To the Class of 2014...
To architecture’s graduating class of 2014:
Twenty-nine years ago I sat in your seat. My graduation was a blur. I was tired and excited, and my head was spinning. I want you to do something right now that you won’t regret. Take a moment to take it all in. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Look around. Remember this moment. Share it with your neighbor. The people sitting next to you will be lifelong friends, or future business partners, or even future clients.
Where will you be in 29 years? Who will you be? Will you be a sole practitioner or working in a large international firm? Will you practice traditional architecture or branch out into a related field? Whatever you choose to do, I challenge you to make a difference. Today – more than at any time in our history – architecture has the power to elevate the quality of life of every person on this planet. So go make a difference in the world.
In thinking back over the last 29 years, I found that there were three pieces of advice that best reflected the state of this profession today and the opportunities you have to carry us into tomorrow:
- Start your professional network NOW. Leadership and success in this profession don’t happen overnight and certainly not in a vacuum. The professional organizations supporting our practices provide a vehicle by which to grow. Whether you participate locally, regionally, or nationally, there are myriad programs and resources to help you meet your career goals — so many that you could not possibly participate in all of them. Being a leader in your professional network will help you hone your communication skills, meet future employers, clients, colleagues, and provide the support you need to become a well-rounded practitioner.
- Never stop learning, and embrace reinvention. Architecture is a mentoring profession. It always has been and it always will be. It’s in a state of perpetual motion, powered by a hunger for new ideas. For an architect, learning never stops. It’s what attracted us all to the profession in the first place. Why do you think that each and every one of you sitting out there today spent endless hours in studio until two, three, four in the morning (or perhaps even all night long) lovingly crafting your project until it was ready for presentation? Because with every turn you took in design, it taught you something. It’s a big part of why your project is your baby. Why you’re so proud of it. Hold onto that passion for learning throughout your career.
- Strive for balance. I believe that happiness plays a big role in a successful practice. To achieve it, you must strike a healthy balance between your professional and personal lives. There will be moments in your career where the demands of your practice will seem to take over your life. But it’s the support of your friends and family that will get you through the challenging times. And for those young women out there, ready to embark on a power career in architecture, you can have both a fulfilling family life and extraordinary career. I did it, and so can you. Start by thanking those that helped you get here: your parents, friends and family who are so proud of you and sharing in this great day.
In closing, I welcome you to this prestigious, well-respected profession. As an architect, you have a great responsibility to shape our cities, our neighborhoods and our lives. You are the future of our built environment, and you have been equipped with the best education in the world to do that job.
Congratulations to the class of 2014. You should be very, very proud of yourselves, and I wish you the best of luck as you embark on this incredible journey!