Managing Time, Family, and Projects with Jaclyn Tyler

Architect, owner, and president of Tyler Architecture and Planning PLLC and future 2019 President of Westchester Hudson Valley AIAJaclyn Tyler, joins the Young Architect Podcast host, Michael Riscica, to discuss why she left her full-time job at a firm to begin her own, how she handles raising a family while running a start-up, the pros and cons of freelancing, and how to end stigmas within the architecture industry. 

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Architect Jaclyn Tyler 

Jaclyn Tyler knew from a very young age that she wanted to become an architect when she saw a dollhouse that was given to her and her sister. Rather than being interested in playing with dolls, she would spend hours looking at the structure of the dollhouse. Not only did that childhood moment inspire her to learn more about design, but her mother’s cousin-in-law was an architect. As he helped Jaclyn’s parents draw up plans for an addition to their house, she would observantly watch and learn about what an architect does in their profession.  

While in high school, she was able to begin developing her skills by taking part in CAD classes offered at her high school as well as an architecture competition that was put on by a local community college. When it came time to choose which college she would attend for her undergrad, she was faced with a difficult decision based on tuition costs. She ended up attending a local community college for her core classes and then transferred to Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas. 

Since graduating from the University of Arkansas, she has worked at a variety of different firms while raising a young family. In 2007 she began to work on her Master's degree in Architecture through an online program provided by the Boston Architectural College. Most people believe that an online program does not have all the benefits that a normal, in-person class has but Jaclyn had a similar and even better experience compared to her undergrad.  

After many years of working for firms, Jaclyn decided she was ready for a change and began freelancing. Taking on jobs here and there eventually turned into a total career changer for her and she created her own firm, Tyler Architecture and Planning PLLC, once she received her license and Women of Business Certificate from the State of New York. 

Since then, she has been as busy as every by also participating in her local Westchester Hudson Valley AIA chapter as well as helping the elderly through the organization, Taking Control of Your Future.  

Through her experience as an architect, business owner, and mother to three amazing children, she has an incredible number of tips and advice to share with the entire industry when it comes to time management, learning how to take time for yourself and enjoy each day, and how we can begin ending stigmas in the industry about female architects and other minorities. 

What You’ll Hear on This Episode  

  • Her experience taking part in CAD classes offered at her high school as well as an architecture competition that was put on by a local community college. 
  • Her difficult decision between which college she would attend and why she did a year at a local college for core classes and then transferred to the University of Arkansas.
  • Her experience studying abroad in Mexico as a third-year student.  
  • How being sick led her to graduating with the 4-year pre-professional degree rather than a 5-year degree.  
  • Her experience doing the Master’s Online Program at Boston Architectural College while also being married and raising two young children. 
  • Why she was influenced by her fellow Boston College classmates to switch to Revit software for her main platform. 
  • How she juggles being a mother and working full time.  
  • The moment she decided to take a break from work and study for the AREs.  
  • What it was like to become a freelancer and then start her own business.  
  • The pros and cons of working at home as a freelancer or owning your own business.  
  • Her AIA article about being a woman in the workforce and what compels her to continue fighting against stigmas in the industry.  
  • The pros of having a much more flexible schedule as a freelancer and business owner. 
  • Her process receiving her PLLC and Women of Business Certificate from the State of New York and how that helped her start her own business. 
  • Michael’s own experience working in an office and how his boss was so open to allowing him to work in different places out of the office.  
  • The importance of taking a break from work during the day and coming back to it later with a fresh mind.  
  • Why you don’t have to take on every freelance project that comes your way.  
  • Her experience volunteering with the Westchester Hudson Valley AIA Board as well as Taking Control of Your Future for the elderly.  
  • Why it’s important to design homes while also thinking about a person’s future as they get older or if something happens to their health.  

Top 3 Takeaways from This Episode 

  1. Working in the architecture industry isn’t a precise 9am-5pm career experience. You have to be able to both manage your time and be sure to have some time for yourself to de-stress and relax. If you work non-stop, you’re going to be exhausted and not have the energy to put out your best work.
  2. You don’t have to take on every freelance project that comes your way. Your time is precious and you have to make sure you choose projects that you actually want to work on. If you don’t have time to take on something new or simply don’t want to, it’s okay to say, ‘no.’
  3. We have the opportunity to make a change in the architecture industry by ending stigmas about minorities such as women and female architects. Now is the time to start a conversation and start supporting everyone in the industry.  

Jaclyn Tyler’s Advice for Aspiring Architects  

“There are many opportunities to network but a lot of people don’t want to go to the conventions or local AIA meetings because they’re so expensive. However, the return that I have seen by going to these events is amazing. Not just for work but also for mentorship opportunities. That’s where you’re going to find your mentor. Your mentor is probably not going to be somebody in your office because you’re not going to go to them if you have a problem at work. By networking and going to the architecture events or even an after office Happy Hour, you’re going to find that opportunity.” 

Favorite Quotes  

“My definition of ‘networking’ is knowing all the right people to know three years before they’re the right people to know.” – Michael Riscica on networking. 

“Take opportunities and have fun when you can. I recently read an article that stated that 25% of architecture students in the UK are seeking some type of mental help assistance. That’s pretty disturbing but you do see the stress across architecture. So, I think learning to take the time to live in the moment and sit back to relax is so important. When I left my office job, it was hard and I thought it would mean that I wouldn’t have to work all the time. However, with my own firm, I do work all the time but I work when I want to work and I work when I need to work. I’m making sure that I enjoy each day and have fun with my kids. Take your time to enjoy the moment.” – Jaclyn Tyler on relaxing and taking time for yourself outside of work.  

“The amount of education that I received from my online Master’s program was just as equal as to my undergrad experience. I don’t know if the education aspect is as important to me as learning life skills, meeting people, and connecting with them. I know that the people in my online master’s program are much closer than the ones who participated in the same undergrad as me. I think it’s because you’re forced to establish that tight relationship because you’re not always face to face with each other but connecting online instead.” – Jaclyn Tyler on her experience doing the online Master’s Program with Boston Architectural College.   

“I get from an employer’s view that they want their employees to be in the office full-time. I’ve also never thought about myself being a female architect; I think of myself as an architect who is a woman and so to me, they’re two different things. So, after finishing the AREs, I imagined what it would be like to actually go back to working 9am-5pm but the reality is that an architect’s typical work day is never 9am-5pm or Monday through Friday. Even now with my firm, it’s never 9am-5pm; sometimes I’m working on Sunday or until 1am. However, at the same time, I’m also able to go to my children’s sporting activities or their birthday parties at school and more. I never had quite the same flexibility while being part of the workforce so I ended up making the decision to fully leave my job to begin freelancing and starting my own firm once I received my license.” – Jaclyn Tyler on why she chose to leave her full-time job to start her own practice and live by a more flexible schedule.  

“Not just with women and not just within the architecture profession but even in the construction industry as a whole, I know there’s this stigma to the Women in Business certificate that’s offered in New York state. However, I look at it as, ‘I don’t want to be given a job because I’m a woman. I want to be given a job because I’m qualified AND I’m a woman. Again, I think that being an architect and being a woman are two different things. I don’t think I should be handed something just because I’m considered a minority in this profession.” – Jaclyn Tyler on what it means to her to be a both a qualified professional and a woman in the architecture industry.  

“Unfortunately, I still struggle with the fact that there is such a stigma about minorities in the architecture industry. What can we do to fix that idea of minorities in architecture? It happens all across the board; not just with women. Some of us are in offices but there are many of us who aren’t anymore. We are practicing but why is it that more are leaving offices and what can we do to help women still stay in the workforce when they have kids? I think that’s so important and with the technology that we have today, we could have more opportunities to make it work. Unfortunately, the mentality isn’t quite there yet to allow employees to have more options such as working from home or being in the office from 9am to 3pm and then go home and continue working once my children go to bed at 8pm. It doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be any less productive if I’m not in the office.” – Jaclyn Tyler on what changes she hopes to see in the architecture industry. 

Resources Mentioned in the Show 



Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect, Founder and Head Coach of the ARE Boot Camp Coaching Program & Online Study Group.

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