I keep saying I’m going to be more vigilant about writing in this blog and I have failed horribly due to my school. Now that I’m officially graduated with a B.Arch from SCI-Arc, I’m about to embark on the real world that is…job hunting. I have been reluctant to work on my resume and my work sample/portfolio because as much as I would like to start my career, I’m still feeling a little bit lazy. Granted I’ve taken 3 months of since school ended back in April; however, our school held our graduation ceremony just a few weeks ago on September 7. I know what you’re thinking, “graduation ceremony in September? That’s weird”. Yes, my school marches to it’s own beat and is quirky like that, but with such small graduating classes it only makes sense for the undergraduates, who finish in April, to wait for the graduates who finish the weekend of September. I would say there’s only about 200 of us total in school that graduate. My class alone had only 47 students.
A lot happened from my last post back in February, so I’ll try to recap it.
After I fought off the flu, I was pretty behind in the amount of work I had to do. I tried to work my butt off to catch up, and thought I was okay but compared to my classmates, my project was fairly undeveloped as I still had no control over what I was attempting to do with my thesis. Every attempt was a failure, and even though I tried harder, I was getting discouraged. I kept plugging along though till we hit a deadline a month before thesis reviews, which is a big deal at our school. This deadline is known as “go/no go reviews” where you present what you have so far, what you plan to have and what percentages of each part is completed. Again to us at school this is a big deal. Thesis weekend is when everyone puts up their work and all kinds of Architects, teachers come by and review your thesis. This often draws a large crowd of outsiders like students from other schools, instructors from other schools just to see what our school is up to. If you got a “no go” you didn’t present that weekend and were given a two week extension, but don’t get the kind of celebration everyone gets from Thesis weekend. I thought I was going to be okay, but I was definitely wrong about that.
I got the dreaded e-mail that told me I would be receiving the two week extension. I was devastated, I cried for two days. I felt embarrassed that I would neither be finishing at the same time nor having the type of reviews my fellow peers would be having. There were only 4 of us that received this extension, it was heartbreaking. Of course when the letters went out, it began circulating the next day that people had received the e-mail and there was speculation as to who may have got it. I always felt like I was being judged when someone looked in my direction. Slowly it got out that I was one of the few, and everyone was surprised considering the kind of worker I am and how much time I put in. I had an outpouring of support though for it, and was not being harshly criticized as I had imagined. This just goes to show how insecure I am in my work and work ethic, and just myself in general.
A few of my classmates tried to talk to the Thesis coordinator asking if there was any possible way to still go that “glorified” weekend, trying to get the decision overturned. Each one of them were shut down. I saw each of these students have a one on one with the coordinator about it. After having to let down yet another student at their desk, the coordinator and I locked eyes from across the room. I knew he was going to walk to me and talk to me. When he reached my desk he asked how I was feeling. I told him, obviously I was hurt, but I wasn’t going to fight the decision. Even though I was feeling emotional, I looked for the positive. In the long run, I wouldn’t want to put up half assed work that didn’t look good. I wanted something I was proud of. So I told him I’d rather have the two weeks to put something amazing together than have something half-assed. He looked completely surprised by my answer and said he really appreciated my point of view. But because I was saying this with teary eyes and a shaky voice, I almost caused him to cry too.
When I look at the situation from an outsiders point of view, that weekend means nothing in the real world. No one remembers what goes on that wall that weekend. Every year projects go up and projects go down. Are all of them memorable? No, only a handful make an impact. Do future employers judge you on the extension? No, because you still graduated with the same degree as everyone else that did go up that weekend. Does that make my work less significant? No, because I still created a project from start to finish that was my research and my ideas.
It took me awhile to realize this because in the little bubble that is SCI-Arc, thesis weekend, as stated, is huge. But the more I told my story to non-architecture friends the more they questioned why I was so devastated. They asked questions like so what happens now? Do you still get the same degree? But if it’s only a two week difference and you’re still graduating, what’s the big deal? The more I was asked these questions, the more ridiculous it seemed that I was crying over it.
My review should was to only to consist of me, the thesis advisors, the thesis coordinator and the undergraduate director and my parents. It didn’t have the pomp and circumstance that “thesis weekend” had, it was supposed to be intimate. But the day of my review, I was surprised at the of amount of support I received from classmates that went out of their way to make it to my review. Aside from my parents and my friends that helped me put the finishing touches on my thesis, so many other classmates that I didn’t think would come to support me did. It felt incredible to know that so many people actually believed in me. I almost cried when I finished, because I was so relieved and ecstatic that I was done, and happy that it ended amazingly well.
After that I took a 3 month break leading up till graduation. Now I move to the next chapter of my life, my career, as well as aiming for my next goal: becoming a licensed Architect.