By applying the skills, you have learned as an architecture student to gaining experience, you will be able to design your own career rather than just letting it happen. Be creative in organizing your search for prospective employers. While not guaranteed, the following ideas, spelling the word ARCHITECT, will assist you in gaining experience.
The first T is TOOLS, perhaps, the most important aspect of the Career Search.
Your resume, ability to write cover letters, portfolio, and ability to interview are critical to the job search. They are important tools for communicating yourself to potential employers. Are your tools in top form?
If not, practice your interviewing skills, rework your resume, or have someone critique your portfolio.
Resume:As in any discipline, a resume is essential when conducting a search for experience. Keep your resume simple and straightforward. Provide information from your background and experiences that demonstrates your abilities. Do not be afraid to include skills learned from studio or other classroom projects under a section entitled “Course Projects.” If you have not worked formally in an architectural office, promote your drawing, modeling or building, and design skills learned in studio.
You can add graphics to your resume. With the ease of scanning drawings and using graphic publishing software, placing an image on your resume can be powerful; however, exercise caution, as the image may make reading the resume difficult. Rather than including graphics on your resume, you could create a one-page portfolio, sometimes referred to as a “viewsheet.”
Cover Letters:Just as critical and often treated as an afterthought compared to resumes, cover letters are in fact your introduction to the prospective employer. Most cover letters consist of three paragraphs: The first introduces you and explains the purpose of the letter; the second sells your skill set and makes the case that you are a match for the employer, and the third provides the terms of follow-up. Be sure to address the letter to an individual, not “Dear Sir/Madam.” If you do not know the name of an individual, take the time to contact the firm and ask. Be persistent if the firm is reluctant to provide this information.
Finally, remember that the purpose of the resume and cover letter is to obtain an interview!
Portfolio:Perhaps, your portfolio is most important. As architecture is a visual discipline, the portfolio is a direct link between the employer and your skills. For this reason, you should provide images that demonstrate all of your architectural skills—drafting, model building, drawing, design, and so on. As well, provide drawings from the beginning of one project’s design process to the end. In other words, do not include only finished end-of-project drawings. The sequential drawings allow the employer to see your thought process as it relates to a design problem.
Interviewing:Good interviewing skills can make the difference between receiving an offer and not. Prepare for an interview by researching the firm. Think what questions might be asked of you and what questions you might ask of the interviewer. Ideally, practice prior to your interview with a roommate, colleague, or friend.