Sophia

Sophia just started a new job as a designer at an architecture firm. Hear about how she’s prioritizing her expenses as a recent graduate and setting financial goals for her future.

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I'm Sophia Hastings.
SOPHIA, 24
DESIGNER, ARCHITECTURE FIRM

I'm 24, and I am a designer
at an architecture firm.

We design mostly homes,
but also some office space,

hotels, things like that.

At the firm,
Robert is the boss and owner.

He's the only licensed architect here,

and then you have
the architectural designers

who are four people including myself.

Then, we have one intern.

An architectural designer
is someone who carries out

a project from beginning ideas,
initial sketches

all the way through a built,
inhabitable project.

Robert as the only licensed architect
is the only one who can stamp

these as an architect,
approve of them,

be held legally accountable for them.

But our role as architectural designers
is to help him through the process,

manage the project,
and do a lot of the work

required to finish and complete them.

My key responsibilities
in the design realm are
SOPHIA’S RESPONSIBILITIES:
DESIGN

attending client meetings,
taking notes, making 3D models
JOINT CLIENT MEETINGS, TAKE NOTES

on the computer of our projects.

Taking a lot of sketches
that Robert makes

and translating them
into construction drawings

on the computer.

And also a lot of site visits
and measuring.
CREATE COMPUTER MODELS OF DESIGNS
CREATE CONSTRUCTION DRAWINGS FROM
HAND-DRAWN DESIGNS
DO SITE VISITS AND MEASUREMENTS

In the permitting process,
my responsibilities are
PERMITTING

meeting with officials,
getting all the paperwork together
MEET WITH LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND
OBTAIN PERMITS
PREPARE PERMITTING PAPERWORK

to make sure that a building
can be permitted,

and finally obtaining the permit.

Then, in the
construction administration side of it,
CONSTRUCTION

I focus on coordinating
with construction teams.
COMMUNICATE DESIGNS TO CONTR. TEAMS

Making sure that if there's a change

I issue a drawing to communicate
That to all the proper people.

And also overseeing
construction sites.
COMMUNICATE ABOUT CHANGES TO DESIGNS
OVERSEE CONTRACTOR’S WORK

My annual salary is about
$40,000.00 right now.
ON AVERAGE, AN UNLICENSED ARCHITECT
ON THE DESIGN STAFF MAKES $47,800 - $58,000

I make $20.00 an hour.
I work eight hour days.
ANNUALLY DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF THE FIRM.
A LICENSED ARCHITECT WITH 10 YEARS

That come to about $3200.00
that I'm taking home per month.
EXPERIENCE MAKES $91,000 ANNUALLY ON AVERAGE.
SOURCE: THE AMERICA INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS, AIA.ORG

I am an independent contractor
right now, because initially
EMPLOYERS DO NOT DEDUCT TAXES FROM
THE PAYCHECKS OF A 1099 CONTRACTOR.

I was only going to be here
temporarily, which made sense.
A 1099 CONTRACT EMPLOYEE IS
RESPONSIBLE FOR SAVING FOR AND

What that means is that
I don't get taxes
PAYING THEIR TAXES AT THE END
OF THE YEAR.

taken out of my paycheck,
so I get the full amount,

and I'm responsible for my own taxes

at the end of the year.

Right now, I'm in transition
of becoming a full-time employee

where I will get taxes taken out
and get full benefits.

My worst day on this job was
I had just started working here,

and I had made some drawings
to send to the contractor

on site for something we were doing.

And we got a call in the office.

There were walls where there

weren't supposed to be walls
like built in the physical world.

That had never happened to me before.

It was because of my drawings,
so I freaked out.

That was a big day for me.
I redrew it.

Robert got the contractor
to take out the drywall

that they had already put in
and stuff.

He said, you know,
that's part of the job.

It happens all the time,

but because it was my first time
ever experiencing that,

it was really scary.

I did this class
in high school called EAST,
SOPHIA, 24
DESIGNER, ARCHITECTURE FIRM

where you kind of invent
your own project.

And then I started working
in SketchUp,

which is a 3-D modeling program.

And that's a little bit of how
I kind of got interested.

We were making a rain garden
so designing where the planters go,

really simple stuff,
but still kind of the beginning of that.

So, in college, I was learning
a lot about general design,

which I think can be applied
in multiple scales

and one of them is architecture.

So, I was mainly focused
in architecture.

Learning about how to make
a space inhabitable,

how to make it feel good,
how to make it interesting,

and just kind of have the right
proportions and seem correct.

Also, I think a lot of it
was learning how to

defend your work and
critique and things like that.

Because in the real world,
obviously, it's like that

and you're always having to do that.

So, just learning how to
concisely present your work

and then kind of defend it, as well,

Because you're being creative
and that's not always

the easiest thing to share
and then get feedback about

that's not perfect.
[laughs]

My school offers a co-op program,
so instead of it taking

four years to graduate
from your undergrad, it takes five.

You spend a total of one year
working at jobs

that are in line with your major

to get professional experience
before you graduate.

So, it was very cool for me.
A, because I got to stop

paying tuition and
make some money.

And also, it was important to realize

what I would end up doing

and it kind of helped me to
realize what I did want

and what I didn't want in terms
of a job after I graduated.

The two jobs I worked at
were good jobs

but they were a bit too corporate
for me, personally, I think

and I was often just doing
one repetitive task

over and over again.

And I didn't feel like
I was part of the whole process.

But it was a really good experience,
just as valuable to learn

kind of what you might
not want to do

than what you do what to do.

And I was very excited to be
working in the model shop

and with wood and things like that.

I stayed for an extra year and I got
my Masters in architecture.

So, in total it was six years
of architecture school.

I'm not licensed, so I can't
call myself an architect yet

and that takes time.

You have to go through tests

and log hours at your job
in different categories.

To get licensed as an architect,
you need to pass
THE PROCESS TO BECOME A LICENSED
ARCHITECT VARIES BY STATE

six tests in California
and they're on a rolling basis.
BUT TYPICALLY REQUIRES:
A DEGREE IN ARCHITECTURE

So once you start,
you have to be committed
THREE YEARES OF EXPERIENCE HOURS
ACROSS DIFFERENT CATEGORIES UNDER

to finishing them all
or else your tests will
THE SUPERVISION OF A LICENSED ARCHITECT

start to diminish or go away.
PASSING A MULTI-PART EXAM

And then also on top of that,
you need to log

what are called IDP hours.

So, there are different categories,
like pre-design, design development,

construction administration
that you have to have a certain

amount of hours logged
at your job that you're working at.

So, it's kind of showing
that you have proper experience

to be able to stamp a drawing
and be held accountable for it.

Everyone says that you have to be
good at math to be an architect.

And I found that, basic math,

but it's not as math-based
as you would think.

It's more design based and feeling
you know, what fits where

and what's right than actually
calculating out crazy equations.

Especially now because
we're working on computers so much,

a lot of the math aspects
and the hand drawing

have kind of become less important.

Ten years from now,
I'm not sure what it will be yet

but I wanna design something
and have it come totally from me

and be signed off by me
and just kind of see it in reality.

That would be the coolest thing.

I'm Sofia, I'm 24 years old,
I'm an architectural designer,
SOPHIA, 24
DESIGNER, ARCHITECTURE FIRM

and I make $40,000 a year.

So, I'm from L.A.,
so I'm happy to be living here.

I think it's a great
urban environment.

So, it does cost more than
other places would to live,

but I think it's worth it.

Especially for me in the design field
where there's, it's very diverse

and there's inspiration
everywhere for design.

So, that's really important to me.

So, my college was a five year
undergraduate program,

but one of the years was spent
working in the field, having jobs.

So, I wasn't paying tuition,
I was getting paid.

And then I had a one year Master's.

So that's five years
of schooling in total.

It was about 60 grand a year,

so $300,000 in total.

$100,000 I took out in student loans,
my dad gave me $50,000.

I got $120,000 in
grants and scholarships,

and I made about $20,000
that I put towards school

from those jobs
while I was in school.

I am an independent
contractor right now,
EMPLOYERS DO NOT DEDUCT TAXES FROM
THE PAYCHECKS OF A 1099 CONTRACTOR.

because initially I was only
gonna be here temporarily,
A 1099 CONTRACT EMPLOYEE IS RESPONSIBLE
FOR SAVING FOR AND PAYING THEIR TAXES

which made sense.
AT THE END OF THE YEAR.

And what that means is that
I don't get taxes

taken out of my paycheck.
So I get the full amount,

and I'm responsible
for my own taxes

at the end of the year.

But right now, I'm in transition
of becoming a full-time employee

where I will get taxes taken out
and get full benefits.

My annual salary is about
$40,000 a year.
SOPHIA’S BUDGET
MONTHLY INCOME $3,200

I make 20 an hour,

and that comes to
about $3200 a month.

Of that 3200,
I spend $600 in rent,
RENT $600

because I live with my cousin
and her fiancé and my boyfriend.

So, everyone's paying a quarter
of the rent, which is nice.

I spend $300 on my car
and my insurance for my car,
CAR $300

and then another $120
in gas for the car.
GAS $120

I spend about $400
in student loan payments,
STUDENT LOANS $400

and also $400 on food.
FOOD $400

And because I just got
my first new apartment,

there's been a lot of
extra expenses with that,
MISC MOVING EXPENSES $300

so about $200 a month more,

moving in and buying furniture
and things like that.
REMAINING $1,180

I'm not saving for the future yet
because I have been working here

only a few months.

But now that I'm on payroll here,

I will have a 401K to start saving.

I don't have an emergency fund yet.
Hopefully one day I will.

It's not really a concern for me,
because I'm young and healthy.

If anything were to happen,
my parents might help me.

But I am about to get
on health insurance

at my company now,
which will be really nice.

My financial goals
are to be comfortable

in the life that I wanna have.

I think I would like to own property,
and maybe have some built projects

that I can maybe
make money off of one day.

And own my own house as well.

What I've learned about money
since I started working

is that I don't need much
of it right now at least,

because I live with my
roommates and my boyfriend,

I'm paying a quarter of rent,
which is really nice.

My monthly expenses
aren't very much

as a young person
supporting themselves,

so it's nice to have money
coming in every month,

and that's kind of it.

I'm Sophia Hastings.
SOPHIA, 24
DESIGNER, ARCHITECTURE FIRM

I'm 24, and I am a designer
at an architecture firm.

We design mostly homes,
but also some office space,

hotels, things like that.

At the firm,
Robert is the boss and owner.

He's the only licensed architect here,

and then you have
the architectural designers

who are four people including myself.

Then, we have one intern.

An architectural designer
is someone who carries out

a project from beginning ideas,
initial sketches

all the way through a built,
inhabitable project.

Robert as the only licensed architect
is the only one who can stamp

these as an architect,
approve of them,

be held legally accountable for them.

But our role as architectural designers
is to help him through the process,

manage the project,
and do a lot of the work

required to finish and complete them.

My key responsibilities
in the design realm are
SOPHIA’S RESPONSIBILITIES:
DESIGN

attending client meetings,
taking notes, making 3D models
JOINT CLIENT MEETINGS, TAKE NOTES

on the computer of our projects.

Taking a lot of sketches
that Robert makes

and translating them
into construction drawings

on the computer.

And also a lot of site visits
and measuring.
CREATE COMPUTER MODELS OF DESIGNS
CREATE CONSTRUCTION DRAWINGS FROM
HAND-DRAWN DESIGNS
DO SITE VISITS AND MEASUREMENTS

In the permitting process,
my responsibilities are
PERMITTING

meeting with officials,
getting all the paperwork together
MEET WITH LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND
OBTAIN PERMITS
PREPARE PERMITTING PAPERWORK

to make sure that a building
can be permitted,

and finally obtaining the permit.

Then, in the
construction administration side of it,
CONSTRUCTION

I focus on coordinating
with construction teams.
COMMUNICATE DESIGNS TO CONTR. TEAMS

Making sure that if there's a change

I issue a drawing to communicate
That to all the proper people.

And also overseeing
construction sites.
COMMUNICATE ABOUT CHANGES TO DESIGNS
OVERSEE CONTRACTOR’S WORK

My annual salary is about
$40,000.00 right now.
ON AVERAGE, AN UNLICENSED ARCHITECT
ON THE DESIGN STAFF MAKES $47,800 - $58,000

I make $20.00 an hour.
I work eight hour days.
ANNUALLY DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF THE FIRM.
A LICENSED ARCHITECT WITH 10 YEARS

That come to about $3200.00
that I'm taking home per month.
EXPERIENCE MAKES $91,000 ANNUALLY ON AVERAGE.
SOURCE: THE AMERICA INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS, AIA.ORG

I am an independent contractor
right now, because initially
EMPLOYERS DO NOT DEDUCT TAXES FROM
THE PAYCHECKS OF A 1099 CONTRACTOR.

I was only going to be here
temporarily, which made sense.
A 1099 CONTRACT EMPLOYEE IS
RESPONSIBLE FOR SAVING FOR AND

What that means is that
I don't get taxes
PAYING THEIR TAXES AT THE END
OF THE YEAR.

taken out of my paycheck,
so I get the full amount,

and I'm responsible for my own taxes

at the end of the year.

Right now, I'm in transition
of becoming a full-time employee

where I will get taxes taken out
and get full benefits.

My worst day on this job was
I had just started working here,

and I had made some drawings
to send to the contractor

on site for something we were doing.

And we got a call in the office.

There were walls where there

weren't supposed to be walls
like built in the physical world.

That had never happened to me before.

It was because of my drawings,
so I freaked out.

That was a big day for me.
I redrew it.

Robert got the contractor
to take out the drywall

that they had already put in
and stuff.

He said, you know,
that's part of the job.

It happens all the time,

but because it was my first time
ever experiencing that,

it was really scary.