John T. White Career Day

Growing up in the public school system, I attended many career days and learned the vast opportunities I had available to me. Whether it be a doctor, lawyer, or police officer (these seem to be common careers children are exposed to), I was able to understand that with hard work and dedication, my future was boundless. A career in architecture was never really brought to my attention until I was in high school and I know if I was exposed to it at an earlier age, it would have benefited me in numerous ways. It is for this reason, I jumped at the opportunity to represent VLK Architects at John T. White Elementary School's Annual Career Day.

TJ Sanders, fellow VLK Architectural Intern, and I decided to work together to talk to students about what it is that we do as architects with hopes of building excitement about a career in the design/engineering field. Having experienced many career day presentations before, we knew that keeping kid's attention would be difficult, so we chose to split our time between talking and physical activity. We spent about 5-7 minutes talking about architecture, and then 15-20 minutes letting them work in teams to build skyscrapers with Legos. Each team worked together to create the tallest, most unique building. While some teams did not work together very well, some were able to put their own differences aside and create amazing structures.

This turned out to be the best idea we could have had! We were lucky enough to talk to only 1st and 2nd grade classes who were even antsier than we expected. They were defiantly interested in learning how something they already do, playing with Legos, could turn into a full career of designing and constructing buildings. Most kids think when they are young, they get to play and have fun, but when they 'grow up' they have to work a boring job. The key to teaching kids about careers is to get them excited about whatever the job is!

Through the activity, the students were able to think about Legos as tools for creation, not toys. This shift in mindset allowed them to easily understand the bare basics of what we, as architects, do. They also successfully worked in teams to accomplish one goal, just like we do as architects. It is so important for kids to understand that when they 'grow up', they don't do anything alone, everything is a team effort. The teachers appreciated us working on this team building skill as it is one that takes time for kids to learn.

At the end of our day, I was appreciative of the opportunity to help spread the word about the career I love and get future architects exposed to our world at a younger age. I recall leaving John T. White Elementary School thinking 'wow, those kids wore me out! I don't know how teachers do it all day. But wow, I feel excited about their future! This feeling is why teachers do what they do.' I immediately called my mother, a former elementary school teacher and assistant principal, and expressed my feelings of exhaustion and inspiration. I thanked her for all she did as an educator and she reminded me that I am an integral part of the education system by working at VLK. After this experience, I can easily relate to the teachers that will use my designs on a daily basis and I am inspired to give them the best work environment, possible, so they can properly educate our future leaders and architects.