Finding my first job

Brian Henry (M.Arch, U of Idaho, 2011)



Sep '11 - Jan '13

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    Finding Firms to Solicit - Do Something

    Brian Henry
    Jun 12, '12 2:52 AM EST

    I remember reading something recently (I can't seem to find it right now so you'll have to believe me on this stat) that said that the majority of entry-level positions in architecture are not advertised. Assuming my memory serves me well and this is indeed the case, then you might say that your best option for finding a job is just to ask for one rather than sitting around waiting for a job posting to show up on Archinect's job boards.* 

    It's only natural that you have a few firms that you already know about and are familiar with as the first ones you contact about work. But what do you do when all of them have turned you down? Where do you look to find new firms to solicit when there aren't any postings in the classifieds? The following are just a few things I've tried (or wanted to try) to find firms I didn't know about. There are probably plenty more options out there, hopefully some not so apparent, so please share what you know in the comments.


    It's sort of a no-brainer but google "architect" and the city you're looking in and you're bound to come up with something. The drawback to this is you could get a lot of results to sift through, some of which may not even offer architectural services (software architects, anyone?). The other side of the coin is that some firms may not have a website, or may not show up in a google search due to poor search engine optimization. You still need to keep searching.

    Local AIA Chapter

    Your local AIA chapter will generally have a list of firms with AIA members. You can find your local chapter here and contact them directly or just use the architect finder on the AIA website. One benefit to contacting the local chapter office is that, depending on who you talk to, they may have some insight on which firms are doing well and may be looking to hire. Downside to this method ... not all practicing architects are dues-paying members of the AIA and consequently, may not be listed.

    Word of Mouth

    Word of mouth could mean a lot of things but generally this involves getting out there and asking about firms and who might be hiring. One one hand, I'd call this networking, but on the other, I think that calling it such can sound negative to people who don't think they have a network to work with. You should talk to fellow graduates and/or former professors if they know of any firms you haven't already contacted (I got an interview out of this one). Talk to professionals you might encounter at lectures, meetings, social functions, or conferences (prerequisite is that you attend these things). Ask the firm that just turned you down saying, "we aren't hiring currently," if they know of any firms that are (I've really wanted to do this but I haven't yet). They may be willing to refer you and put in a good word ... "We think this Brian kid has potential, but we can't afford to hire him right now. You'd be a fool not to take him on to work on that new project of yours." I've even talked to contractors about which firms they like working with. You get a different perspective of the firm this way, and if the contractor has a good relationship with the architect you can get a good referral this way. In the end, anyone you talk to could be helpful.

    Like I said before, there are obviously more ways to find firms to solicit employment from than these three. Let us know what you've tried, what has worked and what hasn't.

    *The counter argument to your best chance to find a job would be that applying to positions that are advertised means that 100% of the firms you contact are hiring and despite the larger pool of applicants if you do your leg work and make your materials stand out you have a better chance of getting hired. But in all the time I've been looking locally, I have only seen one company advertise for a position I was close to qualifying for, "architectural drafter" at an engineering firm. Don't worry, I still applied.

    P.s. The following video may not be 100% related but I think it is still applicable in that when it comes to putting yourself out there and asking for you work you tend to, "... just sit here and do nothing and regret it for the rest of the day. So now, [you] will do the opposite, and [you] will do something." Let us know how it goes.


    • r75!

      Reading your post reminded me about this about how to really get hired I haven't tried everything they suggest but some helpful ideas.

      Jun 12, 12 1:43 pm

      r75!, I've been holding onto that link for a whole now with the intention of writing a post about it, and some others. Build has some great points. Very good advice. if there was ever a reason to stop waiting and do something it's the statement that make saying that at a lecture they gave once only one person had the guts to ask if they were hiring ... That person now works at Build.

      Jun 12, 12 4:27 pm

      Here's the quote from the Build link above:

      "We recently gave a lecture with Gordon Walker downtown, and out of all the young architects in Seattle slinging their resumes around, only one individual took the initiative to introduce himself after the lecture. Smart. He had a card with his contact info and links to his online resume and portfolio. Smart. He now works at BUILD LLC."

      Jun 12, 12 4:51 pm

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