From Pre-Med to Engineering, and Now Architecture
This post is longer then I expected, so please bear with me.
Back in 2009 I made the decision to not become a doctor, and instead become a civil engineer. Growing up, my father and mother encouraged me to follow the ‘dream’ of becoming a doctor. With my father being a doctor, and my mother having a background in the sciences, I was constantly reminded by how doctors help people and how doctors save lives. I was set and determined to follow that path. I wanted to do goodness in my life and I thought being a doctor would be the perfect way to do that. After my grade 12 graduation I was excited to finally work towards the critical steps in becoming a doctor. Well, that was the case up until I finished one semester in pre-med.
In my first semester of university I struggled. I wasn’t interested in biology anymore as I was in high school. I wasn’t interested in chemistry, psychology, or any of the pre-med courses I was taking. I would do the homework only because I didn’t want to fail. I would sit through classes bored out of my mind (it was interesting, just not something that spiked my interest). I remember sitting through psychology in my first year sketching in my notebook, thinking of different floor plan layouts for a house completely ignoring what was being discussed in class. During chemistry labs I would be more interested in the space then I was with the experiments. Eventually, working on my homework became draining. Forcing myself to be interested was beginning to make me anxious. But I kept going at it, telling myself it was totally worth it.
I continued on for a second semester in pre-med. Halfway through the second semester I decided to see what other programs where offered at the university I was attending. That’s when I ‘discovered’ engineering. I remember reading how engineers help make the world a better place, how engineers build/make things, how engineers solve problems, how engineers help make lives better. I was hooked. I imagined that being an engineer meant that I could be a part of designing important infrastructure, and I so badly wanted to do that. I went home and told my parents all about it. My parents both agreed that I should work harder in pre-med and become a doctor because the job market for engineering wasn’t all that great. I somewhat agreed and went on with my life. I also drank a lot of Starbucks.
One evening when I was at school late after a lab I realized how exhausted I was. My heart wasn’t into what I was doing. On a whim, I applied to the College of Engineering and completely forgot about it. A few weeks later I received a letter of acceptance. I was so excited! More so then when I first began university. I let my parents know and thankfully they were both supportive.
Fast forward to 2013. I graduated with a bachelors of Civil Engineering and the job search began. I applied to what now feels like 500 different postings. I never received any call backs. No interviews. I ended up taking a job in an architecture firm as an Architectural Designer. All I did was draft floor plans, elevations, etc etc. It wasn’t engineering work but it was a job that got me some exposure to the industry.
A few months into my new job, I started really enjoying it. I loved how the Architect could manipulate space. I loved how the Architect could take the functions of a building (as requested by a client) and turn them into a comprehensive space. I loved everything about what I was involved in and that’s when I realized that being an architect is what I really wanted to do.
Now it’s 2015. It’s been a month since my second year in my Masters of Architecture program has started, and I’m also working full time as a Civil Engineer.
So, is being a Civil Engineer like I imagined it would be? Not really. It’s a lot more interesting. I’ve been lucky to get a job as a Site Engineer. I get to see structures go up. I get to experience two ends of the design process: the design + the construction.
I’m not too sure what I’m going to be doing as my career, but for now I’m happy with seeing bridges go up and working on models for my studio classes. It’s a lot of work and sometimes I question if it’s worth it. Then I remind myself that the best things in life take hard work.
It’s also awesome that we are encouraged to take photos on the job site. I take that part very seriously.