Growing and Thriving in Your Network with Donna Sink

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On today’s episode of the Young Architect Podcast, Michael’s good friend, Donna Sink, shares her experience moving and starting fresh in different cities, make job choices for the sake of taking care of her family, and not being afraid to speak up as a female in the architecture industry.

Architect Donna Sink

 Fellow architect and friend of Michael’s, Donna Sink, shares her story about moving to different parts of the USA for work, growing her network from scratch, creating a business partnership, and even working on the other side of the business relationship as an Owners Representative at the Indianapolis Museum of Art as the Campus Architect. Donna currently works at Rowland Design.

Donna has been heavily involved in the website, Archinect, as well as its brand new podcast, Archinect Sessions. If you visit the Archinect website frequently, you’ve probably read her the posts she’s shared at one point or another.

Donna began her architecture career at the University of Arizona where she received her Bachelor of Architecture degree. She loved living out in the West, but moved with her husband to Philadelphia when he was offered a job there. With a positive mind, Donna was up for the challenge to live in a different part of the USA and found a great firm to work for called AOS Architects.

Later on, a school connection from the University of Arizona turned into a business partnership. Already ready for a change, this new job helped Donna and her husband leave Philadelphia and move to Indianapolis.

It wasn’t always easy for Donna and her family to get up and move to live in different cities. However, with a positive attitude, Donna took it as an opportunity learn how to create a new network in a city from scratch by getting involved in the community, attending events, and joining organizations such as People for Urban Progress and AIA Indiana.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode

  • Donna’s involvement with regularly posting on the Archinect website and being interviewed on other podcasts including the Archinect Sessions.
  • How Donna was drawn to a career in architecture through her drafting classes in high school.
  • What architecture college classes were like for Donna at the University of Arizona and what challenges she faced.
  • All of the different opportunities Donna was able to take on and the skills she learned while working for AOS Architects in Philadelphia.
  • How an old connection from University of Arizona led to a business partnership in Indianapolis.
  • How Donna and her husband were both able to grow in their own careers in Indianapolis especially after the 2008 recession.
  • The work Donna did to create a new network in Indianapolis including joining AIA Indiana and People for Urban Progress.
  • The value of contributing and networking with fellow architects who blog, create videos, and continuously help the field of architecture to really grow and thrive.
  • The latest venture for Donna: creating a podcast, Archinect Sessions, for the Archinect website.
  • Donna’s experience working as a project manager for various architecture firms.
  • What large-scale institutions need from architecture firms.
  • The different improvements and changes that Donna has seen since joining AIA Indiana.

Top 3 Takeaways from This Episode

  • It is possible to leave your hometown, state, or area and start again somewhere new. It can be a difficult change and you may face a lot of different challenges, but you can re-build your new network in another city through clubs, organizations, and events. 
  • Don’t be afraid to use your voice and speak up for yourself and your ideas. If you have the answer at a meeting, then speak up. Don’t back down from getting involved in the process. 
  • Take a chance on yourself and try something new. Move to a new city, join an organization, or take on a new job. You’ll surprise yourself by what experiences can come from stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a chance to make a change in your life.

Donna Sink’s Advice for Aspiring Female Architects

“Especially for young, female architects, I’d say that you just have to keep going and you cannot be afraid to speak up if you know that you’re right. Don’t speak out of turn if you don’t really know the answer, but if you do, go ahead and just shout it out.”  

Favorite Quotes

“You know what, why not give it a try and live somewhere else? Do something different and give it a shot to see what happens. I guess I’m a believer in that saying that ‘It’s better to regret what you did than what you didn’t do.” – Donna Sink on the positive side of moving to a different city with her family and starting a business partnership.

“If you’re going to move, you should stop and ask yourself, ‘Okay, how much value is there in my current network that I already have and how much will it cost me to build that network somewhere else?’.” – Donna Sink’s advice for moving to a new city and creating your network from scratch.

“One of the big buzzwords going around the architecture world right now is being “nimble.” We have to be nimble and resilient. Not ‘resilient’ in a climate changing way, but ‘resilient’ in a way that we can address things very quickly and being ‘nimble’ in our response to various challenges that come up with the job.” – Donna Sink on how to approach working with large institution clients and taking on different challenges.  

Resources Mentioned in the Show 


About the author

Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect who lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon, with his Labrador Retriever. He is passionate about helping Young Architects change the world. In his free time, Michael likes to take very long bicycle rides across America. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linked In.