How to Design Your Architecture Career with the Midnight Charette Podcast

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Hosts of The Midnight Charette Podcast, Architect, David Lee, and Architectural Designer, Marina Bourderonnet, dive deep into their own personal stories of what inspires them every day to work in the architecture industry, why you shouldn’t be afraid to leave your current job role for another, and how to ask for more challenging or different tasks at work that will help you develop the career you want. 

A special thank you to our podcast sponsors.

David Le| Architect 

In the beginning, David originally didn’t want to do architecture but was more interested in pursuing a career in industrial design during his high school years. Then one summer he went to an architecture camp at the University of Southern California, Exploration of Architecture and that experience completely changed his mind about architecture.  

He learned that architecture was more than just buildings and design but about people and bringing a community together. That is what’s kept him in the industry and fascinated by it every day of his education and now career.  

After graduating with his Master of Urban Design (M.U.P) degree from The City College of New York, not only is he helping design buildings but also teaches as well.  

Since launching his career in New York City, David understands that there are plenty of opportunities to seek out the perfect position or task that will help architects get to where they want to be in their career. While many people shy away from the idea of switching job roles, he knows that it is crucial and vital to make sure that he is happy with what he’s doing, grow his skill set, and learn from other professionals in the industry.  

Marina Bourderonnet Architectural Designer 

Marina was first inspired to pursue an architecture and design related career mostly by watching her father do various home improvement projects around their home. She loved to see him start from nothing and then create something amazing. She also enjoyed being creative and her first passion was interior design. However, she was advised by a teacher that she would have to hire an architect to help her complete her projects. 

Not liking that idea and wanting to complete everything on her own, she sought answers for how she could become an architect herself. She decided to explore the architectural design career even more and prepare for architecture school with a preparatory class at the Ecole des Beaux Arts de Beauvais which also helped her build a portfolio to enter a university. While completing her undergrad at the Ecole d'Architecture de Paris-Val-de-Seine, she studied abroad in California through the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 4th year Architecture Exchange program. Because of that experience, she came to enjoy the way architecture is seen in the USA compared to France. 

Since the start of her architectural design career, she has learned many lessons including why it’s important to speak up about what you want to learn at work or get out of job role before considering leaving the company. 

She has also experienced firsthand the emotional roller coaster of leaving a great work environment and with amazing colleagues when you know expanding your career at a firm with more challenging tasks and projects is more important for your individual development.  

What You’ll Hear on This Episode  

  • What specifically made David change his mind about studying architecture.  
  • How Marina moved from Paris to the USA to do a 1-year study abroad program in California. 
  • What she loved about studying abroad in the USA and why she highly recommends everyone studies abroad at some point in their college career 
  • How Marina and David came to jointly decide they wanted to move to New York City.  
  • The differences between studying architecture in France compared to the USA.  
  • The immense amount of jobs and opportunities that are available to architects in New York City plus why it’s so great for young architects. 
  • The different work experiences they’ve had and what lessons they’ve taken away from them. 
  • Why it’s a good thing for young professionals to move from one job to another in their first couple of years of work.  
  • What’s holding people back from changing jobs or offices when they know deep down that it’s time for a change. 
  • How David knew when one job or workplace was not the right match for himself.  
  • Why it’s important to speak up about what you want to learn at work or get out of job role before considering leaving a company. 
  • How a bad job experience can actually help you become clear about what you like in an office and what you want to do with your career.  
  • Why it can be hard to leave a job even though you know you have to move on with your career. 
  • What inspired them to start The Midnight Charette Podcast.  
  • What podcasts they love to listen to in their own time. 
  • How they choose which guests they interview on The Midnight Charette Podcast. 
  • What kind of atmosphere they like to create on their podcast with guests. 
  • Why they’ve chosen to evolve their Instagram and social media platforms to reflect their experiences rather than use it as a business platform. 
  • Signs that a company is not one you should join such as if you’re expected to work 50 or more hours a week.  
  • Why how many hours you work shouldn’t be the only thing your employer values about you.  
  • Whether or not you should consider entering a competition and if it’s really worth your time.  
  • How to make your own wins and opportunities happen by taking action in your own way.  
  • Their biggest takeaways as architects working in New York City.  
  • The importance of wrapping up on a project, being detached from it, and just be done with it.

Top 3 Takeaways from This Episode 

  1. It’s okay to move from one job to the next while you’re still in the first years of your career. It allows you to try out new opportunities and find out what you want to pursue in a job and which environment is best for you.
  2.  Take time to observe what is actually happening in your career and where you’re at in it. That’ll give you another perspective that’ll help you see if you’re lining up with your goals and desired milestones or not.
  3. Don’t be afraid to share your aspirations and goals with your employers; especially if you’re considering leaving your current job for another. Be vocal about what projects you want to work on and what skills you want to learn to help grow your career.  

David Lee’s Advice for Aspiring Architects 

“Young professionals need to view their careers as a design project and not just view it subjectively from their own perspective. The first thing any design student is taught in order to be successful is that they need to learn how to learn. Just the school they’re in, this ecosystem, they have to be aware of how it works. It’s the same thing when you’re a professional; it’s not good enough to just do good work. You need to view your career as a design project and everyone else around you as pieces of this puzzle. Always have a trajectory in mind of where you want to end up. That’s tough to do when you’ve just come out of undergrad and to be able to think that far ahead but you should at least have a general sense of direction.” 

“Just do it and go take action. So many people talk about what they want to do or wish would happen but they don’t do it. It’s a shame for anyone but especially so when you have the freedom to do it. If you’re 22 years old, young, don’t have kids, and you don’t have that financial burden, then this is the time to make changes happen if you want to do it. You have to do it and you can’t let this fear drive you.  

“When you work in an office, you have to see yourself as one person in it and understand how you relate to everyone else there in a social or a political way.”  

Marina Bourderonnet’s Advice for Aspiring Architects 

“Don’t be scared. Go try things out. It’s your story. You have nothing to lose but to learn; just go do it.”  

“Give yourself some goals and milestones of things you want to accomplish; don’t just focus on getting started working in a firm. Step outside of yourself and look at what you have accomplished and what you need to accomplish. From time to time, step outside of your body and look at those things just so you don’t get lost.”  

Favorite Quotes 

“When I went to architecture school, I found out right away that the profession and the practice are so much more broad, intense, and cover so many different areas. In that way, I fell in love with architecture and the idea that the profession isn’t just about buildings but it’s about people, psychology, sociology, geography and all these other areas. I thought it was so fascinating that all of these factors are directly tied to the built-in environment that most of us don’t really pause to think about and that architects have something to do with that. That’s what has kept me in the profession and interested in architecture since then.” – David Lee on what he loves the most about the architecture profession.  

“For young professionals, it’s a good thing to move around from one job to the next. If you find the one job that you love and it’s exactly the kind of work that you want to do and everything’s perfect, then stay there. It’s a shame when people decide to stay at an office not for the reason that they truly love it but because they’re afraid to make the jump to quit and find another job. I’ve always kept this rule in the back of my mind that if this isn’t the place that I know I want to settle down in, then I have to look for the next job that’s going to be better for my career. My job searching process has always been to look for what’s missing in my repertoire and then go to the next place that offers that.” – David Lee on why it’s okay to move around various jobs while you’re young and how to decide which job you should take on next. 

“If you’re interested in learning something in the firm that you’re at, don’t be afraid to voice it and keep asking. People will never blame you for asking to learn new skills and be involved in different projects. I often feel that people would rather leave their current office rather than try to find someone and tell them what they’re really interested in learning. That’s the first thing you should do before you consider leaving your job; to tell your employer what you really want to be doing with your career.” – Marina Bourderonnet’s advice on what you should do if you want to get more out of your current job before moving on to a new employer. 

“I once worked at an office with a great environment and we really felt like a family but I knew I had to leave in order for me to go where I wanted to be at in terms of my career. Everything was great but the work was not challenging enough for me. It is a hard decision to make because it is kind of like breaking up with the people you love and you want to keep in touch with them but you have to move on and it is difficult to realize when you have to move on.” – Marina Bourderonnet on the difficult decision she had to make to leave a job but how she knew it was the right decision in the end.  

“There are all of these opportunities that exist and you have to go grab them; otherwise you’ll never get one. There are also different occasions when you can make the opportunity happen on your own. It might not be directly presented to you as a competition but you can have an idea, put it out there, and someone might receive it and say, ‘Okay, let’s figure this out together.’ You can make something out of thin air.” – David Lee on how you can act to make an opportunity happen for you. 

Resources Mentioned in the Show 

About

Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect, and the creator of Young Architect, an online platform and community dedicated to helping the next generation of Architects become the most successful generation of Architects. 
Connect: Linkedin / Facebook / Instagram

Hi there!

I’m Michael Riscica, the guy behind Young Architect. I write to help Architecture Students, ARE Candidates and Young Architecture Professionals be more successful at school, work and life!

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