3 Career Skills I Learned As an Architecture Major

One of the most commonly mistaken questions I receive when I inform a friend that I am an Architecture major is the astounding generalization: “So you design buildings or something?” The general response would be, “Yes, I do design buildings,” but a response like that is one that would profoundly throw a shadow of injustice upon many famous architects, designers and artists of the past, present and future. Gustave Eiffel did not wake up one morning and decide he wanted to build the Eiffel tower. He, like the rest of the architects in this world, is an artist.  Artists —especially in today’s society—have an advantage in the job market because they possess the skills employers want.

Here are three skills architecture has helped me to expand.

1. Creativity

Since I was a child, I have always had a knack for creating elaborate stories of adventures through the blazing lava fields to the dark caverns where no man dare enter! (i.e. my living room of doom and death) However, I soon realized that while everyone around me is telling me to grow up, the opposite is asked of me by many of my professors and peers. It is this exact creativity that gave us majestic palaces from lost cities to the lavish temples.

The ability to imagine these palaces, temples, buildings and objects does not just happen in a mere second. It takes time, patience, trial and error and most of all, the balance between reality and a dream. The final product is the masterful buildings we all know of today: They are the vision of that artist’s creativity.

Nowadays, employers and clients want someone who can take their dreams and turn them into a reality. It is about giving people what they want without them even knowing what they truly wanted. The job market is changing, and I have to combat the change by creatively applying new strategies to solve the arising problems that pop up in life on a daily basis.

2. Detail-Oriented

Not everyone has an eye that notices the slightest shifts and changes, yet one of the many skills an architecture major must acquire is appreciation for the tiniest of details. This new lens has opened up a new world to me and has me questioning why certain things are done the way they are. (i.e. Why do I need to draw the toilet paper when designing my building?) I soon learned that, for one, it shows that you take pride in your work, yet it is also this detail that transforms a great work into a masterpiece. Businesses like people who pay attention to detail and can be both big picture thinkers while noticing the little pieces that create the big picture.

3. Design-Process

The design process is a six step process which a person uses to find solutions to problems and better design their product.

  • Define the Problem
  • Collect information
  • Brainstorm and analyze ideas
  • Develop solutions
  • Get Feedback from others
  • Improve your design

(And repeat all steps if necessary)

Also known as the thought process, this has grown to be a vital workflow for any major and concentration. People want to know what inspired you to write that book, create that sculpture or design that building the way you did. In class, I am told to document every step I take and to make multiple iterations. This is not done to annoy me or to make my life harder (though at times, it does drive me crazy), but it is to help me see what works and what does not work. It is a process of trial, error, and trial again which is absolutely essential for professional development.

Why does it matter?

At times, it is hard because between stress and feeling overwhelmed, we lose sight of those dreams we had when we first started. The skills listed above make me a better candidate for any job; in today’s job market people with creativity, attention to detail and process-based thinking are valued. It’s very hard to find people who have extraordinary creativity, since it is not something that can be taught. It takes not just talent, but discipline and diligence in perfecting that talent. The next time someone asks you what makes you qualified for that job, tell them your story of the skills you learned and how you can use them to further develop their business.