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Got my first job! Working as an architecture educator

Got my first job! Working as an architecture educator

July 23, 2020 at 11:45am

Name: Ramses Terrero

Hometown: Camaguey, Cuba

Degree/Major: Architecture 

What year did you graduate? 2019

Where are you working? I am a dual-enrollment professor at Design & Architecture Senior High School and an adjunct professor at FIU.

How did you get your job?

During my study abroad in Genoa, Italy, I shared my desire to teach with my thesis professor, Eric Peterson, and his wife Darci Pappano. Once back in Miami, I remember being in the architecture building with Darci and professor Henry Rueda and she told him about my aspiration, which ultimately encouraged me to tell Jason Chandler, the chair of the Department of Architecture. Three months later, I received an unexpected call from professor Chandler with a job offer.

What was your greatest fear going into your first job, and how did you face it or overcome it?

My greatest fear was definitely my lack of experience as a proper educator. Up to that point, the most teaching I had ever done was through my very small YouTube channel. To think that I was going to be responsible for the education of 50 students, aspiring architects and industrial designers, was a lot to digest. However, during my first week, once I had been introduced to the students, it all felt so natural, like I was supposed to be there. I remember being in their shoes not too long ago, and the drive to teach and prepare them with everything I wish I knew at that time and all my experiences as a recent grad and as a young professional quickly drove out any insecurities.

What surprised you the most about your first job?

What surprised me the most was the support and encouragement from other fellow professors. Seeing how the roles were different since I was previously their student and suddenly, I was welcomed into "their team" was a very compelling feeling.

How has the pandemic affected your job? 

The fact that we had a virtual transition was more effective for my courses as I typically had between 18-30 students per class with a mixed bag of architects and industrial design students, allowing me to separate them by strand and then into small groups to more effectively reach them.

What advice do you have for those beginning the job search process?

Don't be scared, don't wait, and don't settle. I suggest getting internships or part-time positions within your field before graduation so you can know what to expect. There is a big difference between the education and professional qualities of this career, even within the different scales of professional offices. You need to see what works best for you, and what you want your goal to be as an architect or designer.

Don't be scared to apply for higher level positions or feel insecure about your work when applying to your "dream" firm; you never know what an employer is looking for. More often than not, the only thing standing in your way is yourself and your lack of confidence. 

What does a day on the job look like?

As an adjunct professor, I do not teach full-time. I have two morning classes Monday - Friday at the Design and Architecture Senior High School, where I teach a total of 50 students computational applications in design. We dive into a multiplicity of presentation and 3D modeling work in order to bring a design to life within their respective strands.

Afterward, I go into my full-time job as the chief designer & coordinator for a small architecture office that focuses on governmental work and residential projects.

How has your day-to-day work life changed due to the pandemic?  

The biggest effect this had was the fact that I had scheduled two to three classes per day with morning and afternoon options that could best facilitate the student’s time-frames through these difficult times. The main difficulty was I had to teach two to three full classes per day in addition to my full-time job. Nevertheless, every class was an enjoyable and productive experience!

How does your job connect back to your coursework?

My coursework is definitely the core of my teaching. It has been a pivotal factor in the rise of my education career. The charisma and knowledge all my professors gave me during my time within the Department of Architecture is definitely what I try to bestow upon my students. I try to always carry my classes as it was a professional studio. 

How has your transition from school to work been? How do you balance your time?

Two years before graduation, I actually started working as an intern designer and drafter for an engineering company in which I started learning the process it takes toward getting a project finished alongside professional office culture. Once I graduated, I was lucky enough to acquire a position as the lead designer for a small office after a short of amount time of working there. While it might sound organic, I spent many months applying, going on interviews, and no place really felt like "it was the right fit," until I came across this one. The main factor for my staying there was undoubtedly a great boss and great company.

As to balancing my time, it has definitely been a learning experience. Teaching every morning to start my day before going to work 40-50 hours a week as a forefront role in an office, while managing my own design and photography company has been a little exhausting to say the least. But, as time has gone by, I'm starting to see my true passion and have been slowly letting go of some things to focus completely on my goal, teaching.

What’s been the coolest thing about your job so far?

The coolest thing about my job is, by far, seeing the amazing progress the students make throughout the course. Witnessing how their design intentions and mentality starts to alter and grow is the highlight of my day.