Gabrielle Fernandez - One Year Later


One year later, Gabrielle Fernandez (Gabi) shares her thoughts on this incredible journey in her first architecture job at Sparkflight Studios. The highlight of this year has undoubtedly been the learning experiences she has gained. Transitioning from the academic world to a professional setting has been eye-opening. 


Gabi has been working on diverse projects, with two that stand out. The Family Promise Navigation Center was an exciting project for Gabi who noted “I even had the chance to attend the groundbreaking, which was a memorable moment.” Additionally, she is currently working on the Rooted School, a charter school project, which is both challenging and rewarding. These projects have given Gabi a real-world perspective on architecture. 


Gabi far left


One significant aspect of her growth in this first year was understanding the intricacies of the Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and the permit process. These topics weren't extensively covered in school, but Gabi has learned so much about them. Preparing for meetings and navigating these processes has been a valuable learning experience. 


Gabi reflected on the skills it takes to navigate the architecture industry: “One skill that has been crucial in my journey so far is not taking things personally. In the field of architecture, you receive feedback on your designs regularly, and it can be tough to separate yourself from the critique. However, I've grown more confident over this year, realizing that critiques are focused on achieving the best project outcomes, not personal attacks.” 


Looking ahead, Gabi's goal for the next 2-3 years is to continue increasing her technical knowledge by collaborating with engineers, webinars, attending lunch and learns, and engaging in construction discussions with her mentors like Anne and Melina. 


In terms of pursuing licensure, Gabi has taken her first Architect Registration Examination (ARE) test, and continues to study for future tests, working towards achieving licensure in the future. 


“Our office culture has played a significant role in my growth,” said Gabi. She described it as an open, collaborative environment where everyone is approachable and helpful. “Being adaptable is the key to thriving in this setting, and I've found it easy to talk to everyone and seek guidance when needed.” 

Lastly, when it comes to work-life balance, Gabi has been fortunate to maintain a good equilibrium. Gabi expressed that she has been able to juggle work responsibilities and personal life effectively, ensuring that both aspects are fulfilling. 

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