Recently I have had several friends approach me for advice on interview tips, portfolio reviews and compensation suggestions as many of them find themselves on the verge of graduating and searching for a job. Though I don’t claim to be an expert on any of these topics, I have, however, been in their shoes. In my short career I have worked in a firm, been laid off, graduated from grad school, worked as a lifeguard after graduation while job hunting, sent out a dozen resumes and gone on several interviews before landing my current job. I guess you could say that I have “experience”. Here are a few words of wisdom and lessons I have learned over the years.
Do Your Research
Let’s face it, if you’re graduating in May you may be feeling a sense of urgency to get your resume out to every firm in the state (and beyond?) in hopes of landing a job. While this approach increases your chances of finding a job it also decreases your chances that you will be happy once you start your new job. Do yourself and your potential employers a favor by doing some research. If nothing else, research what kind of work the firm does and review their mission and vision statements. By looking at those couple of things (usually found on their website) you should have a better idea if the firm is a match for you. If it is, then apply. If not, don’t waste your time or their time and move on to the next firm on your list.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before so I’ll keep it short. But seriously, get involved with professional organizations in your area. Pick something that you are passionate about or interested in, find out when that group meets, go to a meeting or better yet, sit on a board or committee. This will be nothing but a positive experience for you. Don’t, however, get involved just to meet people and get a job. Though this might be a side effect of being involved, it shouldn’t be expected nor your number one reason for getting involved.
Now that the State of Colorado allows you to take the ARE while still completing your IDP hours there should be nothing stopping you from taking your tests if you find yourself with a little extra time on your hands. Whether you’re unemployed, working part-time or just graduating there is no excuse for you not to get a jump-start on the next phase of your career. Looking back on my experience, I could have used my 18 months of unemployment to take the ARE rather than stressing over that fact that I didn’t have a job. Take my advice, if you have the time start taking the ARE because when you finally land yourself a job, finding the time is going to be tough.
Never Give Up
At the end of the day, if architecture is your passion and what you love to do then don’t give up on that dream. Don’t get discouraged if you are one of the hundreds of intern architects out there waiting tables, working at Starbucks or lifeguarding just to make ends meet. Stay positive and know that this moment in time is just another step you have to take in order to live your dream.