In this episode of the Young Architect Podcast, Michael spoke to his good friend, Ruben Ramales, about his involvement in various organizations such as AIA Queens and Emerging New York Architects (ENYA). In this episode, you’ll learn about Ruben’s incredible transformation as he shares stories about the obstacles he has overcome in high school, university, and beyond. Plus, you will find out how Ruben has taken his love for architecture and has done more with it be helping increase community engagement in New York City.
Ruben Ramales | AIA Queens Managing Director – Consultant
Ruben’s first introduction to architecture happened in a high school class that used AutoCAD software. However, he also had interest in cooking and considered attending a culinary school one day. But before he was going to find out which direction he wanted his life to go in, he had to make some other important life changes first.
Realizing that he wasn’t in the right crowd at his high school, Ruben joined the volunteer organization, Teens at Service, to become more involved in various activities and meet new people. It was during that time that he realized that he really loved helping other people and making a difference in his community.
Even though he was accepted to both the culinary school and the School of Architecture & Design at the New York Institute of Technology, he decided to pursue architecture on a scholarship. Eventually, his path would lead him to becoming heavily involved with organizations such as AIA Queens and ENYA.
Today, he is still heavily involved with AIA Queens as the Managing Director – Consultant and also works for The Trust for Public Land as Program Assistant – Outreach Coordinator.
What You’ll Hear on This Episode
- What led him to become interested in architecture and design while attending high school in Queens – New York City.
- The lifestyle changes he made in high school in order to begin leading his life in a better direction.
- His experience joining the organization, Teens at Service, which was a community service group and also allowed him to meet new people at his high school.
- His interest in AutoCAD software and his experience using it as early as in an architecture and design class at his high school.
- How he almost pursued a career in the culinary arts.
- His decision to study at the School of Architecture & Design at the New York Institute of Technology on a scholarship.
- The struggles he faced during his first year of architecture school and reality of almost losing his scholarship.
- The moment he made the decision to stick with his education rather than leave NYIT and do something else.
- His initial introduction to AIA Queens and his steady involvement in the organization ever since.
- The self-fulfillment and happiness he feels for helping other people and how he realized that maybe the technical aspect of architecture wasn’t his strongest strength.
- How his feelings of depression and anger with the difficulty of not finding a job after college led him to practice daily meditation
- The various projects and inventions he worked on and helped develop until it eventually steered his path back to AIA.
- His involvement with the Emerging New York Architects (ENYA) program and being a volunteer for their projects and later a co-manager for the City of Dreams Pavilion Design Competition.
- The experience of helping manage community engagement for the Queens Way Project for AIA Queens.
- How he went from being the Chair of the Education Committee to the Managing Director for Queens AIA.
- Why it’s so important to never miss an opportunity to network with other people.
- His interest in transcendental meditation as well as his own method for going back to positive thinking in times of stress.
Top 3 Takeaways from This Episode
1. There are many different career paths that one can pursue with architecture; you don’t only have to do design if you want a career in this industry. Try out different roles and find something that suits both your interests and strengths.
- You never know what networking might lead you to next. Join an organization like AIA and become involved in your community. There are lots of ways to get out there and meet people; plus, you never know what sort of opportunity might come from it!
With a positive mind, you can accomplish so much more. Obviously, we cannot be 100% joyful all the time; it’s just not possible. However, if you find a method that works for you such as a meditation or a mantra to help you relieve all your built up stress, frustrations, or anger, you can keep a clear head at school and on the job.
Ruben Ramales’ Advice for Aspiring Architects
“The first step is always the hardest, but you have to take a chance and just get out of your comfort zone. I know it seems very cliché to say that, but after you realize that it’s sort of the first step, everything else just kind of falls into place. By doing that, the first half is done by that point and you start to realize that there’s a rhythm to doing things in life. So, the more you get out there to create an opportunity to chat with someone, the more knowledgeable you become about human interaction in any setting.You start learning about personalities and different facial expressions as well as the emotions and mannerisms.
You really start to fully understand the experiences of others. I think being observant of the everyday sort of subtle nuances can start to help you decipher certain situations in the future; especially the ones that require you to reach out to someone.”
“My last two years at NYIT really helped to just reinforce that I really like helping people and maybe the technical aspect of architecture such as drawings wasn’t my strongest strength. Working in a firm made me feel burned out, but my involvement in AIA made me hopeful that I could find something better suited for myself.” – Ruben Ramales on how he discovered what he was really passionate about in life.
“I began to think that maybe design wasn’t my biggest strength and also that maybe architecture school had made me a little too confident; almost cocky even. That type of attitude was translating into the interviews so it was difficult for me to find a job. I began to feel a little bit depressed about it and dealing with feelings of anger. So, I began to teach myself how to meditate and that helped me improve my mental clarity and focus.” – Ruben Ramales on using meditation as a way to heal from feelings of frustration.
“It’s always good to stay positive minded and especially in my line of work, it just helps you to be politically correct. So, in that sense, being emotional never helps out in any situation; not in the sense where the people can feel that you’re angry. People will feed off of energy and that’s the key thing. When you bring that kind of negative energy of anger or frustration around someone, they’re going to react and respond similarly.” – Ruben Ramales on the importance of positive thinking, energy, and emotions.
Resources Mentioned in the Show
- Connect with Ruben Ramales via:
- Learn more about and follow AIA Queens via:
- Check out the School of Architecture & Design at the New York Institute of Technology
- Discover more about The Trust for Public Land
- Find out more about Emerging New York Architects (ENYA)
- Read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- Learn more about AutoCAD software