Using Every Opportunity To Be of Service with Elizabeth Seidel

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On today’s episode of the Young Architect Podcast, Michael speaks with University of Montana Master’s Architecture student and AIAS National Vice President Elect, Elizabeth Seidel about her decision to switch from studying physical therapy to architecture, her passion for helping people, and her upcoming plans with the AIAS.

AIAS National Vice President Elizabeth Seidel

Architecture hadn’t always been on Elizabeth Seidel’s mind. Before she decided to enter this profession, she had been studying to become a physical therapy aide and had even volunteered at rehab centers for the experience.

But then one day during her general education classes in college, she realized that the physical therapy career didn’t involve has much interaction with patients as she would have liked. For Elizabeth, it was important that she was able to directly help other people and make an impact on their lives.

She decided to switch majors and began to study architecture so that should could make a difference in her community. How? By helping to incorporate different coping mechanisms such as nature, texture, and light into public places. By doing so, she would be helping many including those with autism.

Today, Elizabeth is studying for her Master’s degree in Architecture and Environmental Design at Montana State University – Bozeman, but she has also taken on a new role. This year, she was elected as the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) National Vice President.

As she prepares for Washington D.C., she has already begun to cement the transition by helping to create toolkits and providing resources to assist AIAS chapters plan events, build adversity, and continue to give architecture students the guidance they need.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode

  • Why Elizabeth decided to stop pursuing physical therapy for architecture.
  • How she’s using her previous experience in PT to help design structures for people with autism.
  • What she has planned to do with her new role as the AIAS National Vice President.
  • The power of diversity in architecture.
  • How AIAS is planning to increase adversity in the organization by providing tools and resources.
  • Her involvement with introducing architecture and other STEM careers to children, especially girls through the Standing/Expanding Horizons STEM Program in Montana. 
  • Michael’s experience with helping with architecture education programs in elementary schools.
  • What benefits and skills any architecture student can receive by joining AIAS.
  • Why it’s important to stay rooted in what you’re passionate about.
  • The big reason why you should always sign a contract when making a commitment or starting a job.
  • How Elizabeth is planning to help people to grow their potential through AIAS.

Top 3 Takeaways from This Episode

  1. There are so many different ways to make an impact on people’s lives through architecture. You can create buildings that have access to those with disabilities, calming features, or nurturing aspects to help everyone feel comfortable.
  2. It’s never too late to begin a study for a different career. Any experience you have is beneficial to your architecture future. You can incorporate anything that you’re passionate about into you job.
  3. If you make a commitment to do a job or join a firm as an intern, full-time job, or for a project, always have a written agreement to confirm what you’ll be doing and for how long so that any unexpected changes can’t happen.

Elizabeth Seidel’s Advice for Aspiring Architects

“After having conversations with emerging professionals who have started working in firms and are really focused in studying for AREs while also trying to create a new network, I feel like it’s really important to not let go of what you’re passionate about right now.

And I’m speaking of myself as well for when I leave school and begin my career. I don’t want to get too busy and lose sight of why I wanted to even become an architect. If you enjoy or are interested in painting, social justice, mentorship, or fellowship with good people, don’t let that slip away because you’ve become so focused on your career.”

Favorite Quotes

“When we say diversity, we don’t just think about your skin color or your economic status. At AIAS, we understand that diversity goes much deeper than what you can see on the outside. Diversity includes your morals, faith, family and just where you come from as a whole person. We really respect and dive into this idea that people’s world views are what can actually harness diversity and the special traits that make a person and their input valuable.” – Elizabeth Seidel on the benefits of working with people from all over the world from India to New York City to even Montana.

“This year with AIAS, we’re really going to have our eyes peeled on the global stage as far as what we can do to problem solve with our design education. Not just with installations or buildings, but to really problem solve, think critically, and analyze what’s going on to see what impact we can make for real change.” – Elizabeth Seidel on AIAS’ goals for the year.

“I’ve heard from several different sources that if you don’t engage with a child before they’re in the 5th grade and talk to them about their endless potential to be whatever they want to be – a doctor, a lawyer, or even an astronaut. If they want to be an astronaut and work for NASA, go tell them that they do have that capacity. If you don’t nurture that thought, then there’s a huge chance that they’re never going to believe that they have that potential once they leave the 5th– Elizabeth Seidel on the power of mentorship and working with young children.

“AIAS is such a strong community. Not just in the school where you get to have experiences with people from different years or perhaps your TAs and AIAS leaders. With AIAS, you can take part in events with them like playing croquet and you get to connect with them on a whole other level. AIAS helps you have a different relationship where true mentorship can form.” – Elizabeth Seidel on the strong bond within the AIAS community.

“It sounds terrible, but don’t solely rely on someone’s word. If you have an agreement or an arrangement, make sure you have it written down in a contract.” – Elizabeth Seidel on the importance of having a contract agreement to any arrangement.

“Time management is not about finding time for commitments, but making time for them. You can make the most out of your time by just doing what you have in front of you and tackling it.” – Elizabeth Seidel on how she handles her time.

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.

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