Let’s dive deep into what it means to be a young architect and what it takes to get licensed. This week at EntreArchitect Podcast, Michael Riscica of YoungArchitect.com shares The Pain, the Passion, and the Process of Becoming a Young Architect.
Michael is based in Portland, Oregon is the founder of YoungArchitect.com. You can hear more about his bike journey from one side of the US to the other, plus how to get licensed and pass the ARE, check out his last podcast appearance.
Michael started Young Architect about three years ago after he got his license, with inspiration from Mark and many other bloggers serving their community. The mission has always been to help students, ARE candidates, young architects and other candidates be more successful. More recently he’s been talking more about how to share his mission and beliefs with others.
Many young architects really need to be their own advocate, and, in Michael’s opinion, a lot of students graduate and flounder until they become a licensed architect. Although there’s a lot out there to create community with the AIA and other organizations, there’s an in-between stage that Michael wanted to address. He began writing blog posts clearly directed at those in different predicaments like looking for jobs, studying for the ARE and wanting to get licensed.
Everyone has their own path, strengths and weaknesses, and the beautiful thing about architecture is that there’s such a huge place in jobs and opportunities with people with different strengths. Everyone has different gifts and passions to offer to the world.
Architecture school is a place for future architects to learn how to design and problem solve. It creates a safe place for students to experiment and take risk, while learning the fundamentals of design. They can learn to express themselves by learning from theory and from the past.
Michael argues that so much growth and development needs to happen in architecture school, that having a complete understanding of how the profession works is too much to ask. You’re there to learn the basics of problem solving and design.
The second part of an architect’s education begins once they finish school. He’s always believed that the young architect’s job is to advocate for their own development, but the profession as a whole should acknowledge their role in helping engender future architects. Although young architects may take an experience and learn from it and then move onto something else, that’s a necessary component of the process.
Letting a younger intern person into your firm, acknowledges that, in some ways, they’re the future of the firm. They get to see the behind-the-scenes in the firm. In some ways, you need to treat the younger generation as though they may one day be your future client or even supervisor.
On the other hand, young architects need to acknowledge the role they’re in: observing and learning to become the best that they can. You may not start out making what you want to make, but you can give everything you have to who you’re working with to get the knowledge you need to get to the next level. When you work hard and prove your value, you’re rewarded.
Like many other professions, architecture has moved into a space where people are not at one job for their entire lives. They may start somewhere, gain some knowledge, and then move on to something else.
With advanced technology and greater connectivity, it’s easy to associate with people that aren’t in your local circle and do anything you want to do.
Young Architect Podcast
Michael had gotten comfortable with expressing himself through writing on the blog, and the idea of a podcast made him pretty uncomfortable. Around the end of his recent coast-to-coast bike trip, he hit the ground running and began working overtime for several months on developing the new podcast. One of the challenges he’s had is trying to keep the focus off of himself. He’s passionate about the mission, but the goal is not to tell his story, it’s to put the focus on people who are aligned with his mission. Through the process of writing an article about people, he realized he needed to use a podcast to really express the energy he was hearing in people’s stories.
The podcast features stories about how people found architecture, what their experience was with licensing, and how they got to where they were today. He’s been seeking out the little guy who’s doing great work to get varying perspectives.
It requires a lot of help to get the podcast up and running, but Michael is enjoying the process!
Michael wrote How to Pass the Architecture Registration Exam and began the ARE Bootcamp process. He had many inquiries about 1-on-1 coaching, but had the idea to bring a group together and treated it like a design studio: small groups of 6 gather weekly for 10 weeks to move through a syllabus of what to study, how to recall the necessary information, and figuring out how to get up to speed to study for the exam. In this model, Michael helps his group teach the information to themselves so that they can make progress on the ARE.
The Bootcamp isn’t a guarantee to passing the test because there are so many moving parts and different versions of the test. The intention is to do everything possible to be prepared for the most difficult version of the test.
If you want to be a part of the bootcamp, you’ll participate in discussions to check in on what you’re learning. You keep up with the syllabus and practice finding the time to add 8-15 hours of extra study time to your already-busy life.
About halfway through, you choose a test date and spend the rest of the time mastering the information. Michael has a ton of resources, including videos to maximize the time that the group is meeting together, a private Facebook group for people to ask questions, and a platform that spits out random practice questions. Unless you practice giving the answers back, you won’t be adequately prepared for the test.
Everyone in the program is also in charge of organizing a meet up for members of the group to gather in person or virtually to study together.
What is the one thing that small firm architects can do today to build a better business tomorrow?
“Acknowledge it’s not about you, it’s about others. Instead of looking at everyone as competition and wondering what you’ll get out of it, try to be of service to yourself, the profession, your clients, those who work for you, and young architects. Don’t wonder what you’ll get out of something, just lift up the profession as a whole.” – Michael Riscica, Young Architect
Look for his trail of robot stickers across the US!
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Referenced in this Episode
EntreArchitect Profit for Small Firm Architects course (unlimited free access)
Young Architect ARE Bootcamp