Expectations are a hard thing to manage.
When I was young I wanted to be an architect, or an archeologist. I was dead set on one of those careers from as early as I can remember. I got interested in many things throughout high school: physics, music, teaching, but architect was strengthened throughout. I mean, an artistic path where you don’t really have to be good with your hands, or know anything about art, and where science is tantamount to creativity. It was perfect for me and my lack of skills.
So I went to college for architecture, and I did really well. I did surprisingly well in my art classes, which was an utter shock to me. I did alright in classes I thought I would nail, like history and theory (go figure I went on to study theory in graduate school). I graduated with honors and thought my life was about to be spread out before me.
But I couldn’t find a job. In fact I was one of the last of my class to find a job, almost a year later.
But when I did find a job it is a high design firm that was small which required me to understand the whole process from proposal to punchlist and I loved every second of it. I thought I would work there forever, even though they paid little, and worked me hard for long hours.
But they laid me off during a downsizing. And I went another year without a job in the field, working at a hospital in the meantime.
A good friend of mine hooked me up with my second job at a large firm working mostly on strip mall retail. Not exciting, but required a lot of travel which I loved. This is where I spent 9 months away from work due to a bipolar episode and lost my job because of it.
The world of Architecture never really lived up to my expectations of it. I never felt steady in my job. I never got paid what I wanted or worked on what I needed to work on. I felt like school had lied to me. But the truth was, I didn’t do enough research to understand the industry. Going back for my Masters only made matters worse as I was studying theory which was never being employed, even by the design firms. High theory firms were few and far between and probably paid worse than shit.
I think work in general never meets expectations, and I’m not sure why we aren’t more honest about real life with students.