A story of job shadowing during a pandemic

As with most things, hosting high school students in my office this past year looked a little different. I was able to have two high school students, from Eastern Mennonite School, join me virtually to explore a career in architecture via weekly virtual meetings. It was not the same. It was not as good for them. However, we did it, made it through, and each of them got some insights into the career they are interested in exploring further. Most of their time was used learning SketchUp, talking about life as an architect, visiting a job site socially distanced, and meeting with industry professionals. Eli, one of the students, has applied to a few architectural programs and at the time of this blog is waiting to hear back on his options for the coming years. I asked him to write about his time in the office, here is his summary.

Keezletown Custom Home

A possible career in architecture has been hanging around in the back of my mind for a while now, but I never really had the chance to get a true taste of what that career would entail. Thankfully, I got a chance to get that taste and I’m deeply grateful to Gaines Group Architects for being willing to give me that chance. They were willing to let me job shadow and the time I spent learning from them has been informative and has given me a good idea of what the future might hold for someone going into college with a career in architecture in their sights.

Before this point I had only ever seen the finished products of other architects and I wasn’t sure where to begin if I was presented with the challenge of designing a house. Charles Hendricks, my mentor for the job shadow, presented me and another student with that very challenge. He gave us pointers on where we could improve our respective designs and helped us figure out the process of designing a house. Learning the ins and outs of a career isn’t something that happens over the course of a couple months, but Charles was able to impart enough of that knowledge that I wanted to learn more. That desire for knowledge cemented my decision to major in architecture during college and honestly made me look forward to college even more.

However, he did have some warnings to give when it comes to majoring in Architecture at college. One of the main points he mentioned was the fact that it was NOT going to be easy. I believe his exact words were, “College is going to wring every bit of work it can out of you.”, and I had heard jokes about this very fact before when looking around architectural social media. I recognize that college is shaping up to be the most challenging, not to mention the most expensive, 4-5 years of my life. But during the job shadow I realized that I do enjoy planning a building and trying to make the best living space possible for whoever is going to be residing there. I wouldn’t have realized this without trying it myself and hopefully that focus of designing somewhere that people can feel at home and feel safe will help motivate me during college.

Charles also imparted a bit of advice to us as well; College is going to be a time of exploration and of learning what it means to be living on your own. It’s important to explore that space and to connect with others working alongside you. Those connections you make will stick with you throughout the rest of your life and perhaps even help land you a job in the future. I have a better idea now than I used to of what the future may hold and hopefully it shapes up to be a bright one.

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