Fall semester begins tomorrow at Iowa State. I am back in Ames for my last year, 5th year in the architecture program in the College of Design. I am looking forward to being back after spending the spring in Rome for study abroad and the summer in Cedar Rapids interning at OPN.

My internship experience this summer gave me a wealth of new perspective on my career in architecture or whatever it may come to be. This was possibly the last summer I’ll be living in Cedar Rapids, or perhaps just the last summer I’ll be living at my parent’s house. I am constantly begging the question whether bigger and better things are really out there, elsewhere, other than here; or is bigger and better simply what I make of where I already am. I honestly believe the answer could be either but have yet to come to a conclusion without experiencing more first.

Of course a career in just about any profession is not static and it is not odd to change what you are doing a number of times throughout your life. Regardless, where ever I end up, I want to be in a place where I can be rooted to my community and truly be engaged and belong. This seems a difficult notion, alongside the prospect of an uncertain future, which is both exciting and a bit disappointing at the same time. I have always been a planner, despite often poor execution of them – at least in the short term.

For long I have attempted to figure out where and what I intended to be doing in the future. It is perhaps comforting, but more so, it is something to look forward to. However, trying to plan your whole life out in bullet points can be demoralizing once you get past a couple of years, and particularly in the old age years, as nearly every aspect of life (family, friends, relationships) that gives people lifelong joy is, to a large extent, yet to be determined or discovered.

Certain expectations about life also muddle this planning and require constant modifications to ones’ plan. Companionship, particularly, cannot be blindly written into a five or ten year plan. Aside from these more serious matters, there is no problem to have specific dreams and desires, but an understanding and acceptance of them changing is a necessary accompaniment. My ideas of what I’d be doing beyond college has changed almost annually ever since high school, and to every change, I have found them to be good and generally more refining.

Perhaps this is not so unusual and I am just more aware to analyze my ambitions than most. The idea of career development and goals has always made me uneasy, especially as I get closer to that stage in my “career.” I consider my personal and professional goals essentially one in the same. As an architect, it seems, they would almost have to be. Architects should be invested in their place (community) with a desire to serve and contribute just as they would as citizens, otherwise they are just working to work and might as well be the ubiquitous business person with an anonymous job.

So with that I am looking forward to my last year as an undergrad, and am becoming much more accepting and comfortable with not knowing exactly where the future will take me. I have new tendencies of where I might like to start out but I am learning that the outcome, and more importantly the journey of “career development” will be much more beneficial if I keep an open mind and resist my innate impulse to make a decision before one is needed or even plausible.

I value the experience and insight I have gained from my experiences working, living and exploring in all the places I have. Cedar Rapids, Fargo, Ames, and Rome are all places I have called home and each one I appreciate for the things I have learned there and the impressions they’ve made on my character. They have shaped my perception of community and urbanism and provided a benchmark to move forward from and discover or create something bigger and better.

Regarding my blog, which has developed into a largely Cedar Rapids-focused report on urbanism and transit development, I’d like to get back to a more analytical approach. Over the course of my blog, I have written a number of key posts that tend to be more in-depth and thoughtful writings that concern a greater idea or expression beyond the subjects alone. As I get back into the school year and my posting frequency inevitably goes down, it seems an appropriate time to accept this change and look forward to a bit less content, but much more substance.