"Why does an engineer with a degree in Oceanography want to be architect?"

Like any skyscraper, the heights to which a career can reach are limited by the size of its foundation.  The early parts of my career have been spent creating a wide, broad knowledge base upon which to build my career.  Since my first love in life is for the ocean, my undergraduate degree from Stockton College was in Marine Science (Oceanography).  This helped me to develop a thorough knowledge of coasts and oceans, introduced me to different standards and practices for research and laid the initial groundwork for developing my written and verbal communication skills.  My first position was as a student worker where I was part of a team of surveyors working on monitoring changes to beaches along the New Jersey coast.  After graduation, I began working full time, spending an equal amount of time in the field surveying and in the office preparing reports.

From this entry level position, I joined a coastal and waterfront engineering firm where I became part of a team working on many different and exciting projects ranging from structural inspections and repair designs to dredging and beachfills to shoreline restoration and protection.  While many of the tasks associated with this position were not things I had previous experience with, my ability to learn on the fly helped me to quickly adapt to my new responsibilities.  The most vital lessons learned at this position were the importance of a broad knowledge base and the ability to be a utility player as well as essential project and time management skills.  My hard work and adaptability paid off and I was eventually promoted to project specialist and appointed the office manager for the branch office in which I worked. 

Since the engineering work I was involved in was only indirectly related to my educational background, I decided the most beneficial career move to make was to obtain a second degree, this time in Civil Engineering. Although I excelled during my first semester back in school (4.0 GPA), it was at that point that I did a little soul searching and came to the conclusion that, although I enjoy engineering, investing that amount of time and money to obtain a degree simply for advancement within a company wasn’t worth it if it wasn’t a true passion of mine.  Investing these resources should only be for something I really love and can see myself doing for the rest of my life.  At this point, without much of a game plan or many ideas of what the future would hold, I began to pursue a path in my life's other great passion, architecture.

Currently, I am enrolled in the part-time evening program at Drexel University and expect to obtain my Bachelor of Architecture degree in 2013.  While this program has been time consuming and difficult, it has been extremely rewarding and exciting and taught me many things that are valuable in both life and career, including time management skills, the art of presentation and persuasion, and the finer points of the architectural design process.  Despite the work load of the architecture program, combined with a full-time career and the everyday intricacies of life and family, I have not only survived, but excelled, with a 3.77 GPA.  I'm still not sure exactly what the future holds in store, but I know I have the tools and knowledge base to handle anything that comes my way, and still move forward.  Besides, if I did know what the future had for me, what fun would that be?

Last Update June 1, 2011 | (c) Edward S. Gorleski | All Rights Reserved