I don't know what I'm doing - Architecture Career Guide
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I don’t know what I’m doing

I have a little secret for you. I don’t know what I’m doing. Not really what you want to hear when you are trying to learn from me right? Hear me out. I know what I’m doing most of the time, but there are times where I get into a situation where I feel like I am over my head and I get that fear that I will be exposed as a fake. It may be that one moment when an owner asks me what I think of a certain design, or if the roofer asks me how I want to detail a specific connection. It’s at these times that I feel like I really don’t know what to do. But you know what? That’s ok. In architecture we are constantly learning and if you’re doing it right, you are occasionally getting in these situations and growing from it.

Here’s the deal, when you first start out, you feel like you have no idea what you are doing. Your boss asks you to do something, and it’s like he or she is speaking a foreign language. You feel like you should know all of this. I mean you went to school right? Well there are a lot of things that school just won’t prepare you for. You know that feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing? It doesn’t go away.

I have been doing this for over a decade and I still have that feeling. I might be in a meeting with a client and sometimes just wonder, “how did I get here?” Do they know that I don’t know what I’m doing? What if I’m found out and they think I’m a fraud? This can be normal and it is what leads to growth. If you are occasionally getting into situations that are just barely beyond your abilities, you will quickly learn to adapt and move forward. I know architects who have been doing this for over 30 years who will admit that they still don’t know everything.

Granted, as you get further along, the moments when you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing begin to decrease and you can start to feel a little more comfortable. The best way to grow past this is to just learn as much as you can, as fast as you can. You could spend the next 10 years trying to figure out how this whole thing works, or you can immerse yourself in it and learn everything you can.

I’ve had to go through too many of these fear-inducing moments mostly because I never had anything to tell me everything I needed to know. I took professional practice classes in college, I read some of the handbook for professional practice, but there was never anything that spelled it out directly for me. I learned what I needed to know through trial and error (a lot of errors), and through “on-the-job” training. I have been lucky enough to have some great mentors throughout my career that have helped me get to where I am today.

That is why I have put together everything I do know together in this one book, inside: Architecture and Design. It is intended to teach you the basics of what you need to know about the practice of architecture. It is not some 800 page behemoth that you can’t get through, nor is it written with a lot of confusing terms. I wrote it specifically for people who are early in their architecture career and hope to get people beyond that fear of not knowing what to do.


You can pickup a copy of the book here. Please take a look at it and leave me an honest review.