in the profession so there was a student, a recent grad (me), some recently licensed architects, and some nearing retirement. When this opportunity first presented itself to me, I immediately thought Hell No! Why would I put myself through the agony of speaking in front of a bunch of professionals of whom I don’t even know? As time passed and I found out that they needed one more presenter with approximately my level of experience I reconsidered the idea and decided to go for it…and I am so glad that I did!

This was a great opportunity for me to challenge myself and branch out and meet other professionals in my area. I really don’t know anyone in Kansas besides my coworkers and the few friends that I graduated with that still live nearby. This event allowed me to meet some great people who work at other firms in the same area as me. It also gave me the opportunity to give a public presentation while I am still somewhat familiar with how to speak in front of people! Trust me when I say I do not particularly enjoy giving speeches or presentations. I am quiet and shy and I can get very nervous. However, I feel that it’s a great skill to have and a skill that will get you far in this profession if you can pull it off. Considering this presentation was diligently structured by the Pecha Kucha style (20 slides, 20 seconds per slide) I figured I could handle the 6 minute-40 second ordeal. So I did and it was actually a lot of fun!

Here is a small sample of things I spoke about during my presentation that represent “What Inspires Me”:

Downtown Lawrence and the Lawrence Community.

Blogs, blogs, blogs!!!

Bruce Mau and Philippe Starck, two fascinating and brilliant designers.

Children and volunteer work.

The Earth and sustainable practices.

The creative process of movie production, especially Tim Burton's films!

Anyone care to share with me what inspires them?