Writing, Photography and a Love of Architecture with Jared Smith

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On today’s episode of the Young Architect Podcast, Michael chatted with his good friend and fellow architect about working in New York City, raising a family, studying for the AREs and helping minorities grow their careers through the organizations, NOMA and NYCOBA.

Jared Smith Young Architect Podcast Writing, Photography and a Love of Architecture with Jared Smith Podcast

You can also listen to this podcast on YouTube by clicking here! 

Architect Jared Smith

Good friend and fellow architect, Jared Smith, shares his experience working in New York City and helping minorities explore the world of architecture and grow their careers through the organizations, National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and the New York Chapter of NOMA: The New York Coalition of Black Architects (NYCOBA).

Jared is also the owner of the online blog, Architect Owl, where he shares his writing, photography, and love of architecture through various collaborations.

Jared knew he was interested in Legos from a young age when he played Legos with his brother and they loved to disassemble different objects around the house to understand how everything fitted and worked together. When Jared found out what an architect was, he immediately knew that he wanted to follow this career path.

Just like the Young Architect Podcast host, Michael Riscica, Jared also went to architecture school at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT). Recently this year, Jared was named one of 20 Distinguished Minority Architects and Designers You Need to Know

What You’ll Hear on This Episode

  • How Jared became interested in architecture.
  • His experience going to NYIT and his education.
  • How Jared began his career as an architect in New York City.
  • Jared’s side interest in blogging, photography, and collaborations on his blog site, Architect Owl.
  • How Jared organizes his time to work on different projects.
  • Jared’s top tips for studying for the AREs and bouncing back after failing an ARE.
  • How Jared studied for the AREs while also raising both his son and daughter.
  • Why it’s a good idea to not tell people that you’re taking the AREs.
  • How Jared balances his career and family life.
  • Jared's participation with the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and the New York Coalition of Black Architects (NYCOBA).
  • Jared’s advice on confidence, learning, and surrounding yourself with people that will help you grow in your profession.

Top 3 Takeaways from This Episode

  • Don’t tell people that you’re taking the exams. It might seem like a good idea at first, but sometimes people aren’t always positive about it. They might tell you how hard the exam is or ask you stressful questions. It’s okay to tell family and close friends, but it’s not necessary for your coworkers or other people in your circle to know about it.
  • The company you keep around you predicts your future. You want to surround yourself with people who are active in their field and want to grow and be as productive as you.
  • Staying off of Facebook can help you focus on the AREs, but if you still want to talk with an interactive community while preparing for the exams, join the NCARB Facebook group.

Jared Smith’s Advice for Aspiring Architects

“Periodically check your current work environment and compare it against what you thought you wanted or what you really want out of your career. Sometimes you may be close to it or you may be far away from it. That may be fine, but you still need to assess it so that you can see where you’re going in your career. You might go astray and not really notice it at first and then think to yourself, ‘Oh, when did I do this when I really wanted my career to go in this direction?’ You have to design your life because no one is going to do it for you.”

Favorite Quotes

“The AREs are just something that you have to get done. Don’t wait to take them; life happens and there will always be an excuse for you to not take them. It’s better to get them out of the way as soon as you can. You don’t have to get them done quickly. Just focus on them and getting them done as early as you can.” – Jared Smith’s advice for taking the AREs.

“A lot of people are afraid of failing, but it’s not such a bad thing. As long as you learn from the experience and keep going. I did fail one of the exams and I was kind of bummed about it, but I took some time to recompose myself and hop back on to studying and taking the exams.” – Jared Smith on his experience and advice with failing an ARE.

“I chose to not tell other people that I was taking the exam because there’s usually always going to be someone negative. They’ll tell you that you can’t take the exam or it’ll be too hard. I didn’t want to open myself up to that so I just told close architecture friends and family.” – Jared Smith’s advice on not spilling the beans and telling people that you’re taking the AREs.

“Having a career as an architect and raising a family has its difficulties. Work-life-balance is basically a myth. It almost seems impossible to have just enough time for everything and architecture is known for having longer hours. I have to make sure that I have enough time to be with my family; to have them know that I love them; to be there for them and to share those experiences with them.” – Jared Smith on splitting his time to be dedicated to both his architecture career and his family.

“They are both long-standing organizations and their mission is to champion diversity within the design profession by promoting excellence, community, engagement, and the professional development of its members. It’s pretty known that there isn’t a lot of diversity in architecture and these organizations are trying to break that up and let it be known that there are great minorities and people of color doing amazing work in the field of architecture right now.” – Jared Smith on how NOMA and NYCOBA are helping the next generation in urban cities like New York City to learn about architecture, design, engineering, and more.

“Architecture is a broad, professional field in which anyone can do many different types of jobs. Within the profession and whatever you’re doing, it’s definitely important to have confidence and believe in yourself. I’m not saying you should be cocky or arrogant, but confidence can really go a long way.” – Jared Smith on the importance of being confident.  

“No one knows everything and sometimes it’s not your ability to know something that actually matters. What really matters is your ability to be able to find the information that you need or to find someone who does know. We don’t have to be set in our ways and think we have to know everything.” – Jared Smith on the importance of being able to find information you need to seek it from other people.

Resources Mentioned in the Show

If you enjoyed this podcast, you should also check out:


Michael Riscica

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

Hi I’m Michael Riscica.

My goal is to help as many people as I can (at a variety of price points) PASS their exams and succeed in their architecture careers.

This is accomplished with the following offerings:

Free FB group that is 16k+ members strong
Low-cost, high-value upcoming webinar
Affordable and Quality ARE Study materials
Professional Development and Powerful Networking
Premium 10-week ARE study program