Spontaneous applications

Hi everyone,

I'm currently looking for an internship (as a recent graduate) in NYC,  and as one does, I have compiled a list of the firms for which I think I would be a good fit. Many of them offer the opportunity to send them your portfolio and résumé even if there isn't an available position at the moment. I am using that opportunity, but I am beginning to wonder whether that actually creates a chance or not. Does anybody here have any experience on either side? (employer/employee) or any input about how firms usually use this method?

Thanks a lot in advance,


Feb 18, 19 2:50 pm

Yes, it sometimes can create a chance.  On the employer side, it helps us to have some resumes on file before a position opens up.  It saves some time in the event that a position opens up and needs to be filled rapidly.

Some firms rarely or never advertise open positions.  Instead, these firms rely solely on unsolicited resumes from candidates that are interested in the firm.  They are usually prestigious and famous firms like they have in NYC.

Feb 18, 19 3:55 pm

Thanks for your reply! Until now I have relied mostly on advertised positions, giving unsolicited applications a second place in my application hierarchy. I think I'll give them more attention. I have noticed that DS+R or Steven Holl never seem to post offers, I'm guessing you are referring to such firms.


Yes I am. At that level of firm, positions do not have to advertised. They also do a lot of hiring through word-of-mouth networking.


Yes, it can lead to an opportunity.  Sometimes a firm is very busy and considering hiring, but just hasn't had time to update their website yet with a particular job description.  Sometimes they weren't necessarily on the verge of hiring, but they are intrigued enough by your resume and great cover letter that they decide to interview you.  Sometimes they're not hiring right now, but in a couple months they find themselves short-handed so they look back through recent applicants.  All of those are reasons that you might get a chance.  Of course it's also possible that you send your application materials and they're not looking right now and/or you're not the right fit, so you never hear from them or you get a standard "thank you, we'll keep you on file" response that never leads to anything.  But there's little to lose by giving it a shot. 

Really in that situation your cover letter is your best hope for getting their attention and telling them why you're interested in their work and how you can be a great fit - so put the work in to research the firms and customize those letters.  Also make it clear that you're already in the city (if that's true) and available immediately.

Feb 18, 19 4:00 pm

I think, in my case, this is at the same time good and bad news: in the one hand it is great to hear that an unsolicited application can be handy for them if they're in a busy moment, and that I could fill in that gap. On the other hand, I'm a foreigner and I'm relying on a J-1 Visa, which takes 6-10 weeks to process, which seems to defeat the purpose in such case. I think for this reason I really need to make sure to tailor my application to suit their exact needs optimally. I got my work cut out for me. Thanks! :


It definitely works, it takes time and effort to prepare a job opening ad and review all the applications. Which also mostly needs to happen during very busy times (otherwise why the job opening) when they are basically understaffed. So, yes it works. Keep tabs on architectural news, who wins big commissions, competitions, etc. and send something out just before they normally would place an ad, you'll make their life easier and are on top of the pile for a while.

Feb 19, 19 12:42 am

Thank you for your advice. The question of my original post came up when I discovered that a NYC firm was going to build a prominent project abroad, in a country whose language I speak and whose regulations I'm familiar with, so I applied there but I had serious doubts about how much sense there was in doing that. I think I'm going to use this method actively.

100% you should still apply. The thing is, you don't know when they will start hiring. and that could change overnight, before they post any job opening announcement online. Timing is like 90% of getting hired. So make sure you keep following up. 

I worked in NYC for several years and a bunch of different offices--We just did a show about how to get hired. It should be of some help.

Feb 19, 19 11:35 am

thanks again David :)

Feb 19, 19 2:20 pm

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