Is the business REALLY as bad as I hear it is?


I'm a junior arch student in Boston going to WIT and I started to apply for internships for next semester assuming I'd get no responses and no interviews, but low and behold after sending around my generic cover letter with my resume and a work sample page to the first batch of firms (25ish out of 150 I have) I have 8 emails back and 1 interview at a mid size firm that does some really cool high budget work. Its only been like...30 hours since they would have gotten the emails. I'm not especially good at it either, plenty of kids are getting interviews and some have multiple job offers.

Many of us are getting interviews now, and maybe 25% of the firms I've looked at are hiring professional architects and NOT interns, so I'd think it would be even easier to find real work. The median salary of a licensed architect is 85k in the city, and the unlicensed graduates from my school made 45k starting salaries on avg.

Is Boston just an exception or is it older professionals getting laid off , or maybe those unlicensed graduates are being worked to death for that 45k a year salary? I feel like I'm being kept in the dark until I reach professional status, and THEN get screwed....

Any advice?

Nov 15, 11 3:27 pm

In general, most layoffs have occurred. Whispers of hiring are beginning to surface in various dark alleys, but the majority of firms (in my region) still have a lean staff. Professionally I don't think the layoffs took on a specific shape, rather they seemed largely firm specific. The exception would be administrative and support roles (i.e. receptionists, office managers, I/T, etc.) which seemed to be consistently eliminated across the board. Many of those positions won't return to the industry, as firms have adjusted and become more versatile. That's one of the main issues in hiring interns - they aren't versatile. Sadly, most universities simply don't prepare students for professional practice. So, when hiring does start up again, interns will be competing with experienced professionals willing to work for virtually the same salary, because it's better than unemployment or working 3 minimum wage jobs. My advice is to get as much experience as you can, and start building relationships outside of school. Make yourself relevant.

Nov 15, 11 5:17 pm

Wait until you have a job offer with an actual number attached to it to talk about how well things are going.  Firms would be happy to pay you very little and get some billing hours and work out of you.  If the average is 45K that means there are likely a lot of people who don't make that amount...

Nov 15, 11 8:18 pm

The exception would be administrative and support roles (i.e. receptionists, office managers, I/T, etc.) which seemed to be consistently eliminated across the board. Many of those positions won't return to the industry, as firms have adjusted and become more versatile.

Except if you've bothered to crack open any of the architecture magazines, you'd find that these positions are the exact ones that are growing quite rapidly. An efficient office is a profitable office. If you're working for a firm that's stripped off all of its supporting professionals, I'd suggest you'd look for a job elsewhere.

Even if you look on Archinect's job board, there's roughly about 2 paraprofessional positions for any given single "branded" architect.

Nov 15, 11 8:26 pm


You're getting responses back because you're cheap, expendable, and you're going to go away after a certain period of time.  Interns and co-ops are getting offers because you can be used quickly and disposed of at the end of the semester, and firms don't have to pay you health insurance or any benefits.  Firms are not planning long term right now because they're scared shitless about keeping their doors open, and they're not going to add on many full-time employees unless they know they can keep their books clean for the next year.  Once you graduate and are looking for a full-time position, you're going to find that you'll be competing with people who have 5+ years of experience or more than you.  At that point, you'll be lucky to find contract positions that are project-to-project related.  That's the reality.

Nov 15, 11 9:33 pm

I wrote up a huge wall of text and then accidentally refreshed or something and lost it RAGE so I'll just say thanks for the answers and I was actually planning on getting out of architecture regardless since I've lost interest and don't want to deal with all the cons.

Im too far into school to start over now, but when I graduate with a BSA can I go on to get a masters in something unrelated to architecture, like business? Are the chances of landing good jobs straight out of school in graphic/web design very small since other people actually majored in that? I read that a lot of students find out what its really like and switch over to careers like those pretty quickly

Nov 15, 11 11:29 pm

Matias said: Except if you've bothered to crack open any of the architecture magazines, you'd find that these positions are the exact ones that are growing quite rapidly.

Did you even bother to read the article?

"Design paraprofessionals are so uncommon that the Department of Labor hasn’t even published estimates or projections".

"How have we coped with this downturn? The way we always have, by eliminating a lot of our “paraprofessional” positions.."

Matias, I appreciate your condescending attitude, but I'm addressing the current industry reality as noted in the article. Whether or not we should utilize more "paraprofessionals" is an entirely different discussion. Further, I'm not sure a few job postings indicate a new trend or industry shift. Thanks.

Nov 16, 11 10:13 am

Actually -- it was J. James R that was being condescending.

Nov 16, 11 10:22 am

My mistake Matias - foggy eyes. I meant to address J. James R, the financial manager. Thanks Digger.

Nov 16, 11 10:43 am

Paraprofessionals? - "Oh you BIM specialists are now a dime a dozen" - a recruiter

Nov 16, 11 11:39 am

Wanna hear something pathetic?

I have 4+ years of professional experience getting paid $7.25/hr

Benefits? Nada, occasionally (every 2-3 months) I get a free lunch, and that is the only 'benefit' in the package. 

Why I do it? Market is tough... and if I could find somewhere better, I would... its that there is absolutely nothing out there! So I rather gain more experience on my resume to give me leverage on newcomers in the future. 

For now I am taking the waves and the beating. Working towards getting my license, and one day opening up shop.  

Its rough out there. You gotta make it yourself. It is a dog eat dog world... and if you are not ready for it... it will hit you HARD! It isnt like 3-4 years ago where you can hop scotch through firms of your liking.

I feel like I am in a long f'ing tunnel with no signs of light... and I am not sure where the hell this tunnel is taking me!  



Nov 16, 11 11:56 am

to the original poster, i'd say that getting that 45k/yr job is only half the battle...there's also the issue of mobility and advancement that you might not be thinking too much about now, but will become increasingly important to you as you get older and get more experience.  45k is a reasonable salary now, but there are many people like you 5-10 years down the line who are still stuck at that 45k mark.  or older people, stuck at the 65k mark, or really experienced people stuck at the 80k mark. and sometimes it seems like there's really nowhere for them to move.  the cost of living will keep going up and up and up, and your priorities will change (you will decide to have children, etc.) and you will see why a lot of people in this field feel that we've all hit a wall.  i have friends who are making the same money they made back in 2005--and where they might have been flying high making 65k as young, single professionals 2 years out of school, 65k with 2 kids, hefty health insurance costs, etc. etc. just doesn't look so pretty anymore, especially when your workload has increased 3x and you also have to answer the phones because the receptionist was laid off a long time ago.

Nov 16, 11 12:00 pm

I came out of college with no offers, 2 years later no offers, YES it's that bad.

@onelostarchitect that is soooo depressing. I feel for you :(

Nov 16, 11 2:33 pm

I'm 5 years out of college and make less than I did when I started...and have two part-time jobs to try and make up for it. Luckily I am still at the same firm after two rounds of lay-offs (and the only female in the office). Three years with no raises or those lovely Christmas bonuses definitely hurts...but I'm grateful to have my job in the profession even if office morale hasn't been good in years. I'm located in the Phoenix area which from what I understand is one of the hardest hit areas in terms of Architectural jobs...we're at about a 60% unemployment rate. It's rough out there. No job offers out here and if theres one available you've got about 1000 people applying for that same position. 


Nov 16, 11 4:51 pm

@Quentin I understand how you feel, it took my nine months to get a six-month internship that just recently ended. and @oneLostarchitect I'm sorry to hear that man.

I think the thing I keep looking for is to find a means of practice that real utilizes all the talent that is sitting around. I am not particularly well versed in business ,something I wish I would have sought out in my undergrad, but it seems like we are just having so much trouble finding out how to help people with our skill set. I know I could complain about interning for a relatively low pay, but more so I just want to find some place where I can be of use to better society. I know some firms do that and some NGOs, volunteer organizations, etc. but I just see girls and guys like us that have so much worth that gets passed by. 

I should add, I remain optimistic that some good change will come about, but I don't think it will just be that economy picks up and we carry on business as we thought was usual.

Nov 16, 11 5:00 pm

I have recently visited a small office that used to be around 13 people and after the hit years ago, they are only 2, (The owner +1). Generally, the number of employees is still very low.

Nov 17, 11 1:08 pm

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: