How Michigan's youngest licensed member chose architecture
There’s value in simply showing up and asking for a job
Scott Reynolds, AIA, has worked at SA+A Architects in Lake Orion, Mich., for seven years—an impressive feat, considering he's just 24 years old. Not only that, but he also passed the ARE in late 2015 and became a licensed architect. How has such a young man been able to come so far so fast? As is often the case, confidence is key.
"I walked in off the street," Reynolds says, "and asked for a job."
How old were you when you enrolled in architecture school? And what school?
I enrolled in architecture school at the University of Detroit Mercy at the age of 18, and graduated with my masters of architecture in 2014 at the age of 23. At the age of 24, I received my registration in the state of Michigan.
Were there any interesting approaches that enabled you to get your license at 24?
At the age of 17, as a junior in high school, I approached a local architecture firm and asked for a job. I was having lunch with my mother in a restaurant across the street from Stephen Auger + Associates Architects (SA+A Architects), a local architecture firm.
Prior to lunch that day I had never heard of SA+A Architects. In all honesty, I didn't know how an architecture firm actually worked, but I knew some of my high school drafting courses sparked my interest in the field. My mother encouraged me to walk across the street and inquire about obtaining an internship, so I did. I don't think they took me seriously the first time around, since I never received a call back. So I went back and once again expressed my interest in the field and desire to figure out what architecture was about. I was later called back for an interview and offered an intern position. I proceeded to work for SA+A while attending University of Detroit Mercy, and I've now worked there for over seven years.
What is it like to work as a licensed architect for SA+A Architects at such a young age? Do you stand out? Are you treated differently because of your unique path to licensure?
Working as an architect at my age is a nerve-racking and exciting feat. On one foot, it's overwhelming to be working as a project architect with people who commonly are twice my age. It's not uncommon to go to a kickoff project meeting and be considered the intern before ever being considered the architect. There are not too many 24-year-old architects showing up to project meetings, which is a shame; there should be more of us. It has been one of the most amazing experiences to become a licensed architect.
"I simply put my mind to becoming an architect and followed through with the steps required to do so." Scott Reynolds, AIA
I don't like to think of myself or what I did as anything special or unique. I simply put my mind to becoming an architect and followed through with the steps required to do so. I was fortunate enough to have many supportive people who helped me see through the goals I set forth for myself.
Not many people have a story as simple as “I asked for a job and they gave me one,” but I suspect many wouldn’t go that route in the first place. Do you think that sort of fearless nature is part of why you’ve come so far in such a short amount of time?
Not fearless, but rather determined. I set goals for myself and followed through with them. My goal was to become a licensed architect, and that is what I did. I just happened to be 24 years old when I achieved my goal.
The best thing I ever did was put myself out there and not be afraid of failure. Don’t get me wrong: I was fearful many times, but I never let fear get in the way of the next step.