I spent my day with Sandra Smith, a self-employed architect who has done numerous jobs over the years. She became interested in architecture in grade 11 and became an architect without an additional bachelor degree (you now need one to go to architect school).

We visited a condo in Yorkville that was just purchased and it was being renovated for an older lady with lots of antique furniture. The client used to live in a mansion and had tons of antique furniture, but is now downsizing. This job is a big challenge since the whole condo is being redesigned around the client’s furniture. Luckily for the client, Sandra is fully equipped to deal with these restrictions, as she is great at making floor plans and designing around specific needs. It should also be noted that in this job Sandra was also acting as an interior designer for the client, which happens sometimes.

When we walked into the condo it was torn apart and definitely needed some work. Sandra took out all of her drawings (a full binder of them) and made sure the contractor was building and demolishing everything per her requests. Her drawings are actually pretty amazing. They include every single detail and lots of instructions for the contractor. Sandra then checked in with the contractor to make sure everything was moving along and done right. She took notes on the recent developments of the job, which she said she would email to her client. She acts as both the designer of the space and a manager of the trades and the client’s representative. It’s a lot to handle and organize so I imagine it would be hard for architects to work on many large projects at the same time. Although being an architect must be a hectic job it’s probably also very rewarding since you get to see your visions come to reality.  

A Typical Day

The architect I shadowed is usually either in her office sketching designs, speaking to contractors, picking materials and finishes, or visiting job sites. However, what she enjoys the most is that everyday is different. 

Top 3 Perks

1) Bringing vision into reality
2) Job Autonomy
3) Activities during the day vary so you never get bored

Job Culture

Drawing and sketching, taking notes, talking to trades and clients, making inventories, configuring spaces, measuring spaces, using computer programs, buying materials, talking on the phone, indoors and outdoors


1) Bachelor degree
2) Apprentice and experience the life of an architect for 3-5 years or complete a masters of architecture
3) Write an exam to become a licensed architect

Skills Needed

Listening, communication, people, visualization, creative, imaginative, math and computer skills, drawing and sketching

The Field 

- Technology is creating more exciting projects so the field is advancing - It’s a hard field to enter - Most business is referral based or repeat business