5 Things to Keep in Mind After Graduation / Nicholas Kreitler

© Caro Wallis

As a young architect and recent graduate of Kansas State University, Nicholas Kreitler shares with us five important recommendations for every graduate entering into the “real world”. Please feel free to add your recommendations in the comment section below.

Every school has a dif­fer­ent way of teach­ing their stu­dents, some take an approach focused on the­o­ry, some do it on prac­ti­cal experience and some try to take a bal­anced approach. Each of these have their advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages, but I’m not look­ing to dis­cuss the cur­ricu­lum. I’d like to dis­cuss some of the things that were left out. Some­times there are just things that only real world expe­ri­ence can teach you. Now I am far from know­ing every­thing, if I know any­thing at all, but I have a seen a few glim­mers of hope on the hori­zon and that con­tin­ues to keep me moti­vat­ed. I have found that we are all search­ing for our place in this ever chang­ing world and a lit­tle advice is never a bad thing.

1. NETWORKING

A very impor­tant aspect to con­nect with the design com­mu­ni­ty is get­ting out and meet­ing new peo­ple that share your pas­sion. There are groups all around the area, each of them with their own focus and agen­das, but their com­mon goal is to pro­mote the aware­ness of design in the com­mu­ni­ty. Some of the best con­ver­sa­tions I have had are at var­i­ous speak­ing events and happy hours. These con­ver­sa­tions could range any­where from talk­ing about what could be done for hous­ing in an urban envi­ron­ment to an hour and half con­ver­sa­tion about a brick, and what it means to the city. These con­ver­sa­tions are a great way to get con­nect­ed and meet new peo­ple that might be able to help you along your way. This is not to say you should expect any­body to just give you some­thing but it helps to cre­ate a per­son­al rela­tion­ship with oth­ers in the indus­try, because you never know what it may lead to.

2. STAY PAS­SION­ATE

This one is sim­ple; you wouldn’t have made it through 5 years of archi­tec­ture school if you didn’t love what you were doing. So be sure to main­tain that pas­sion when you leave school. This could be some­thing as sim­ple as cre­at­ing the­o­ret­i­cal projects for you to work on, study­ing for exams, sketch­ing for an hour a day, learn­ing a new pro­gram, or build some­thing. A lot of young archi­tects are still look­ing for work or have been let go, and while the aver­age age of the firm con­tin­ues to rise stay­ing pas­sion­ate about archi­tec­ture can be tough. So while you might be out of work you might want to stay active, because you know the ques­tion that will come up in an inter­view is “what have you been doing late­ly?” how you answer that ques­tion has an effect of how you are per­ceived so keep that in mind.

3. GET INVOLVED

There are plen­ty of groups out there and lots of events for you to be involved in. I always get asked how I know when there is some­thing going on, and a lot of it has to do with being con­nect­ed. There are lots of groups out there that broad­cast when they have an event com­ing up or are get­ting togeth­er, and that’s because they want peo­ple to come out and get involved in what they are doing. This could be some­thing as sim­ple as going out to a lec­ture at the local col­lege, grab­bing a drink at a bar with other pro­fes­sion­als in the indus­try to talk about a pro­posed project, or even just find a cause or orga­ni­za­tion that you care about and ask­ing how you can help. Your options are lim­it­less, but they are what you make of them and sit­ting at home on a Wednes­day night in front of the tv isn’t doing much for your career.

4. INFOR­MA­TION­AL INTER­VIEWS ARE A GOOD THING

The sim­ple truth is if your fresh out of school and you don’t have much expe­ri­ence if you have any at all. After a few months of send­ing out resumes and cover let­ters, I was start­ing to get exhaust­ed by it all. I had to start think­ing hard­er about what I was doing and if it were real­ly the right thing, and I real­ized I’m only send­ing a piece of paper. I want­ed them to get to know me, and although I am able to get a bit of that across when send­ing out that cover let­ter it isn’t com­plete­ly me. There are a lot of fac­tors that go in to get­ting that first job, not only are they look­ing at your edu­ca­tion and your pro­fes­sion­al expe­ri­ence, but they want to know you and make sure your the right fit for the firm. Each firm has its own per­son­al­i­ty, cul­ture, and iden­ti­ty so find­ing the right indi­vid­ual for the firm requires a bal­ance of skills and per­son­al­i­ty. The infor­ma­tion­al inter­view is what allows them to get to know you on that per­son­al level and hope­ful­ly get your foot in the door.

5. COF­FEE IS YOUR FRIEND

This should be pret­ty self explana­to­ry, that added boost of caf­feine will keep you going hour after hour you sit at your desk late at night or early in the morn­ing when you have to get that last detail done before the dead­line. But going out to get that cup of cof­fee will get you up from your desk, get some fresh air, and brings you back with a renewed spir­it and increased ener­gy so you can focus on the task at hand. So enjoy that cup and get back to work.

For more, check out Nick Kreitler’s website.

Read more related articles and join the ongoing conversation with these recently published ArchDaily articles: Practice 2.0: Championing the young architect’s career, a lesson from technology startupsThoughts on Architectural Education and In Defense of an Architecture Education

Photo by Flickr user Caro Wallis, licensed through Creative Commons.

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "5 Things to Keep in Mind After Graduation / Nicholas Kreitler" 19 Feb 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 17 Apr 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=209508>

14 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down +10

    Coffee is bad for you. Don’t ruin your long term health for a few stupid drawings.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down +11

    Unless you are independantly wealthy, use all that critical thinking you learned in arch school and apply it to a different career. Barring that, learn Revit and start taking your exams.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down +10

    Just hustle every day. You can have all the natural talent in the world, but it doesn’t compare to hard work.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    Certainly some useful info here, being a recent graduate on the hunt for ‘the first real job’.
    I didn’t quite get number 4 – informational interviews. What’s the idea? Instead of sending your CV & cover letter, you just phone up and ask a director to spend some time with you and THEN give them your CV (assuming they actually agree)? I guess the advantage is that if you are refused the informational interview you can then proceed with second best – sending your CV & cover letter.
    I’m afraid I struggle to see how to convince a busy employer to make time to meet a random nobody for no apparent reason, that’s the only glitch, otherwise it sounds like a good plan. Any advice on how to achieve this would be much appreciated.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +1

      Part of the informational interview relates directly to number 1. I’ve found the best way to go about it is to have a clear reason to go in that’s not about getting a job at that specific firm. It could be an individual pursuit of investigation, something relating to a design group that you would like input on…a topic that directly relates to meeting people in a certain firm, and what services they can offer. At the end of the day, its all about involving whomever you’re speaking to at the interview in a conversation about design that you are passionate about. I find its the best way to make a great connection with someone at a firm without going through the means of awkwardly dropping off your resume or work at the end…

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    well put….selection of the firm by graduate to to do their internship, more often have a lasting influence on their career. good or bad.. So we would have added SELECTING YOUR FIRST FIRM… as an important criteria.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    factors such as going to bars and talking to people and other social activities,no matter what they result, I think are full of joy and make us feel alive,and that is the way a wonderful work is made,when you loose yourself go deep in knowig people and enjoy communication,you do not even notice ,but what you do is going to be the best possible….

  7. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    CONQUER YOUR FEAR OF REJECTION. This is key to just picking up the phone and hitting the pavement.

  8. Thumb up Thumb down +4

    addiction to coffe is bad!! really bad advice. I gave up on coffe two years ago. I still managed to get drawings done. Number 5 should be stay healthy, do exercise and take care of yourself. Risking your health for any career is not worth it!

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I’m a recent graduate as well, and I agree with points 1 to 3, but definetely don’t think 4 & 5 were thought well enough. I’m sure somebody with a bit more experience can give us in these comments 2 more ideas instead to keep in mind, Anybody?

  10. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    My apologies for suggesting coffee to anybody, I know some prefer tea,.. Haha. The whole idea was to do something that could get you up from your desk for a minute or two, breaks are important. Plus you should always consider your health. Also the thing abut the informational interviews, I have had the opportunity to get in to several offices and it has helped them to get to know me better, but I only ask for it after they have my information, and about 60% of firms I have been talking to have granted me that opportunity. Although the firm may not have been hiring at the time it gave them a better idea of who to hire when they had to, if they didn’t have the time to go through and do interviews. The way I got into my job now is by doing each of these things, but I understand my situation may be unique, and I ask that you take this of course with a grain of salt. Thank you for the dialogue, your time, and your consideration.

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