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When I was eleven years old, my parents took me to the ribbon cutting ceremony of a new planetarium building designed by a friend of theirs who was an architect.
I don't remember it very well, but I suspect it had a deep impact on my psyche, as well as on my twin brother Joe.
Perhaps the array of stars spinning on the domed screen channeled some mystical energy field in the universe beyond, a force that set both of our destinies.
How else could we explain the fact that thirteen years later, I would be working for the architect who designed the building, and my brother would be working for the company who installed the planetarium equipment?
"There's Mr. Kenobi's building!" My parents would tell me whenever we drove past a new high rise in our town. How cool, I thought, to be able to make something so big in the real world. It was like Legos times a gazillion.
Obi-wan Kenobi was an architect, and a friend of my parents.
(Note: To preserve their anonymity, I have changed his name and the names of my coworkers to Star Wars characters.)
By high school, I had started thinking seriously about pursuing a career in architecture. My parents arranged a job shadow with Mr. Kenobi at his firm, Yoda Kenobi Architects.
Mr. Kenobi explained what architects do and what a career in architecture is like. I remember him saying that what was most rewarding for him was not the buildings he created, but the relationships he built with the people he created the buildings for. Then I got a tour of the office from an energetic young apprentice named Luke Skywalker.
At the end of my sophomore year of architecture school, I applied to Yoda Kenobi Architects for a summer internship. They had already hired an intern for that summer, but in September I got a letter from Mr. Kenobi saying he wanted to talk to me before talking to anyone else about an internship for the following year. My destiny was starting to awaken.
The next summer I was an intern architect at Yoda Kenobi Architects. I worked briefly with Obi-wan on a couple of projects and worked closely with Luke Skywalker on a number of jobs. Luke showed me the ways of the firm. It was a great summer and an enriching experience. I knew that this was the kind of firm I wanted to work for after I graduated.
I left college in December of 2001, cutting my final year short to move in with some friends in an apartment in Boston (Somerville, actually). As a progeny of the suburbs, I wanted to live a big city lifestyle, and I had enjoyed Boston during a year my brother spent living there. I had one more class to finish which I would take locally, but I thought I could get a jump on the job market by applying in the winter.
Problem was, there was no job market to get a jump on. That winter had come at the tail end of the dot-com bust, and just a few short months after some degenerate troglodytes had flown airplanes into buildings.
I quickly learned that architects were not what the universe wanted at that time.
Coming Soon - Episode V: The Employment Market Strikes Back