Considered working as an Architect? This interview will take you through the ups and downs you can expect in the position, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn and more. This is a true career story as told to ‘ street smart’ – a collection of true work-life stories told by members of minority groups, from a quality control monitor to an associate teacher, and everything in between.

What is your job title? How many years of experience do you have in that field?

I am an Architect; I have worked for almost two years in this field.

Would you describe what you do on a typical day?

I update architectural design and structural changes on architectural plans, and work in architectural models of the projects in the office I work in.

What is your ethnicity? What kinds of discrimination have you experienced?

I am mixed race, I haven’t experienced any discrimination because of that.

Where you work, how well does your company do ‘equal opportunity’? Is management white and male? How are minorities perceived and treated?

The manager is female and white, she doesn’t have any problems about minorities but racial features are similar in most of the employees. The same racial features seem to prevail.

What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?

To have a more international vision. I feel like schools are still sometimes underestimating the fact that many of us have to work not only with people from other cultural backgrounds, but also with people who live in other countries. A lot of us are not prepared for that!.

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

Architecture is what I wanted to do since I was just a child. I can’t picture myself doing anything else.

If I could go back and do something differently, I would have negotiated my salary more carefully. Sometimes, people are just too eager to find a job that they like that they simply underestimate other factors. I am not saying that money matters more than liking your job; just be sure that you don’t underestimate factors like your salary, the hours you have to dedicate, et cetera.

On a good day, when things are going well, can you give an example of something that really makes you feel good?

When my ideas are considered good by others! In architecture and design, here are lots of things that are subjective so what some people might like might still be considered a terrible idea by others. But when an Architect who is more experienced than I am approves my ideas, this gives me confidence!.

When nothing seems to go right, what kind of snafus do you handle and what do you dislike the most?

When I do the same work over and over, due to uncertainty in the projects. I just don’t like the feeling, because I start thinking that I am somehow just wasting time.  I like to think that my time and effort are useful.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?

I think it is as stressful as I allow it to be, at the moment I don’t feel stressed and have a healthy life. Most of the days, I am out of the office at the time that I am supposed to no excessive workload), so I am able to dedicate the rest of my day to other activities.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What would it take to increase that rating?

I think I would rate it as a 7, I would like to have more flexibility in some aspects at work. Of course, doing what you have always wanted to do is an important factor in feeling satisfied, so I can’t really complain about that aspect.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough considering your responsibilities?

I am paid less than the average Architect with two years of experience makes. Considering both my responsibilities and the importance of the project I am working on, I think that I am severely underpaid.

The average for young architects varies, depending on the importance and size of the projects they develop, their skills and their responsibilities.

What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?

I like it when I receive compliments for my work and I am very proud of a very complex architectural model that I made on a low budget and a really tight deadline.

What’s the most challenging moment you’ve experienced?  What would you prefer to forget?

Completing an architectural model on time was very challenging! Especially because of the low budget that I had. I would prefer to forget some stuff I had to do that had nothing to do with my job duties, such as cleaning or organizing the office.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

You need a degree in Architecture, skills on using computers and drawing programs and some design skills. In addition, you really need to have an eye for detail and learn to tolerate and overcome frustrations. Subjectivity plays an important role in architecture, so you will need to be able to translate your ideas into models that people understand, and get used to the fact that not everyone is going to like or even understand your ideas all the time.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

That he or she should really enjoy it because it is a very demanding line of work. This job belongs to that category in which, if you don’t really enjoy what you are doing, you better start looking somewhere else! Architecture is not exactly a career path that is easy to do if you are not passionate about it.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

I get just a few days a year, which is not enough at all. I think that I would be happier and much more productive if I got some more days.

Are there any common myths you want to correct about what you do?

Most myths about architecture have some truth in them but, at the same time, most of them are exaggerated. For example, a lot of people seem to think that architects are designers and decorators as well. While some architects choose to orient their career paths to those areas,  most of us don’t.

Does this job move your heart? If not, what does?

It does, sometimes, but mostly it makes me feel I’m doing something useful.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

I want to working in a major architectural firm in another country. I would like to work in a city and country that are known for their innovation. Maybe I would choose from  cities like New York, London or Montreal, where It would be possible to develop more ideas that are completely new and ground-breaking.

Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

I think that architecture is very influenced by the situations and characteristics of each city and country. For example, architects in London go through different situations than those who live and work in Ohio, just to name an example.  So experiences would probably vary a lot depending on the location.