By: Lorenza Sierra
“The creative world does not pay well”
“You will meet a lot of people who are similar to you”
"Wait until you have at least two years of experience before going for a master's degree"
"The offices that do signature architecture are the best"
"Nothing you leaned in university is going to work for you in an office"
“You are going to dedicate yourself to something completely different from what you imagine”
Apart from these phrases, which others did you hear so much before leaving university? The professional life of an architect can begin, for many, from the third or fifth semester, although people may say that is impossible. This was my case, fifth semester with a monthly salary of 2k pesos, where I paid more for parking and gas than what I earned monthly. The words of my former boss during the interview resonated with me, "I don't hire students because they don't have time to study and work at the same time, but I can make an exception." He was right. At that time I decided to apply because it would be much easier to get an internship, in an office which I admired so much, than getting a job as a graduate in 3 years, when I would have much more competition. Today I laugh at my plan to "make a career in that office" and be able to reach the highest positions in a couple of years, shortly after graduating from university. It didn't even take me 3 months to realize, this is everything I dont want in a job and my ex-boss was everything I didn't aspire to.
I graduated like many others with a love-hate relationship towards architecture. Upon graduation the only thing clear to me was that I didn't want to leave the field, but also wouldn't like to work as an architect. I considered myself an extremely restless person, if I didn't have the next move in mind, my anxiety skyrocketed. This restlessness lead me to enroll in exchanges, courses, master's plans, and produce endless portfolios, all of this just to keep my peace of mind. My life was like this until the advent of MENTES, I could say this arrival was the most stable thing that came into my life, even greater than any relationship I've been in (those who know me would laugh). What I appreciate most about this project is the clarity it has given me. Contrary to many architects who don't know what to do with their lives after graduating, I had a direction.
If you read up to this point, it's probably because you've been in similar situations, we've all been. I understand this so well, that it drove me to create MENTES. Regardless of social pressure, there is nothing wrong with not wanting to work as an architect after 5 years of study. You can allways give your career a different direction within the same discipline, I have confirmed this in the last year and a half while working in this project.
But not everything ends here, you can be a director and get the job that you thought you would never have, then think that everything in your professional life is solved, that is until DISAPPOINTMENT hits you. The high level of turnover in signature architecture firms is not surprising. Firms where the people who have the most time do not exceed 3 years, or 5 in exceptional cases. Even so, the great aspiration and dream of many is to be part of these offices. The number of portfolios that arrive each week at one of these offices is unimaginable, at least that is what I saw during the year I worked as Media Coordinator at Frida Escobedo.
What strikes me most about all of this is the number of people who apply just to be part of these offices. Many of them, without having any clarity as to how being part of these teams would benefit them or how it would enrich their professional career. A great number of candidates do it for the pride of adding a couple more lines to their resumes. These papers, resumes, do more than just broadcasting your porfessional life to the world, they lead us to comparison and competition. In the end you are the only one who knows how fulfilling your work is and how it challenges you in your day to day life. My only advice is that if you don't consider your current job fullfilling and challenging, get out of there, because no matter how cliché it sounds, there is no harm that does not come for good.
The reality is that everything you do, adds to your experience. In the end being wrong or disappointed with aspirations or idealizations give us the necessary clarity to move forward. Nowadays, I can tell you that many things I have done aren't of any use to me at all in my day to day life; things like my deviation towards interior design or the many construction and isostatic classes I took. But I can also tell you that all of these deviations and classes make me the person I am today. They have made me consider the short-term, as well as the long-term plans, and have made my decisions be based and justified by how they align with what I enjoy the most.
Working with someone you admired at some point, and who ended up disappointing you, or having a little taste of the world you longed to be a part of and running away, makes you GROW. Now I can tell you, this is what working and professional life is all about: making mistakes, pivoting, and in the end returning to the path that fulfills you and makes you happy.