When my family came to the US from Mexico, we landed in Austin where I attended Middle School and High School. I have a big family so I decided to try and live independently hence my move to Arlington TX, to attend the University of Texas at Arlington. Arlington is a city 30 minutes away and where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and a Masters in Architecture. While in school I had an internship in a small firm in Fort Worth but somehow I knew that the ideal place to live and work for me was Dallas. Some of the factors are ease of public transportation, social life, type of firms in Dallas, support networks, apartment neighborhood amenities, and proximity to work. Right now I am an architectural designer in the CallisonRTKL Dallas office, in the specialty retail team. Its been a great move and experience since I started here in July. A good handful of people here are friends from school and others, have been very welcoming and supportive. I actually moved to CallisonRTKL because they are very supportive and helpful in giving you the resources and the time to help you get licensed. They also have in house AXP person and they encourage and are very involved with the community and the AIA.
What sort of job opportunities are available?
Dallas has plenty of opportunities or young professionals, in terms of employment there are a handful of big-name firms in the area and there are also small firms where one can start their own career. If you are hands-on and are interested in philanthropic work, habitat for humanity has plenty of building opportunities in the area where you can put on a hard hat and hammer some nails. A lot of the firms get involved in events like CANstruction, bark and build and architecture book drives with organizations such as the AIA or the Latinos in Architecture committee. The Architecture Design Exchange and the AIA also have an architecture 5k, scholarships and travel grants, lectures and opportunities to participate. I’ve done the 5k before and had a lot of fun, firms do it as teams, this is a great team-building opportunity.
Tell us a little about your internship and exams. What were your successes/failures?
I had a great internship experience at Cornerstone Projects Group, I had a lot of exposure to construction, on-site visits twice a week and a great team at the office. A couple of months after graduation I decided to enroll in an AIA program to study and take the exams with a team. During this time my daughter was just born hence I was not dedicating sufficient time and dedication to studying. I’ve heard they’ve improved this program since but at the time that I took my exams I tried seating for three exams and had no luck on any. I’ve given it a break since, but I am starting to gather the study materials again and touching base with a couple of accountability friends who have gone through the process and can help guide me if I have any questions.
The key to getting through the process for me I think is going to be to surround myself with the right people, giving the process the importance and focus it needs and dedicating sufficient concentrated time to studying and going over the material. I’ve found a couple of friends so far so I am on my way to getting back on the grind and getting through the exams successfully on this round.
What kind of firm support did you have for the licensure process?
CallisonRTKL is very supportive with helping its employees earn their license, and they also help their employees grow by encouraging them to attend professional development lectures and conferences yearly. They have dedicated financial assistance for a lot of things that will help employees grow as professionals.
What is there to do during your free time?
Dallas has a big design community, so there are opportunities like the arts district where you can find works by Pritzker Prize-winning architects within a few blocks from each other. Works by I.M. Pei, Koolhaas, Renzo Piano, and Norman Foster, Morphosis, etc… Museums are also a handful here, the DMA has a very large public permanent collection on display and there are also some weekends where museums open late and food trucks line up by Klyde Warren Park to enjoy an evening out. On weekends you can also go to White Rock Lake, the Arboretum or the Dallas Zoo for an opportunity to reconnect with nature.
How did you manage to make friends the first few months?
I was fortunate to attend the UT Arlington so making friends was not too difficult since a lot of them stayed in the area and we see each other around and in different events. The people who attend most of these events are very friendly and very supportive so if you are looking for a place to make friends, any of the AIA events, and or lectures put together at the Dallas Architecture and Design Exchange are great places to start.
How did you find your apartment?
Living close to work was a big factor, so the proximity to the train was a plus and the amenities, green spaces and trails were also a big deciding factor for us. We love the Village so we decided to renew our contract, a very family-friendly, convenient location and amazing management.
What is your favorite part about Dallas?
The DART train and bus system are great, the bike trails in the area are amazing, our apartment also has a lot of places where you can go outdoors and walking trails. I think Dallas is a great city with plenty of opportunities for young professionals because it has plenty of options where to choose from and amenities and points of interest that will make anyone’s stay satisfactory.
This month, ‘I Want to Work In’ is sponsored by PPI, A Kaplan Company, the Preferred ARE Prep Provider of the AIAS.
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