Starting Your Architecture Career: Standing Out from the Crowd

Relatively speaking, the architecture workforce is not the most massive. Firms don’t occupy entire office towers with thousands of employees in a single location. For that reason, especially in these economic times, it is a competitive industry and it can be tough to get your foot in the door. This brings us to another popular question asked by students in the Networking Event Series: How do you make sure you stand out in the crowd?

First and foremost, I can’t stress enough that if you haven’t already started applying for work, you better get out there quickly. In fact, as the end of your semester approaches, it may be cutting things a bit close at this point. Many students have already started applying for summer positions and open spots will begin to disappear quickly. If you would like some direction on the application process, feel free to head over to the Pre-Career page for links to all of the top posts on the subject.

On that note, make sure to put together a well-designed application package. Keep in mind that architecture is a creative profession, so you do have some creative freedom. As the top players in our firm said during the networking event:

“We have a big stack of resumes for summer positions that have been coming in since January. How will you design yours so that it stands out?”

I think the key here is making sure not to go overboard. There will be a fine balance between getting creative and going over the top. A resume doesn’t have to be loud to grab the attention of employers.

Once you have your application package ready to distribute, do so both electronically and in person. This includes your resume and cover letter, or any type of promotional piece you may have created. Also be sure to include a link to your online portfolio. There might be a specific email address for you to contact on their website, so definitely submit there, but take the time to actually go to their office as well. When you’re there ask the  receptionist if you can speak with a manager in design. You may not be able to and that’s OK, but its worth asking. If all else fails, ask to leave your resume at the front desk.

Do not forget to reach out to any contacts you have generated over your years as a student. If you’re looking for a way to stand out from the crowd, personal connections will be a perfect mechanism for that. Personal connections will help to reveal the real person behind the resume, ensuring you don’t remain just another piece of paper in the pile.

Throughout the entire process, make sure you’re presenting yourself as a confident, charismatic, and respectful person. For more on why that’s important, refer to the first post in this series where I discuss the most sought after qualities in new architecture hires.


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