Why I gave up architecture to be a CAD drafter

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What better inaugural post could I write than the one that explains why a cum laude B.Arch gal like me is doing AutoCAD drafting and general graphics geekery and techy stuff instead of climbing the ranks?

I’ll be honest with you — I really did intend to become an architect. At one point. That’s why I chose University of Oregon over UC Berkeley, because I wanted a professional, accredited degree to fast track my way to that “AIA.”

But desires change! And thankfully, it happened sooner rather than later for me.

It turns out that I’m actually really good general graphics geekery and techy stuff. And I enjoy it a LOT. And I’m fast. And if I’m not fast, then I invest in educating myself to use better techniques because I’m just not into taking 6 hours to complete a drawing that really only takes 2.5 hours if you have the right information and skill set.

Here comes the real truth, though. You ready?

It also turns out that I don’t have a passion for design and building. And I was never really that good at it, anyway. My final reviews were never as amazing as those of my classmates, and I cared more about the people, culture, and community of the site than the design itself.

Yes, I was very successful in school. I was really good at getting great grades and doing well academically, as I always have been. Sure, cum laude, yada yada. Sure, 3.83/4.0 GPA and president of this and that and never pulling an all nighter for my entire gig as an architecture student.

That last one should have been a BIG hint that I wasn’t in the right field. All-nighters are applauded in architecture school! I got some flack for planning ahead and sleeping instead of cramming.

Go figure though, speed and efficiency are my best attributes as a drafter now. If I don’t have to charge for an all-nighter 8 hour session of AutoCAD lovin’ then I won’t.

Yes, the architecture and construction industry is changing the world and filled with talented artists. And it took me a few years to figure out that I don’t really want to become one of them.

Yes, structures are fascinating, and the time, energy, and love that go into creating them is a remarkable process. To this day I can’t walk into a new building without analyzing it. Other people look for the directory and map, and I can’t help but critique it and think “Why did they face it this way? Oh, they went with the expensive floor. Not enough shading, though. Boy that is an ugly vestibule.”

But ultimately, becoming an architect wasn’t for me.

The lesson is this: I gave up architecture to be a drafter, and I’m proud of my short commute, quiet life, and ability to pay for all of my student loans doing only the kind of work I like doing — AutoCAD drafting, general graphics geekery, and techy stuff. And I’m pretty damn good at it.

YOUR TURN: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from choosing your profession?

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