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I'm hoping that somebody could offer some advice on getting an entry level job in today's economy.
Here's my situation:
I spent 4 years and $80,000 to get my bachelors degree in architecture from a New York college called Alfred State. I did very well and have a good resume and portfolio to show for my time there. Unfortunately I have no work experience in the field which seems to be holding me back, even for the "entry level jobs".
I graduated in May and since then I have sent out hundreds of resumes and applications. I hear back from about 3% of these jobs and most of the time they say "thanks for your interest, but your qualifications are not good enough for us but we'll keep your information on file".
The closest city to where i live is about 50 miles north (Rochester N.Y.). I've been applying to jobs all over the country and cant seem to get any luck. Its not like I'm greedy either, I'm willing to work for 12 bucks an hour for my first few years.
Anybody is welcome to look at my portfolio here on Archinect and give me some constructive criticism (Maybe my portfolio just needs to look better).
Does anybody out there have some advice or tips for getting that "entry level job"???
Make sure you are being specific with your applications, I'm sure you've heard that and someone else will probably say it again.
If you're willing to do 12 an hour, I'd say get a construction job, get your hands dirty, learn how a building really goes together, save on those gym fee's, and then add that to your resume.
The best advice for getting an entry-level job is that there is no advice. It's a combination of timing and dumb luck.
There's factors that definitely help but they are more qualitative than quantitative:
If you're starting to notice a duality here, it's because it exists as the giant white elephant in the room. No one wants to acknowledge it exists but it is clearly visible. Really, all you can do is apply and apply early.
You might be able to gain some experience working on a proposal or competition, trying your luck getting some experience with a not-for-profit or a professional organization or inquiring about short-term internships. But hundreds, if not thousands, of people are doing this as well.
Welcome to the club. 09' graduate here. Network is probably your best bet or luck. As others have already said. Do you have a professional degree?
About your portfolio, I checked it out. Your work is good, but I think you can make the portfolio look a lot more interesting with a different, more clean modern look. The current background that you have is kind of distracting and not very "fresh". I would make changes to the layout and get feedback. Maybe show some white background, and try to tell a story. Hope this helps.
And I don't think you need the sketchy lines to frame each image. You can let white space frame the images with something simple that conects all the pages (like a line or a certain color font). Look up the latest colors that are used in graphics these days. Simple and clean is the key.
Fullofit - Yes I'm being specific with my applications. I'm taking my time with each one and trying to make myself look attractive for each job. As for the construction job idea, yes that's defiantly an option to be considered. Thank You!
J. James R. - I think I might have to use 2 portfolios now; One that more appealing to the more conservative type firm, and the other to a more flashy and modern firm. I have a small network that i can start trying to dig into, hopefully some bridges i built in college help me out :D Thanks for the advice man!! now where can I find some of that "dumb luck"? haha
Quentin - About 10 of my class of 44 have architecture jobs now so I'll talk to them and hopefully get my foot in the door with one of there firms. Yeas i have a Bachelors of Science in architecture as well as an Associates of Applied Science in Architecture as well. Congratulations Graduating in 09, do you have an architecture job now?
Sanuma12 - I see what your saying about my portfolio as far as style goes. Like J. James R. was saying about different firms would like to see different styles I think im going to come up with a second portfolio template with a more modern approach, and use each according to the firm being applied to. What do you think about using just one image per slide which would make it bigger?
Ahhh So much blue text ! ! !
Nope no arch job. I have had 2 interviews past 2 weeks, they both were promising. One is $14,000 paycut from my non-arch job. But I might have to take it just to get my foot in the door. Just sucks since I'll have to live a very modest life for a while as my friends excel in their careers and it's like I'm just starting out. Sucks sucks.
Some other advice/tips
- Make sure your resume is on point, have several look over it
- Become LEED GA, it can help
- Not only search Craigslist, but post your resume on there too
- Visit local AIA events
You'll be ok . May wasn't that long ago, trust me as the months turn into years then it's time to worry. Hence why I'm stressed out half the time.
I will only comment on one aspect of your search, the portfolio.
Consider sending firms a tightly composed page or two of images from really well done projects of yours with a cover letter and resume. They can't criticize what they can't see and looking through all the submissions becomes a real chore. You will definitely stand out with just two pages of work samples, and by the time they are asking for a full portfolio, they already want to hire you and don't even know it yet.
I also know I had a hard time with a cover letter. The stuff you get advised to send by HR consultants doesn't work in the architecture world, so if you need examples, ask.
I grew up in Binghamton and went to UB for architecture. I know the upstate well although I've moved south. I would think you would have better luck in some smaller cities like the Corning Elmira Horseheads area. Have you tried looking there? I knew some people at Keystone Associates in Binghamton that were Alfred St graduates, you could contact them. You're dealing with a really small community in upstate NY especially outside of Buffalo and Rochester, so I would say your best bet would be networking in these smaller cities like Elmira, Jamestown, Binghamton. Go to AIA events, CSI, anything you hear of, and really press your professors for help since I believe a lot of them are practicing or have recently been practicing. I would also say these smaller firms would not mind if you popped in with your resume and portfolio.
Quentin - Thanks man and good luck getting the job! seriously if i could send you some luck in the mail i would cos i know what its like to try getting in.
Nicholas - Great idea dude!!! I shaved my portfolio down to the 4 best projects and I really think this might help. Thanks man!
HeavyMetalArchitecture - Hey man, its nick talking to a somewhat local on here. yes I've been trying the Elmira/Corning/Bighamton areas but no luck yet. I'm actually going to go back through and check again though and maybe I'll be in luck this time around. Handing in my resume and portfolio in person is a good idea too man. Thank You.
I think using one image per slide might make you lose the focus on the overall project. I think it's more effective, for sample pages, to try to limit the amount of pages, because I feel like sample pages have to send the message across quickly.
I created a new post with a link to my sample pages, I could also use some feedback from anyone who has a minute. Thank you! Here is the link to the post:
I've had quite a bit of luck with Nick's suggestion. The "portfolio" I send out initially is 3 pages + cover letter and resume. 1 project per page, just to get them hooked and responding, plus they haven't seen the entire portfolio when I go in for an interview so I'm not repeating what they've already seen. It is getting a good response rate and I've been on some interviews in Chicago the past two weeks. Craft it so it hooks them within a minute or so, because realistically that is about the amount of time they will initially look at it.
I also have a portfolio website set up if they want to dig deeper into my work.
Hey Matthew J. Mott,
I am almost in same dilemma as you were, can i have a chat with you on any of the social networking website, please do send me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Since this thread got bumped, did you find a job Matthew? I had 3 interviews in August in got none. (weeps in corner). Recently relcoated, but no bites here either. FML.
I would greatly support the recommendation of of sending a condensed portfolio with your résumé. I just started the job search here in NYC and NJ and have done just that.
Out of curiosity though, do your school/faculty not teach you this. In my school (the savannah college of art and design) we called it the "portfolio teaser" and the idea was driven into our brains. As several others already mention, and I think it becomes pretty obvious after you think about it, you don't want them seeing your full portfolio before meeting you. If they see the full thing they can make a decision without ever speaking to you. You want to leave them wanting more.
Think of it this way, the process is 2 steps. 1 you send them your résumé cover letter and "teaser" the goal of this is not to get a job or get hired, the goal is to get an interview. Then 2. The goal of the interview is to sell you, and convince them to hire you.
Hey, cool idea, so it is a success for you ! ?
I'm just going to leave this here
I didnt read thru everyones posts but as someone who has been very successful in the last 4 years with jobs I offer you this:
1. Be very professional. This includes all internet content (facebook, twitter, arcinect, linkedin, etc.) Delete your profiles if you must.
2. Craft. Your email and cover letter should scream quality, professionalism, competence, and willingness to work hard and especially to learn.
3. Be the first to send your resume to the email address they provided. When I was unemployed I use to rush home to check the job boards.
4. Be persistent and dont give up.
I've also been job hunting(while working on my thesis...or procrastinating with my thesis!) I've send at least 150 resumes in the past 2 months (admittedly my portfolio is still a work in progress so i just send small design samples attached to my CV), I am very reasonable with my expectations as an entry level applicant, even as an architect's assistant....gotta pay your dues right? So far no luck whatsoever and its extremely discouraging! But i guess perseverance is key right? ALL THE BEST TO MY FELLOW JOB HUNTERS OUT THERE!
I graduated from Hampton University with a 3.5 GPA with honors, May 2011 obtaining my master's degree in Architecture and still looking for an entry-level Architect position.
It is very frustrating. I owe $150k in private loans which my parents are struggling to pay. I have done short-term volunteer work with no pay. I do not mind working without pay to gain quality experience but that is even hard to find.
This career was my dream since the age of 14, and I was determined to get a master's degree. I cannot believe that entry-level jobs are asking for 2-3 years experience. I finally have to realize that I picked the wrong career.
This is depressing and I do not know why architecture degrees are offered if there are no jobs. The schools should reimburse everyone because this is a career that does not seem to have a future.
I can't afford to go back to school and now have to try to find another field that I am passionate about. Those of you who have managed to get employment, you are blessed.
I really don't see how many people are struggling. The best thing you can do to get a job is make connections. Join professional associations with a large membership base. I joined ASCE, ASAE, and NSHE. There are so many companies that are ready to hire but just aren't too open to hiring anyone. You have to put the work in and show up at their door and let them know who you are. You should apply for positions before you receive your degree. I am only a junior but I have made more than a few relationships here a Syracuse U that are willing to put a good word in for me. Its all about making the right connections and showing your worth.
can we see your portfolio? some people 'think' they have good work to show when it plain sucks. Just being frank. I've done about half a dozen paid internships, have sent out about 2 dozen emails looking for work at most and got a response of offer for 90% of the emails.
ever consider applying to firms here in NYC.. theres a lot more activity here than anywhere else.. a lot of my college friends did that after graduating
Jesus I agree with making connections but sometimes connections only go so far. Up to this point all of my positions have been acquired without ever interviewing simply because I "knew" people. The problem is that when the recession hit not only were some of our contacts hit, their connections were too. I'm only now starting to see some of my connections point out open positions at different firms, mostly large firms but an opening is an opening.
It probably affected me more since I've focused on small firms, under 10 employees. (not a fan of huge firms if you couldn't tell by the prior comment.)
I just graduated in May 2013 with my Masters of Architecture. I have the same problem, some entry level architect position want a min. of 3 years experience. Where are we suppose to get our start from?
you apparently missed a glorious thread about a week ago. as long as you don't have a criminal record you should be just fine!
the way i got my job: i had interned for free in college. i know there's a lot of people who are very adamant about NOT doing free stuff, but the way i see it is that experience was key to me getting a job after graduating. i had the option of doing some stupid class in place of my recession-year co-op, or working for free. no regrets.
the last thing you want to do is sit around for months (or years! as some people have) not working in your field. if you're financially stable, or have the option to live with your parents while working for free: do it. never stop looking for a job, and don't expect them to give you a paid job after you said you'd work for free. use it as experience, as a reference, as a NETWORK with connections, and then the opportunities will start to present themselves, and you'll actually have experience when you go for the interview.
i know that after graduating with a masters degree you're going to be disappointed doing this, but nothing in life-- including the promise of work after college-- is guaranteed. whatever you do, DO NOT take an extended summer vacation. work as much as you can at a paid job like a restaurant at night-- maybe do half days at the architecture office, or half weeks. DO NOT work at TGI Fridays as your day-job Get some experience in any way you possibly can. Its more important that having a nice apartment and going out for booze 3 times a week with your friends.
i know people that have done this, so no excuses!
First off, don’t think of you rejections as not good enough, this is a hard economy and many very good people are out of work, you were not the best but probably would have been just fine working there. HR managers have to look out for the best interest of the company they work for so they tend to choose the best candidates and or the ones they trust and know.
So please don’t beat your selves up over the rejections, you were not number one of 200+ nothing to be ashamed of.
How does one get known? This is what you need to ask. You need to become a DYI NSA and gather intell on your target firms and or markets, and then get involved.
Chicago is blessed with a Young Architect’s Forum, are you charismatic enough to start one where you are? Firms take notice when you are doing things to help others in the profession good deeds get attention.
People love to give advice, they love it so much that they give away their time they would be billing to a client at $60-400 per hour away for free. No other type of professional loves to give advice more than architects, but everyone hates to say no to someone. So let me tell you about Informational interviewing. In a nutshell you ask for advice and state in the first sentence of your email or postcard or other non-intrusive way of communicating that you are not asking for a job just advice. Then you get a chance to meet face to face, ask the questions about how they think you can get into the type of job you want to do. Pay attention to what they say and take their advice and follow up. People will think you are smart, trustworthy and a decent person if you listen to and act on their advice.
Think of who is getting to the top of the pile of resumes when a job opening happens, it is someone they know, someone who they feel respects them enough to seek their advice, someone who is smart, experience may be important but not as important as trust and a personal connection.
What you also need to do is to stay busy. Always have a now project to be working on. Maybe you are designing a dog park in your town or neighborhood or your elderly neighbors are in need of some gismo to lift heavy bags of groceries up to their back door, there are always design projects out there. Everyone can make a zine make one that promotes a walking tour or biking tour in your area local merchants can help pay for it and bingo you are the head of an economic development agency, for real if you get results.
You need to invent a reason for you to be doing something design related so that you can put on your resume top billing you are designing something. I listed my community garden and interiors work as my current freelance work. Eventually I got an interview and much of the time was discussing what I am doing now.
Self-motivated people who find constructive things to do and get them done are a manager’s dream candidate. Don’t let a gap in time misguide an HR person to thinking you need a babysitter instead of a boss.
We all deserve jobs that are meaningful challenging and rewarding, but to get those jobs we have to be creative, your lack of a design related job is your new design job. Be creative and try.
Rejections are not a reflection of your inabilities you probably are capable you just need to keep trying and changing up your game.
Don’t be an insane job hunter be a sane one if something doesn’t work try a different approach.
Best of Luck
Congratulations, you just graduated from an excellent bachelors degree in architecture from a New York college .Your entry-level resume has landed you your first entry-level job!