If you are genuinely passionate about what you want to do with your career, being able to know the ins and outs of that job is very important. Alex Tapia-Vargas has been working for MCL Construction for two months as a laborer, but his real passion is architecture.
"I think it is important and more architects should be doing it; not just learning in the office but being out in the field and doing the work to know firsthand what it looks like. It is also giving me more empathy for the workers," admitted Alex.
Alex's passion for architecture grew at a very young age. His dad worked in the home remodeling business allowing him to be a part of the environment growing up. He was able to see how things were getting designed or redesigned, but Alex's interest in architecture also stemmed from his love for art.
"I have always been interested in architecture since I was a kid but, ultimately, it was my interest in art. My teachers would always encourage me to do something applied to art, and architecture is a form of art," said Alex.
After graduating from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Alex decided to get some hands-on experience with building instead of designing. Alex was drawn to MCL Construction for a multitude of reasons. He was mainly looking for a company that was able to stay up-to-date and try new things, but in the end, it was MCL's focus on safety that drew Alex to the company.
"When I was looking for jobs in construction, I was looking at companies that were doing things, not so much traditional, but a bit more modern. Plus, within the first month, we did the safety training in virtual reality. I think that's cool because it's also what architects are starting to use a little bit more," revealed Alex.
"Psychology is something people don't focus on in architecture. People design to fit things into spaces as opposed to designing how people can feel in spaces. It ended up taking me an extra year to graduate to get my psychology minor, but it was worth it," commented Alex.
Although it took an extra year of school to complete his psychology minor, Alex is not done yet. This fall, Alex will be attending the University of Oregon to receive his master's in architecture.
"With architecture, you learn different design processes depending on where you are in the world. I honed down on the Midwest style architecture, which I like but I want to explore my other options," explained Alex.
Alex wants to be a licensed architect and be able to work in a firm when he is older. He applied to many different colleges between the east and west coasts to do so, but Oregon was his top choice. He worked hard to make his plans happen by having a complete portfolio along with a strong personal statement.
Within his personal statement, Alex explained his passions and his plan for psychology and ecological design. The University of Oregon has a strong ecological background so when Alex graduates, he will be a certified ecological designer, which was important to him.
After receiving his master’s in architecture from the University of Oregon, Alex hopes to be able to return to Omaha to design.
"I always kind of thought Omaha wasn't too much of a hot spot for architecture, but I'm beginning to realize it actually is and they have a lot of big companies here. I'd like to come back to Omaha and, if not, Kansas City, but I am also open to options, west coast, east coast, really anywhere," announced Alex.