How do I get a job?

Superfluous Squirrel

I know, network...

I'm currently in the middle of a masters program in Washington D.C.  I'm not sure how to find firms that do work I'm interested in and have values similar to mine. There are so many options in the area, I don't know how to narrow my search. 

The jobs I have gotten before now I just applied to everything I could on every platform I could and took whatever job was offered. I felt a little under qualified with just a preprofessional degree in Arch and thankful that I could get a job at all. Surprisingly, this strategy didn't work out especially well, and I don't want to make the same mistake again.

So, how do I start my search? randomly calling firms? Google?  Join AIAS? 

Jan 18, 17 3:33 pm

1 Featured Comment

All 21 Comments

Non Sequitur

Interests? Values?

Google can't be that hard.  Find offices you like, build a suitable portfolio and apply. Networking can only get you so far, you need to put in some work on your own.

Jan 18, 17 3:41 pm

Don't underestimate the power of having something in common getting you that first interview.

My first intern job - talked with HR person about the Cubs/baseball (even though I'm a Reds fan). That got me in the door. Was there for almost 2 years.

Current one? Well my famous hometown helped since we have a lot of Hoosiers in the office and quite a few Ball State grads (they routinely study Columbus). It was a hook to use and it worked. Here close to 4.5 years now. 

Find what you like and what you believe in and go for it. And don't just say you like one of their buildings unless you've really visited it and it had a decent effect on you (say for example if I were to apply at Steven Holl Architects I would mention how I went to the Hamsun Center in Norway and my thoughts about it).

Jan 18, 17 4:07 pm

try the method in the book Cracking the Hidden Job Market by Donald Asher. It is a good step by step kind of guide you might need.

Over and OUT

Peter N

Jan 18, 17 5:33 pm

Put together a stunning portfolio and be personable with everyone you interact with.  If you can communicate, connect, and produce strong work, someone will hire you.

Jan 18, 17 6:27 pm

A good starting place is giving up on finding the perfect firm. 

Kidding, sort of... :'(

The AIA DC puts out a directory of all the firms in AIA DC.  Go through that one-by-one looking at the websites and identify firms that you really like their work.  If you're not looking for a job at the moment, you could schedule an informational interview to get to know the firm.  Otherwise, email them your portfolio and resume and state that you will be following up with them.  Usually they will respond back with a yes or a sorry we're not hiring - if not drop them a line.

 A lot to finding a job is having the right timing.  You may have a spectacular portfolio but if a firm doesn't have staffing needs then having a gold-plated portfolio and dropping a sick mix tape is not going to change their minds.  Also, in my experience, finding a firm with a positive work environment is an oft disregarded metric and something you can't really tell through the interview.  I worked for a firm that is very well regarded and the office was dead silent and the older architects would walk into the pleb's studio space and berate them for their deficiencies.  While working for a big firm that didn't have quite the same design pedigree (they weren't bad, just not internationally renown) has been one of my favorite places to work - they were so nice and had weekly employee appreciation events (my wording not theirs). 


Josh, I hope you've jumped on the Cubs bandwagon! We're going back to back like it's 1907/1908!!!

Jan 18, 17 8:56 pm
Superfluous Squirrel

Thanks for the advice everyone!

I know I'm going to be hired or not on my merits, but its a lot easier getting an interview if you're a familiar name. 

Peter, Thanks for the tip, I'll look into that book.

g.thomas.z, "somebody" has hired me before, and I didn't enjoy it. haha I'm hoping to be a bit more discerning this time around.

SpacialSojourner, Thanks for the tip about AIA DC, I didn't know they had one. That is what I have really be struggling with. How to find firms who have the same values that I might enjoy working for. 

Jan 18, 17 9:53 pm
You're welcome.
Jan 18, 17 11:31 pm

I got my second job out of college because I didn't wear socks to the interview.

Jan 18, 17 11:42 pm

I got to work on two Guggenheims in part because I called in sick to work twice (I was commuting from Las Vegas to Long Beach) and then stopped going in all together.

I think someone I knew gave them (Stubbins) my resume.

So to recap. Call in sick, have helpful friends.

Jan 18, 17 11:46 pm

Every firm I have worked for has been pretty much a train wreck. Nice people seem to enjoy train wrecks.

Jan 18, 17 11:48 pm
Sam Apoc

Find a firm you like.  Show up, portfolio in hand, and introduce yourself.  Emails will just get ignored.  Plus you get a sneak peak into the culture and how they really act/work when they are not expecting you.

Jan 19, 17 12:10 pm

the hidden job market book really had an immediate, positive, impact on my job search many years ago.  I recommend it to everyone.  Otherwise, see if your school has a co-op office, attend career fairs, and join any student/faculty groups that you can.  

I was a member of the alumni board and would constantly see emails from firms looking for someone to hire.  

The first job is the hardest to get.  Almost every job I've had since the first one was a result of someone I knew personally.  The key is to been seen as a real live person to the person hiring, not a resume that they can throw away without even reading.

Jan 19, 17 12:58 pm

joining aias won't hurt, whatever you do, be active in it.  Simply having aias on your resume will do little.  Holding an aias executive position or running an event is much more impressive.

Jan 19, 17 1:00 pm

put on your best gear with resume / portfolio in hand and go to the company you want to work for, write down name from their webpage, walk in and tell them you are here today for an interview!!!

i gotten a job like this twce!

Jan 19, 17 5:18 pm

Your statement above, "I just applied to everything I could on every platform I could and took whatever job was offered" may explain why you might be having difficulties finding a good fit with an architecture office.

Using the shotgun approach is rarely effective with potential employers. Instead you should create targeted, relevant applications for a carefully curated shortlist of firms you have researched. 

Here are a couple of articles that might be helpful for you:

How to Create a Target List of Architecture Firms

Where To Apply For Architecture Jobs Online.

Good luck!

Jan 19, 17 5:54 pm
Featured Comment

Considering Archinect offers the top job board for the industry, you're starting at the right place. Here are some tips to get started...

  • Create an Archinect profile and indicate that you're seeking employment in your profile settings. There are hundreds of firms using our Talent Finder service to find new staff, and the more impressive your profile looks, the better your chances will be that you'll get hired. 
  • Check out the Jobs section, and create some customized search results. By saving a search result, you can get email alerts whenever new jobs are posted that match your search criteria.

We've also published a number of articles to help you get hired:

There are tons of architecture job openings these days. Why aren't you hired yet?

What should be in your portfolio? Firms tell you what they're looking for and how to get hired

How to Use Archinect to Get a Job; Part 1: Optimizing your Profile

Composing the Personal Narrative, Archinect's Official Portfolio Guide: Part II: The Search for Employment

The Architecture Job Application Hints & Suggestions from Employers

Also check out our “How to Get a Job at _____” series looking at how specific firms approach recruitment

Good luck!

Jan 19, 17 6:07 pm

"Fail, try again and fail better" <= I would follow that.

Jan 20, 17 3:21 pm
Superfluous Squirrel

David, sometimes you learn more from trainwrecks then you would from firms that have their shit together. So they aren't all bad. 

Shellarchitect, I looked into joining AIAS but I can't see any benefit. They put on a job fair and a portfolio review, which I will attend. It just doesn't make sense to me to spend that kind of money and time on nothing more than resume padding, I might as well volunteer and learn something. 

Brandon, Thanks for the links! They were interesting reads!

Archinect, Thanks for the links, thats why I'm here. 

Jose, I like that advice, its works well if I can use your failures too!

Jan 20, 17 8:24 pm

I tend to agree, I suggest volunteering in singing related to the building/design profession. Habitat for humanity is a great place to start

Jan 20, 17 9:20 pm

We need to start having a blacklist of companies on this site for the amount of shitposters.

Feb 14, 17 7:05 am

Have you tried reaching out to any recruitment agencies? Who you know is truly important in life, and architecture is no different. A good recruiter can definitely be an asset to give you a clear picture of the market in a city. Be careful with who you engage with, as recruiters dont always have your ideal firm/role at the forefront, but if you can find a recruiter who is focused on finding you your ideal role rather than a quick sale, both can benefit! 

Feb 14, 17 2:23 pm

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