The beginning of the fall semester is quickly approaching, and prospective architecture students are gearing up for the beginning of their future careers. While the next step may seem daunting, the first year of your architecture education helps set the pace for the remaining four to five years. So it's important to get started on the right foot.
Architecture studios are notorious for long nights, intensive model-making and desks overflowing with trace paper and parti diagrams. But there is one important aspect of studio life that is too often neglected: the student-professor relationship.
Read on for the four steps to start investing in this unique relationship to set yourself up for success.
1. Be Present and On Time
As a first-year architecture student, you are not only starting the arduous journey to become an architect, you are also making the transition to student life in general. First and foremost, it is important to understand the commitment associated with making that transition successfully. The freedom that comes with being in college is difficult for some to handle. The only thing standing between you and your attendance in class is you. It should go without saying, but studio professors notice the effort that comes with being in class (and being in class on time). It may seem simple, but punctuality is the first step in fostering a positive relationship with your instructors.
2. Take the Initiative
After you make sure you've fine-tuned your schedule and attendance, the next step is a conversation. For most, it can be intimidating as a young student to talk with teachers and professors. But if you take the initiative and step out of your comfort zone and do something as simple as introducing yourself, it will go a long way in earning the respect of your professors. In architecture studios, design crits happen nearly daily, so there are opportunities to talk with your studio instructor. But in order to take that relationship a step further, it will require you to take the initiative.
3. Get Involved
Once you've laid the proper foundation, this step is perhaps the most important. Many professors throughout their tenure at a university must complete one (or sometimes multiple) research project within their specialized field. Getting involved in their research projects affords you valuable experience, one-on-one mentorship and even the possibility for grant or university funding. Find a professor specializing in a design field you find interesting (computational design, housing, sustainability, acoustics, biomimicry, etc.) and offer your assistance. Completing research can result in awards, publication and other resume-boosting accolades. But most importantly, being involved in this process will undoubtedly improve your student-professor relationship.
Lastly, this step proves the old adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Yes, design software and construction knowledge are notable and important in the job search, but even more important is the network you develop within the building industry. Many students miss the fact that the closest connections they have in the professional world are their professors. There are a number of instructors that maintain a practice while teaching, and as part of their investment in your success, they are prepared to share their connections. Internships are a vital part of your education, and if you take the time to help out your professors, they will undoubtedly return the favor.
Ultimately, your professors are there for you. They investment in your education, and making an effort to get involved will inevitably pay dividends later on.