How did you get to talk to big office?

Saint Rest

I am a bit do one get their first job at a big offices nowadays if all they tell you to do is submitting resume online? Is there still a way to talk to a real person in charge effectively other than having connections?

May 7, 13 12:37 pm

look at it from the other perspective.

why would a hiring manager want to sift through a ton of portfolios when all they have to do is talk to a connection they already have?

May 7, 13 12:57 pm

Many times, those positions are posted on their website because, at lease in the U.S., law requires them to.  It all revolves around equal opportunity employment (Title VII of the CRA). Although they're listed maybe on their 'careers' page, the firm already knows who they will hire.

How often is it that one of those posting in legitimate and an outsider has a shot?  I really have no clue, but I would say it's quite slim.

May 7, 13 1:11 pm

There is NO rhyme or reason whatsoever.

If you graduate toward the top of your class at Columbia or NYU Law, and you're not a freak, you WILL get to talk to the best firms in Manhattan ... maybe less so today but, in better days, you'd have multiple offers.

As far as good firms in architecture, it's all over the map.  I've already described where I, in about 4 waves over about a decade, attempted to get interviewed at a major firm in a city in which I lived, or lived in a close-by metro.  Thud.  I then found out one of my school classmates, competent but not that remarkable, was relocated from afar to join this firm.  There was no way that, after 4 times, I was interested in them.  It left a bad taste in my mouth.  Not only that, they're more glitzy, both in their work and in their personalities, than I could ever be.

I found that if you get to know some of these firms when in school, you might have an "in."  Two firms with which I participated in functions asked me to contact them upon graduation, but I couldn't see living in these cities, so I thanked them, told them I would, and never did.  I couldn't see myself living in these two cities and I don't regret not pursuing those options, which were invitations and NOT offers of employment anyway.

May 7, 13 1:40 pm

I usually discuss with my students ways of introducing some interviewing of individuals in firms within their dissertations - so students can meet practices not as job seekers - in the last year, 4 have been asked to work for the practices - 

I had a special secret that i did when I first left school - although i had already worked for 2 practices during school - had one of my students use the technique themselves - still works like a charm. but its a secret.

May 7, 13 2:46 pm

if you're just starting out, it might be best to ask for an internship position, anything short term from 4 to 8 months.  Then work your butt off and show them your skills.  If they like your work and see you as an asset, there is no way they won't offer you a long-term position or keep you high on their list if a position opens up in the future.

May 7, 13 5:43 pm
Saint Rest

Accesskb, it sounds a good idea, who would you talk to about this internship position, and how? Doesn't feel there's anyone out there to talk to me...

May 7, 13 7:58 pm

I got into SOM, because the hiring manager listed his phone number and email

May 7, 13 8:07 pm

Make personal contact with someone senior enough to influence the decision, and convince them to consider hiring you (or at least personally recommending you to whomever is doing the hiring). That's how it works for entry level people who don't have incredibly amazing portfolios.

May 7, 13 9:25 pm


Your posts are very practical.  However, that doesn't work if someone is transporting a degree elsewhere, unless it's back to their hometown where one has deep roots.   Some schools are reluctant to let you peruse the alumni roster of who may be in your destination city because, frankly, I think it's a breach of privacy ... unless these people put themselves on a list.  As such, you would roll into town and not know anyone.  I mean, you can take a talented graduate of UT-Austin who doesn't want to live in Texas and heads for Atlanta, for example.  Unless his or her resume ends up in the hands of a UT-Austin grad at one of the better firms, he or she is not connected.  Also, while the portfolio is important, not everyone will be designing.  That means that someone with a portfolio in the 75th percentile, so to speak, is perfectly employable because good firms need technically oriented architects and project managers.  In fact, I think a firm where every single architectural grad was their school's star designer would almost be dysfunctional.  I've always seen a variety of design talent in offices, and it works.

May 7, 13 9:38 pm

Saint Rest and those wondering... Don't just attach your portfolios in the form available on the company website.  Look around for emails of the hiring manager, human resource director, or perhaps even dig around to find contacts of principals in the firm.  Its usually easy to find their contacts.  Send them an email inquiring about a position and what you're looking for and don't forget to attach your portfolio.  They'll most likely be interested in looking through it, getting back to you if they see you're fit or perhaps forwarding you to the hiring manager.  Most firms have it listed on their company website.  Worse comes, I'd go on linked-in, hunt them down there and drop them a polite message there.  Every internship I've done, I got the position by sending emails as such.

May 7, 13 9:51 pm

I did it once by taking them a project. That got me a meeting with the principal, who proceeded to dictate the exact terms under which I would work and the amount that I would get paid.

I didn't pass the client on to the firm.

May 7, 13 10:16 pm
Saint Rest

Xenakis, you sound like the hero I need to talk to! Will you be able to share how you won hr manager's attention so that he got back to you?

May 9, 13 1:42 pm
Saint Rest

accesskb thanks! Can I follow through the whole process: what happens after you get forwarded to hr? Do you wait for them to call or follow up, say, once 2 weeks? what do you say to hr when you follow up?

May 9, 13 2:06 pm

saint, there might be a generation gap between you and xenakis.  in his day, there were phone books and it was fairly easy to contact people.  they didn't hide their contact information back then and say "we only accept applications to posted positions through our website."

May 9, 13 2:23 pm


Haha.  Thinking back to that thick book reminiscent of Sweets called AIA Profile, where all the firms were listed by state, and then by city, along with their contact personnel.  The thing is that it sometimes listed 6 or 7 contact personnel, and only a phone call would reveal who the hiring contact was.  What if you hit it off with another principal more so than the hiring contact?  It could happen.  Well, people used it a lot.  Then, some version of it is, or was, on the web, where you can toggle the variables you like - location, building type, services, et. al.  Different approach, same concept.

May 9, 13 2:38 pm
I got into my "big" office through personal contacts. Then the bottom fell out...I finished my BS Arch, worked internationally for a year, went to grad school and had an offer waiting as business had full recovered. All I did was send occasional emails about what I was doing and always made it personal with questions about family and general sports talk. They viewed that as loyalty and its the same approach I use today with maintaining telat
May 9, 13 9:42 pm
Damn iphone...client relationships.

Networking 101, never burn a bridge and be thankful for every opportunity you get.
May 9, 13 9:43 pm

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