Featured Alumni

Alumni Profiles: Career Alternatives

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Alumni Profiles

The post-college path to a career is not always an obvious one. Many of our graduates are using their architecture knowledge and design thinking skills in alternative ways outside of the traditional world of architecture in pursuit of alternative career opportunities.

Rob Cayer, B.S. in Architecture 2009, M.ARCH 2010

Rob works at a company called Yusen Associates, Inc., a Manufacturer’s Representative firm that deals with products in the Electrical Industry such as Lighting Controls, Conduit, Wire, and Lighting.  He holds the position as a Project Manager for the Lighting Controls portion of the company with Lutron Electronics, handling Commercial System projects for the Boston Region.  Rob’s responsibilities come from managing design and pricing, through purchasing, construction, and closeout activities.

Rob found this position via the Northeastern Post Graduation Resources website. Although he had no experience in the Electrical or Sales Industry, his employer found value in Rob’s past co-op experiences in the project management field, and in his architecture coursework at Northeastern.   Classes such as Integrated System and Case Studies played a major role in his understanding of electrical concepts as well as how to manage and balance multiple projects at one time.

The biggest influences on Rob while at Northeastern came from his co-op experiences, the economy, and the imagination that professors and university professionals had instilled in him.  The co-op experience allowed Rob to get the on-the-job experience needed in order to have a resume that would be enticing to future potential employers.  The tough economy and the lack of available jobs during his co-op periods allowed him to think “outside the box” when it came to looking for jobs.  “With professors teaching to be creative and keep an open mind, I applied the same thought process I would typically use in my Studio classes to finding co-op opportunities.  As a result, I applied to co-op jobs that were not always in architecture firms, but related to the architecture realm,” Rob noted.  As a result of his co-op experiences, the unfortunate circumstances of the economy, and keeping open mind, Rob applied the same means and methods of “thinking outside the box” to finding his current position.

Sarah Wright, B.S. in Architecture 2008

After graduating from the School of Architecture at Northeastern, Sarah moved to Vermont where she and her fiancé opened a hostel, restaurant and bar in an 1850ʼs farmhouse in the town of Warren. They can accommodate 24 guests at the farmhouse, as well as serve the general public at the restaurant and bar.

Sarah worked from the ground up during this project, addressing branding issues for the guesthouse, logo and web design, interior design, image and graphics. The guesthouse opened to the public in 2009.

In dealing with all the issues around starting a new business, Sarah credits her architecture training for allowing her to manage this project successfully. She notes, “My Northeastern Architecture education was essential in helping me create a cohesive brand identity for a new business. Working with a professional web designer, we were able to establish a look and feel for our Hostel that is unified in many mediums, including on paper (menu design, business cards, advertisements) and throughout interior design of the house. “

Her design education also enabled her with her vision of transforming a country farmhouse into an updated, comfortable, simple, modern alternative lodging option for the area.

For Sarah, the most influential experience at Northeastern was her first co-op abroad in Barcelona. It was a great challenge for her personally to be working in a foreign country, but the opportunity gave her a much broader design perspective. Learning to work in two small design firms in a foreign country and conducting business in a foreign language gave her the confidence and the skills to embrace the opportunity of owning and operating a guesthouse.

Kernst Pierre-Louis, B.S. in Architecture, 2008

Since graduating from the School of Architecture, Kenst Pierre-Louis has been an Assistant Project Manager for Global Real Estate at Shearman & Sterling LLP.

He provides support in all areas related to project management for approximately 20 offices. Kenst has had the opportunity to work within the Project Management team of the Global Real Estate Department in developing build-out and bid policies and procedures, managing all firm-wide construction projects, space planning and design. He also prepares and tracks costs for real estate-related capital projects, preparing financial presentations, and developing other value-added analysis.

Kernst found that his architectural training prepared him for his work in project management.  The curriculum integrated real estate development projects, which introduced him to code requirements, government regulations and the various trades involved in a project.  This exposure also helped him to understand the field of project management. His semester abroad exposed him to the differences in cultural development.  “The projects we worked on required us to adapt to new aspects of building and of regulations, different from those here in the States, as well as the cultural differences, such as Europe being closed down for the month of August, in many instances.  This experience has helped me in my current position at an international firm.” Kerns notes.

The most influential part of Kernst’s at time at Northeastern was his co-op experience.  His co-ops with Senior Project Managers at the MBTA and the Massport Authority led him to his current career path in project management rather than pursuing “pure” architecture.  At these positions he was able to work on a variety of projects from bus stations to hotels and was drawn to the duties of a project manager, working within various phases of a project (e.g., business cases, leasing, bidding, community outreach and design and construction) and with various vendors (e.g., brokers, government officials, architects, etc.).