M.Arch in a strange land

Musings on the successes and failures of a graduate architecture student.



Jun '12 - Sep '12

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    Week 67

    Ryan Panos
    Aug 20, '12 2:53 AM EST

    New York is about 5,000 kilometres from Vancouver, not an incredibly long distance, there are further distances across the globe, it’s about a 5 hour plane trip. Yet for someone who wants to make architecture and design their career or life’s work, the distance to NYC can be a bit more relative. New York has a number of architectural institutions which are looked at from all over the world, some of the best schools and firms are positioned in New York. Culturally and socially it is definitely a city that other cites try to resemble, it has celebrities, sports figures, politicians and designers, museums, consumerism, and Saturday Night Live. I am a huge fan of SNL.

    It is no secret that many young designers feel the pull of NYC, a place to be able to test ideas and work to an utmost of potential. I am certainly not the first student to feel the allure, nor will I be the last. However right now it feels so much further than 5 hours away, but I am working on closing the gap.

    It is the easiest (and deservedly so) thing in the world to take a break after you graduate from architecture school, to take a month or so and ease back into a more structured life. I find people are usually not in so much of a hurry to start working at a firm; after all you have the rest of your life to work. It is important to reconnect with people and do all of the things that you can never do with studio deadlines looming, then after a few months to take a job with a local firm, who does ok work, not the most exciting, but a challenge none-the-less, after all sometimes it can be a wonder at all to be employed in this profession. This is certainly a natural progression from students who I have seen. After all in the city you have studied in, you inevitably have a network set up, one that starts with professors then extends to their colleagues in the field. It can be difficult to pick up everything after graduation and move to an entirely new city. It would be much easier for me to stay in Vancouver, but I have never been one to take the easy route.

    Getting a portfolio done now (early) is one important aspect, too many times are portfolios left until April, and by then it is already too late. Asking your friends for the graciousness to put you up for a few days would certainly ease the burden. Deciding whether or not to take on too many T.A. jobs (again) so one is not incredibly broke at the end of the academic year will be another small step, tailoring your applications to the firms in NY that you would really want to work at, and talking to the right professors who can help you with the networking. All small but vital steps for a student about to enter is last year of architecture school, all these steps will certainly not guarantee anything but hopefully may just give an edge to a young man from Canada and maybe make the 5,000 kilometres not feel so far away.

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A week by week journal of the ups and downs of getting through a master of architecture program in Vancouver Canada.

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