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Exposed: Why Getting Real World Experience Early On Is Critical

When we begin our journey into architecture, interior architecture, or interior design, we have all of these amazing visions and are able to freely execute most of them within the framework of the studios. The studio is fast paced, exciting, so much fun, soul crushing, trying, eye-opening, and much more all at once. It's honestly amazing. Although it's collaborative in nature, the projects we work on are solely ours. From start to finish, we are responsible for every detail in the building. This is studio. In the real world however, it is nothing like that. We never really work alone and an entire building is not solely on us because it's an extreme amount of work. No matter how sweet we think we are, some things are out of our scope of work to the point where we will need to rely on others who know much more about a particular area. Getting a feel for how things work in firms early on is critical to our success and will bring our expectations of how it will be in the real world to a new standard.

Over the past two years, I've been working endlessly in classes and studios in a fantasy of some sorts. I love the challenge of taking on an entire building but I knew this couldn't possibly be how it worked outside of the classroom. In fact, as we progressed as students, our professors would begin laying the groundwork that we wouldn't be working alone on the "outside". They're absolutely correct and now from experience, I can say with clarity that the earlier we can gain experience the working conditions of the architectural field, the better.

No matter how sweet we think we are, we will need to rely on others who know much more about a particular area.

I was blessed with an opportunity to work on a developing senior living home project located in the Central District of Seattle this past month. The pace was intense and the instructions were minimum, similar to how it is in studios. I was on my "own" but not really. While I was working, others were working on the same project. The file I would close would be reopened the next day with new information; structural engineers, other architects, the marketing team, the interiors team, the lighting engineers, the landscape architects, etc. There are so many hands that must touch a building before it is complete. This put me at awe.

Of course, we may be aware there are a lot of people involved but we don't truly understand how many people until that exposure happens. Going back to studio in the fall of this year and my schooling career going forward will have a different meaning than it ever has before. My eyes and worldview have expanded. For us students, it's critical we connect and build relationships with others who we'll be working with in the future. Get in touch with as many people in other fields as possible, ask to help on projects, and build those relationships. It will help tremendously in the future and the knowledge/confidence we gain is priceless.

I'm glad I am able to share these experiences/lessons and hopefully they'll help someone in the future. Excited to share even more as I head into the BA program in the Fall. Join me on my journey @thesoulfuldesigner on Instagram. With love, see y'all next time!

Are you an interior design or architecture student? Are you a design professional? Have something to add? Let's connect!


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