Encouraging Future Architects at Ridgeview Elementary School's Career Day

Author: Jacob Rhodes, Architectural Intern

As a kid in elementary and middle school, career days for me meant being offered insight into the world of firefighters, police officers, and doctors, and rightly so, since I am fairly certain that's what everyone wanted to be when they grew up. Other than that though, a career in anything else wasn't really brought to my attention until high school. Even so, I never imagined a career in architecture was going to be my dream, and now looking back, I feel that if I was exposed to the world of architecture at an earlier age, I may have been better equipped for the road ahead. It was for this reason that I wanted to join Lonnie, a fellow VLK Architectural Intern, at the Ridgeview Elementary Career Day.

The students we met with, mostly fourth graders, had a good, overall understanding of what architecture is and how building, designing, and drawing all play a part, but of course, there were still a lot of things about architecture they did not know. When Lonnie and I began answering their questions, digging in deeper about what architecture is, they became very excited and instantly wanted to know more! Seeing their joy reminded me of the excitement I felt when I first began to understand what an architect does. Like many careers, architecture is hard to explain, even more so to younger people, but it was refreshing to see how well and widely accepted our explanation was.

Although they were only fourth graders, we were impressed by how smart and informed they were. Throughout our presentations, we learned that they knew about coding, and that many of them have designed their own worlds through a game called Minecraft. It was especially fun to be able to tell them that VLK designed the school they learn in every day! We also explained how our degrees in architecture are versatile and open many doors within the industry and outside of it, allowing us to pursue a variety of different design-based careers. I think this really encouraged the young people we met with.

I was humbled and grateful for the opportunity to speak to these students about my career choice and how valuable architecture is, not only to me, but to the world around us. My hope is that I was able to inspire a few of these young people to be open to a future career in architecture and hopefully have more insight and exposure to this career choice than I did when I was their age.

Author: Lonnie Bennett II, Architectural Intern

Growing up, my mother was an 8th grade counselor at the middle school I attended. If you didn't know any better, you could assume she was the principal because she practically ran the school! Everyone looked up to my mother because of how hard she worked and how much she influenced everyone's lives. She made it a point to make sure students had the opportunity to learn about different careers by bringing in professionals who were willing to educate students about their jobs and creating clubs, so students could learn about different occupations. When there wasn't anything about designing or building, I assisted my mother in creating a Lego Builders Club, so that we could learn about architecture and design in a fun and relatable way. To this day, the Lego Builders Club is still active at Caddo Middle Magnet. When I was asked to attend the career day at Ridgeview Elementary in Keller ISD and teach students about what architecture is, I was excited because I would have a chance to influence younger generations in a positive way!

Jacob Rhodes, a VLK architectural intern, decided to take on this task with me. Neither one of us had been on this side of a career day before, so we did not know what to expect. But as we started talking about what we do as architects, we could see student's faces light up! Hands shot into the air to ask questions about everything we said. We let them know that VLK designed their school and they were so ecstatic!

To explore the field of architecture more, we broke the students up into five groups and because we were able to connect with them on a smaller scale, we started to notice how intelligent they were! A lot of them have started to use a game called Minecraft to design small worlds, as well as use the program to learn coding software. They were excited to hear that they were already designers. We encouraged them and said that with a few more years of education, they would be well on their way to all sorts of careers. It was great to see the kids so interested in what we had to say because it made me feel as though we actually influenced them and helped them understand architecture as something that helps a lot of people.

I am very glad that we got to represent VLK in one of the schools we designed! I can't wait to participate in even more career days, so that even more kids can be inspired by what we do! Now, I understand why my mother had such a passion for mentoring students which open their eyes to endless opportunities for the future. I truly hope we were able to open their minds to the great world of architecture!