It’s THAT time of year again, architecture students! If you haven’t already found your summer internship, get on it now. Look close to home, in a city that intrigues you, or internationally. Be brave! Here are ten tips for landing that great job:
1. Participate in Professional Organizations.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is the professional organization for architects. Join. AIA Knowledge Communities cover whatever topic you are drawn to as a future professional. The AIAS is the student arm dedicated to networking, growing and sharing knowledge, and improving architectural education. Every architecture school has an AIAS chapter. Serve on a board, organize an event, or just participate. It shows you’re committed to the profession.
The US Green Building Council (USGBC) offers phenomenal networking and education opportunities for young architects interested in sustainable design. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re designing green buildings and cities in studio. USGBC hosts educational and networking events focused on better buildings and a better world. Student membership for these organizations is very affordable. Do it.
2. Quit Smoking.
Quit smoking, seriously. Architects work long hours, physically close to each other, and nobody wants to work next to an ashtray. If you don’t think you smell bad, think again. If you smell like cigarettes for a job interview with a high end firm, you will not get the job. Period.
Write! We publish our own blogs, books, and newsletters at the click of a mouse. Contribute to an existing blog page (like SCAD Architecture VOICES!) and include links to your articles in your resume. Make them hyperlinks for the PDF version. Write humor, research, observations, or whatever interests you personally. Share your posts within your social and professional network to build traffic and readership! Demonstrating you have a global or national voice and know how to write is very attractive to potential employers. You are engaged and you care.
4. Learn Revit.
No architecture firm wants to teach you Revit. Learn it. Know it. Revit dominates US architectural practice and is making its way across the globe. Firms win the project with SketchUp and Rhino, but they do the project in Revit. Knowing how to create a “money shot” with Rhino is cool, and it definitely helps in some firms, but you must know how to work in the trenches.
5. Earn Professional Accreditations and Training.
Differentiate yourself! Earn LEED accreditation, complete the Autodesk Building Performance Analysis Certificate (BPAC), take certificate courses from the National Charrette Institute or Form Based Codes Institute. There are thousands of architecture students out there trying to get a job along with you. The candidates with credentials that prove they know best practices in sustainable design, building energy modeling, daylight, and ventilation are the ones who rise to the top of the pile. You know how to design and run a charrette? Fantastic. You are a valuable employee. Your school doesn’t offer this kind of opportunity? Transfer to SCAD Architecture.
6. Enter Design Competitions.
Put yourself out there. Design competitions abound in our profession. Architects LOVE to compete. Our studios enter competitions at SCAD, and don’t hesitate to enter competitions as in individual. You never know what might come of it. Money! Fame! Recognition! Jobs! Free Sandwiches!
7. Polish Your Online Image
Google yourself. Prospective employers will Google you, and that includes images. Check your privacy settings for social networking. Nobody but friends should see or read your posts. You can untag yourself from incriminating photos. Do it even if you’re not looking for a job. Your mother will thank you.
Join LinkedIn and complete your professional profile. The site is kind of boring, but it has replaced the Rolodex (If you don’t know what that is, look it up.) Link to speakers you enjoyed seeing or architects and firms you admire. If you travel during break, see who in your network you might meet for coffee. Busy professionals are surprisingly approachable over a cup of coffee.
8. PDF Your Gorgeous Portfolio.
Crafting a beautiful and artistic portfolio is good art therapy, but the reality is that you will most likely submit your portfolio as a PDF. Make it artful and professional. Check spelling. Don’t provide too much narrative; let the images tell a story. Consider uploading it for free to a portfolio/magazine publishing website like Issuu. Print it to assure it prints well with clear images even after reducing file size. Make sure the file size is reasonable. Don’t know how to craft a gorgeous portfolio? Ask a SCAD Architecture student.
9. Check Your Resume, Then Check It Again.
There will be NO spelling or grammar errors in your resume. If there are, your resume will go immediately to the bottom of the pile or directly into the trash. When I filtered intern resumes, they went into the trash. Get a friend and a teacher to proof it for you. Take advantage of your school’s writing workshop or career services staff to proof it with you. Do not do this alone.
Include all of your relevant accomplishments, activities, blog posts, and conferences attended in your resume. Do not make it boring. Don’t hesitate inserting an image of your work somewhere in the resume. We’re the creative class; we’re allowed to go beyond Times Roman fonts and dry chronological lists. Ask your teachers and friends if you can see his/her resume. I love seeing my friend’s resumes.
10. Write a Thoughtful Cover Letter.
Know the firm. Mention a specific project that you particularly find interesting or want to learn more about. Tell them you WANT to work with them because of something that intrigues you about their practice. Do not wait for job postings; send your resume and tell them who you are. Tell them why you’d be a great fit for their office culture. Make the letter only one page long. Check the letter, and check it again, just like your resume. You can start with a template, but make sure you don’t leave stray information from the last firm you wrote. That’s not good.
Get out there and find an awesome internship! You’ve got this.