Monday, February 18, 2013

“Can I Have a Job…Please?”

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a family member who owned an architecture firm and you would never have to realize a job hunt or even an interview? This is the case for some, but most brave the world of rejection day after day, week after week and so on.

I graduated, like many, when the economy had tanked and architects were being laid off in droves. It was a rough world, but luckily I had a service job that paid the bills, kept me happy and gave me time to job search in the off hours.

There are things one can do to lessen the blow. Be aggressive, not in the mean sense, but in the proactive sense. If you live in a city join groups where you can meet people and make connections. I became a docent at the local museum. Though it did not lead to a job it kept my mind active in an artistic manner. Visit firms! Let them get to know you in a more casual situation so when you go for an interview they already know you. This is invaluable.

I also got to know the people I served everyday at the coffee shop at which I was a barista. One recognized my hard work and recommended me for the job I have today. You know they saying that you’re always being “interviewed” (or something like that)? You never know who will walk into your life and help you out so be courteous to all that you meet.

Keep your resume fresh and clean and filed with your best qualities. Mine has experience, honors, leadership positions and a list of qualifications. The latter list doesn’t have to be dry; this is an area where you can express some of your architecture-specific interests such as space planning and large public space design. If you can’t put Revit on your resume you need to learn it or consider a different route.

You also need to have a killer, clear and concise cover letter quickly explaining what you’re looking for and why you are the best choice. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and you need to stand out. One time I mailed a resume-on-a-stick to a firm that did a lot of fair buildings. I never heard if they liked it or not, but I figured I had nothing to lose. That is one way to give your letter personality. Another is to tell a short story about what architecture means to you.

Since this is getting long, the best advice I can give you to is to utilize your school resources at the Career Services office. They are there to help you.

Any advice from the employers out there? What do you look for in a candidate?


  1. You are absolutely right on the cover letter. It's your first impression! If it is hard to read and doesn't make a point, I have little interest in looking at the resume.

  2. James Moore, Virtual Design ManagerFebruary 24, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    If you've got a couple elective credits left, I'd recommend looking into some basic business courses. Understanding how businesses run will help you understand the things that will catch managers eyes besides pretty pictures. No matter how much we want to belive coming out of school that our design or software skills are all we'll ever need, there isn't an architecture or engineering firm around that doesn't need people who understand how to run a business.

  3. Great suggestions! It reminds me that I left out the portfolio....stay tuned for the next installment...

  4. You also should consider taking a few marketing classes. Not only will they help in the interview process but also when it comes time to actually going out and meeting clients. You will never get anywhere in the A/E industry without a little bit of marketing skills. Sure you can learn them on the job but having a class or two will help make you more prepared.