Finding my first job

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



Sep '11 - Jan '13

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    This is a Working Title

    Brian Henry
    Jul 7, '12 1:25 AM EST

    The title of this blog was really meant to be a placeholder until I came up with a better one but I think it "works"

    In my last post I promised news, and in the interest of not burying the lead, here we go...

    I got a job! And in other, related, news; I already had a job. If that's confusing at all, I understand, let me explain.

    Near the beginning of May I contacted two local firms about employment. One was my first pick but I really didn't have any information to know if they were hiring or were even busy with work. The other, I had talked to a former classmate who was working in the firm and he let me know that they were going to be fairly busy in the next couple of months and that I should bring in my resume and portfolio and talk to the principal because he may be hiring to help during the busy months this summer.

    So I wrote cover letters, tailored my teaser portfolio to appeal to each and walked in their respective front doors. The first firm, the one I had no networking with, took my materials, said thank you and that was it. The second firm's principal was too busy to meet with me but I left my materials with him and I went on my way.

    The following afternoon I received an email from the first firm wanting to schedule an interview with me for later that same week. The interview went well and they said they were looking but weren't quite sure yet what they might be looking for, or more likely, what they could get. They'd like to get a registered architect with some experience, but that type of person doesn't usually walk in the front door with their resume. On the contrary, in the dual-university towns that make up the area (both with architecture programs), it's more likely that I walk in with my resume, obviously. They gave me an application to fill out and told me that they'd be looking at some other candidates.

    I still hadn't heard back from the second firm. So after a week I contacted him and asked if he had a chance to review my resume and sample work. He hadn't yet, but said he would take a look at them. As for an interview, unfortunately he would be out of town for most of that week. The next day he contacted me and we set up an interview for the week after when he'd be in town. We met and it went well. He said that their work load would be picking up soon and they might be looking for some extra help. I went home and sent him a quick follow-up email thanking him for his time and to my surprise he replied in a few hours' time and offered me a temporary position with the option of further work depending on my performance and their work load. He told me what he could pay and that I could start the next day or the day after. I wasn't too excited about the pay as I felt it was low, but I also knew that turning down a job would be stupid if I could help it.

    I hadn't heard anything back from the first firm and given the choice I'd rather work for them so I contacted them and inquired about the status of my application letting them know I was entertaining other offers. They said they would not be ready to make any decisions for about another month as they were still interviewing candidates and understood if I couldn't wait for them before responding to any other offers.

    I decided to let the first firm know I was still interested in working for them and that I wished to be considered for any open position until I let them know otherwise. I also decided to accept the offer for the temporary position from the second firm.

    I started my temporary employment the next day and seriously considered blogging about it but ultimately decided against it until I had heard back from the first firm. I never did anything to hide the fact that I was blogging about my job search process (enter the web address from the cover of my portfolio and within one click you'll end up here) but I didn't want the fact that I had accepted work to influence the first firm's decision, so I kept quiet about it.

    Fast forward to the date that the first firm told me they'd be ready to make a decision. I emailed them about the status of my application but never heard back from them one way or another. Fast forward another week and I decided to call them and see if I could talk to someone. I wasn't able to catch anyone in their office but I left a message and they called me back one week ago. I was told that they still had not made a decision, but that they would be in the following week and that I was on their short list of applicants.

    That's when I posted my last entry. I knew that either way I'd have good news to tell, I just didn't want to jinx it. If I was offered a position with the first firm I could post about that. If not, I could post about already having a job, albeit temporary.

    To quickly finish this entry, as it's already too long, I was asked to come in for a follow-up interview this last Tuesday and I was able to squeeze it into my lunch break. On Thursday they contacted me and offered me a position but since some things had changed with my wife's and my situation, I felt obligated to tell them that we may not be in the area for as long as we had originally talked about and that I would understand if this would change their offer. They took a day to talk it over within the firm and then contacted me this morning and said that they would still like to offer me a position. The only thing left was to let my current employer know that I'd be leaving.



    I haven't known him for very long and I had no idea how he'd react so I was quite hesitant to go sit down with him in his office. I let him know that I'd been offered a position at another firm and that I was going to accept it. He seemed genuinely happy for me and said that this sounded like a good opportunity for me, but at the same time I'm sure he'd like to see me stay. He later asked if there was any kind of counter-offer that would possibly get me to stay. As flattered as I was to hear this, and even though I've enjoyed the time I've had to work with him and the other members of his practice, I told him that I didn't think there was anything that he could offer me to get me to stay (at least realistically ... maybe I'd stay for a private jet, but I don't think he could give me one).

    So there you have it folks; 1 year, 1 month and 22 days ago I graduated with my M.Arch and today I accepted my first full-time job in architecture. I'm not quite ready to end this blog and archive it as there are still some aspects of my job search that I'd like to blog about. Think of it like a post-occupancy evaluation but instead it's a post-employment evaluation. As for after what happens when those topics are exhausted I'm not quite sure. I'm certain that this blog will come to an end, but I have thought about authoring a blog about my impressions of beginning a career in architecture.

    Let me know if you have any specific questions or requests for follow-up topics or what you might like to see if I decide to blog about beginning a career in architecture. Oh, and thanks for reading.


    • congrats brian - it feels good to have that first one in hand, no? good luck with it...

      Jul 7, 12 11:03 am

      Thanks Gregory, it does feel good. It felt good to get even a temporary position, but this is a different story with both employer and employee looking toward long-term goals.

      Jul 7, 12 11:58 pm

      you should totally start an official full time, first archi-job blog!

      Jul 8, 12 11:29 am

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Commentary on looking for work, portfolio and resume design, networking, social media and the job search, interviews, dealing with rejection and the joy of landing a job.

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