There are different ways to prepare for an architecture career. The least expected might sometimes be the best.
“Be careful what you wish for,” started resonating in my mind when my first job as an architecture graduate started. “..it may come true“kept coming up when all the kids slowly walked in, curious about what happens next. At that moment, some of the blurred ideas about what to do after graduation became terribly real. In such situation, you may try to calm yourself down thinking of how many presentations you had already managed to give in the past. You might even try to give your recent graduation some relevance and persuade yourself that since you managed to graduate, this will be a piece of cake.
Most probably it won’t.
I believe that working with kids will, however, help you even up and understand your priorities. It will make you reflect upon yourself in steps while trying to find your way to the children. And it will finally leave you perfectly ready for your next job.
Before that happens, there is a journey full of bumps and traps that you have to walk down. While giving a presentation about a project, all you hope for are expressions of astonishment and appreciative nodding. However, standing in front of a class full of speechless children who sit still in awe and complete silence is not equally ideal. Despite their small size and very young age, they can look pretty scary.
“Why don’t they move at all? Can they talk? Do they EVER blink?”
Different questions start popping out, slowly dismantling your confidence. When all the big, innocent eyes around a table join forces in a mutual shy and silent promise not to talk, there is very little left that you can do without stepping out of your comfort zone.
Doing so however results in a series of rapid events which break the initial silence forever. All of a sudden it seems that the kids start multiplying meanwhile you are trying to draw a dinosaur. Some of them are passionately drawing their own dino on a floor while others are dangerously hanging on a railing. Focusing entirely on being a monkey, they climb high above the ground. The higher the better. You may think you are clever enough to solve it by attracting all of them to play an improvised themed game. Nevertheless, your brilliant idea to go through different kinds of animals and their sounds quickly turns out to be a loud swirl of undistinguishable throaty noises. Noises nowhere close to a gentle cat’s miaow or to an elegant woof-woof of a dog leave you in panic and bewilderment of what these little people can do.
And that is the time when you finally start getting ready for any kind of future job, interview or a presentation. Sometime between receiving a seventh pencil which tip got broken and getting bitten by a snake with two arms and two legs, you realize that all you have to do to make it work is to be sincere. Because kids have some kind of a superpower to see through people’s hypocrisies, they quickly make you lose all your masks. They make you step out of your comfort zone and laugh about it. They teach you to be patient and calm. They remind you to make fun of yourself and most of all, they remind you constantly to be yourself. Because as soon as you finally start being yourself, not trying to impress anyone, dinos naturally start appearing on papers and monkeys climb down the trees.