Describe the process by which you arrived at your undergraduate major.
I think it was my junior year in high school, I was very good at math and science and I loved drafting, so I think I knew earlier than everybody that I wanted to get into architecture. Not just because of the math and the science, but because of the ability to create environments that people live in and visit and experience on a day to day basis.
What are some of the day-to-day responsibilities in your career?
My day-to-day responsibilities are mostly business oriented about getting certain tasks done. But what I find about architecture is that even when you’re doing the most mundane task, you should always be thinking about the creative aspect of it. Collaboration with consultants and coworkers is essential in architecture, too. Teamwork is something I’ve always done in the past, I’ve been an athlete in the past, and I’ve always enjoyed team sports, and the key to successful architecture, in my opinion, is the ability to collaborate with other people.
What do you think is the most important skill for someone in your career?
I would say something that I didn’t realize starting out was that architecture is much more heavily weighed in the artistic endeavor than I anticipated when I was in high school. So taking any form of art classes, and just the ability to think creatively is very important much more so than the science and the math part of it. The longer you’re in the profession, it’s those artistic qualities that come to light more often than just the basic math and science of it.
What portion of your job involves interacting with others, such as co-workers and/or the public?
There’s a lot of interacting with clients, and one of the things I think is very interesting is working with a certain business or a client and learning about the architecture that they’re trying to create. For me, it’s about understanding the business aspects of your client, and not just working on the building and making the spaces that they need to perform their business, but enhancing their business or their goals through architecture is what it’s all about it. It’s about taking them to another level of their business, expanding on and improving their business beyond what they’ve ever imagined.
What advice would you give somebody who wants to get into this career field?
The advice I would give to someone that’s thinking about this career is to know that there are certain myths about architecture, that architects make a lot of money. But in reality it really involves a labor of love. It really is about what you love to do, it’s very long hours and a lot of time that goes into it that may not be the same with any other profession. So getting into it is one thing, but staying into it is a whole other thing. You really kind of have to love what you’re doing to maintain a career in it.
I found this interviewee, Jim Lenhert, because he is a friend of my dad’s. When I told my dad about this assignment and that I was considering pursuing a degree in architecture, he immediately recommended I interview Jim, who’s an architect here in Columbus. I thought this would be a good choice of interviewee because I thought Jim might be more comfortable and more willing to open up to me in conversation if he knew we had a common connection through my dad. I was also interested in speaking to Jim because he knows my dad through a local nonprofit glass art studio called Glass Axis, where they both blow glass. Glass blowing is an art form I’ve always admired, so I was interested in seeing how Jim’s background in creativity and technique play into his architecture career.
My interview with Jim reaffirmed my desire to move toward an architecture major. While I do enjoy thinking quantitatively, my true passion has always been creativity and artistic pursuits, so I was worried that I would find myself unhappy in the field once the heavy applications of science and math hit. I wanted to work in a field where I could use both my arts brain and my math brain, but I was worried that architecture may require far heavier left-brain engagement. However, this interview reassured me that while math and science are certainly involved in the work, architecture is about design at its core. I was also very excited by the collaborative aspects of the work that Jim described, because I don’t want a job where I’m highly isolated, and I enjoy making connections and accomplishments with a team.
I was surprised by how business-oriented much of Jim’s work as an architect is. Since I had been focusing so much on the design aspects of the field during my research on architecture, I wasn’t expecting to hear that a lot of the job also involves maintaining relationships with clients and working to meet their needs. While surprising, this news was not disappointing, as I think it would be rewarding to develop interpersonal relationships to supplement the design work. I feel like since these relationships will put names and faces to large scale projects, they might provide a sense of initiative to do an exceptional job.
I’m someone who learns from experience, so before being able to make a confident decision about majoring in architecture, I think I just need to get some hands on experience in it. I’m excited to take the freshman studio course in the spring, because that is when I’ll finally be able to know for sure whether this is something that truly interests me. By getting first hand knowledge about the types of projects students in Knowlton complete, I’ll be able to get a feel for whether architecture is right for me. In the meantime, I will continue to utilize the major exploration resources that have been so helpful in guiding me toward architecture so far this semester. The weekly college lectures have been the most helpful tool in my exploration, because they’ve provided me with the chance to hear about certain majors through the perspective of students who are going through it currently. In fact, listening to the students who spoke at the architecture lecture is one of the biggest things that has gotten me really excited about getting started at Knowlton.
In addition, I have found EXP’s “What Can I Do With a Major in…?” resource to be extremely helpful. This tool allowed me to eliminate certain majors based on the “end goals” I was interested in pursuing, and made me realize that I had some misconceptions about how certain majors were usually applied to the real world. Using this resource to help remove certain majors of interest from my list of considerations has allowed me to have a somewhat more focused exploration experience. I’m excited to continue my exploration both within the architecture major and in other potential majors or minors of interest, and I can’t wait to see how the resources made available to me through the Exploration program will shape my future college decisions.