Finding my first job

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



Sep '11 - Jan '13

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    Searching for the Holy Grail

    Brian Henry
    May 24, '12 11:48 PM EST

    While there are a lot of parallels to draw between Indiana Jones' search for the Holy Grail and your job search, I thought I'd focus on the actual selection of the job / holy grail. This of course assumes that you've accurately deciphered all the clues and codes, made it past the Nazis who are trying to use your knowledge for their gain and / or kill you (unpaid internships anyone?), and you've made it to the final test. Here the metaphor breaks down a little; it would be better if you had a plethora of offers to choose from, and in reality this is probably not going to happen at this point, but bear with me.

    Indiana finds himself in front of a really old guy who dresses funny (yet he comments on how funny Indy is dressed as well, sounds a lot like the interviews I've had). The last of the holy knights explains that he has been vanquished and that Indiana (and Donovan too since he came in and submitted his resume for the job) must choose. In reality, this usually comes up around the topic of Revit; the vanquished old guy realizes that his firm has fallen behind the technological curve and only a young upstart (who dresses funny) can save his practice. So, do you want a job?

    "... But choose wisely. For as the True Grail will bring you life – the False Grail will take it from you."

    There is probably more than just one Holy Grail when it comes to your first job, and in the current market you may not come face-to-face with it. Even so, I think it is very worthwhile to decide what you are looking for in your first employer. With so many False Grails out there waiting to take your life you really need to be aware of what you are getting yourself into before accepting an offer. The following are just a few of the things I've done to try to identify and keep clear of the False Grails out there:

    • Have a career plan. I think it's really easy to sit down and say, "I'd like to become a registered architect." The key is what happens after that. Answering that question will probably tell you a lot about where you want to look for a job. I would like to become licensed, yes, but I'd also like to focus on my interests and have a chance to do some quality design work. I know that my first position probably won't be doing anything like this (unless you call redlines my passion) but researching the firms you are going to apply to and the types of projects they do, as well as talking to people who work there and even asking the right questions in an interview can help you understand if the position will lead into your long-term goals or not.
    • Look for support. I'd really like to work for a firm that understands the path I'm taking to licensure and has the ability to help me out along the way. If you haven't noticed by looking through Archinect's forums, IDP can be a daunting and frustrating process. I'd like to have a supervisor that understands that and can help me out here and there when it comes to reporting hours and completing hours. Again, doing your research and asking questions is a good way to find this out.
    • Know the environment. Different firms have different standards when it comes to how their employees are treated. Some may say they are very friendly, but then that when it comes to actions it doesn't really show. Walk by the firm's offices at night and see how many lights are on. Talk to current and former employees if you can. Obviously take what they say with a grain of salt. The current employee may not feel that they can be candid, and the former employee may be harboring a grudge.

    Keep in mind that it is an employers market right now. There are plenty more people looking for work if you don't like certain things about a firm. They may not be as coveted as the Cup of Christ but they may not exactly be a False Grail either, the world isn't just black and white. If you are too picky you'll probably never find the perfect job.

    These are just a few of many things to consider when looking for work. What are you looking for, or did you look for, in a firm when searching for work? Please leave a comment and let us know.

    He Chose Poorly

    • 1 Comment

    • dbalean15

      Wow!!! Interesting way of describing the job hunt situation. Well, let me give out some advice from my personal experience also using the Indiana Jones metaphor. Just like Indy, it's wise to know the locals who speak the language of the place where you are digging (in this case I mean friends or acquaintances working at firm who will recommend you or at least let you know that someone is looking to hire). 3 of the 4 jobs I've had in the field have been through people I've known. Friends, co-workers, professionals who you know can help you to get around obstacles. What I've noticed is that firms (architectural or any other) put a lot of effort and risk in hiring someone. So, it is much safer for them to hire someone based on a trusted recommendation. This is just like a reference but better since it will get you to the interview table. Bigger firms can go through new employees much more easily but smaller ones usually depend on people and not necessarily on skills. So while it is an employer's market right now, it is still a lot of risk to constantly hire and fire people. My intuition is that firms right now want everything (software, experience, LEED, Revit) at the lowest price. That's just my 2 cents worth of information. If you are hard working and dependable, word will get around even if it takes a long time. Also I've noticed that the field is pretty small and everyone knows everyone.

      To sum up, just like Indy, be a good guy(or girl), have some good friends like Sallah and Marcus Brody and maybe a Marion Ravenwood. Finally, be ready for some ups and downs and enjoy this recession adventure! Never know what stange places (or countries) it will take you to!!!!

      May 27, 12 5:38 pm

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