Architecture, Undergrad Tips
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That age old college question: Should I study what I love or what will make me money?

I want to thank my good friend for sharing her insight and wisdom. She has just graduated with her Masters in Architecture. She is powerful, independent and courageous bringing strength to everyone she meets and determination to every task she encounters. I asked for just a piece of her wisdom…

Q: People always ask the question: Should you go to school for your passion or for a degree that will get you a good job. Now that you’ve finished school and have had jobs throughout the entire process, what is your answer to this?

A: The idea of passion has vexed me since the moment it really became important, right before college when you are finally asked to determine a major, likely for a profession which you have no right to claim passion to. Passion, as many loved to tell me, came from this vigilant search in which you are this puzzle, with a  singular answer to light the way into the dream land called, “happiness.”

“If you find your passion, you won’t work a day in your life.”

What if I never found my passion? What if I didn’t have a passion?

Surely, I thought after all my self-entertainment in high school, one of the clubs, meetings, arts, sports, sciences, or extracurricular we all file ourselves into would level out into a clear passion. Perhaps mine would be costume design. Now this hobby didn’t’ just start from nothing, but came from a long line of poetry, story-telling, drawing, painting and having one anime-enthused boyfriend who inspired me to write into the wee hours of the morning. Yet, did all this lead to my passion? I thought it had.

Declaration time came. I was to choose my major, so I signed up for visualization. My parents fought to persuade me that a liberal arts degree would only lead me down a path of starvation, and perhaps they were right. Looking back on my costume plates, I see that I did master some self-taught skills, but my talents were just that…self-taught. Almost immediately after the acceptance letter came, my father had me change it to architecture. I convinced myself that architecture was design, and costumes are design, so architecture might just be the costumes of buildings? Maybe this logic makes no sense, but I found it comforting in a time when I felt completely out of place and out of control of my future.

When college finally started, like most freshmen, I found this new taste of freedom both exhilarating and exhausting. Studio life was a legitimate and ultimately unhealthy way of life that I would not learn to separate myself from for years. The first semester, I had no idea what an abstract idea was….and perhaps still don’t. My drawings were subpar, my models had no craft. I didn’t understand what an “axon” was or why I needed so many expensive markers where my craft pencils would suffice. I struggled and spent nearly every night working in a dirty, paint-covered classroom made of glass that froze in the winter and made all students look like zoo-animals during spring tours. I knew I didn’t belong and just waited for the opportunity to switch back into visualization classes.

I believed it was my second semester that my professor gave me paperwork to switch my degree plan. She didn’t think I could finish the year at the current mental state I was in. She knew I “didn’t want to be there.” I took the papers, went into a supply closet and cried. When I finished, I took myself back into the studio and continued to work, throwing the papers in the trash. In a way, she was correct. I had walked in with perceived notions of what I wanted to be, not fully embracing the opportunity I had been given. My attitude had to have been poor, my stoic and serious nature getting in the way of truly taking the opportunity to grow where I was at and understand the architectural profession for what it is.

It wouldn’t be for a few years until I really gained any skills worth mentioning. Like most things that are worth having, it took hard work, dedication, and practice, tons of practice, just to gain hold of what I needed to do. There was no way to truly understand my “passion” in one semester. Or even two! Passion isn’t a chase-able thing to me. Passion can’t be singular, because humans and our experiences are not singular. There is no word, no characteristic, no moment which we can truly describe any one person in our lives, so how can we ask to be so watered down into a simple “passion?” It is boring to assume one lone desire will fuel our lives completely.

To explain how to decrypt this human puzzle, I like to “simplify it” and say we all have broad spectrums of passions, skills, assets, and some we prefer more than others. Maybe the human experience is to throw a dart out into that spectrum and find peace in our decisions. Maybe we find that interactions with great people in our fields of work, location and mental or physical daily tasks are more meaningful to our state than finding “passion.” I don’t believe that there is any one job for anybody. Maybe if we surround ourselves in a positive energy, create meaningful relationships, and work toward a personal goal, we can find happiness in a range of tasks. Only through practice, work, and determination can we truly become “good” at a career.

When you are “good” at a career, you feel confident.
When you feel confident, you are happy.
When you are happy, that’s when you can find “passion.”

I am sure there are many, many holes in that logic, but in my journey I find this to be more true. Especially when looking back at the jobs I’ve held ranging from a vet clinic, a burger joint, a theatre, a woodshop, an architecture firm and oh so many more. Life knows what’s next. Some of these jobs had great people and others did not and honestly, I found that to be a bigger point on my daily happiness than the job itself.

Therefore, should you go for your passion or a job seeking degree? I say surround yourself with the best people and with work and time, you will find that a good job and passion can be one and the same.

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Texas A&M University Env. D Alum 16' UTSA Masters of Architecture Alum 21' Architect in the making, passionate writer, fashion enthusiast, moment maker, life chaser!


  1. That question comes up for ius musicians all the time. For us, the answer usually is to find a job so you can eat, and do your passion on the side. Its a bonus if you like your job.

    That’s what everyone does. Dr. Graham joined the air force to be in the band, Bo played bassoon before landing conducting gigs, Felipa has her media management group so she can work with pro-musica, Zuill teaches so he can keep performing.

    The trick is to find a hustle to enable your passion. If you turn your passion into you job… youre likely to begin hating your passion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like that: a hustle to enable your passion. This question is definitely difficult for all artists. I love that your comment answers the question so definitively. So many different views/ opinions. Thank you for your thoughts!


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