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Robert Douglass '05

What is your current job?

Project Manager for an architecture firm Why did you choose this profession? Architecture seemed like a great way to have a challenging career with a lot of opportunity to give back to the community and make a positive impact on the everyday lives of ordinary people. I was interested in questions of how the built environment influences our behavior, and it seemed like a more practical way to learn about these questions than pursuing a purely academic career.

What more do you wish to accomplish in your professional career?

Up to now, I have not actually finished architectural registration, which is my next goal. This is a long, complicated process, and anybody considering pursuing architecture after Haverford should look closely at how long it can be (it's a much longer process than becoming a lawyer, for example), as well as the impact of spending so much money on graduate school with a relatively small increase in earning potential compared to other professional programs.

I would like my next move to be in the direction of something that has a more direct impact on the lives of the disadvantaged, hopefully in a foreign country. I share the same long-term goal with most architects, which is to manage my own practice.

Tell us about a decision or change you made that turned out to be a positive career move.

When I left Haverford, my plan was to work for one year and return to graduate school. By the time I was accepted in the spring, I'd become so engrossed in a project that I chose to take a second year off and follow through the whole process of the building. The second year was tremendously valuable, helped me to re-evaluate my skills as a professional, understand the job of an architect more fully, and apply to a school who's philosophy complemented and challenged my own, rather than focusing on school rankings and prestige. By the time I started school again, I was miles ahead of my classmates in terms of understanding the complexity of the profession, and the project won some prestigious awards, too! If I'd stayed on track, I might have gone to a more impressive school, or make more money, but Haverford helped to reinforce that a rich intellectual life can be more valuable than financial success.

How has Haverford influenced your professional career?

Haverford gave me professional connections that I still rely on every day (my boss is a Bryn Mawr Alumna). My liberal arts background at Haverford helped me to develop a passion for theory and an attention to intellectual detail that prepared me for really excellent performance in graduate school.

 

The path that leads to the Gardner Integrated Athletic Center and Whitehead Campus Center. The GIAC opened in 2006.

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