Qualified Yet Struggling


I am sure there are many discussions about this out there, but I thought I'd post a thread on this issue as well. 

SO: here's a little background about myself... 

I graduated with a B.Arch in 2011 with three award nominations for my thesis research project. I have a published essay in architectural theory. I earned a LEED AP+ credential. I started to take my ARE's (I only took 1 of 7, Structural Systems and passed). I have about 2500 hours of IDP completed. I am currently working for a luxury residential general contractor company in Manhattan to earn credits in project management and CA for IDP. I have plenty of construction documentation experience as well. 

Why is it that now that I want to return to architectural design, is it so difficult to even find even an internship with my qualifications? At my old firm, there are Project Managers that are not licensed yet I have more under my belt than them... I get the importance of experience, but doesn't my commitment to becoming a professional worth something in the eyes of employers? Haven't my accomplishments put me ahead of many others? What am I missing? Should I abandon my dream of becoming an architect?

This is what I have wanted to be since third grade! I am becoming depressed every time I don't hear back from a firm that I thought I poured everything into when writing the cover letter. 

Am I alone in this?

Dec 3, 12 7:13 pm

The industry is still in a coma. Those hiring can be extremely picky about who they interview. There was indeed a day, where enthusiasm, integrity, love of Architecture, etc...could get you far in the interview process. Now, firms are looking for more computer skills, proven management experience, and anyone who can prove to be me what you've done, not what you think you can do...It's still brutal out there.

Dec 3, 12 7:40 pm


Based on what you posted, you graduated in 2011, since then, you’ve been getting valuable experience… why would you even contemplate abandoning your dream of becoming an architect? 

I’m not saying this is what you are lacking…  But consider the following:  a lot of eager beavers tent to focus too much on gathering credentials, and neglect to make personal connections.  And I’m not just talking about networking.  To truly progress in any profession, you must care about the people and invest in your character, communication styles, leadership and teamwork, etc. etc. as well as your technical knowledge and skills.

Remember people tend to hire, promote, even follow those that they like.  Gratitude is one of the most attractive of personal attributes.  At 1+ years out of school, you will be evaluated mostly on your future potential for growth and not on what you already know.  Demonstrate your humbleness and willingness to learn will greatly augment your impressive list of credentials.

You are definitely not alone.  Don’t give up and good luck!

Dec 3, 12 7:58 pm

1) you need a masters, and not just any masters but an ivy league masters. there are far too many graduates with a masters looking for a job that most likely have far better rendering/3d modelling skills then you simply because they were in school longer. And that's the first thing design oriented firms (tend to) want from recent graduates.

2) based on your experience you sound expensive. Most likely offices are looking for someone with high level of education and barely any experience, so that they can low ball them. Based on your experience some offices might find it more difficult to low ball you. Especially these days when a sucker with a M.arch is most likely willing to take a stupid internship to gain some cred....think of it like a long traffic jam, loads of ppl doing there time at school, and work etc. Everyone wants the same thing- its simply over-saturated. Most likely design oriented offices are filtering CV's based on the school you went to just to keep themselves sane.

What to do? Try to do some competitions on your own, or with friends to beef up your skills- especially your rendering skills. Maybe even see if a former professor of yours would let you help out with one of their competitions. But don't quit your day job, do that stuff on the side and try applying again in 6 months or a year after you built up some more serious post student design oriented stuff. 

Dec 3, 12 9:39 pm

Thanks for the posts- it's not that I am focusing so much on getting titles; it's the fact that I don't want to put that on the back burner and become like some of the project managers who hit their 30s, start families, and get so caught up in life that they never get licensed and always have to work for someone else. I am 24 years old. I consider the are's a refresher of college. Also, during school I struggled with some of my technical classes like HVAC. We didn't have a very comprehensive technical education. It was all accredited and such bit the focus was on theory and design, mapping, research, and formations of argents and narratives. If I were to apply to grad school, I want my titles to represent that even though I wasn't so good in the technical during school, that perhaps I know at least enough (according to the state) to attempt a project on my own.

Dec 4, 12 10:43 am

don't you need your master's to take your ARE in the US?

Dec 4, 12 8:08 pm

A lot of people will try and discourage you - "Don't  let those who gave up on their dreams to discourage you from yours" "it's not worth it"  How many times do I hear this? 

Dec 4, 12 8:26 pm

Cover letter?

Applications are the least effective way to find a job, they do work sometimes, and they work for one person out of 200-2,000.  I propose you take a more proactive approach, network, get informational interviews, and build a network of friends. Take a look at the book Cracking the Hidden Job Market by Asher, also What Color is Your Parachute.  Networking is also going to give you a better read on what may be holding you back if anything.

I start my email invitations with this line:

Ms. Ms. Name of person, I am writing you for information and advice that can help me achieve my career goals, I am not asking for a job just some direction.

I have gotten calls or invitations for a meeting 90% of the time.  Information not effort will land you a job, luck is not something you can control but information is.


Bachelor of Architecture is a professional degree 5 year program so you can take the ARE if it is NAAB accredited. 

Ivy League? Maybe in New York, Boston, or New Haven but outside of those places not so much. The Ivy League schools are small and are producing a small portion of the professionals in the field.  Not having an exclusive degree is not as big of a problem as not having a network. Yale and Harvard grads are having trouble too so don’t think your lack of Ivy League education is the cause of anything.


You lack technical skills? Are you telling yourself that or have experienced professionals told you that? 


Go out and ask them what they see as your shortcomings and how they think you should go about fixing those deficiencies.


Watch the old prisoner TV shows and act like Number 2 although the evil laugh may be too much

Let this be your mantra Information, you want information.

Dec 9, 12 2:27 pm

My guess is that employers want people who can make them money today. Most dont care much for credentials. If I was going to hire someone I would want them to be able to sit down and pick up a project with as little training and hand-holding as possible. I wouldnt care much about where they went to school, what credentials they've earned or their GPA.

Sure, those things are all great, but I think we're talking about how to get hired right now. It seems to me that there is a growing disparity between the 'talkers' and 'doers' in every industry. Talkers are great to have around when times are good, but doers are always a commodity. And if you can talk and do youre golden.

Dec 9, 12 11:45 pm

Knock out the ARE's while you have the free time. Once you get a job and other things happen in your life, it is near impossible to get it done.

Dec 10, 12 8:35 am

Man if I was you I would be thankful. Trying being older than you AND less experienced AND w/o a job. Count your blessings bro!

Dec 10, 12 1:03 pm

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