Why are all these young architects wannabes so upset about the process? I understood the process before I got started down this path. If you don't like the process I suggest you don't start down this road. Nobody makes you become an architect. I don't ever remember feeling like I was "used" working my way through the system. I just accepted it and kept my eye on the prize, to one day be a licensed architect.
As mentioned in the Archispeak Podcast, apparently many feel like they have been lied to in college. Dreams of becoming a "starchitect" and saving the world? My Dad was a mechanical engineer by degree and a lighting rep by profession. He dealt with engineers and architects on a daily basis. In my last quarter of my fifth year, I can remember my Dad saying "I don't give a damn if you are the next Frank Lloyd Wright, if you want a job when you get out of school you have to do two things. You have to know how to print and draw because if you can't do those two things nobody will hired you." I also remember my fifth year advisor telling me that the trouble with the fifth year students when they pick their thesis projects is they all want to save the world in one year. He said you can't do it, simplify your project and bring it back to me and I will let you know if I will be your advisor. In my final critique, the parting words from one of the invited professors was "I hope you don't put this crap out when you get out into the real world". So where in the hell would I ever have gotten the idea I was going to be the next Frank Lloyd Wright?
All I want to do is design buildings, any building. I will do my best to provided the best design to make the space as enjoyable and functional for the occupants. Where in that desire is the necessity for fame and glory?
I am not saying that the way we have gone about becoming architects is "the way". I have questions and issues about the process too. One thing I fail to understand is why we took away the option of letting experience replace college time? It use to be if you worked for an architect for so many years you could sit for the exam, but now you are required to have a professional degree, why? The exam, why do you have to take an exam and if you do why are there any requirements to take it? If you have to pass the exam to get your license, why can't anyone take the test and if they pass it become licensed? Why can't we just get our degree, spend "X" amount of years in an apprenticeship and then be given our license?
Why don't we make the test "real world" enough that you need a comprehensive understanding of the architectural environment to pass it. Have an eight hour design test and real world building code application questions along with questions about all the things that architects typically do during a project. If you pass it you're licensed. I would still be in favor of getting a degree or working a certain amount of time in the architectural profession. You just can't beat experience.
I love what I do and I am grateful to be able to practice architecture everyday. It is a privilege, not an entitlement. It amazes me the older I get the more I realize the less I know. I have more desire now to learn than I ever did at 18 or 23. I often feel less than qualified to do what I have been doing for the last 35 years.
It seems to me that the millennials fail to understand that architecture is not just about design. It is about life safety and that is why we have codes. Do they realize that if you screw something up bad enough you can kill people? I never hear this come into any conversations about being an architect. There is a great deal of responsibility about providing a safe environment to protect people. If they think about the amount of liability they have for each one of their projects, would they be so anxious to jump into the profession?