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American B. Arch and a European M. Sc... what next?

Pandekage

Typing this at 6am with some soul searching... just wanted to get some feedback on what doors are open for me with my slightly unusual (and perhaps redundant) educational background, as follows:

B. Arch from California ('09-'14), M. Sc. from Germany ('16-'19)

Besides slight disillusionment at the salary drop ($50k in '14 to €36k in '19) and starting over from square one I'm also rethinking kicking myself at my wild dreams of a jetsetting architect that were the impetus for my EU masters. Our field is pretty static. But anyways, given that there is some globalization I'm hopeful I can utilize my background into a promising career path. (as a former intern at Gensler SF I'm eyeing Gensler Munich) If anyone has international experiences, perhaps on the US and European sides, could you give some insights and advice in my situation?

 
Dec 23, 19 10:05 am
molten

I recognized your story from past posts -  it seems from those (and this one) that you are a bit lost. I certainly can relate to feelings of wanderlust, wanting to be/work in Europe, etc. I never ended up pursuing it, which I sort of regretted for a while until I realized that the only reason I had the desire was because I was trying to run away from my life/problems. I guess my question for you is whether you truly want to work overseas long-term? I have friends who have taken a similar path to you and have really loved it, without any regrets or second thoughts. Many HAD to come back due to visa/financial reasons and would return in a heartbeat. I suspect that if I had taken that path, I would have found myself feeling unfulfilled, but that's just because I wanted to run away from my problems. I don't know the core of your desire to be in Europe, maybe figuring that out will help give you some clarity.

To be in a foreign country is an obvious sacrifice - away from family, friends, etc. I guess you just have to figure out what type of life you would ultimately like to have in that regard. 

Edit: Just my two cents - hope this helps.

Dec 23, 19 4:41 pm  · 
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Pandekage

Reasoning was partly having massive wanderlust and wanting to travel/experience architecture from different cultural lenses, and partly as a resume differentiator. (Which is probably not really unique) You hit the nail on the head about missing family and friends, and also the idea that one can really only practice architecture in one place - once I get deep into working in Germany (and learn the code, practices etc.) it's hard to change direction. So I guess the main question is if a career path in architecture is possible that is geographically/locationally flexible and allows for travel and or relocation.

Dec 24, 19 8:18 pm  · 
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apkouv

Which school did you attend in Germany and why did it take you 3 years to graduate from the Masters?

Dec 23, 19 7:49 pm  · 
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Pandekage

A TU in a large city
, actually 5 semesters because of a scheduling error on my part.

Dec 24, 19 8:12 pm  · 
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apkouv

Did you have issues finding work because of graduating later than normal?

Dec 25, 19 5:32 pm  · 
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Pandekage

No.. I had worked part time at an office during my studies so it was understandable (and that office took me on full time after graduating anyway). My next (current) job didn't ask about that at all.

Dec 25, 19 6:23 pm  · 
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justavisual

I have a similar background BArch USA and MSc from a TU, but I fail to see why you want to work at Gensler after all that education? Go and find some nice fun small offices and save the multi-nationals for when you're older (45-50+). Or find an office working on USA based projects from the EU? 

You need to decide what country you want to work in - and stick to it- get licensed and get a residency permit/passport. Jumping around is fine when you're young (under 30/35) but after that you're just missing out on career progression and lacking a proper network/foundation in the field. Contacts are important...

How's your German? If it isn't fluent you will have issues working in the country long term...

Dec 29, 19 9:40 am  · 
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Pandekage

Hey thanks for the reply. I guess primarily it's a feeling that my M.Sc. is redundant given that the B.Arch is already five years, and given that I'm considering moving back to the US long term (where my friends and family are) I'm thinking about how I can best leverage my EU experience in an American context, and vice versa. Pondering about Gensler as it's an American firm with a presence in Munich, and thus a possibility to continue working in both contexts, etc.

Given that your educational background is so similar to mine, could you perhaps elaborate as to the rationale behind it? (for me it was purely wanderlust, admittedly) And what career paths have opened up to you, and what your future plans are. Are you building your career in Germany, thanks to the M.Sc, or working towards US licensure? Or both?

Dec 29, 19 9:34 pm  · 
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justavisual

I don't think further education is redundant - after all you finished it. A lot of people do an March after BArch in the states as well...

If you feel like moving back to the USA, then you should do that (and before the next recession hits!). Working for a few years in Germany will not help you with this...unless you wanna have a fun 1 year in Berlin or something...

I graduated into the last big recession and frankly there weren't many fun things to work on...so I decided to go back to school (EU was way cheaper) and I did an MSc in Landscape Arch. This gives me two titles now in the Netherlands (BArch transferred, recognized as MSc equivalent, and the second MSc. I never finished my hours in the USA, and NCARB won't let me use anymore from the EU. So its all on hold and pay the $80 fee each year to hold my record open. But really...I won't go back anytime. I could try to take the exams in London, but why...I have no need to be licensed where I dont live. 

I worked for 7+ years after graduation, and 4 between the two degrees. Now I run my own company with my partner. 

Dec 30, 19 11:13 am  · 
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justavisual

The second degree opened up a new trajectory, but it required sticking to one city and making the decision to be an expat...I could go back to the states anytime now...but I wouldn't know anything about local codes etc...only about design. So you need to be critical with your decisions.

Dec 30, 19 11:24 am  · 
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midlander

you're overthinking this. at a junior level your particular experience doesn't matter as much as the quality of projects and reputation of the office where you work. if you want to make a career of it, your contacts and professional network matter a lot - and they will be focused where you live.


pick a place you want to live where there are good jobs available and work there. later other opportunities will inevitably come up and you'll have the chance to take them. it isn't necessary to figure out how to tie this all together - you'll figure out in retrospect how your experience in DE influenced your career.


if at some point in the future you choose to move, you'll have that possibility provided your work experience is good and the market supports it.


fwiw i used to work for a german architect who studied in america and ended up running an office there. despite having no local experience there he eventually had opportunities to work on projects in germany and ended up opening an office there too, based only on his reputation in america at an american firm.

Dec 30, 19 5:24 am  · 
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elena10

Hi all! A couple years late to this chat, but I am looking at M Arch abroad, having received a BS in Architecture in the states beforehand.. How difficult would it be for me to return to work in the states afterward (should I wish to)? Would eventual accreditation be possible? I've read some on NCARB Foreign Architect Path... 

May 5, 21 3:45 pm  · 
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justavisual

Is the BS NCARB accredited? Ie can you get licensed with it? If not dont do an MArch in Europe... unless you have a passport and plan to stay long term. Its not worth all the hassle and uncertainty. You cant become a registered architect upon graduation anymore in most places you need 2 years of working experience. An MArch lets you stay 1 year after graduation to work...so you'll never get licensed in the EU and be able to transfer it without the passport.

May 6, 21 5:25 am  · 
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justavisual

unless you get an office to sponsor your visa (rare)

May 6, 21 8:41 am  · 
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elena10

Luckily I am a dual citizen, Italy and US. But My BS is a pre-professional, NCARB accredited program. It does require a masters for eventual licensing... I'm just worried about transfer equivalencies in terms of coursework etc.

May 6, 21 9:21 am  · 
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justavisual

There are no guarantees. You can ask NCARB which foreign degrees they recognized so far. But the amount of required credit hours for an MSc is standardized across Europe. There are also schools like the Academy in Amsterdam where you can study and work at the same time (4 year degree).

May 6, 21 9:53 am  · 
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