unemployed grad's who want a place to complain about things!


A Lawer can come out of law school take one test and have the life of a person and or saftey of society in their hands.  We need 3 years of IDP and a shit load of exams....hmmmm  This suggests distrust of the architecture education program!

Aug 25, 11 2:10 pm

Graduated May 2010, moved to France, landed a job within 3 months (without a work visa!) quit it to work for a better job, quit it to work for a better job, first employer then came back with a better offer and I am back with them.

Don't sell yourself short, market your skills where they are marketable, English and western architecture is needed in many places in the world ... just not in the USA for the moment. Buck up, lean a new language, take a risk, and come back in ten years with the experience people will be looking for when the USA gets back on its feet.

Aug 25, 11 2:16 pm


I believe the best place to seek employment is out of the country. My story is this (might need some patience as this may be long):


Back in April I was offered two jobs, one with a construction management company in the States that paid and another job in Shanghai, China with an architecture/design firm with an up-and-coming architect, which only paid for lunch and travel stipend. Coming from a family of limited means, I was unsure as to what to do--take the job that I really wanted, but starve, and virtually have no place to live, or take the job that I really didn't want, nor had any desire whatsoever to perform at a construction site being an 'office engineer'...but get a steady pay check. I ended up doing the unthinkable, at least unthinkable at that time, turning down both opportunities. Now, before any one who is unemployed thinks that I am a naive, stubborn, unappreciative brat, or asshole, or screw up, or whatever expletive may come to mind,  the next month of May had arrived and so had graduation day--still unemployed, I decided the best thing to do was to go home and forget about job hunting for a few weeks. Heading on into June, I resumed the hunt for a career in architecture/design/interior design/basket-weaving, i guess that wouldn't be to far off...At any point, I ended up sending applications out to some 18 firms over the course of one month. No good news from anyone, at least those that actually did respond. The one I had head from back in early July was in Copenhagen, Denmark, where I had studied abroad back in 2009-2010, but that firm was just as the one in Shanghai--unpaid with no help of relocation, but stipend for lunch and travel. Just when I thought all hope of ever working in architecture either domestic or abroad, mid-July arrived and I received UNREAL news from a firm in Bangalore, India to which I had applied back in early JUNE!!! Long story shorter, they considered my application for employment and offered me a position as junior designer--the sound of junior designer for this recent  BArch grad sounded like a 10-year corporate veteran's promotion to Senior Vice President of blah blah blah...The firm will assist with relocation (not plane ticket but apartment sourcing and first month funded) and actually pays a salary of 40,000 INR (Indian Rupees) Now that offer sounds like a very generous one, that is until I converted it to USD. 40,000 INR = $867 every month. I was told though by HR that that salary is "well-above average India salary". Since this had been the only real, viable option I had been given since the offer with that construction management company, and I was also I could exercise the skills from my education, I took it. I start mid-September. I know this was supposed to be all bad news, and hell, I thought summer 2011 was gonna be all bad news, but I feel it helpful to send anyone looking for employment opportunities to check out this website if you have not yet used it. I have found it to be helpful in applying to many jobs abroad. This summer early on was loaded with opportunities! 

Best of luck architects! I will stay posted.

Aug 25, 11 2:18 pm

jffry, thats for that....I will check out that link!

Aug 25, 11 2:34 pm
my fault.

i was unemployed, but realized that with an architecture background I could pursue other industries. currently an interaction designer in the UX Design industry making twice as more than any of my colleagues who are in architecture...


Aug 25, 11 4:07 pm

i should have minored in pyrotechnics / demolition for job security.

Aug 25, 11 7:18 pm
Token AE

The only bright side that I see is that theoretical work will go through a golden period, like it has before during economic plight. 

Pass me whatever you're hitting when you're done with it.

The problem is the architects themselves. Would you turn down designing a wal-mart? A new McDonalds? I think most of the pedants in the industry would. And I think that that ideology is instilled in students in school.

Would a lawyer hesitate to take a case defending a manager of a local McDonalds franchise? Probably not.

Would a doctor walk away from someone that was sick that worked as a wal-mart janitor? Probably not*.

Would an engineer turn up their nose at designing a tank at a sewage treatment plant? Probably, but only for the odor and they wouldn't likely turn down the job.

Until people realize that professional occupations aren't rosy and intellectually stimulating 100% of the time, it will continue to die. Some are, but the overwhelming majority are not. Passing off all of the boring and hard things to consultants left architecture with less and less liability over time- right now, it is more or less an aesthetic consultant to a construction manager.

The only way to reverse the decline is to start taking back services from the consultants- the stuff that creatives typically hate to do- and to do it better than them. Once you are good, you can even charge a premium for your 'expertise'- you can bet your consultants are right now.

The 'fun' parts of architecture are critically important- the creative process, artistic inspiration, and design in general. But without professional practice and the other 'un-fun' aspects of the profession- you're just another kid crumpling up paper. And Gehry already has that market cornered.

* Somewhat of a moot point, since they don't have insurance to begin with because wal-mart is satan.

Aug 25, 11 7:35 pm

Good point Token,

Now, I don't know any better since I barely have any work experience, but I can bet you we'd be better off if we designed "boring" work...or *gasp* did some of the bloody structural calculations they teach us to do in school..I was shocked during an internship when I found my boss wouldn't even try calculating the size of the members for the roof truss...

Aug 25, 11 8:04 pm

Token AE, theoretical work is important.  To think that in 20-25 years we will still be building walmarts at the rate we are now suggests that you have not been reading the papers lately.  The world will change there is no doubt about it.  Those who are anticipating change and figuring out where architecture will fit in are the ones who will be on top of the game.  I'm not just talking about new shapes, but rather more sustainable cities etc...  Adaptation must continue or extinction is inevitable.  Theoretical work has always been the precursor to built work.  O.K I get it there is no cash in theoretical work, but architecture is not just a job, it is an art.  Do artists just stop painting when no one is buying their work?  Also, without ideology we are drones.  If I wanted to be a drone, I could have done so, making more money, and with half the schooling.  I have friends who never went to college and are working in jobs they hate, but banking in 60k - 80k a year, and there is nothing wrong with that, its just not for me.

Aug 25, 11 8:26 pm

While I disagree its an art, generally speaking (although for some it may be), architecture is a profession as it holds a "monopoly of theoretically grounded knowledge which in some cases may be guaranteed by law"  meaning  architects hold responsibility for thinking for their society whereas the McD's counterperson doesn't have that same responsibility, and apparently neither do many of the clients who architects get. 

to that end, I applaud j.arleo for not taking an unethical position, yet the system that is already carrying out that type of unethical decision making is going to go on without one more new does a jobless architect really stand up to the system of it?  

Maybe this is related to the same systematic practice of unpaid internships?

Either way, both systems of corruption as well as the problem of unemployment are related to money.  architecture as a profession has already sold out lots of its component design parts to other professions, a lot of decision making to beauracratic entities and the monopoly of design in many ways is sold out to new media and technology...i just have a lot of questions i guess...what is left of architecture at its core, as it is most commonly experienced?

if it takes us so long to get into the profession after graduating, and only 75% of us make it (as someone above stated) what power do we have left by the time we get there to "do something" about it?

Aug 25, 11 9:13 pm
Token AE

Token AE, theoretical work is important.  To think that in 20-25 years we will still be building walmarts at the rate we are now suggests that you have not been reading the papers lately. 

The 'fun' parts of architecture are critically important- the creative process, artistic inspiration, and design in general.


Looks like I'm not the only one that hasn't been reading things. Perhaps you should read my comment in its entirety before replying.

My point is that you need both the theory and the practice. Let me reiterate: theory is incredibly important. It is worthless without knowing how to implement it.

If you want to be a professional and only work on theory, that market is very small and is currently supersaturated. 

Aug 25, 11 9:24 pm

Well that settles it. We are all moving to France and/or India! 

We'll coordinate our efforts so it looks like a locust attack. Locusts dressed in all black and wearing square grasses.

Once we pillage and burn everything, we can move on to Brazil.

Aug 25, 11 9:41 pm
Token AE

My edit got deleted, but I wanted to add:

I had James Wines as a studio instructor. The man is borderline unstable and one of the most theoretically out-there people that I have ever met. However, you will never meet a bigger proponent of professional practice.

I also knocked your reading comprehension abilities with a little more wit, but that's beating a dead horse at this point.

Aug 25, 11 9:57 pm
Smile of Fury

I don't know how you graduated from anywhere and still think you can pluralize words with an apostrophe. Maybe you and the "IDP in Immoral" OP can start a firm together.

Aug 26, 11 12:54 am

its hard in the d when you're trying to keep peace:

Aug 26, 11 1:03 am

Well, I do completely agree that the practice should expand its scope of services and its definition of what "architecture" is.  Yes we should build low and middle income housing rather than giving that huge industry over to developers, yes we should build stores etc...but we need to do it in a way that is beneficial to society the environment and the economy, or we should turn it down. I agree that we need to incorporate theory with practice in order to have a real effect on things.  It is our fiduciary duty to serve the client, but we also have a duty to serve society as yulo was saying.  As far as theory, what I was saying is that in order to move the dicipline foward, even when nothing is being built,  we need to continue to do work even if it is just theoretical.  I don't understand what is so crazy about that?  Some of the most interesting  and influential projects were just paper architecture.   It will not create immediate jobs but it will allow the profession to evolve through this recession and possibly come out on the other side with a more proactive plan.  Theory  liberates architecture from the grasp of the corporate world, and the lack of a public / political will.  Theory is not just about "the fun stuff, art ect..." but about finding solutions to societal problems.  Through these solutions architects can influence new typologies rather than just changing the appearence of old ones that do not work like the big box store in a sea of parking.  We should be creating new clients not just trying to painfully persuade walmarts to install skylights.  To create new clients, we need to find new possibilities (through theory) in the city that are both beneficial to society and profitable.  We need to be more proactive. 

Aug 26, 11 1:44 am

To add to my post, a company like apple innovates by creating new products, not just constantly making new versions of the same ones.  New products will generate new clients.  Our business is suffering because we act like servants to clients. We need to invent new ways of doing things that work, and then find the dam clients.  As long as something will make money there will be a client for it.

Aug 26, 11 2:04 am

Ugh.  This is so depressing.  I'm going to go jump off a Calatrava bridge now.

Aug 26, 11 5:40 am
my fault.

patience is a virtue

Aug 26, 11 10:18 am

It was asked earlier the unemployment rate for architects earlier, I have some new stats:

There was a 240,000 payroll employment at US Architecture firms in late 2007, in June 2011 there is 153,200 or a loss of -86,800 jobs (source AIA)   So that would give us an unemployment rate of 36.2% in which we have added 18,000 new grads @ 6,000 per year (2008, 2009, 2010)


Aug 30, 11 5:06 pm

long story short I was a taxidermist before graduating last week with my BS in Architecture. I'm 100k in credit card debt and leveraged to my socks. now i'm trying to figure out a way to have the local city zoo sell me all their owl carcasses. teh zoo keeps ignoring my calls and emails, they don't just understand i will treat my new feather owls with the upmost respect.

Aug 30, 11 6:40 pm

HA!  An NCARB overhaul!  Like that will ever happen.  The only way to replace/fix NCARB or the AIA would be an inside job, and unfortunately after everyone goes through all the BS of the architecture system, no one is going to look back and try to fix it.

Aug 30, 11 10:07 pm

^--------I love your username

Aug 30, 11 10:09 pm

I graudated with a pre-professional :( degree in May 2009. Have yet to find an architecture job. I land an interview about every 4 months, but nothing comes of them. I'm not unemployed, I've been a business analyst for about 2 years. But I detest it. I wanna do architecture bad. I've sent out about 7 resumes this week. Hopefully one works out.

Aug 31, 11 9:14 am



I'd be curious to see the employment (and graduation) numbers from the mid to late 90s - that would probably be a little closer to where we're headed once things stabilize.  2007 wasn't exactly a normal year in our industry.

Aug 31, 11 1:09 pm

gibson, that makes it about 43% if you assume 0 growth.  I would guess that this varies alot from state to state.  In Arizona, Nevada etc... it is probably even higher.  All I know is that this stat. is depressing. 

toasteroven, you assume that things will return to a late 90s standard.  The idea of a natural economic expansion and contraction does not apply to this crisis.  I have heard that it could take 10 years to see significant improvement from leading economists.  Now think about the continual increase of graduates for 10 more years.  According to gibson, there will be 60,000 more by then, making the unemployment rate around 68%.  Of course this assumes no growth which is not hard to imagine considering how it has stagnated for the last three years.  And if things get worse as some predict, then who the hell knows!  With the looks of the way things are going in Washington, I cannot imagine a real jobs plan being passed.  And if one of those teabagger shit heads win in 2012 then were doomed!  We are in a really fucked up situation!!!  What pisses me off most is how the media keeps giving us this 9.1% rate.  The national average is irrelevent to actual people within specific fields!   

Aug 31, 11 5:03 pm

can't edit post....

Or, I should say professionals who's skill set is limited to a specific field.  9.1% might be true if your just looking for any minimum wage job.




Aug 31, 11 5:07 pm


Sep 1, 11 1:51 am

b.s. architecture graduate, may 2011 here.

i wanted to take time off from anything architecture for the summer to figure out if i even liked architecture anymore.  which is mostly the reason i didn't try to jump right into grad school.  anyone else in this position?  that is, waiting around before getting an m.arch to see what happens with the world economy, your career path, even your emotional state?

Sep 1, 11 7:42 pm


I'm sort of in the same train of thought as you, although I'm entering grad school and not waiting.  However, this happened :

My doubts about the profession seem less credible now.  Apologies for shamelessly posting a link to something I just wrote, but I thought it related.

Sep 2, 11 12:20 am

Micah, I recommend to everyone in school to work in the field they are studying in (architecture, or anything else for that matter).  Certainly before continuing on to a graduate degree.

Sep 2, 11 1:42 am

I just interviewed my 8th recent grad for a position in our firm.  What is wrong with kids today???   I want to hire two people, and every candidate seems completely mediocre.   Did you ever learn any interviewing / job seeking skills?  Here are some things I saw:

- applicants email incorrect on his resume

- a cover letter consisting of a one line email.

- showing up in sloppy clothes.

- a 'portfolio' consisting of some dog eared print outs held together by a bull dog clip.

- when asked if the applicant has any questions about the position, the answer was "do you have flexible hours?  I am not a morning person."

- Canned answers to questions.  Me: "What personality trait or skill would you change if you could?"  recent grad:  " I need to learn to delegate more."  (WHAT???) or " I am too detail oriented."   Right.


Sep 4, 11 12:10 pm

some of us millennials expect things to revolve around us. My response to the personality trait change question would have been something like: "Well, nobody is perfect and there are always things that need work, but I sense that from working [at this firm], my skills and my person will gainfully evolve with each passing challenge." boy, being in architecture school sure does sort of teach you how to indirectly be an interviewee...all those years of jury sure do pay off after all...

Sep 5, 11 11:49 am


Let me know where you're hiring.  I have the ability to dress in wrinkle-free business attire, spiral-bind a crisp portfolio, and produce a wonderful cover letter free of typos.

Will work for peanuts.



Sep 5, 11 8:38 pm

Good Junior, but a great answer would be an honest one that shows you have self awareness, and a willingness to work on your weaknesses.  For example, you might say (instead of I need to learn to delegate):  " In the past, when I have worked on a team, I have had difficulty relying on team members.  I tend to be a worrier, and I want to do things myself to make sure they are done correctly and on time.  However, I have realized that getting team input can be really beneficial, and that others can add much more to the project than I could come up with myself.  I have been working on being a better team member, and developing the skills I need to be more inclusive in my work. "

Katlee, we are located in the mid Atlantic region.  where are you?


Sep 6, 11 9:56 am

@archie, thanks for the example, as that would be a really great answer and an honest one. 

@katlee, it's nice to see "you're" used properly!

Sep 6, 11 12:33 pm

An architect has responsibilities of architecture. If you can't find a job, earn some money somehow related with other fields but produce for the sake of architecture. For example you can write articles on politics-economical system etc. But never give up. HOPE is on architects, we shape the future. Not only the buildings. Architects are important figures. We don t only design building but life's itself...Keep it in mind, we are stronger than politicians.



Sep 6, 11 1:04 pm


- Canned answers to questions.  Me: "What personality trait or skill would you change if you could?"  recent grad:  " I need to learn to delegate more."  (WHAT???) or " I am too detail oriented."   Right.


Ask a canned question, get a canned answer?  I'm not sure what you expect - no one bares their soul in an interview.  No one is going to admit to anything grievous or odd.  It's a dumb question.  The only thing an original response to that shows is that they thought of all the obvious questions for 10 minutes before the interview.

Sep 6, 11 2:34 pm

Archie, I'm living in Texas.  I'm in my last year of undergrad and am now trying to figure out where to apply for graduate school and/or where to find a job.  Perhaps the economy will magically produce tons of jobs for architects when I get out of school?  Ha.


What sort of questions do you think should be asked in an interview?  Or rather, have you been asked strange questions?  I'm curious.  If all of the questions asked are unoriginal, then the interviewee should be able to anticipate them and come up with an original answer well beforehand.  I would think that there are some fairly creative answers considering this is a creative field.

Sep 6, 11 6:10 pm

Calculator:  You would think people would have answers to canned questions, but sometimes I have heard very funny answers.  I once asked "how would your friends describe you?", which is a pretty canned question.  The answer was "lazy.".   At least he was honest! 

I usually start with a canned question, then push further.  For example, with the personality trait one, when the person said they should delegate more, I will ask for a specific example of a time they did not delegate, and why the outcome was not good. I will ask for specific examples of what kind of things they would delegate.  I will ask about what particular steps you should take when you delegate a task. 

No one bares their soul, but i do want to get an idea of the person's work style, and their personality. For example, I usually will criticize something in their portfolio.  Maybe something little like a room that is difficult to furnish because of it's layout, or an ADA code problem.  I want to see how they react.  Do they brush it off as insignificant?  Do they get defensive?  Do they make an excuse for why it is that way?  Do they show me that I am wrong by sketching out a great furniture layout?  Do they accept the criticism and say they had not thought of it that way?  Each will tell me something about the person.

Sep 7, 11 9:48 am

I graduated in 2008 from The Cooper Union with a BArch degree and have been floating around as an intern ever since. There are days when I realize I've been an intern for the past 10 years that I become depressed. It is like treading water in the middle of an empty sea. While every new internship offers the possibility of job advancement, it also means I have to start at the bottom with a minimal amount of responsibility. As a result, I worry I've become structurally unemployed. I look to grad school as a way out, but am not willing to take on the debt without the prospect of a guaranteed job beyond the degree. Either way if I choose to stay in the profession or not, I know it is a long road out of unemployment. 

Sep 8, 11 3:09 am

@aaron lim, dude with the kind of creativity you possess, i am surprised you are not a senior designer at minimum by now! you have good work.

Sep 8, 11 3:53 am

This might add to the interviewer /  interview candidate discussion.

Sep 8, 11 2:08 pm

I agree that many applicants these days are probably spoiled kids with a lack of work ethic and interview skills, but I'm not.  I have been working in various jobs since I was 14, and always act in an appropriate manner when applying for work.  The lack of appropriate business behavior goes both ways though.  I have applied to over 100 firms, and only three emails back.  At least let us feel as if our tireless job search is being heard, Send an email back saying THANK YOU I RECIEVED YOUR RESUME AND PORTFOLIO.  WE WILL KEEP YOU IN MIND.  THANKS 

Sep 8, 11 3:46 pm

This has really been hard for us, and not even getting a response back makes us feel horrible. 

Sep 8, 11 3:49 pm

Thanks for your kind words, @junior. I think architects and recent grads employed or unemployed should support each other more. Architecture is a social profession, but it seems many architects in practice forget that we become stronger as a community than alone. 

@J. Arleo, I understand your frustration. I can't count the number of times I've written pointed cover letters and created specific portfolio documents responding to job listings and become disappointed when I don't hear anything back. It's really a shame that applying to jobs via email means employers assume they don't have to respond. 


Sep 9, 11 1:09 am

Yeah I agree, it is too cold of a communicaton method to actually feel empathy for the person emailing the resume.  I tried just dropping by a few places and they looked at me like I had 2 heads.  I guess it's not acceptable in 2011 to actually call or stop by and talk to a human being.  Archie up there is right to a degree, but you get what you give.  If firms are going to continue to pay like shit and treat new people like slaves, they degrade the value of the Job, and consequently the applicants attitude toward the job. 

Sep 9, 11 6:27 pm
juan moment

@aaron lim, I like the idea that the community should be more supportive.  Unfortunately I'm not sure where or what organization would be an outlet for this to happen.... the AIA? NCARB? Schools of Architecture? It seems like archinect is the only place for this kind of dialogue. 

After being unemployed since graduation, it seems no one is really willing to talk about the issue or pass on any helpful information.  Even some colleagues with whom I graduated with recently are very guarded about their employment opportunities even to the point of not updating their LinkedIn accounts or sharing that they have actually gained employment.  The school I just graduated from, treaded lightly on the issue and avoided discussing the state of the economy and what it means for the profession for the most part.  The University's Career Services is doing absolutely nothing more that it would in a normal economy to help graduates.  From the outside (aside from several discussions here on archinect) it seems there is no outlet for a professional dialogue about these issues.  If I'm missing a resource somewhere please let me know.

I too wish there were some other system for applying for jobs.  I know firms have a lot of applicants these days, but having everything rely on emails and not hearing back at all is really frustrating.  I've worked damn hard to be where I am and taken care to assemble each and every application package into something I'm proud of.  How can all this frustration be channeled into something productive for our careers and profession?

Probably not adding much to the discussion but just venting... I'm blaming this on the title of the discussion responsible for encouraging pointless complaining with little regard for creating solutions.



Sep 14, 11 2:40 pm

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