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.