You just graduated from architecture school and you are wondering what’s the next step in this era of challenging economy and unemployment at its highest rate. The construction is declining, companies and architectural firms are reducing staff and it seems to be the darkest of times to start seeking architecture jobs. Add to this your lack of experience in the working field and your young age, it can become a really stressful process. Don’t lose hope! There’s a silver lining in every transitional period of your life and with a few tips from people who have been there and already know what makes the world go round, you will get your first job in no time!
1. Start from the basics: resume and portfolio
You already know that. It’s the fundamentals. As architects, we have the advantage of visualizing our progress and experience and communicate with the world through our drawings, sketches, and models. Use the spare time between sending CV’s and looking for advertisements constructively. Organize your projects, improve old concepts or create something new. Make a presentation of what you have done so far, whether it is related to architecture or not. The important thing is to be active and vigilant all the time, be prepared to seek opportunities. More tips on how to improve the presentation of your portfolio you will find on the following links, 10 Tips for Creating a Good Portfolio and 30 Best Resume Templates Free For Architects
2. Have realistic expectations
It’s not like one day after your graduation you will be hired to Zaha Hadid‘s Architects or OMA. Most of the successful people in the field started low and evolved gradually. Be patient. Present yourself as you are: an inexperienced graduate with minimal professional work but an individual with a lot of innovative ideas and more technical abilities than older architects. Start from small architectural firms around your hometown or even small construction companies. You need to keep your options open, don’t worry about rejection and naturally, you will gain experience with time and effort. You always have something new to learn, even from a part time job that requires endless bureaucratic procedures.
3. Get out of your comfort zone
Sending resumes over mail is definitely the quickest way to get in touch with the firm you’re interested in. However, personal contact is usually more effective. Make a phone call or show up in place to meet your potential employer instead of bombarding them with emails like a scheduled artificial machine. Impress them with your communication skills, your sense of humor and your motivation to get out of the house and seek your dreams. You have to remember that firms are hiring people, not impersonal text presentations. So, do whatever it takes to get in front of the person who has the power to hire you.
4. Use your imagination
The most important thing we learned in architecture school is how to solve problems creatively. We were all given the same semester projects but there was a huge variety of results and concepts on the final presentation. Each team was dealing with the same problem differently, using the same tools but in innovative and often unique ways. So, why not to manage the unemployment as another problem to solve? Do something that no one else is doing, be remarkable in your approach of the employer and the presentation of yourself and you will easily stand out of the crowd.
5. Do your homework
Before contacting the architectural firm you’re interested in, do some homework. Make a search online and try to find what the company is looking for in their candidates, what is their field of work, their specialty. Try to meet people who already work there and get to the insights of the firm’s culture and philosophy. This will help you decide whether this job really meets your expectations and ideals. When you’re finally ready to apply, you will be able to show them that you have already gained an understanding of their work and you are the right person to contribute further with your skills, your fresh and innovative view.
6. Improve your online profile
Whether it is Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin, our online profile shows more about ourselves than we tend to believe. Some companies actually do search their potential employees on social media to get an overall view of the person they have to deal with. Keep your profile updated and professional. Show them that you are an active and complete member of the online society and promote yourself. You can either post your work and ideas, interesting articles on architecture or start discussions on topics that inspire you. Most importantly take down embarrassing photos of drunk student parties of your youth! You have to be the person you would like to hire.
7. Start networking, meet new people
You may have the most impressive portfolio and resume but without the right acquaintances, you will not get very far in this competitive marketplace. Part of getting known is to show your presence, to get involved socially. Whether it is in architectural conferences or other events irrelevant to architecture, you will always meet people who will consider you sooner or later. Introduce yourself to people of influence, ask questions and start conversations. Engage. This way you will expand your circle of contacts and increase the chances of finding a job.
8. Keep writing
A great part of your work as an architect is the research. Research on new methods, new materials, sociopolitical factors on the design process. Do your own research and publish it. Whether it is a paper in a conference, a personal blog or just a post on Facebook, present your position on the future of architecture and your personal concerns on the profession. Show your willing to learn and improve and that you are a rounded and thinking individual. Hard work does not go unnoticed, neither does a curious and restless person.
9. Create business cards
A business card is the quickest and to the point introduction of yourself, so always carry one with you. It gives the basic information of who you are and what you do and it is easy to hand it over anytime. Actually, it is your own marketing material. Apart from your contact information, you can also add your personal site or online portfolio. People will keep it in their wallets and will reach you when an opportunity pops up.
10. Be confident, be yourself
You are educated, you have been training for years to become an architect, you are qualified. You have made it to deadlines, worked in teams and produced endless designs overnights and weekends. So be confident, take initiative and go pursuit your dream. Even in the hardest times people with self-confidence survive and evolve. Be careful, though, there’s a thin line between confidence and conceit. Don’t overdo it, humility and good character will soon get you to the right place.