The Architecture Students Summer Break

This blogpost is sponsored by #ArchiTalks and this month’s Architect blogging theme is: Summer Break.

Please check out the other architecture bloggers’ takes on the same topic. I have provided links to their articles at the bottom of this post.


The Architects Summer Break

I had a hard time connecting with this month’s topic.

Summers are rarely ever a break for me. I live in Portland, Oregon, and we like to be dramatic and pretend it rains from fall through spring.  Summertime is when everyone wants to be under construction.

Every single summer since I graduated architecture school, I have had weekly meetings for a project under construction. OK, except for 2010. That summer’s project was to find work and not get evicted.

Taking time off while having a project under construction can be really annoying. No matter how much I do before I leave, it always feels like I come home to a mess. It’s never convenient; I have gotten phone calls interrupting my time off or not gotten phone calls when I should gotten them.

The fact that I have requested time away from the office, always seems to punish me whenever I finally arrive back at my desk.

I could keep complaining about how I haven’t had a summer break since I was in architecture school, but being a Negative Nancy about architecture isn’t why I write this blog.


San Marco square in Venice, Italy early in the morning

The Architecture Students Summer Break

Let’s be honest: One of the biggest perks of being a student is the summer break. There are soo many opportunities for architecture students who suddenly have several months of time to burn before school starts up again.

Here is a quick list of possible ways for an architecture student to spend their summer break.


Traveling is so incredibly important for future architects.

I believe experiencing other cultures and seeing how people live in places around the globe, is actually more important than most of the stuff you learn in architecture school.

It’s important to see how things are constructed differently in different geographic locations. I was recently in Boston, and it amazes me how environments are built significantly different—and that’s just in different parts of America.

Even if you live in New York City, Los Angeles or Rome, you still need to travel as part of your education as an architect.

One of the biggest travelling lessons that I repeatedly learn over and over again is not to over plan everything. When there is time to relax, arrive in a place, meet new people and discover things, a magic happens that couldn’t have ever possibly been planned for.



Please volunteer somehow during your summer break.

Architecture is a service profession. I like to believe architecture is rooted in doing good and making the world a better and safer place. It is everyone’s responsibility to cultivate that.

For the past few years I have been volunteering for Architects in Schools, a program that brings design professionals into elementary schools to talk about design and maybe get them to look at their environments a little differently.

Since I got involved, I have made it a personal mission to actively recruit more design professionals, young architects and students who all tell me that they are too busy to volunteer.

It always amazes me how many people will jump through hoops when they’re looking for opportunities to advance their own careers. But when the time comes to give back to the universe or to others in need, suddenly everyone is “too busy”.

I continually learn that the biggest part of volunteering is just showing up, which takes little energy. Just the fact that I have taken the time out of my busy day to hang out with a bunch of kids and answer all their questions about what it is like being an Architect is a really, really big deal in their little worlds.

There are tons of opportunities for volunteering, no matter where you live. It doesn’t have to involve architecture or be a huge commitment. Just give back or help out. The more you can unconditionally give your time and energy, the more you’ll see interesting and unique opportunities created in other areas of your life.



Summer break is the perfect opportunity to make some money and start building your professional experience.

There are 2 types of jobs for architecture students: Architecture Jobs and Non-Architecture jobs.

Architecture Jobs are perfect for summer breaks, when you have an abudence of time and energy to immerse yourself into the office and work on real life projects.

Non-Architecture Jobs typically require less mental bandwidth. They are perfect during the school year allowing you to channel all your problem solving energy into your school work.

The beautiful thing about taking a summer job with an architecture firm is the time constraint of going back to school at the end of the summer. One of the best things an architecture student can do before they graduate is getting experience in many different shapes, sizes and flavors of architectures firms. This often lessens the shock that recent graduates get when they realize working in the profession is drastically different than it is in the sanctuary of architecture school.


Taking A Summer Abroad Program

Studying abroad during the summer break is a really great way to get ahead in architecture school. Not only are you getting valuable coursework done, but pairing travelling with architectural education facilitates an incredible amount of growth for anyone during this experience.

If you are serious about architecture school and strive for excellence, you need to study abroad. No excuses.

It’s expensive, exhausting, and a ton of work. But the people who make the commitment to study abroad come back as changed people and better architecture students.

Picture the place where you live. Now envision that everything going on in architecture is happening on an island.  The biggest part of any architect’s education is understanding how the world operates outside of that island. I can’t say it enough: Architecture students need to travel.


Enjoy Your Summer Break

Not all summer breaks are equal. Some summers are significantly more fun than others. Had I known that, I would be looking back 8 years after graduation and saying “I haven’t had a summer break since I graduated.” I may have been more strategic and appreciative of how I used that time off when I had it.

Nevertheless going to architecture school is a lot of work and it ain't no small thing.

Keep working hard at architecture school and enjoy your well-deserved summer break.


Visit The Other #ArchiTalks Bloggers Posts About: “Summer Break”

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect
Architectural Bucket List

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture

Marica McKeel – Studio MM
Summer Break = Extreme Architecture

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet
Summer Break and Aunt Loretta

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect
summer break

Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect
2 Simple Systems That Will Transform Your Studio

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC
Vacationing with an Architect

Cormac Phalen – Cormac Phalen

Andrew Hawkins, AIA – Hawkins Architecture, Inc.

Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design
Summer Getaway

Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design / The Missing 32% Project
#Architalks 10 – Give me a Break!

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect
#Architalks 10 – “summer break”

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC
Architalks: There, but not there

Amy Kalar – ArchiMom
Summer Break

Architect: Gift or Curse?

Brady Ernst – Soapbox Architect
The Education of an Architect

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect
Summer Vacation

Tara Imani – Tara Imani Designs, LLC
A Brilliant Summer Break

Eric Wittman – intern[life]
summer break [or] summer school

Sharon George – Architecture By George
Summer Break #ArchiTalks

Brinn Miracle – Architangent
Summer Break


Michael Riscica

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