Growing up, I didn’t know what I wanted to become. Its difficult when you are young to find a place in the world. People say ‘the world is your oyster’, which is true to a certain degree, but I was constrained within an educational system which gave me no idea about the real world and what was out there career wise.
I knew what my strengths were and I knew what subjects I wanted to study at sixth form. I didn’t know where that would lead. Not a clue.
By the age of seventeen or eighteen, other people seemed to have an idea, they knew where they wanted to be in five years time. I really didn’t and the thought of being lost in the real world terrified me.
Most people don’t believe me when they ask me ‘why did you want to become an architect?’ and I tell them that I opened the big A-Z careers book in the library at sixth form and starting at ‘A’, the word ‘architect’ popped out. If I had opened a different page who knows what I might have become! Art and history were my subjects, I loved graphic design and when I saw the job description, that was it, my mind was made up. When my mind is made up about something, I go for it.
So that’s what actually happened. I went on to study architecture and I’ve never looked back.
I have been lucky in my career choice. I landed a summer job in my third year at university with Patrick Allen. Patrick’s practise was small, he had employed Paul a few years earlier and it was just us for a while, with Mary there to look after us all with regular tea and cakes!
I was lucky enough to carry on working while studying part time and I realise that I was truly blessed to have the support of the company during my studies.
I had such a good job I worked there for thirteen years. I then took a leap of faith, became self-employed and have not looked back.
I really love my job. Sometimes it is really hard work, juggling everything, meeting clients, preparing quotes and invoices, carrying out measured surveys and working up drawings without a team of colleagues to bounce ideas off.
However, it is so much more rewarding when you know you have made a difference in someone’s life. Making someone’s home better. Building someone’s dream.
I drive around a lot and I visited some potential clients this evening. The sun was setting and a beautiful orange colour enveloped the autumnal countryside. I loved the journey and I loved meeting the people. They had phoned around other architects and they were impressed with me, because I gave them time and listened to their ideas. I want to make their house better, to make a difference in their lives. This is what I want to continue to do, every day.
I didn’t find architecture. Architecture found me, and I’m thankful that it did. I found my place in the world and have the confidence to justify my career choice and be proud of what I’m doing, even if I did just pick it out of the first page of a book.