I really, REALLY want to admit that responding to emails is the worst part of having this website. But publicly admitting that I feel that way would make me a jerk … it definitely makes me feel like a jerk. I get asked for a lot of free advice and while that might bend some people out-of-place, I don’t really mind it – as long as it’s something that I can do without any liability, time, or meaningful effort on my part. That sounds kind of jerky doesn’t it?
I have a “Serious Disclaimer” at the bottom of the page here (even though I doubt that many people have ever read it). It reads:
The complimentary advice provided on ‘Life of an Architect’ is based on an abbreviated examination of the minimal facts given, not the typical extensive (and sometimes exhaustive) analysis I conduct when working with my clients. Therefore, anything you read on this site is not a substitute for actually working with me. Following my casual advice is at your own peril … if you want my undivided attention, I would recommend hiring me. Cheers.
In my defense, I do actually do this for a living and it’s how I pay my bills – if I gave it all away that wouldn’t be very smart of me would it? I have become somewhat selective about choosing the emails I respond to because it takes time away from doing things that I actually need to do (like sleeping). In the last two years, I have responded to 4,139 emails according to my Gmail account. If you run the math (don’t run the math) you’ll see just how much time I’ve spent answering emails on the side.
That having been said, there are times when I receive an email that makes me feel terrific, one that really makes me feel like what I am doing, and the time I spend doing it, actually makes a difference. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of people say “thanks” (maybe 40 or 50%) for the time I take responding and I love that … but this post is not about those emails. No, what I wanted to share today was an email exchange I had with someone who took place over an almost two-year period.
I found this particular email exchange inspirational and I think that if you are someone who has ever thought about being an architect, maybe you are trying to chase your dreams or make something better of yourself and you can think of more reasons why you can’t do something instead of why you can, I think you’ll find these emails inspirational too.
Sun, Jan 20, 2013 at 10:07 AM
I am sure you get a million emails so I will keep this short. I am an industrial welder in eastern NC (saw your welding photos, badass welding hood btw). I am interested in architecture. I have a degree in history from Tulane that unfortunately isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on so I went into welding after college.
My question is, do you think this technical skill is a good segue into architecture? I have always been good at drawing, photography, Legos as a kid and watch HG TV in my off time. I was also good at math but have to admit doing equations in my spare time is not my idea of a fun day.
Would you be impressed with an applicant’s file if it included welded items from work ( I build pressure vessels) even if I didn’t design those items?
Love the blog,
Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 4:03 PM
I can’t speak to the specifics as to whether or not welding is a good segue into architecture but I would think it has helped you with some three-dimensional thinking skills – and those are the hardest to develop in my opinion. I have been answering loads of emails regarding resumes lately and I’ll tell you what I told them: Anything is good if it shows how you think and who you are as a person. Hopefully this helps in some way.
Cheers – and good luck
Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 4:05 PM
Thanks so much, your blog has been very helpful.
Mon, Apr 19, 2013 at 7:28 AM
Hi Mr. Borson.
I have been on this site for a while and have closely followed your posts. Thank you for all of your advice, it has been very helpful. I also have a question on which I would like your opinion, if you would.
I have a BA in history and am applying to get my M.Arch. I am taking an architecture class at my local community college and the professor is encouraging me to complete their program in addition to my Masters. I am 25, however, and this would keep me in school for significantly longer.
My question is; do you think Associates in Architectural Technology would be beneficial to a firm hiring an M. Arch graduate? Any advice would be much appreciated.
Thank you in advance,
Bruce Jordan Guard
Mon, Apr 22, 2013 at 9:27 AM
It makes sense if you want to specialize in architectural technology.
If you come out of school with your Master’s degree, I would think that would be sufficient for you to move forward/ advance your career.
Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 11:48 AM
Hey Mr. Borson,
I’m sure you get a million e-mails from prospective architecture students, this is just a follow-up. I wrote to you months ago about applying to programs. I was the welder with a BA in history trying to switch careers to architecture.
I have since applied (and am applying) to several graduate schools, including UT-Austin, at which I did the Summer Academy this past summer. I have just put together my portfolio and was wondering, if you have time, would you look it over and give me your thoughts? I know you’re busy, so if now is not a good time I understand completely.
Bruce Jordan Guard
Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 2:06 PM
I remembered you – glad to see things are moving forward.
My quick review yielded a few comments, but nothing major:
1. Change your text font for your descriptions, I think you’re using courier and no architect wants to see courier being used. I would pick a single font for the entire document and go with it. You use one font for your name on the title page, what looks like a different font for your name on the individual pages (i.e. page 4) and another font for the body text. Make the font type consistent and you can change the size to get the hierarchies you are looking for.
2. I would re-position the graphics and increase the amount of space allotted for the text along the left-hand margin so you don’t have to hyphenate so many words. You could also go with a slightly smaller font size to ease this situation.
3. Page 7 – you misspelled Guadalupe St.
Other than that, I think it shows a broad range of abilities and thoughts.
Sun, Dec 22, 2013 at 12:41 PM
Hey Mr. Borson,
Thanks so much for your help. I really appreciate it. I will rejig the text to make them a bit more cohesive. I will also try to redo the spacing to let the text breathe a bit better. Thanks again for looking it over. Happy holidays to you and your family.
Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 1:15 PM
Hey Mr. Borson,
This is the welder from NC who has dropped you a line from time to time about segueing into an architecture career.
I just wanted to update you that after applying to nine schools, I have heard back from my top, UT Austin, where I did the Summer Academy, and was accepted for the M. Arch. program. Thank you for all of your help during this process. I know you’re busy but if you have the time to answer two questions I would really appreciate it.1) What is the number one thing you think I can do prior to entering architectural school that would benefit me in school and in a career?) What is the most promising background on an architect’s CV that you see when you are looking at potential hires (e.g. sustainable design, green construction, high-performance construction)?
Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 3:01 PM
Congratulations – what a terrific piece of news! I am very happy for you. Welcome to the architectural profession. I’m sure you’ll find it rewarding and hope you find many opportunities to express your creativity and grow.
As far as answering your two questions – those are much harder to respond to than you might imagine. There isn’t any advice I have on entering school that I haven’t already covered on the blog. The most important one might be http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/design-studio-top-10-things-you-should-know/
As far as CV’s go, I really don’t pay too much attention to them other than where did the person graduate from. Most of the people who get hired at boutique firms like the ones I have worked at did so because of who they know. It is probably different in large firms but I can’t really speak to that. Professors that we know tend to let us know who we should be looking at so we normally get some sort of heads up. Besides, once you get into school, you will start to be exposed to all sorts of things and your natural interests and predilections will start to surface. Learning to understand and recognize the difference between what you are good at versus what you like to do is probably the most important thing you can figure out when you’re in school.
Keep in touch and again, congratulations.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 6:26 PM
Hi Mr. Borson,
I’ve been remiss not returning this e-mail. I just discovered it in my “architecture” folder and have been so busy with my nose buried in a physics book for the past few months that I just re-discovered it again!
Anyways, I know you’re busy but I just wanted to thank you for all the help you have given me in choosing architecture. I stumbled on your blog two years ago while I was working as a welder and it– and the advice you were kind enough to give me– have made all the difference in the world.
When I was welding and trying to switch to a more satisfying career, I had contacted roughly twenty people of all professions inquiring about their profession. You were one of the few to bother to return my message and the only one to actually respond with substance. Needless to say I probably wouldn’t be following the architecture path if it weren’t for your blog and your guidance. Thank you so much! No need to return this e-mail, although of course I’d always like to hear from you. I can see from your blog you are keeping quite busy. I’d also like to wish you a (late) congratulation on the promotion! That’s quite an accomplishment. Hope all is well and if you ever make it back to the Austin area I’d love to grab a beer – or in my case a coffee, which I feel I’m going to be needing a lot of 🙂
I am so happy that Jordan is able to chase his dream and that he started this process almost two years ago and kept his eye on his goal and stuck with it. I am sure there were times of doubt and uncertainty, and reading through my own responses to his questions and comments didn’t make me feel all that great since they were quick responses as I was most likely responding to as many emails as I could at the time. I know that I’ll be down in Austin while Jordan is in school and I am going to make him go out for a beer with me … I’ll probably even pick up the tab so bring some friends.
That will also make me feel terrific.
Best of luck Jordan, see you soon down in Austin.