Architect, Senior Associate at Mancini Duffy, and Incoming At-Large Director to the AIA National Board, Jessica Sheridan, explains why relationships and people are more important just design and ideas, why it’s okay to take your time with the AREs, and why getting experience with internships during her undergrad and MArch can make a huge difference in your transition from student life to starting your career.
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Jessica Sheridan | Architect and 2019 Incoming At-Large Director to the AIA National Board
Even though Jessica had a wide range of interests in the liberal arts from art to dancing to psychology, she always came back to architecture as her favorite subject. Her interest in architecture began as early as 10 years old when she would draw the homes that her family was staying at during summer vacations and her mother suggested she consider architecture someday.
As the time came when she would go off to college, she chose Oberlin College for her undergrad where she studied a combination of visual arts, architecture, and dance to have a broader education. Between her undergrad and Master’s, she worked at Perkins Eastman Architects as a Marketing Coordinator to get an idea of what the real-world of a professional architecture career was like.
When it came to studying for her MArch at the Rhode Island School of Design, she was well prepared with plenty of internships she had done during her undergrad and her work at an actual architecture firm in the business setting.
Once she completed her Master’s and thanks to her prior work experience, the transition from student to young professional went a lot smoother than it would have been if she had never done internships or worked at a firm in their marketing department.
Due to her wide range of interests, Jessica loves to multitask on different problems, explore new possibilities through technology at Mancini Duffy’s Design Lab, and help the American Institute of Architects (AIA) grow as a leader in their organization.
What You’ll Hear on This Episode
- How her interest in architecture was sparked when her mother saw her drawings of various homes and buildings.
- Why she decided to explore different academic areas from visual arts to dance before settling on architecture school.
- How she came to the decision to take on a marketing job at an architecture firm before going back to school to ger her MArch and then her license.
- Why she chose to not studying abroad while in college because she loved her student life so much.
- The transition she went through between school, entering “the real world,” and starting her career.
- How vital it is to be an intern or to try to get some type of experience throughout high school and college to get an idea of what a career is like in the real world.
- What her licensing process was like for her and her advice to young architects.
- Her writing experience and what she learned from being the Editor-in-Chief for the AIA New Work Chapter magazine, Oculus.
- The push she felt to receive her license and what motivated her to finally complete her AREs.
- Why she decided to not rush through studying for the AREs but took her time, knew she would get there eventually, and did it her own way.
- Her interest in writing and the possibility of continuing it in the future.
- The various current projects she’s working on at Mancini Duffy as a Senior Associate.
- Why her and Michael both love having a variety of different projects to work on at once.
- About her previous position as a New York Regional Representatives of the Strategic Council with the AIA and her upcoming position in 2019 as the Incoming At-Large Director to the AIA National Board.
- What she loves about the supportive, integrative culture of the Mancini Duffy workplace and how it ties into their focus on technology in their Design Lab.
- How their Design Lab is allowing them to really work and design with their clients to create the best structures and save as much time as possible.
- How architecture is so much more about people, clients, and relationships than she ever imagined while in school and design studio.
- How setting up good templates can be an awesome time saver and help you work better.
Top 3 Takeaways from This Episode
- It is an excellent idea to take on internships during your college years or even a job at an architecture firm to fully understand what it’s like to work in that kind of atmosphere. Not only will you receive experience for her resume, but you’ll also feel and be better prepared for the transition from student life to young professional in the real world.
- Architecture is so much more than design. It’s about teamwork, relationships, clients, and community. There’s so much more to working on and creating a building or renovating a new space than just our ideas.
- You are in charge of your career and where it will go. Yes, you’ll have support and guidance from professors, associates, and bosses but your path is truly what you decide and no one else can make that decision for you. Therefore, be clear and direct with what you want. If you want your career to move a different or new direction, you have the power to make that happen.
Jessica Sheridan’s Advice for Aspiring Architects
“Focus on what you’re really passionate about and try to really hone in and understand what you’re great at.”
“Be very direct in asking what you want. It took me a really long time to realize that I’m in control of my own career and it’s not waiting for someone else to tell you what they think it should be or what your next step is; you’re an active participant in that as well.”
“Architecture is so much more about people, clients, and relationships than I ever expected when I was in school. While in school, you’re so used to working in your own space in design studio and that whole process is important for developing who you are as a designer but I had this assumption that it if you design something great, it doesn’t matter where it is because people will come anyways and embrace it but that’s really not the case. Architecture is much more of a collaborative process and your design really amplifies and enhances the great built-in environment that’s already out there. So, you really need to be tapped into society and the community that you’re building for as well as your clients and who’s going to be inhabiting the spaces that you’re building. Architecture is a lot more about people than your idea in your head and what you think is ideal.” – Jessica Sheridan on what architecture and design is really about.
“Because I had worked in the marketing department of an architecture firm in between undergrad and graduate school, I had a little bit of a sense of what it was like to work for a firm. I also had internships all throughout school which was a good experience. For a lot of people who have never done an internship while in school, it can be a pretty shocking experience of what you have to do in real life at a firm compared to school. It takes a while for that transition to happen if you do it all at once and I had a bit more of an understanding of it thanks to my prior experience at firms. There’s such a transition from the studio culture where you’re involved in your designs and you’re completely in your head most of the time compared to working on and collaborating with an entire team on a project.” – Jessica Sheridan on how doing internships while in school benefited her transition to a full-time job at a firm after graduation.
“Work is so fascinating when we’re working on so many different types of buildings at once. It’s been nice to broaden my experience to more than just workplace interiors and also work with housing, hospitality, and event spaces.” – Jessica Sheridan and what she loves about having a variety of different projects to work on.
Resources Mentioned in the Show
- Connect with Jessica Sheridan via:
- Learn more about the leadership roles at American Institute of Architects (AIA) including:
- Incoming At-Large Director to the AIA National Board
- Strategic Council with the AIA
- Stay informed about the next Grassroots Conference
- Find out more about architecture firms:
- Mancini Duffy
- Perkins Eastman Architects
- Check out these schools for your undergrad and MArch:
- Oberlin College
- Rhode Island School of Design
- Discover more about how technology can be used in the architecture and design workspace like Mancini Duffy’s Design Lab
- Read the AIA New Work Chapter magazine, Oculus.
- Learn more about Jessica’s top book picks:
- If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
- Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
- The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami