3 - years, 2 - degrees, 1 - job interview = 0 job offers


I write to you today as a broken and dis-heartened architecture graduate so here I am a freshly signed up Archinet member seeking the advice and counsel of the community in the hopes that I might be able to gain some insight as to what I am doing wrong.

My background is simply this, went to a 2 year technical school and earned an associates in drafting, this degree inspired me to seek enrollment at a local state college for a BA in Architecture, transferring in and graduating in just under 4 years. While there I did everything I could to get involved with my new chosen career path, serving on the American Institute of Architecture Students chapter, being elected to an officer position for 3 years, 2 as President. I made my time there well spent, sitting on the board of directors for the AIA as a student rep, organizing numerous events, networking and getting on a first name basis with dozens of local professionals and volunteering my time for unpaid internships at firms located a 1-2 hour drive away. All while maintaining a 3.8 GPA, working 2 jobs and raising a family.

Then 2 years ago I graduate second in my class and with a full year of job hunting under my belt, ready to hit the ground running with a kick ass resume, proven portfolio and belonging to numerous architecture groups and volunteering at non-profit organizations.

Now fast forward to present day and I have sent hundreds of resumes to every firm in my state, attended every event I possibly could to network with professionals and my results so far, 1 interview and no job offer.

What I want to know is if there is some secret I'm not aware of to getting a job in the architecture world? I am currently employed as a salesman at a big box building materials store and hate every second of it, I'm not learning anything related to my degree and am slowly losing everything I worked so hard in school to learn.

I ask of this community to tell me what I can be doing that I am not already, I have asked countless connections in my network for advice and have had no responses as they all seem to be too busy yet not busy enough to hire a willing and ambitous graduate. I know I will have to attain either a BArch or March status in my degree sooner or later but with a $400 a month student loan repayment already and no job prospects from that investment I hesitate go into anymore debt when I have yet to see any return.

I know I seem to be writing in a venting format but I truly am seeking your advice and counsel, I will provide sample of my my work upon request but wish to remain anonymous as to not reflect badly on my school as I truly enjoyed my time there and have gotten nothing but assitance from them during this difficult time. So I ask the practicing professionals what other things can I do to be proactive in my search.

Nov 23, 13 10:23 am

You lose.  Ha ha ha!!!  Xcept it's not funny. 

Folks like me have been posting on archinect for years tath is not worth pursing architecture (school too expensive, shitty job prospects, wrosening economy, etc.) and yet you kids still insist on "following your heart" cause you thinkg your different.  But it don't matter, in the end you still lose.

There is no secrets to success cause it's a sinking ship.  Get out if you can is the only advice.

Nov 23, 13 10:28 am
Non Sequitur

Tab, ignore the above post, it is not as dreadful as some make it seem. The unfortunate thing is that most office require a B.arch or M.arch, and those graduating with these accolades are very numerous. It is also worth mentioning that networking does not work as much as one thinks (many I've noticed tend to dismiss it) and that unless you can handle a set of construction drawings, related details, and clients without much supervision, then it'll be hard to get in.

Nov 23, 13 11:22 am

I would give better words of wisdom if I could, but $Hansum$ about nailed it on the head. Think of it as a sinking ship... you either jump ship, or go down with her glory.

What state are you in? That has alot to do with what job prospects exist locally. You really must situate yourself in a good market place... and I use the word 'good' loosely. Larger metropolitan areas are a good start, but even say Denver, Colorado has a pretty weak market still. Do some research what markets are best around your neck of the woods. And yes, expect to have to move. Architecture is a very un-family friendly career, especially when the pay is a non-livable wage. Yes be careful, you might be getting paid the same or more at your current job, even though it sucks. Also, all architecture does for most is make them a glorified cubicle troll... so be careful what you wish for.

Nov 23, 13 11:43 am

I respectfully disagree with the above comments to your post. Yes it is hard, it takes time, an NAAB accredited degree is routinely asked for in posted job applications, but online job ads are a waist of time, you need to network and become a known person before a job is posted on line and thousands of folks apply.

No more than 10% of your time should be spent on online applications.

60% of your time should be spent on taking to people (Talking does not include begging for a job) start you correspondence like mine.

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

Then ask for a brief meeting to get advice on your career. People love to give advice, they hate saying no to someone begging for a job or whatever. This has an 85% success rate for me and others I help out with their job hunt have done even better.

We here need to know more details about your situation.

1. Do you have an accredited degree B Arch or M Arch?

2. Where are you located and or trying to move to this web community has a global membership and folks are lurking here in the places you want to end up working, they may know who to talk to or where to look.

3. Give us a run-down of your skills

4. Who are you? Unless you intend to just wine and snipe at people use your real name get yourself a positive online profile so when an HR person looks you up there is something to find.

What to do next.

Linked in? set it up

Talk to people, identify 10 firms you want to work in and then identify 2-5 folks that hold a job similar to the one you would have and or a step above and ask them for advice, talk to them but only show your resume if they ask.

Join or start a job club, I started on in Chicago in August 2013, 30 folks take part 12- 15 at a time we meet monthly and 18 folks have had interviews and 4 folks including myself have landed a job. 

One thing the job hunt club did, we threw a party and invited recruiters from firms and temp agencies to coffee and sandwiches at a coffee shop in the city, anyone who gets an interview splits the tab  and that is how most folks landed what would be their first job, 3 of the 4 myself included. Cost $1.45 per person and the indy coffee shop was happy to host.
Job hunting is like dating, you would not invite someone you meet on Craigslist into your home without at least goggling them first and talking a while. Informational interviewing is like flirting in the dating world

So let this be a lesson food and caffeine are more effective bribes than a resume, and all the qualifications in the world cannot help someone know if you are a nasty person to work with or not. Recruiters are looking for people who are nice to work with as much as people who are minimally competent in software or other skills. Personality is not as easily fixed as a lack of skills or experience.

Over and OUT
Peter N

Nov 23, 13 1:16 pm
Where are you located? As near as I can tell loads of firms are desperate for real talent. This might mean needing experience to get a job...a catch 22.... But maybe you can get a crap job to open doors for real jobs.

Big cities have more jobs. Cities with lots of young architects have fewer jobs. Where are you looking? Maybe you need to try other cities.
Nov 23, 13 8:44 pm

Listen to Peter. He has some really good advice. A couple weeks back I sat down with someone asking for advice on job searching/portfolio/etc... (thanks for sending him my way Peter). Peter's fourth point is very important. Who are you? How do you stand out? What is your hook and makes you who you are and different from the others? It varies for each of us, and once you find it you need to make it resonate in what you send to firms. Does it come through in your portfolio/resume/website? In my experience, that is what set me apart and got me the position where I'm at now.

Also, don't burn bridges. My first interview in Chicago I didn't get the job, but he recommended me to a lot of people and I had additional interviews from that. Sometimes that can be the break you need. I still get emails every now and then asking if I can come in for interviews from various firms.

Regarding software, if you show a willingness to learn a new software, they will be ok with your lack of experience in it if they feel you are the right fit. It doesn't necessarily count you out. 

Nov 24, 13 1:33 pm
Step 1) Get lucky
Step 2) Work
Step 3) Enjoy your success
Step 4) Acknowledge your luck
Nov 24, 13 2:55 pm

You probably need an accredited degree to get your foot in the door. It is the minimum requirement for most firms. Are you going for an architect-designer job? Maybe change your focus towards a drafting-information type job so you can get in the door. It happens to be that the designer track requires that accredited degree. Some firms like non-designer drafters to help with the production workload and you could be of value to them. 

Nov 25, 13 9:19 am

Dear TAB1006:

1. If you want a serious answer and be taken seriously, then get a real professional profile on archinect. TAB1006? Sounds like a new type of soda for chicks.

2. If you have any common sense, don't listen to single a word by above anonymous users with no real profile on archinect.

3. If you want a guaranteed job and assurance with your education, there is a well paying, high employment rate profession that takes only 2 year associate degree, namely health care profession. Starting nurse makes $35 an hour with incremental pay raise.

4. You do not deserve to whine. You have not earned it. There are architects with multiple degrees from prestigious schools with longer work experiences and harder beginnings that are having the same issues with paychecks and the outside world; those who are not whining but struggling, fighting, and sticking it out for the craft they love so dearly; beyond money and a job title.

I say this to you because I love architecture and all the grittiness that comes with the job.

So ask yourself, would you still be an architect if you never get a job? If the answer is no, then it is time for you to find happiness elsewhere.

For the rest of us, we would do this till we die, like good ole' Oscar, Lebbeus, and Gunther.

Nov 25, 13 10:52 am

Lastly, if your answer was "yes", stick it out.

Ask to look at CV's and portfolio of others who got that job.

Improve your portfolio daily and learn new tools, skills, software, scripts, especially construction documents and rendering.

Be willing to do anything to get your foot in the door.

Work on competitions to gain experience and to expand your portfolio.

If you have issues with finances, do whatever it takes to manage it and survive.

Nov 25, 13 11:07 am

I would, with respect, suggest that many of the items on Mr. Kim's list are the reason the profession is on this list:

Nov 25, 13 11:23 am

In 2009, there were:

10,264 students enrolled in M.Arch programs.

15,162 students enrolled in B.Arch programs.

3,231 M.Arch degrees were awarded.

2,764 B.Arch degrees were awarded.

Plus those with BS and BA degrees....

Simple numbers game, way too many grads for positions available. From my own MArch class(2012), there are still about 1/4 that have not gained full-time employment over a year later. The one common thread between those who are still unemployed/under-employed...they had minimal to no work experience prior to graduation.

The new entry-level is 2-3 years experience, how you get to that level is the major hurdle facing grads today.

Nov 25, 13 11:24 am

........those who are not whining but struggling, fighting, and sticking it out for the craft they love so dearly; beyond money and a job title

Yes, absolutely.  Learn to like living in a cardboard box.  Acquire a taste for eating out of dumpsters.  So what if you can't put the kids through college.  Who cares how you're going to pay the bills every five years or so when you're out of work.  Medical care?  Become a Christian Scientist.  NO price is too great to pay for the orgasmic thrill of checking shop drawings for the next cheesy shopette out on the Interstate (if you're lucky).  HUMBUG!!!!!!!!!

Nov 25, 13 12:48 pm

Yeah TAB, I would run and not look back. Just chalk it up as one of those stupid things you did when you where young... like that time you dyed your hair pink kinda thing.

Nov 25, 13 12:54 pm

making to the 2-3 years exp level is tough enough - until you are up against the 5 year up or out line - what no IDP hours? no Job Captain exp? - NEXT

Nov 25, 13 12:55 pm
Yeah, that's why he's not working yet. Because he hasn't posted his real name on archinect yet. All the employers I talk to are constantly razzing potential hires for that. Not putting their names on the Internet.

Meanwhile, There are jobs. Harder to find people who can do them. Does the OP have the skills to draw a building that can be built? Does the OP know how to detail a building? Can the OP live with working on buildings that are not as interesting as what he did in school?
Nov 25, 13 2:44 pm

Just keep trying you have the education all you need now is the job, tell your teachers, friends and family that you are looking for work you never know who might know of an architect who needs someone.


good luck and i hope it works out for you and don't give up on the AIA I know they can find you a job you just have to get them to trust you enough show them your work be confident and keep pushing that ball forward (asking for work).

Nov 26, 13 9:49 am

Gruen, The problem with folks starting out is they have no experience so recruiters have to look for indicators of their personality ethics and try to guess what they might be like to work with. People who are involved and have evidence that people like working with them are likely to have a good personality and ability to work with a team, skills and experience are not as important as personality. No one wants to work with a talented jerk.  One person's mad skills can not make up for the lost productivity of a toxic work environment.  This is the mysterious "Fit" quality we often hear about when interviewing and getting or not getting an offer.

The job I will be starting in two weeks quoted to me three of my post here during an interview, so yes any on line presence that you use can influence your job prospects.


Be a known giver on line not a taker and you develop a reputation of someone who cares about others in our profession, this seems to be used as one of several indicators of how a person might fit in to a professional setting.  Online presence is not the only thing but where experience is short make up for it with some professional involvement and solid persistent networking.


Peter N

Nov 26, 13 10:44 am

^ I agree my boss always....always tells me " Don't you be gettin cocky now cause you got this right"

Nov 26, 13 11:44 am
Tab: where are you located and are you willing to relocate? There are jobs out there, just not in the over saturated sexy markets most arch grads want to be in. I've heard of GSD grads working as doormen (not a bad gig but..)
Nov 26, 13 11:45 am

I am currently employed as a salesman at a big box building materials store and hate every second of it, I'm not learning anything related to my degree and am slowly losing everything I worked so hard in school to learn

You may hate your job (maybe with good reason) but at least it is connected with the building industry.  Be a superstar salesman and a "go to" guy for regular customers (like small contractors or people remodeling their homes) and who knows, you may get some leads that way.  Better than peddling jeans at Abercrombie and Fitch.  Just a thought.

Nov 26, 13 12:55 pm

^could also maybe network with the contractors and get a construction job?  then maybe keep networking that way till you meet some architects?

Nov 26, 13 8:12 pm

I worked at Menards for three years. I learned a lot working in the Building Materials department that is applicable in my job today. Take the opportunity to learn what you can about the components of a building. It will help you later on when you have to draw the details and can picture exactly what you are drawing.

Nov 26, 13 11:23 pm

I graduated in 2008 with a BS in arch. Didn't find an arch job till 2013, le struggle! I feel your pain 100%. It's years lost from our careers that simply can't be made up. I ended up moving across the country and finding work which probably isn't recommended as I moved with no job lined up. It worked though.

Nov 27, 13 9:43 am

Lost years are only lost if you let them go, you are a talented designer, design things read and stay connected as best you can. 

If you are concerned about losing you edge then I would recommend taking the ARE if you can and or getting CSI certifications (This can get you 80+ hours in IDP) and or you can take training programs from the various materials and trade organizations Gypsum Board, Masonry, American Plywood Association (Lowe's may cover this for you as they sell APA products) and several others have training programs some free and you can earn certifications and IDP hours.  This may not be sexy stuff to do but having the knowledge and ability to detail and examples with independently verifiable sources to back up your abilities can only help you.

Your first job is to be a professional if you are working the phones pounding the pavement or studying for exams and certifications then you are moving forward on your career path, if you are sending resumes alone in the dark, just you and the computer, you are playing the lotto not investing in your future you may get a hit and an interview but the chances are slim, do what works be involved in real life contact with the people you want to work for or with.

Also throwaway the myth that hiring doesn't happen in this the holiday season, nonsense, two more folks from the young architects forum landed a job this week.  Things are constantly moving and evolving year round.

Bring home a job this holiday season as a gift for yourself and those who care for you.


Best of luck

Peter N

Nov 29, 13 12:24 pm

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