Before moving across the country to attend college in Baltimore at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), I had a pretty rough idea of what I wanted to do for a career. I had interests in art, design, and environmental science. I thought I had to just choose one of those interests to build a career out of, so I chose to come to an art school to study architectural design. In my freshman year, I added on a minor in sustainability and social practice, which has shaped my career interests to be more true to what I am really passionate about.
My early college experience was filled with experimentation in various art and design techniques and building up my skills in areas that interest me- digital fabrication, fibers, 3D computer modeling, woodworking, collage, etc. It was through learning multitudes of skills across art and design that I came to realize that my techniques, process, and framework of thinking will be more beneficial to my career path more than just learning one specific skill and only doing that thing. I thought I had to choose just one area of interest to make a career out of and then give up on everything else I wanted to do, when in reality, I have found that my interests often inform and are connected to each other.
I’ve had help along the way from both on and off campus resources to make sure I’m turning my college experience into a solid career foundation. I’ve taken advantage of resources from MICA’s Career Development Center such as how to format a resume, how to write a cover letter, or doing practice interviews with my peers (connect with your own college’s career center here). I’ve also utilized Baltimore Collegetown’s Internship postings board, which led me to this role! Even if you have an internship currently, it’s still good practice to keep an active eye on various job boards that are specific to your major or interests (because general job boards are exhausting to comb through)! Even though I know I won’t yet be applying for any of those full time jobs, it’s still good practice to see who’s hiring and what qualifications are common in the industry.
Another unique way to learn more about the ins and outs of the interview process is to seek out opportunities to be an interviewer for your college rather than practicing for your own interviews as an interviewee. Oftentimes colleges will ask students to be involved in the hiring process for higher level staff, such as the Director of Finance or the Provost. It was really eye opening for me to be a student interviewer at my school and see what really determines whether or not someone gets hired for a position. My biggest takeaway is that it is just as important that an opportunity/company is a good fit for you as you are a good fit for it. You can express interest for the job in the interview, but unless you can emphasize how this job specifically benefits your career path and would also benefit the company, your application won’t be as strong as someone who is confident that this is the job for them.
While my academic classes at MICA have helped me build up my skills and focus my interests, it was truly my experiences outside of the classroom that taught me that I want to stay in Baltimore after graduation and make my career here. As I said in a previous blog post, Charm City: Why I Chose to Go to College In Baltimore, I made it a goal my freshman year to walk around the city as much as I could to get to know it. I saw and learned all sorts of things on my walks, but I was struck by how many vacant buildings are in our city. After learning more about why this is from my classes, I see myself incorporating this feature of Baltimore into my design practice. Architecturally speaking, I am interested in adaptive reuse and historic preservation where older buildings are ‘adapted’ to fit present day needs for which they were not designed. Processes associated with construction and architecture are one of the most polluting industries on the planet, so in Baltimore there is so much potential to not let all that embodied energy in vacant structures go to waste. I love this city and I am so excited to see where my path takes me in Baltimore.
Written by Anna Brackett, MICA Architectural Design '22