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A career isn’t just about scoring a job that helps pay the bills. In order to feel fulfilled and satisfied with your career choice, you need to find a role that you love.
This requires some amount of vision right upfront. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I know most of us absolutely hate that question, and a lot of it is because we either don’t know what we want or it might be that we just don’t know how to get there.
That’s because we’re only looking at the big picture – however, everything in life requires design, including your career. The imagination and meticulous planning you put forth into your design project should be applied to your career paths as well.
No goal is unattainable as long as you manage to break it down into a set of small, achievable steps.
If you want to be a CAD expert, you need to develop software skills and start with internships in architecture planning jobs. If you want to focus on management, or construction or research, you need to get your foot in the door as fast as possible.
Here are a few tips to fast-track that journey.
How to Make and Accomplish Goals as an Architect
Learn from those before you
Life is a lot easier with a mentor – whether that’s your college professor, or someone in the industry or even your dad. They will be able to provide you emotional support and help you with your decisions.
However, unless they’re in the industry itself, they won’t be able to tell you exactly who to approach, which companies to apply to and which door to knock on.
Thus, your best bet is to look online. Make a profile on LinkedIn and jump in. Chances are your friends already have profiles there with a lot of connections. Use their connections to check out other people who are doing the same thing as you are.
Take a look at how their career paths progressed, the companies they worked at, the projects they worked on, the people they worked with. The more people you look at, the more you’ll get to learn about all the options that you have.
You can even look up alumni from your school itself and then reach out to them for guidance or advice. LinkedIn is a great place to do your research as you have so many different career paths laid out in front of you. If you want to follow someone’s footsteps, this is how you do it.
Make smart goals
SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. This is exactly what we were talking about at the beginning. Having big goals is bound to seem overwhelming unless you have a plan.
With your long term goal in mind, it’s time to reverse engineer how you try to get there. Break your career path into small chunks and then focus on going up the ladder one step at a time.
Set small goals for yourself, setting yourself up for small victories and celebrations, instead of large disappointments. Keep your goals specific – for example, getting a license by passing the ARE (Architect Registration Examination). This goal is realistic, achievable, and you’ll be able to complete it in a certain time period.
Even with smart goals, it helps to have a timetable. For example, if you are presenting a paper, you’ll have a deadline. Choose a subject which is doable for you, thereby keeping your goals realistic. Then start working on your presentation one day at a time, so you have measurable progress every day.
Goals which aren’t smart include: I want to buy a big house and a car, or I want to make more money. Instead, aim for a 30% pay hike after a year. If it’s not realistic, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and cynicism.
It’s also worth noting that every one of your smart goals can be broken down into even more fundamental smart goals. This is where the timetable and the schedule come in. Rome was not built in a day, and as an architect, you know that you can’t build a house without building a foundation. So go step-by-step.
Ask for help
You must have heard the saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” This is absolutely true, you can’t make it on your own. You need to learn to ask for assistance, not just when you’re in a tough spot, but also to make your day-to-day life a little easier.
Now when we say assistance, we don’t just mean someone who will stick with you for the rest of your life or a mentor. You just need someone to help you get past the next big obstacle, the most immediate problem.
In fact, it doesn’t even have to be people you know. There are plenty of agencies and online tools available to help you out when you need it. For example, if you’re juggling a hectic internship and you need to put in a research paper at school, you’re bound to feel a little wiry.
So just focus on the internship and look online for the research paper. If you’re searching for how to get anyone to “write research paper for me,” know there are plenty of great resources out there and even websites which will.
If you just keep looking, you’ll find a lot of helping hands everywhere. For example, you can try out your local AIA [American Institute of Architects] chapter.
It helps to have friends, and it helps to know your way around the industry. Industry professionals will always trust someone who comes well recommended and is well-known in the network.
Give it your all
I’m sure you’re tired of hearing this by now, but there is no such thing as a shortcut to success. If you want to get to the top, you have to work harder than everybody else. And by that, we mean work smarter, not harder.
Abraham Lincoln said if he’s given 10 hours to chop down a tree, he’ll spend the first 9 sharpening his ax. You don’t have to spend 60-hour workweeks, just make sure you cut down on duplication of efforts and focus on getting things right the first time. Also, make sure your work gets noticed. Credit is due where credit is due. Keep a log of your daily work so you can present it to your boss if anyone ever raises any questions about your work ethic.
But more importantly, you need to keep your eyes and ears open. Opportunity always comes knocking, but you need to get up and answer the door. It doesn’t do you much to slave away at a meaningless job and then just go home and watch Netflix when there’s a better one probably just around the corner. Your luck can change for the better, but you have to take the first step yourself. Fortune always favors the brave.
Go easy on yourself
Life isn’t a competition, and often we are so hard on ourselves on issues which really don’t matter much in the large scale of things. So your friend and classmate got himself a big fancy house, and he’s only 25? It won’t matter in a few years. The only person you should be competing with is who you were yesterday. Aim for better than yesterday, and that’s all. It all adds up.
Also remember, it’s unreasonable to assume your first job will be the field you’ll stay in forever. You might like the idea of research work, but pretty soon you might get bored and want to switch over to something more hands-on like construction. That’s completely okay, and it doesn’t mean you’re taking a step back.
Keep in mind that success isn’t always a constant upward trajectory. You’ll make mistakes, but you will learn from them, and that is the only way forward. Don’t get stuck on something you don’t like doing simply because you invested a lot of time in it, sometimes, you just have to cut your losses and continue your journey on another path.
If you got nothing else from this article, then this is the short version. Visualize where you want to be a few years from now, and if you want ideas, look online, preferably Linkedin. Once you’ve sort of mapped a career path, start working at it one step at a time. Break down all your goals into small parts and keep moving forward.
If you keep doing this, it’s not guaranteed that you end up where you had initially planned to be, but you’ll definitely be in a better place than where you are today.