Harvard Career Discovery


Has anyone attended or know anything about the Career Discovery Program at Harvard?

Jun 13, 07 3:11 pm

is this national j2h lurker coming out day?

...but no, i have nothing of value for you

Jun 13, 07 3:20 pm

Ha ha...totally! I am taking over archinect! lol....or maybe I'm just really bored???

Jun 13, 07 3:34 pm

yes, i spent a summer in the program.

Jun 13, 07 3:34 pm

jwillefo, what did you think of the program? Was it useful for you?

Jun 13, 07 3:35 pm

j2h, there is a lot of info about career disco in this website. do a search, it's there.

Jun 13, 07 4:05 pm

Being an individual that didn't have a background in design, I found CD to be very useful. The lectures were great, I made some good friends, and the majority of my portfolio for grad school reflected on my CD projects. It really allowed me to form a base understanding of how to approach thinking about design. So yeah, it was a great experience. Although I did the LA program, so the arch program might be a little different. Especially with there being 5 times as many kids in that program. And like most LA departments, the kids in LA were a lot happier and envied by the arch students ;-)

I couldn't think of a better way to enjoy a summer post-college.

Jun 13, 07 4:12 pm

I considered doing the Harvard Career Disco program a few years ago but decided against it once i did some further research. i had thought that Harvard professors would be teaching the class and that it would be a great way to get a top-notch architecture intro crash course in a great city at a great price. but that's incorrect, its just a money-maker for the school. the career disco program isnt taught by harvard professors, its taught by some third party company that uses Harvard's resources and impressed you with the name "Harvard." But that seemed to be its only merit. It is an expensive program. You dont get any sort of college credit, nor are you taught by legitimate professors. You are probably better off just taking some intro to architecture classes at a regular university during summer school, which is better because then u can apply the credits to your college degree.

also, i saw some of the work produced by Harvard Career Disco kids and it was naive and unimpressive.

However, if you are looking for a good excuse to go to what i hear is an awesome city (Cambridge/Boston area), and you have the cash, and you dont want college credit, and it doesnt bother you that your teachers are graduate students themselves, then enjoy!

Jun 22, 07 2:55 am

Actually, Career Discovery is taught by current and graduating GSD students. It's true they are not the faculty, but there is a very competative process that goes into selecting which students become the instructors. The professors, along with other prominant architects, landscape architects, and planners in the Boston are, do give letchers in the mornings and at night. You are also given access to use just about all the GSD facilities. An intro to architecture class would pale in comparison as to what you can learn or experience at CD. If you are looking to go into a masters program and don't have a BLA, then Career Discovery is definitely worth it. And yes, the $2,400 for the program might seem high, especially since you can't work during this time, but if you think about it, that's not that much for a 6 week full time program. Especially when you take into count the use of all Harvard libraries, museums, and facilities; the lectures, field trips, and the opportunity to meet faculty and professionals. There were even some people that got jobs through Career Discovery last year at some major firms. I have yet to meet a person who said it wasn't worth it. That includes heads of top programs who went there in the 80's.

Jun 22, 07 8:03 am


Your facts are incorrect. It is not taught by some "third party company" it is taught by typically senior graduate students there. I have been on many reviews and have been quite impressed what these first time students of architecture have produced.

The work may be what you call 'naive and unimpressive', but if I compare it to my first year work it is quite superior. Many of the students there had a similar wrap of ' I wanted to see what architecture school was like....or...what architecture is....or could be'. It is also a great place to start a portfolio, as stated above.

I believe there is still a series of lectures given by local archtiects. It changed each year, but some of the past have been Nadir Tehani, Brian Healy, Shelia Kennedy...and of course Toshiko Mori would probably be around at some point.

So if it is exposure to architecture and the rigor of architecture education, it is perfect. I can bet good money that if you are just starting in architecture, this is a much more complete overview to what it will be like compared to "taking some intro to architecture classes at a regular university'. College credits shouldn't be the only criteria you base this on.

Jun 22, 07 8:12 am

@Fixybopixy, although the program is taught by Harvard graduates not a third party program, I fully agree with your opinion as someone who attended the program. It definitely is a money-grab for Harvard, they accept students super quick and accept a lot of students (almost too many), they give you graduates from the program to teach you, most of which have 0 experience teaching, which makes your experience highly dependent on your instructor. It was generally fine for architects and landscape designers but DO NOT DO THIS PROGRAM if you want to test out urban planning. The advertising of the program is a complete lie, you go in thinking you'll be making models and talking about master plans when all they make you do is research and writing, very little design. Also the workshops and lectures are complete BS, the workshops are only an hour long, with many students and few instructors, very unprofessional and unorganized, very minimal one-on-one assistance, lectures that are inspirational, but irrelevant to any projects you might be working on, and most projects you work on don't even require the software you spend an hour trying to learn in their workshops. The head of the UPD program was rarely ever there and he cut his lecture short by like an hour and just left us. None of the actual Harvard faculty really care about whether you benefit or not from the program, they just want their money and that's that is the attitude I got. I felt they weren't giving me what I signed up and paid $5000+ as an international student and they did nothing. 

If you want the name Harvard on your CV then go for it, if you want an actual design experience that really helps you build a portfolio and improve your designs, find yourself anything else. 

Sep 25, 19 4:25 pm

I will limit my comments to the quality of Harvard grad students/ recent grads as applicable to this discussion.

They are idiots and have less than nothing to teach you about architecture since they themselves have no true knowledge on the subject.

Sep 25, 19 6:49 pm

archanonymous, same with urban planning and design, my instructor was an MDes major who forced us all to sit there and do research for hours on end to come up with narratives, there was very little design, very little help with design, and she had no clue what she was doing, not with her "teaching" nor with her knowledge. Being taught by PhD students at my actual uni sucked, let alone being taught by Master's graduates who really have 0 experience teaching and do not necessarily have a solid grasp of all the knowledge needed. They're also pretty rigid with stupid things and don't give you enough freedom to go explore your design philosophy and expand your portfolio. Setting aside the cool people I met at the program and the friends I made, it was a complete waste of time. 

Sep 26, 19 5:57 am

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