The Light at the End of the Exams with Kristen Stanford

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Kristen Stanford

Today’s guest joins the podcast after recently finishing up her architecture exams. Kristen Stanford remembers how she initially got interested in architecture. Her family used to vacation on the outer banks of North Carolina when she was a child, and when she was there, she would notice all of the big, beautiful beach houses. This led to her wanting to design those beach houses. 

Today, Kristen no longer wants to design beach houses, but she does think it’s neat that they inspired her initial interest in architecture. Kristen attended Philadelphia University (now Thomas Jefferson University) to do a very strenuous 5-year B.Arch program. After finishing the program, Kristen wasn’t sure that she wanted to continue with architecture, so she began working in pharmaceuticals while earning a master’s degree in structural engineering.

After earning her master’s, Kristen felt that she needed to give architecture another try and fell in love with it all over again. She also met her husband and moved to a resort town in Colorado where she currently lives and works.

In today’s episode, Kristen discusses her time in the Peace Corps, her feelings about living in Colorado, her current work projects, and how she felt about the exams and boot camp. Listen in to hear Kristen talk about why it’s so important to listen to your body and consider your own future post-exams. 

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Why Kristen got interested in architecture
  • What architecture school was like for Kristen
  • What happened for Kristen after school was over
  • Kristen’s time in the Peace Corps
  • Kristen’s experience studying for exams and in the boot camp
  • Whether Kristen enjoyed studying and boot camp
  • Advice for people studying for their exams
  • How Kristen likes Colorado
  • The type of work available in a resort town
  • What’s next for Kristen
  • What it was like to be part of the inaugural Young Architect Conference group
  • How Kristen’s part-time jobs factor into her life
  • The types of projects that Kristen is working on in her current job
  • Kristen’s advice for aspiring architects
  • What Kristen knows now that she didn’t know then
  • The book that changed everything for Kristen
  • Kristen’s favorite resource, product, or gadget
  • Kristen’s best timesaving trick
  • Kristen’s alarm clock situation
  • How listeners can find Kristen

Top Three Takeaways from This Episode:

  1. Listen to your body
  2. Push yourself, but take breaks when you need them
  3. If you’re able to help others, you should

Kristen’s Advice for Aspiring Architects:

“I would say to think about your future. And I don’t mean future in terms of what kind of architect you want to be. I mean your future in terms of what you can do after you’re done studying. Studying is so hard, it takes up so much time, it takes up your entire life. And for me, as I neared the end and was getting frustrated and struggling with studying, I thought, you know what? My future when I’m done studying, I’ve got endless amounts of time. I can do whatever I want. I set new goals, next year I’m also looking forward to working on my Spanish and taking guitar lessons and learning to cook, and actually enjoying cooking. And so, it’s really important to think about that future when you’re not going to have to study anymore and you get all that time back to spend it with your friends and your family and to do whatever you want to do. It’s really important, but it’s really a struggle when you’re going through studying. So think about your future when you can have a life again, and that will really help you pull through those exams.”

Favorite Quotes:

“What I talked about before. Really just trust your body.” –Kristen on what she knows today that she didn’t know back then

“I don’t have one book, but I have a genre of books. And for me it’s memoirs.” –The book that changed everything for Kristen

“I know you don’t want us to say smartphones, but I don’t know if I can say my Apple watch? –Kristen on her favorite resource, product, or gadget

“Getting up early in the morning.” –Kristen on her best timesaving trick

Resources Mentioned on the Show:
Kristen Stanford
Kristen on Instagram



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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