National Organization of Minority Architects

Victoria AcevedoVictoria Acevedo is a senior studying Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA.

Through NOMA and her local Atlanta chapter, she received an opportunity to attend the Career Discovery Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design last summer. During the program, Victoria studied Landscape Architecture, attended interdisciplinary lectures, and explored the Boston/Cambridge area.

The following is the final post from her blog ”I Parked My Car in Harvard Yard” where Victoria looks back at her experience and highlights life lessons she learned as she finds her spot in the design profession.
More posts about Victoria Acevedo’s experience and projects during the Career Discovery Program here:

If you had asked me before I had left for Boston what would be one thing I’d take away from the Career Discovery program, I would probably say something about just being at Harvard and what opportunities the mention of that name on my resume could bring. I did not imagine I could undergo anything else than that, but, of course, silly me, I was wrong.

The Career Discovery Program taught me a lot about the design discipline, landscape architecture, as well as lessons outside of the studio. I learned a great deal about design and itsdrivers, but I felt that my growth as a person/young adult/designer is something worth highlighting.
 Here is a list of only some of the things I had the pleasure to learn:

1) Do not be afraid to re evaluate your choices

Before I left for this opportunity that was luckily given to me, I could not challenge anything. I could not challenge my future trajectory. Grad school is after undergrad. Then you get licensed ASAP. I was scarily going through the motions to become an architect without re evaluating because that is what I had learned and what I felt I HAD to do. This is what 19 year old Victoria had chosen three years ago, and this is what she will have to stick with. Architecture is not for everyone, but I felt that if I had re evaluated that had meant I had made the wrong decision to change into the field, all the time, money, and efforts had been wasted, AND I would be back to square one. I was and still am afraid of failure. But failure is okay. I cannot stress enough the DANGER of a blind trajectory, and I was completely oblivious to it.
Going through the motions just because you should is like being in a sleepwalk, but who knows where you will be when you wake up.
I learned this before it was too late, and this knowledge is invaluable.  Evaluate yourself. Re evaluate your decisions and what your goals are. You have time.

2) Do not be “squirrelly”

We are all guilty of being squirrelly.
This is something I learned back at Tech, but it was re enforced at the GSD. Your studio mates may be your competition for the upcoming review, but they are firstly your colleagues. We have a common goal. We should treat each other with respect and have each others best interests in mind. If you tell people that you are there to out do everyone, keep resources from them, belittle them, and don’t help people out when they are in need, you are a jerk. Share the nuts.

3) Work hard play harder!! Play hard but always work harder

It doesn’t have a nice ring as the former, but it pays forward. Life is about balance, sure, but you must work at something to receive. Whether it is studio, working on personal or career relationships, or in general, it is easy to get lazy and distracted, but make sure you are moving forward.

4) Get involved

No one else will bring opportunities to your door if you are not actively searching for them. Get involved, ask questions, and meet and cherish people. I have seen deserving people been given amazing(!!) opportunities because they are present and are always questioning.

5) Take some time to learn about yourself

I started this blog saying how it is extremely hard to write about myself in a few sentences. It still is very hard, but I am now consciously working on figuring out where my interests and passions fall. What are my interests? I am sure I have them. I know myself the best, and its all about pinpointing them. How can I contribute to the world? I ask because I know I can, but it is all about figuring out how. Once you know what you are interested in, finding a career that suits your taste will fall into place and you will, hopefully, never work a day in your life.
This list is only a sampling of what I have learned at the GSD, but are the only ones I can effectively put into words. These lessons I have learned are from the most resourceful and inquisitive bunch of people I have met in Harvard. It is through them, their stories, and their company that I can now turn and cultivate myself.