The Adaptable Architect

I didn’t always know I wanted to be an architect.  I, like most children, had many dreams growing up.   However, if one were to analyze what I did during play time it screamed architect.  Yes, I played with the clichéd Legos but also incorporated my love of mixed materials by adding a splash of Lincoln Logs.  I was always building forts out of whatever was around from pillows to snow, but my true love was Barbie.  Hours and hours were spent creating worlds of fashion and drama in addition to creating spaces for her and her friends to live, work and play.

In my current state of under-employment, I have more free time on my hands than I have been used to in my adult life.  When I am not working my retail job I am sending out resumes, networking, tending to all my AIA responsibilities, volunteering and trying to remain optimistic, but every week I have some unaccounted-for hours.  It got me thinking about how I would have filled that time all those years ago with Barbie.  But Barbie is a different girl than she was in the 1980’s.  She is no longer just an aerobics instructor, nurse or stewardess.  She is a United States President, Sea World Trainer, Make-up Artist or Canadian Mountie (only available in Canada).  In 52 years she has had more than 125 careers a­nd in 2011 she also became an Architect.  I’d rather not spend a lot of time discussing my issues with her outfit and accessories but start focusing about the bigger picture.  Even though I might not have 125 occupations in my life, my generation does change jobs quite often with an average of 4 years at each job.  But does that also include career changes?   Should I be thanking the economy for making it so difficult to get an architecture job that I am considering changing professions and helping that statistic (said sarcastically)?  Do I need to become more well-rounded like Barbie?

With the economy being what it is, life has become difficult not only for my bank account but for my ego as well.   I’ve begun to think that maybe I should give up on the architecture profession since sometimes it feels like it has given up on me.  There might come a point when I can no longer keep wishing and hoping for an interview or a call saying, “I got the job.”  If that time does come, I believe I can take a lesson from Barbie; my job doesn’t necessarily define who I am.  Just because I might become a cat burglar, NASCAR driver or paleontologist like her, I will never give up being an architect because it is who I am and how I think.  It is how I approach problems and how I see the world.  My next career might give me an opportunity to grow as a person while applying what I learned in school and in the work force to whole new set of problems.

Maybe for Barbie’s next career she can become the Adaptable Architect, who might not have a hard hat but have many different hats and always wear a large amount of black.

-Cynthia Fishman, Assoc. AIA, 2012 AIA Colorado Associate Director-Elect

2 thoughts on “The Adaptable Architect

  1. You took words out of my mouth. When I lost my job, I found myself re-analyzing whom I was without this industry related job. I actually considered going through the app process at Johnson & Whales and take a very different path. Still masochistic, not well paid, but with a lot of passion and drive… after all, people always have to eat and no bank loan is required. However, as I tried to re-define my sense of purpose, I came full circle. Perhaps, I will not hold the “typical” architectural position again. I have held several odd jobs here and there to make ends meet, but along the way my thought process & problems solving skills go back to what I learned in architecture school. And no matter what the task, there’s always room for creativity.
    No one can take the architect out of me. It is a lifestyle. It is in my blood. I own a few black turtlenecks, designer frames & carry my own pens (black, red & orange highlighter + measuring tape in the car) as I cannot stand the thought of having to write with a Bic ball point pen. Yep, perhaps the profession may no be embracing me at the moment, but I will never let it go.

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