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To Employed Architects

May 15 '13 21 Last Comment
ksmx
May 15, 13 11:11 am

As an unemployed intern, I'm curious about employed architects, especially young architects and fresh graduates that graduated near the latest recession. I'm frustrated with my job search and was wondering whether my way of doing it is wrong or not. So, I got some questions for you lucky architects.

-How did you manage to get your foot in the door for your first summer job/ entry level position when you have no job experience during economic recession?

-With so many schools focus in teaching photoshop skill and not how to prepare CDs, how did you manage to convince your boss to let you do, for example,  your first stair detail drawings?

-How many unpaid internships did you do before getting your first paid job?

-Does connections from networking work better than awesome portfolio in getting your first job?

-How much help did you get from your professors in landing your first paid job?

-Is it more important to let employers know that you know how to do everything (model making and rendering) or let them know that you specialize in one thing?

-Did you have to relocate for your first job?

-Does LEED certification help?

 

3tk
May 15, 13 11:55 am

Luckily my first job was during the boom (3 positions, 2 applicants) but more recently:

- jobs are easier to come by through a network (friends, alumni); you get the foot in the door by telling firms how great they are and how you would love the opportunity to see the studio and take a tour - an "informational interview"

-you're going to be cheap (to the firm); they'll have to teach you a bit on detailing, but if you're familiar with the graphic standards, you should be useful enough to make it worth their while.

-none.  if it's unpaid, they should be actively mentoring you; if you're working on billable work, then you should be paid (legally and ethically).  it may be $9/hr, but def paid.

-yes and no; if you went to a reputable school, someone may hire based on that.  however having someone they trust vouch for you is better.

-a lot, every interview I've had was through someone that knew a faculty member or an alumn.  not all faculty are equally in touch with the working world, so ask around.

-be willing to learn to do anything, but having certain skills can be more helpful than others (look around your class, how do you stand out?)

-no, in fact many places seemed timid about hiring out of area (b/c the commitment would have to be reciprocated and long term outlook was/is uncertain)

-sometimes, b/c some firms require it of their employees; it shows initiative and a minimal knowledge of a "hot" topic.

full ofitfull ofit
May 15, 13 2:27 pm

I relocated to a place I wanted to be, that had more opportunities than where I am from. 

 

Never work for free. You will get no respect from the "employer" or your future employer. If you want to learn stair details but can't find a job in architecture, do some construction. 

 

Almost all of the interviews/feet in doors I was able to get were through connections. Ask friends, parent's friends, old bosses, and people you connect with if they know anyone, if they aren't hiring themselves.

thunderclap
May 15, 13 3:27 pm

-You called us "lucky." I think that's an accurate description.  In reality, it's about timing. There is no magic portfolio or application bullet that gets you in. If they are hiring, and you are a better fit than everyone else, you're getting the job.

-They know what they're getting into by hiring someone with little to no experience.  If they feel the PM can teach you, they will have the PM teach you the stair details.

-None. Don't work for free.

-Yes. This is especially true of former employers.  The architecture community is small.

-None.

-At this point in your career, I would say yes.  If they are looking for someone to execute a building, they wouldn't hire junior architects.

-Yes. I went where the work was.

-It depends on the office. Hot shot offices like OMA, BIG, REX, Gang, Meier, etc. etc. I find tend to care less or not at all about LEED.  LEED points do not automatically make a good building.

JayCon
May 15, 13 4:32 pm

-How did you manage to get your foot in the door for your first summer job/ entry level position when you have no job experience during economic recession?

-Job Fair... and I really just hung out more than anything.  Luckily, I was in sales while Intern hunting, so I could talk a mean game without being a gnat about their job openings.  Someone once asked me, in an day and age where buildings are a collaborative effort, why do your college portfolios really matter, especially when you'll be doing grunt work once you get in? That's when the light bulb clicked on.  Now, that's not to say I did a half ass portfolio, I put time, effort and presented a great portfolio, but I got my opportunity because I was willing to put myself on the back burner and listen to what they felt like telling me.

-They'll throw you a bone... once they get more an more comfortable with you (especially when a lot of the older crew disdains the newer technologies) and jobs pick up you'll be a useful asset.  It also helps to sell yourself a little too.  You maybe at work for 8 hours, but not everyone is placing 7:59 of their non-peeing time towards drafting or meetings, etc.  You'll have downtime and so will other co-workers, so, converse... seek advice, talk about something interesting, and let it go from there.  That's how I found myself doing a lot of submittals and reviewing BS that the PM's didn't necessarily want to do.  Naturally, it grows from there as you have a body of work and confidence to build from.

-None.  Work at something relevant if you have to, keep up on your technical skills if that's what you can bring to the table, and walk away if they aren't at least offering to fairly pay you as a contracted consultant.

-Probably... it sure gets you in the door.  You're searching for a job, they'll utilize you were they feel best served.  There is nothing that says you need to stay at one place your whole career, so if you feel you aren't obtaining enough work experience, at least get that "year-3 years" of experience under your belt and shop around again to land something you're more comfortable with.

-A lot.  It helps that one of them went to school with the other and it just so happened that this teacher was someone I could approach and carry any sort of conversation with... it doesn't have to always be Architecture (she specifically was an Apple nerd).  Never burn a bridge and always build new ones... doesn't that just sound like the perfect architectural metaphor?

-Jack of all trades... let them know you were a barista if you can... a lot of office coffee going through those veins.  Heck, outside of work, I'm helping coach a baseball team for one of my co-workers... anything you've done or taken interest in is good.  Also, a whole lot of car nuts (not to be confused with truck nuts).

-No... I've got this thing called a ball and chain who wouldn't let me leave the area with her.

-Certifications always help... anything you can pad your resume helps...  Personally, I would let them get you the LEED training if they so desire it, but if you have an active interest, I don't see the harm in pursuing it if you have the change

rabbits
May 15, 13 7:29 pm

-How did you manage to get your foot in the door for your first summer job/ entry level position when you have no job experience during economic recession?

 

I targeted the offices I wanted to work for and focused my portfolio and letters of intent towards them. The only jobs I've ever had were from doing this. I've never been "hooked up" at an office.

-With so many schools focus in teaching photoshop skill and not how to prepare CDs, how did you manage to convince your boss to let you do, for example,  your first stair detail drawings?

If you want to work in a "design" office, you probably won't be detailing stairs, you'll be doing renderings. In many "design" offices, you graduate to details.

-How many unpaid internships did you do before getting your first paid job?

 

0

-Does connections from networking work better than awesome portfolio in getting your first job?

Awesome portfolio generally trumps connections, IMHO.

-How much help did you get from your professors in landing your first paid job?

 

0.

-Is it more important to let employers know that you know how to do everything (model making and rendering) or let them know that you specialize in one thing?

Depends on the office. Smaller offices generally want more generalists, but I think this is changing. Larger offices need revit people.

-Did you have to relocate for your first job?

 

No. Most offices won;t hire you if you live outside the area. at least that's the way it is here.

-Does LEED certification help?

No.

lionshcra
May 15, 13 7:30 pm

ksmx,

-First / only "internship" I landed was a 1month drafting gig working 3 days a week. I applied online blindly. No position was advertised. Sole practitioner.

-Found my current firm by literally going through my state AIA directory, one firm at a time (there's a lot!), and sending out applications to each one.

-My school didn't teach any software. We had a studio senior year where we had to produce full (more or less) CD sets of a project, did structural calcs, HVAC work, acoustic calc etc. That helped alot.

-No unpaid internships. I couldn't find anything between 2007-2010.

-None of my jobs came through academic connections. In retrospect I wish I was closer with the professors who actively practiced.

-2 professors reviewed my portfolio, cv, resume in depth

-I proved my construction background to my employer. That seemed to help me.

-I did not relocate (but almost did 300miles for my only other offer). My city is top 20 population-wise. It probably helped.

-I am not LEED certified, but everyone else in the office is.

Josh MingsJosh Mings
May 16, 13 12:48 am

I worked in 2008-2010 while I was in school at a firm where my "first" interview was at a career day that the school had. The guy was from Chicago and we pretty much talked about Wrigley Field, how much I wanted to go (finally did two weeks ago), and the Cubs (I did not mention I was a Reds fan). It was a paid internship with a hell of a lot of time spent in DD and CDs, which definitely helped me. I had a background in the construction side of things anyway, so that gave me a leg up.

Current firm, I found them researching online. I looked for firms in Chicago that matched my design philosophy, were known as good strong firms, and places I could learn a ton from with a preference towards smaller firms. Oddly enough, I first heard about LBBA through projects of theirs published on ArchDaily. I'm still incredibly certain I got my foot in the door because I mentioned being born and raised in Columbus, IN and two of the three partners went to Ball State. 

My approach with getting to do new things/areas of architecture I haven't experienced yet is the sink/or swim approach. I ask them, and I've gotten very lucky in that I've been allowed to get my hands on a wide variety of experiences. This approach definitely favors a smaller firm however.

My only unpaid internship was during high school (2001) through a special program. I went to school half the day and worked the other half. It was pretty awesome.

Networking does work, but so does an awesome portfolio. If you stand out, you stand out. I got some of my interviews through networking/being recommended. My first interview here in Chicago (applied via Archinect), while I didn't get the job, he recommended me to several other firms which helped out immensely. I had a couple networking opportunities through professors as well, but ran into the old "Well you aren't in NY so screw you" problem.

I had professors look over my portfolio and write recommendation letters. They helped quite a bit, but as far as my current job goes it was the work I put into it that did it. Had I been in NYC it would be a different story.

I make it a point to tell employers I want to be equally versed in design and construction. I feel you need both sides to tell the complete story and both feed off of each other. However, this one could go either way depending on what your strengths are.

I did relocate for my job, but I was going to move to Chicago anyway.

I'm not sure LEED helps. If a firm does a lot of government work, definitely. At the firm I work at, Enterprise Green Communities is the main focus. I was told by my bosses that I didn't necessarily need to be LEED and to focus on my AREs first. 

CrazyHouseCat
May 16, 13 1:04 pm

A funny but somewhat accurate movie quote regarding young people fresh out of school: “you know nothing, in fact, if you know that you know nothing, it would be something, but you don’t even know that….”  I wouldn’t go as far as you know nothing, but you have very little skills that are immediately useful to an employer, except for perhaps rendering and making models, but that is a very small portion of what goes on in an architectural practice.

 

The decision to hire a particular young grad hinge upon his or her future potential, NOT the skill they already possess. 

The critical differentiator is to demonstrate how you can rise to unfamiliar challenge, pick up new tasks and run with it, demonstrate proven ability to learn, follow instructions, and work with a team.  Tell them experiences that can convince them of the above will be a much better sell than the seductive renderings and the undercooked wall section in your portfolio (which you need to have to cover your basis), but understand that the basis is just a baseline, not a differentiator.

bowling_ball
May 16, 13 1:35 pm

-I was approached at graduation by a former prof who ended up hiring me directly.  Having said that, I had construction experience and residential design experience with a small company prior.

-I've yet to see a school "properly teach CDs" and while it's easy to get mad about that once you figure out that you've been losing out on that aspect of your education, it's not the end of the world.  Every single firm does CDs differently, and very few graduates will have any significant exposure to them before their first job.  What's going to make a difference is in how you differentiate yourself in other ways.... maybe not photoshop skills, but other things - are you a good writer?  Can you build furniture?  Do you volunteer?  What was your thesis topic?  etc etc

 

-Never, ever work for free, unless it's for a charity.  Some architects I know subscribe to giving away 1% of their fees or hours to charity every year, and I think it's a great idea. 

-Yes and no.  I had a strong body of work and graduated near the top of my class (as judged by awards, etc) but ultimately it was who I knew that got my foot in the door the first time.  My current position, however, had nothing to do with networking. There are exceptions to every rule.

 

-See above.

-At first, you're going to have to do a bit of everything, so that helps - but you'll never stand out if you're mediocre at a bunch of stuff (I'm looking at you, every architect ever).  People will take notice when you're passionate about something and WORK HARD to demonstrate that.  Show an employer how your passions translate into skills, and then how those skills can be used at their firm.

 

-I have relocated before, and it failed spectacularly.  But I'd do it again for the right gig.

-LEED means less than nothing around here.  In fact, many architects I know don't believe in it at all.  Coming out of school, it's not going to be high on the radar - it won't set you apart.  Do it because you want to, and if the opportunity arises to sell yourself based on your LEED accreditation, go for it.

ksmx
May 17, 13 7:01 am

Thanks for all the replies, guys. They really helped me to realize that I didn't have much networks. I still got some questions that I forgot to ask, though.

-Does summer internship(both paid & unpaid) help in getting a job?

Everyone is always saying that it helps a lot, but I've also heard people saying that you don't get to do much in 3 months anyways. So, might as well just focus on getting distinction/make sure your thesis is awesome and start looking for jobs once you get your degree. I have heard from quite a lot of past alums that they didn't get any summer gigs, but got a job right away after they got their degrees.

-Do you usually send in resume+5 or so pages of work samples? Or just send the whole portfolio? Digital(Issuu) or Printed?

I seem to be getting more replies, but no interviews when I send the whole portfolio. I rarely get replies when I send resumes+work samples. I usually just email them though. Some local firms accept walk-ins(says so on their website), but I figure the rejection would be harder face to face and I didn't want to send the wrong impression that I'm so arrogant that I worth their office time. I figure they would be busy working anyways.

-Have you guys got any jobs from walk-ins? Or does cold calls or emails work better?

Quentin PegramQuentin Pegram
May 17, 13 10:15 am

You got a lot of good info. I graduated in 2009 and didn't get my first real arch jobs till this year. Some 3.5 years later, smh. I got the first one by contacting someone off of AIA's local chapter and just asking for advice. That person put me in contact with someone who got me a job a week or two later. Only had a phone interview. Was a decent cad monkey job but was laid off a month later.

Got my second and current job by just cold calling. I've cold called and emailed hundreds of times and this was only my 2nd interview from this approach.

Comes down to just luck and right place/time  in my opinion.

s=r*(theta)
May 17, 13 11:12 am

i got this advice from a mentor, "if you think you are trying, you are not trying hard enough!"

it has really helped not only my job seeking, but my career, and personal life as well!!!

med.
May 17, 13 11:34 am

Q:  How did you manage to get your foot in the door for your first summer job/ entry level position when you have no job experience during economic recession?

A:  I didn't have a foot in any door.  No one in the profession knew I existed.  I just did a lot of applying and then interviewing, and there were multiple offers.

Q:  With so many schools focus in teaching photoshop skill and not how to prepare CDs, how did you manage to convince your boss to let you do, for example,  your first stair detail drawings?

A:  Schools focus on teaching photoshop?  Not ours - they could give a damn less about software - it was all about the design.  Look, our profession would be in even more dreadful shape if they just churned out a bunch of clodhoppers who only knew how to draw details and not design.  The pedigogy of architecture is all about design and then how to apply it to the profession.  Drawing a good stair detail will not get you a job,  I still am horrible at drawing stair details and I've been employed since the mid 2000s.

Q:  How many unpaid internships did you do before getting your first paid job?

A:  ZERO - I expect to get paid for my services - otherwise no sale.

Q:  Does connections from networking work better than awesome portfolio in getting your first job?

A:  JESUS - No.  Your folio is the end-all, be-all.  It is your personal narrative of how you view architecture and design.  This is almost like an autobigraphy with the intent to sell your story to a prospective employer.  Your portfolio needs to show your best effort - PERIOD.  And Networking is absolutley critical on top of an outstanding portfolio.

Q:  How much help did you get from your professors in landing your first paid job?

A:  Besides for getting their imput on my folio, none.  Their job is not to get you employed - that's your job.  It just so happens that some professors might have connections but it's if you are extremely lucky.

Q:  Is it more important to let employers know that you know how to do everything (model making and rendering) or let them know that you specialize in one thing?

A:  YES - you want them to know that you can do anything and everything.  Unbelievable question. I'm shaking my head in disbelief that anyone would even ask this.

Q:  Did you have to relocate for your first job?

A:  Yes, not very many architecrture jobs in my hometown of 10,000 people.

Q:  Does LEED certification help?

A:  It looks good on your resume and anything helps so, yes.  Absolutely  I can't believe you are unemployed and even asking this question.  You should be preparing for it now.

3tk
May 17, 13 12:53 pm

@med.:  while the primary goal of faculty should be to teach, many understand that alumni commitment can be enhanced through maintaining networks, assisting with job/employee searches (and of course every dean is hoping for checks from alumni).  it doesn't hurt to ask.  To the academics out there, esp in this climate it's gotta help your program if the profs help 'place' graduates.

@Josh Mings:  funny, at my first job I got cold calling one of the interviewers asked about baseball (having been from MN and gone to college in StL) and which league I followed (if any).  After chatting a few minutes about baseball I was told that the partner would be in to negotiate terms.  Turns out everyone in the office was into baseball a lot and that was a big part of their "office culture."  I was competent and had some experience but it was that that made a big difference.

@ksmx:  any summer experience that shows work ethic, dedication, working in a team, etc is helpful.  If you can articulate/demonstrate what you may have learned (perhaps while noting you have a lot more to learn and are eager to learn), it'll help.

I've always started with work samples, giving a link to a digital portfolio wouldn't hurt.  I avoid sending a full portfolio b/c is it's big and expensive;  in the text of my cover letter I put something to the note of "I'd love to present and discuss more of my work in person."  You'll more than likely get more of a response with a full portfolio because you clearly invested more to get it to them.

If you drop in, it'd be helpful to give them a heads up.  Either way, be very nice to the people who greet you (a good impression to their admin asst might get you pat the first cut) and take it as a more casual "in the area and just wanted to drop and see where the magic happens."  you might get lucky and get them on a slow day; either way you show initiative and effort.

p.s. great thread, this should be helpful to a lot of people.

Peter NormandPeter Normand
May 17, 13 1:35 pm

“-How did you manage to get your foot in the door for your first summer job/ entry level position when you have no job experience during economic recession?”
 

Personal connections, good references, and a resume with active professional activities even while I was under employed.


-With so many schools focus in teaching photoshop skill and not how to prepare CDs, how did you manage to convince your boss to let you do, for example, your first stair detail drawings?


I made my own set of details to bring with me to demonstrate my abilities to draft as well as design


-How many unpaid internships did you do before getting your first paid job?
 

None, don’t do it, however volunteering at a legit charity is ok and helped me get my most recent job


-Does connections from networking work better than awesome portfolio in getting your first job?


Connections are big in your local environment, portfolio and references hold more weight the farther afield you search


-How much help did you get from your professors in landing your first paid job?


Tons, references, they called to follow up, they knew the firm principles, they suggested the firm and alerted me to the opportunity before it was advertised


-Is it more important to let employers know that you know how to do everything (model making and rendering) or let them know that you specialize in one thing?


Specialize or could specialize in their market sector, if they do hospitals have hospital details to show them


-Did you have to relocate for your first job?


Relocate for every job, don’t buy a house or a gold fish


-Does LEED certification help?


Less now I think owners are not concerned about the ratings as much as before, so the service is less in demand and the market is saturated with LEED Professionals.  However you get IDP points so go for it if you can.

It is important to build a network and to maintain it, Linked in is your friend, and use active job search not a passive one, online jobs are not the best place to spend your time, cold calling and asking for advice instead of a job are surprisingly effective, start by getting the book cracking the hidden job market, it works and it works fast. While you wait for the offers keep active, there are a lot of possibilities and most employers don’t want just a machine they want a person with interest and civic engagement, go and do things, this will help, you can’t just be a job seeker, you have to be a problem solver.

Over and OUT
Peter N

Stephanie BraconnierStephanie Braconnier
May 17, 13 2:26 pm

-How did you manage to get your foot in the door for your first summer job/ entry level position when you have no job experience during economic recession?

I sent out 15 printed portfolios that I had been working on for about a month. I got 5 interviews and 2 job offers based on the strength of my portfolio and the presentation of my work. 

-With so many schools focus in teaching photoshop skill and not how to prepare CDs, how did you manage to convince your boss to let you do, for example,  your first stair detail drawings?

Out of necessity - there was no one else who had time to do it because they were working on more important things. It doesn't take a genius to figure out how to make a detail drawing, regardless of what people would like you to think. Basically I took a look at an old set of CD's from a finished project and reworked the detail I needed for new dimensions.

-How many unpaid internships did you do before getting your first paid job?

Zero. Never ever do it.

-Does connections from networking work better than awesome portfolio in getting your first job?

I tested this theory recently in Toronto. I applied to firms based on references from various architects I knew. I ended up getting work based on my portfolio though, not a reference.

-How much help did you get from your professors in landing your first paid job?

None. My thesis supervisor told me that they don't give references to students in Denmark, and I never heard from or tried to contact any of my bachelor or master's profs ever since I graduated (2011). That's not to say that some people didn't benefit from help from their profs, but I don't think it's necessary.

-Is it more important to let employers know that you know how to do everything (model making and rendering) or let them know that you specialize in one thing?

Unless you want to be a model maker or a renderer, I wouldn't present myself as such. Present yourself as what you want to be  - a designer. A designer can execute good ideas with whatever skill is necessary to present those ideas clearly.

-Did you have to relocate for your first job?

Yes, I moved to Berlin from Copenhagen and I would have kept moving until I got a job.

-Does LEED certification help?

In Europe, no one even knows or cares what LEED (or Revit, for that matter) is. In Toronto, I couldn't say. I don't have it, neither does my partner. I have a friend who is LEED certified who recently got laid off so perhaps it makes no difference at an entry level. Maybe you need it once you get further up though, so it's probably a plus to do it now when you have time.

Razvan Ghilic MicuRazvan Ghilic Micu
May 17, 13 4:11 pm

- How did you manage to get your foot in the door for your first summer job/ entry level position when you have no job experience during economic recession?

First time around I actually had two job interviews. One through the recommendation of a professor, one with someone I met at a career fair in my school.

-With so many schools focus in teaching Photoshop skill and not how to prepare CDs, how did you manage to convince your boss to let you do, for example, your first stair detail drawings?

It is a liability to have a complete rookie detailing a CD set. Firms do tend to use young interns for low-risk time-consuming tasks such as photoshopping trees and people into images, or making study models.
Nevertheless, do mention your interest in technical studies, and you may get to produce iterations for say: exit stairs, bathrooms, other small spaces – drawings that will get you thinking about how things come together, building codes, as well as involve a bit of design creativity. That was my case first summer working.

-How many unpaid internships did you do before getting your first paid job?

None – it’s unethical, and I was poor. Don’t encourage this practice.

-Does connections from networking work better than awesome portfolio in getting your first job?

It’s less PR sweat, and less chancy for the first part of the job chasing process: at least you’ll get an interview and not end up in the HR trash folder. Either way, you have to be good to deserve a job, and your portfolio has to reflect that.

-How much help did you get from your professors in landing your first paid job?

I got introduced and I got recommended. The rest was my effort / work.

-Is it more important to let employers know that you know how to do everything (model making and rendering) or let them know that you specialize in one thing?

It is very important to be versatile at this level, as summer interns are meant to help with any tasks the project designers may delegate. Also do outline a few strengths – things that you’re better at and you enjoy doing – so you make the best of your experience there and not be stuck in a mindless task people assume you either enjoy, or can’t move beyond.

-Did you have to relocate for your first job?

No. You need to build connections where you live / school is.

-Does LEED certification help?

This question puzzles me – I don’t see how you could have even gotten your LEED if you have never worked. LEED does attest to some experience in the field, (especially with the new rules), so think about it only after you have worked for a bit.

Good luck.

ksmx
May 18, 13 4:53 pm

Thanks a lot for the replies, guys. I'm surprised by how diverse the answers are.

@Razvan You mean LEED AP. What I mean is LEED GA.

ka em
May 18, 13 7:31 pm

After reading through the thread, I can say there are two main important points that sort of summed my own experience:

  • Do not do unpaid internship as this will not necessarily land you a good job in the future but definitely undervalue the profession; and
  • You will learn CD on the job - and we all learned by copying from a good set of CD that the company already has, so don't worry about not being an expert in construction details right out of school. Which means: focus on your design capability!
everydayintern
May 19, 13 1:05 pm

A lot of good advice in this thread. Just remember that what works for some, may not work for you.

Definitely don't take unpaid internships for all of the reasons above.

Do spend time on your portfolio, but don't think it will be the thing to land you the job. Your cover letter, resume, and networking will get you an interview. Your personality and particular skills will get you the job. Your portfolio is a medium to discuss those things in the interview.

Yes, you'll learn how to do CDs on the job, but that doesn't mean an employer thinks the same way. Employers don't want to hear how you can't do something. They want to hear that you have some experience, even if it isn't extensive, and they want to see a sample of that experience. Even if all you do is bring a 6-page cartoon set with floor plans, elevations, sections, and some details you threw together just for that interview, it will serve you better than saying you don't know how to do CDs. Be critical of your skills. Say you don't know that much about CDs and that you want to learn, but don't show ignorance. Schools may not teach CDs but if you have a degree in architecture you had better know what a set looks like, and how it all works. That's just knowing what your profession is.

bowling_ball
May 19, 13 4:20 pm

Good advice from everydayintern. That's a great way of approaching a portfolio, and exactly how I do it (and I've been successful): use your portfolio as a medium to talk about your experience and approach.  The reason that this is important can be illustrated by the difference between thinking that your portfolio actually reflects your tangible skills/experience and using it to explain how you do what you do, and why.

I'm not explaining this well. Let me try to clarify....  If you think of your portfolio as showing off a finite set of experiences and skills, you'll be left in the dust - you're competing against people who can draw/detail/model better than you, in the technical sense.  Similarly, your prospective employer may be stuck in the 80's aesthetically, while your portfolio shows crazy parametric shit, which he/she can't relate to.  Neither scenario will necessarily set you back, though.  If you use your portfolio as a means to talk about your approach, you can make the interview more interesting to the employer, and thus they'll be more interested in you.  For example, you may not know a ton about how to detail a stair, but you should try - that doesn't mean it'll be anything better than crap, but that's ok!  You can relate the story of trying to learn stair details by studying precedents, for example.  Be SPECIFIC (this can't be stressed enough - you might say "While I was trying to figure out the stair, I knew that I couldn't block the sunlight from the windows, so I had to be inventive. I've always loved the stairs in Abe Vigoda's houses, so when I was studying his work in more detail, I came across the stair in his Receding Hairline House, and I knew right away that I had found my inspiration!")

Any employer is looking for somebody who will be an asset (ie make them more money). Your portfolio counts, but the chances of you being offered a job are not directly tied to the "quality" of your portfolio.  I've been hired before because the boss simply liked the "look" of my portfolio, not what was in it. This is another way to set you apart, but again, is only a way of narrating your approach and experience to work.

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