Any advice is appreciated (no work experience)



I got my bachelor's degree 2 years ago. After finishing my undergrad, I felt pretty incompetent about my skills because I really hated the school I was going, I wanted to be done with it as quickly as possible and with minimal effort.

I was very excited when starting to university about all the classes I was going to take. My goal was to be an all-round person, to discover myself and I was hoping that architecture would give me all the skills and space and the discipline (as I read that it was a very hard major) to then pursue whatever I want. So I didn't dream about being architect since I was a kid.

But, as I said, the experience I got was just, dull and boring. Hating the school, I managed to graduate without studying and working much. I chose this because I really want to, yet somehow it became work I didn't want to do.

After school I decided to revise some better projects I did, put together a decent portfolio. Because I thought that's what it took to get a job. That took me 1,5 years (the result is not that good either). I'm applying jobs since spring I think and nothing. I've only applied to firms that are looking for inexperienced people. I've also applied to grad school in hopes to get a better education and maybe create more opportunities. I enrolled to the city and regional planning department, considering I want to study urban design which will start this fall.

I think it would be more appropriate to apply for internships as I have zero work experience. I did my internships at local municipality and at a construction site. So no architecture firms. I will send my portfolio to the firms I like but I'm worried that I can't really bring anything to table for them.

The sad part for me is that, I was a good student till university. I know I can do better. It's depressing to be 25 with no work experience and not knowing what to do. I understood that confidence and maturity comes with experience not with time or age.

I appreciate any advice you can give. How does this look for an employer? How can fix this? I even thought about re-doing undergrad but that will require me to take a SAT-like exam (again) which feels like a waste of time. But I'm still thinking. That's the problem. Analysis paralysis.

Jul 20, 19 8:02 pm

It seems that you weren't passionate for architecture to begin with or if you were got burn out from a lousy school experience. I can empathize. Internships might be a good idea, don't work for free though. Go to AIA events in your area to network. Volunteer. Keep working on competitions/software skills

If the passion isn't there and you're doing it just to do it, cut your losses and find something that doesn't wear you down.

Jul 20, 19 9:32 pm  · 

Thank you for responding! I think a good school would've made a difference but I can't know for sure without trying couple different jobs. I'll definitely apply to internships and I have some ideas to improve my software skills. Competitions too. I'm hoping giving 2 more years, I'll figure out if I can do this.

 ·'s comment has been hidden

Learn Spanish, claim asylum for health care reasons in California and work for a concrete pavement company.

Jul 21, 19 1:45 pm  · 
AlinaF's comment has been hidden

Learn Spanish, get a job at a mental health asylum in California and sleep on the concrete pavement in the company of strangers. 

Jul 22, 19 7:30 am  · 

Learn Spanish in a concrete mental asylum in California.

( o Y o )

ignoring the two comments above, you should consider working in construction. immediate employment in a directly related field, it will give you experience that most architects lack. you may find that you like it, too, which does not seem to be the case with architecture

Jul 22, 19 8:32 am  · 

I don't know what construction jobs out there will be of any benefit. Yeah you see how a building goes together but you can get that from a book or a site tour if you know what you're looking at. Hard labor doesn't build grit just a bad back and shot knees. Plus most architect firms are elitist hovels who would probably look down on the ditch digging survival job. I do think you're right that he doesn't like architecture to begin with and all this is pointless anyway


You're wrong about every assumption you just made. No, you definitely can't learn from a book, like you can on site; physical work is good for you (even if it's just to remind yourself that you don't want to do physical work); most Architects firms will appreciate that you worked construction. In fact, that's a definite asset to have and everything else being equal, could make your stand out for the right reasons.


Thanks for your input. If you mean physical labor, I don't think they hire women, I've never seen one. But I'll definitely look into related fields.


What's with the focus on architecture anyway?  Plenty of jobs out there do not require a specialized degree, pick one and try it out.  Allied fields can be helpful if you want to get into architecture, many firms will say that a kid with a degree and a decent portfolio are common, but specialized knowledge in an allied field is not.

Construction helps you understand how things are actually put together (the type of effort, equipment, fixing issues as they come up during construction); its very useful and as you get into construction management, it (should) give you the ability to communicate and get some street cred. Graphic design, marketing, craft trades, vendor side, all gives you some insight that you probably did not get in school.

Just as a job-seeker, any experience helps in that its important to employers that you can work in their work environment and navigate day-to-day grind.  Its amazing how many people can't communicate or even show up on time every day...

Jul 22, 19 12:25 pm  · 

Thank you for this advice. Focus on architecture, I think it would be giving up early if I don't see how things go in an office. But it's a great idea to look into related fields.


If I were you I'd take your date of graduation off of your resume, and frame your cover letter to state that you're a recent grad (which is true - just maybe a little less recent than they might assume) looking for an entry-level opportunity.  The 2-year gap may be what's discouraging some firms, so just conveniently omit that.  Of course you may be asked about your graduation date in an interview - so you need to have an explanation as to what you've been doing if it does come up.

Include an enthusiastic paragraph in your cover letter about why specifically the firm to which you're applying is interesting to you (flatter them a bit), and follow that with one about how your skills in X, Y, and Z will be useful to them.

You can apply for internships, but don't count out a regular entry-level job.  There's no reason you can't start a "real job" in a firm.  You're not confident about your skills from your degree program, but practice isn't much like school anyway so you'll be starting with the same stuff as anybody really.

If you definitely want to go back to school, I wouldn't encourage doing another bachelor degree.  Your background is sufficient to apply to M.Arch programs - albeit not the most competitive ones.  But if I were you I'd work in the profession for awhile before deciding if you want to stay in it and if so whether you really need any more education to do that.

Your posts sound very bleak and defeatist - I'm wondering if any of that is coming through in your job application materials.  Don't dwell at all on your education and your insecurities - just be enthusiastic and positive about what you can do and about your interest in the field, and in how much you like their work and how you hope to contribute your budding skills to their practice.

Jul 22, 19 2:55 pm  · 

Thank you so much for taking the time to write. I thought about omitting it, but then I thought that would hurt my chances more when it came up.

I'm checking on the list of offices I noted, after I bring it down to 10, I'll write specialized letters. These are design focused. In the mean time, I'll apply to the ones actually looking for an employee.

The program I enrolled is for master's (city and regional planning department, urban design). As you said, I applied to M.Arch as well but didn't get accepted. I only applied to best schools plus one close to my home which is very good as well, just not as popular as others. I think they crossed me off because I couldn't convince them on the interview.

I try to be enthusiastic and direct in emails but I'm not sure, maybe it does comes off as insecure. I need a focus shift from what I can't do to what I can. /This was very helpful, again, thanks for writing it.


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