Searching for a Job in Architecture? 10 Things You Need to Know…

  • 11 Jun 2013
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For me, university was about finding the confidence to explore creativity, the notion of self, and determining my own measurements of expectation. Last year I wrote an article entitled “10 things you don’t get taught in architecture school,” which provided advice on how to succeed in an academic setting. Having now graduated, the following article is reflective of my first 2 years working full time in architecture.

My experience in the office so far has required another round of self-configuring: repositioning the value of free thinking, redetermining the notion of self within the larger context of someone else’s expectations, and managing my objectives with those of others. The measurement of success is no longer determined by me, but by various organisational objectives and requirements.

Essential to the journey of finding my current job, I have initiated substantial life changes that include establishing a career strategy, reevaluating how I position myself in the field of architecture, and questioning who I am as an individual and what I want to contribute to the profession.

After the break, the 10 things most responsible for my obtaining a job in architecture…

1. Build a supportive network

Jim Rohn, was an author and motivational speaker who famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” (1) I have always found this idea incredibly fascinating. In the scientific study, “Nonconscious Mimicry: Its Ubiquity, Importance, and Functionality,” authors Amy N. Dalton and Tanya L. Chartrand suggest that humans unconsciously mimic their social surroundings. It is undeniable, then, that your support network – both near and far – forms an important component in defining not only who you are today but also how your future ideals are shaped.

I have always focused on building meaningful relationships – both personal, professional and hybrid. Throughout my career journey I often turn to colleagues, mentors, friends, and family for guidance. I often speak to them without an agenda, enabling clarity and helping me to better understand myself and what I want in my career. Importantly, such a support network should encourage one’s growth, contribute to one’s creativity, expand one’s thinking, and question one’s preconceived values about work.

The most profound, yet simple question was put to me one morning at a cafe, by Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar. As I struggled to define my purpose within the field of architecture, he asked me, “What are you solving for?” as if my problem were algebraic with a clear mathematical structure. After much deliberation and deep introspection, I was able to better define my purpose (refer to no. 2, below), ultimately establishing a set of professional values to compare potential employers against (refer to no. 3, below).

2. Define your purpose

After finishing university, I worked at a high profile international office, under extreme pressure for incredibly long hours (I’d often start at 8am and finish past midnight, as well as work on the weekends). I was investing a large portion of my energy to satisfy the various organisational objectives, leaving me very little time to consider what I wanted to achieve in my own career. As I continued to work under these conditions I could see that the directors of the organisation were striving towards something very different to what I sought for my personal future. I am so appreciative of this experience in my career, yet at the time, I knew I needed to explore a more personally meaningful direction in architecture.

It was important that I take a step back and reflect upon my purpose. In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective PeopleStephen R. Covey talks about the importance of beginning with the end in mind (2), by developing a personal mission statement and establishing your desired objectives.

Below is my own personal statement:

1. Create quality: Studies in neuroscience indicate the quality of a built environment has the ability to enhance the performance of the brain and to generate the growth of new brain cells (3). When seeking a cure for polio, Jonas Salk retreated to the Basilica of Assisi. Salk insisted that the design and environment in which he found himself had cleared his obstructed mind, inspiring the solution that led to the polio vaccine. Architecture has the ability to teach, create and expand our understanding of the world and allows for unique opportunities to influence our thinking and broaden our interactions.

2. Create knowledge: The notion of teaching through the environment was developed in the 1940’s by Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach. Malaguzzi explains, “There are three teachers of children: adults, other children, and their physical environment,” including their social surroundings (4).

3. Create meaning: Architecture is produced through a unique understanding and interpretation of placemaking. Architects should be aware of the artistic, social, political and cultural context of site.  My current focus in architecture relates to the home: where families grow and contract, habitual routines are developed, and our notions of safety and placemaking are formed. I seek to find meaning through connectivity and by creating a positive impact on the lives of others.

4. Create with principles: Inspired by anarchist punk ethics (5), which rely on the principles of freedom, autonomy and negation of power, I have no desire to be another visionary architect. Architecture, to me, is grassroots, without exclusion, open for interpretation and never dictatorial. Open for interpretation, architecture should not be a commodity, and may be created for anyone by anyone. To expand this thinking, I have written the article, “Architecture and Anarchy.”

To those of you searching for a framework to develop your own mission statement, the Franklin Covey Institute has an great online mission statement builder.

3. Form a selection criteria

After identifying what I wanted to contribute to the profession, I was able to recognise that my current organisation was not driven by the same values. Dissatisfied with my current position, I found it quite straightforward to define what was missing from my role in architecture. Having identified the above principles, I was able to reverse-engineer my dissatisfaction into a constructive selection of criteria to which I could compare potential employment opportunities.

Throughout this process I was counselled by Paul Dickinson, a leadership coach based in Sydney. Dickinson helped me to extract my ideals and ultimately put pen to paper. I looked to the people I admired, both inside and outside architecture, and began to think about their journey, their role and what they offer to the world.

Based on my core values and purpose within the field, I developed the following criteria:

I want an office that will…

a) Provide mentorship: I seek individuals who will invest their time to teach, listen and guide my direction.

b) Contribute to exciting project roles and responsibilities: I want to be involved in the entire process of building and to understand how things come together.

c) Accommodate and extend on my personal values: What matters to me also matters to the people around me. We must operate within authentic values.

d) Foster a fun and culturally driven work environment: It is important to be around people that I can relate to, that inspire me, and make me laugh.

e) Be a creative firm with a point of difference: I want to work for a firm that has consistently good projects. Knowing which projects to turn down is just as important as knowing which ones to take on.

f) Provide opportunities to upskill and learn: I want to be around a team that is willing to share knowledge in order to help me navigate my way into their system, thus fostering my professional growth.

g) Acknowledge and appreciate my contribution to the company: I want to work with a company that openly communicates and shows appreciation for its employees; a company that is validating and motivating.

h) Allow creative freedom within my role and provide autonomy: I wanted the opportunity to express myself through design and to find a firm that is comfortable enough to let me fail or to guide me through the creative process.

i) Support and encourage extra-curricular activities: I wanted to find a company that sees the value in personal development and that encourages me to have a personal life outside standard work hours.

j) Have purpose-driven projects that extend beyond commercial gain: I want to find a firm that had a greater purpose beyond the commercial aspirations of a project, I want them to have a bigger story, with a more meaningful agenda that I can operate within.

k) Allow input on the company’s direction: I want a company that provides a framework that fosters “ownership thinking” amongst the team members for sharing collective goals.

l) Be surrounded by people that live inspired lives: Jim Rohn in his book, Leading an Inspired life, touches on having compelling goals, discipline, and focusing on personal development as the fundamentals for personal success. It is essential to work with people who seek to reach their potential while maintaining a work-life balance.

If you want to begin the process of developing your own job selection criteria, I recommend watching these videos: Dan Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation and Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, also by Dan Pink. He discusses the three core human motivations of mastery, autonomy and purpose.

4. Seek first to understand, then to be understood

Being introverted by nature means I am often reserved and analytical. I try to achieve a deep understanding of myself, others and the world through listening, observation and study. In the process of finding my current job, my introverted personally often translated into self-directed learning to continue developing, first-hand travel to continue experiencing, and communication with others to continue connecting.

I learn most effectively through reading, music, conferences and courses. Since graduation, I have read broadly about architecture, business, marketing, personal development, science and religion. If you are an architecture student you might find this Archi-Ninja.com post helpful: List of Top 10 Architecture Books for Student Architects.

Through music, I have attained perspective and developed a set of ethics. My current thinking has been greatly influenced by both Henry Rollins of Black Flag and Greg Graffin of Bad Religion.

I often listen to podcasts or TED talks about the most eclectic and exciting subjects. By doing so, I hope to broaden my knowledge and influences.

Through travel I have attained a better understanding of various cultures, history and notions of place making. After university, I traveled around Australia, Europe, Spain, the UK and the US. During this time I toured notable architectural buildings and visited architecture offices, including those of Bjarke Ingels and Frank Gehry. I also volunteered for various events including the Venice Architecture Biennale 2012. The opportunity to take in and “inhale” these new experiences while travelling allowed me to, in turn, “exhale” and reflect upon my position in the world.

Seeking to understand is about deeply and empathetically listening and connecting to those around you. I believe it is more important to deeply understand potential employers not in terms of what their company provides but instead focusing on who they are. I spent time interviewing with many firms that I thought were a fit for me. During my interviews, rather than trying to express my opinion, I focused my energy on listening to what they were choosing and willing to share with me. I sought to establish whether they could provide an inspirational and satisfying workplace.

5. Represent externally who you are internally

Despite external influences, everyday pressures, and dealing with my self-consciousness, authenticity (to myself and to other people) is of great importance.

Interviews and portfolios are often impersonal, constructed as a sales pitch representing yourself as the best possible job candidate. Naturally people will hold back their option or agree to something in order to avoid confrontation. Realise that no matter how much you think you want the job, if you cannot genuinely express yourself then it’s probably not the right value fit. My portfolio was designed to represent only a single chapter of my life; a reflection of my personal and professional work during my time at university. It was created as an authentic and honest archive of my history, experience, achievements, and explorations in architecture.

The interview provided a forum to share my larger goals, values, weaknesses and aspirations. Most importantly I wanted to understand how my story fit into the larger story of my potential employer.

I have always argued that you do not need to be serious in order to be taken seriously and to have a meaningful agenda. Though dressing casually I have been asked – and at times told – to appear like a “responsible” corporate employee, I have never done so in a way that goes against who I am and how I choose to present myself. Rather than superficially, the most compelling, influential and approachable stories are often conveyed through the unexpected turn of  intellect, energy, humor and play.

6. Make an impression

Your portfolio will be just one in a pile of hundreds, if the firm you hope to work for has a strong reputation. Your first challenge is to establish your point of difference. The best way to make an impression is through your credentials, however, this required me to disregard the most common (superficial) advice on “How to make a good impression.

Education aside, I have invested a considerable amount of time into attending and speaking at conferences to build awareness and to network with potential employers. To build my confidence, I went through a rigorous presentation training program. This improved my ability to communicate effectively both one-on-one and to an audience. I have also invested in a number of other personal projects including object design, logo design, archi-ninja.com, writing, and curating industry exhibitions.

While developing my portfolio, I also contacted three companies outside the architecture industry, including an online e-commerce store, a builder, and a model maker. I used this time as an opportunity to see how my education in architecture could be applied to other industries and to establish whether architecture was the right direction for me at the time. Having allowed myself to step away from the industry, I was able to look into the profession as an outsider and to truly evaluate what it was that I wanted from it.

I spent about four weeks designing and distributing my portfolio. I wanted to be confident that in a pile of other portfolios mine would stand out. I considered the size, shape and how the user would navigate through the content. Most candidates email electronic copies and this may not be seen by the right person. I considered having my portfolios delivered by a ninja but instead went with a courier, still making sure it was received by the right person.

I sent my portfolio to many companies, even if they were not hiring. The goal was to have coffee with as many potential employers as possible. I sought to make the most of their time: visiting their offices, flying interstate, or talking via video chat. Gaining greater exposure to the different types of interview styles allowed me to be more comfortable when it came to the one I really wanted.

7. Don’t be afraid to pursue change

When I lived in Sydney, I sought to pivot the direction of my career into residential architecture, however, I felt that a few firms located in Melbourne were better suited to the direction that I wanted to move in. Melbourne better accommodates younger, creative firms to explore residential, shop, café and bar projects. Sydney is well known for its tourism potential and urban interface via the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Melbourne, by contrast, is characterised by deep layers of vibrant, urban culture. It is within the latter context that I am most at ease and inspired.

Few things in life are permanent and when making the decision to move interstate, I weighed up the positives and negatives. At times confronting, the move pushed me far outside of my comfort zone as my entire support network was back in Sydney. My existing network is incredibly strong and I am in contact with them daily while at the same time I focus on building new support pillars in Melbourne. During the transition I also reflected upon the story of who I am as projected by other people, moving to Melbourne and re-evaluating what I wanted from my career is largely in-part about defining that story to be more accurate.

It is important to aspire for new influences, mentors, and challenges. We are creatures of habit and so we easily fall into routines that make us complacent and near-sighted – routines that muffle our critical eye.  By uprooting my life to a new, perhaps more suitable city for emerging and experimental architects, I welcomed another round of self-reflection, redress, and redefining of my career goals.

Unexpectingly, new and exciting opportunities have presented themselves in Melbourne. By pursuing change, I have grown more independent, boundless and confident. Autonomous in the new city, I have had no other choice but to seek new opportunities, to attend industry events and invest in new social relationships. In so doing, I have presented myself as I am, with the hope that the right people will will be attracted to accordingly.

8. Identify your value

During university, I invested my energy into finding a company that had the ability to support me during my education. Working on exciting projecting, I was surrounded by great friends, teachers and mentors. It was only after leaving my first post-university job that I was able to step back to reflect upon my value contribution.

I believe the most important thing is to set your own benchmark for success, a marker that will often be higher than the expectations of those around you. At the time of selecting a firm post-graduation, I did not seek my “dream job,” for I had very little knowledge of the industry and what being an architect in a practical sense actually entailed on a day-to-day basis. My focus, rather, was to find the right value fit.

When looking for a firm, spend time to evaluate your relevant, unique and compelling value contribution. The next step is to find a firm that fits what you are looking for; a firm that understands your contribution and will in return gain value from what you can offer to them.

Many organisations have a nice sounding value statement: Enron, whose leaders went to jail for fraud, displayed their values of “integrity, communication, respect and excellence” in their building lobby. By contrast, I believe true company values are shown by action: Who receives respect within the company? Who is promoted or let go? Seek out these inquiries and make note of these individuals as representatives of the company’s behavior and valued skills.

Many students or recent graduates undervalue their position in the industry by voluntarily working overtime hours or offering their services for free, in turn creating unhealthy culture and expectations within the industry. Social theorist Slavoj Žižek argues that modern organisations fabricate a culture to empower the employer while denying the employee the right to vocalize and protest dissatisfaction. These organisations are devaluing the profession, creating an environment that is difficult to resource or manage without relying on cheap (or free) labour.

Netflix released a great presentation on adding value to a company by seeking to be a “rare responsible person;” self motivating, self aware, self disciplined and self improving: Netflix Culture: Freedom and Responsibility. Once you recognise your value and rare responsibilities, you should seek to engineer a role that allows for your attributes to be implemented.

9. Your job is only one part of what defines you

Understand that your career is only one component of what defines you, and it’s the remainder of that definition that provides the capacity for you to uniquely contribute to your job. The most important thing for me as a recent graduate was to find a good work-life balance.

Architect Andrew Maynard wrote a great article about work-life balance,”Work/life/work Balance,” in which he describes the commonality of employees to neglect other components of their life by believing they will find happiness and contentment at a later time. This is identified by Clive Hamilton as the Deferred Happiness Syndrome.

My own imbalanced life was isolating potential opportunities, both personal and professional. Working extreme overtime was mentally and physically exhausting. It was debilitating to my creative production, my ability to look at my work critically, and to my social stamina. It is alarming to learn that overworked, low-rung employees (and even unpaid interns) are rampant throughout the architecture world.  How can we, as architects, assume responsibility for resolving fragile social, urban, and environmental issues if our workforce is performing out of desperation and without a clear perspective on both their professional work and their personal relationships?

University life exposed me to egalitarian culture, “all-nighters” and over-valuing the importance of the architecture industry. Initially this translated directly into the workplace. I burnt out, and after reflecting upon this my focus has been directed toward finding balance. I finish work before 6pm, allowing the opportunity to find greater pleasure in life. New opportunities have begun to create a meaningful life-balance, allowing me to bring more energy and focus into the office and to better contribute through my unique experiences beyond nine-to-five.

10. Know when to quit your job

The corporate world is directed towards keeping employees in their current roles rather than matching the individual with their ideal role. I realised that I needed to take ownership over my own role. When interviewing I was very clear about what I needed from the office including what I was willing to take on.

Staying in the wrong role can have a negative impact on your confidence. We tend to internalize the false-expectations of others. It is important, especially as a recent-graduate, to present yourself as you are: with minimal professional experience (which is gained naturally with time and effort), but also an individual with innovative ideas and technical abilities that are unique. No employer should expect you to know how to seamlessly project-manage the entire process of building right out of university. Your employer should manage their expectations to suit. In turn, you should offer your fresh perspective and technical agency in exchange for their experience, mentorship and guidance.

I have always been a long term employee, and so leaving the organisation that fostered my growth was no easy decision. Make sure you leave an organisation for the right reasons (6). Look for the signs that your job is no longer in line with your personal goals, or that perhaps the position is not in line with your skill level or skill set.

Leonard Schlesinger, in his book, Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future, establishes a series of questions to ask yourself when you are considering leaving your job, and also to recognise the difference between ordinary, occasional dissatisfaction and a genuine mismatch.

After leaving my job in Sydney, I took on part-time employment to support my living expenses, allowing me to decline a number of positions in order to follow my heart and intuition when selecting a firm. Of the positions that I did accept, I negotiated a trial timeframe to truly evaluate whether the organisation was a value fit. If not, I walked away quickly and on good terms.

Recognising the shortcomings of my past positions allowed me to redirect my journey. This experience has been one of the most rewarding and gratifying successes in my life.

This article comes courtesy of Linda Bennett, the founder of Archi-Ninja, a site that discusses and critiques current Architectural projects and ideas… Ninja style! 

Image of Job Satisfaction Napkin Doodle via Shutterstock.com

Cite: Linda Bennett. "Searching for a Job in Architecture? 10 Things You Need to Know…" 11 Jun 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 Sep 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=386518>

34 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down +9

    Great article! Thanks for the insight Linda!

  2. Thumb up Thumb down -20

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down +23

    Way too much, and way too abstract. There’s a reason there’s only “Seven habits of highly effective people” and a “12 step program.” There’s also a reason people read books by Dale Carnegie, and not books written by architects. People like simple concepts; even if presented in a colorful way, they should be simple. And though there are 10 “points” outlined here, these points are quite muddled, and one of them has a slew of subpoints that really wandered. This piece, I dare say, was not so simple. But I tip my hat to the author for sharing his current worldview, and attempting to package it in a way that was palatable to the self-help demographic. But if you want to emulate Steven Covey, you must avoid writing like C.S. Lewis. What I learned most from my education in architecture and later practicing (as a licensed architect) is that architects take themselves entirely too seriously–especially for how little they are valued. Maybe you should try something different? They all wish they had the panache and storytelling voice of Oliver Sacks, but they are not writers. If I had one piece of advice to any aspiring architect, it would be to keep communications simple, shadow a real estate developer, then a contractor, take a business writing course, and launch a startup. Not everyone will become an academic, and publish content that reimagines architecture according to the ideals of Heidegger. Get over yourself, get out of your own head, and go make cool stuff.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +17

      Hi Tiffany,

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, the previous article was less abstract and more concise. Having already finished university when it was written, it became a reflective and summary piece unlike the latest article which represents a process of finding myself in the industry. The complexity of the writing is probably because is not telling the ending to a story. The abstraction is quite simply due to the nature of my current position and likely muddled for the same reason.

      I don’t seek to emulate Steven Covey, nor any of the referenced writers (I am by no means a natural writer) but rather I wanted to share the moments and readings which have impacted where I am today. The article was written for a few final year and recent graduates who contacted me on the back of my previous one asking for advice beyond university.

      And as for making cool stuff I absolutely am! :)

      Linda

      • Thumb up Thumb down +4

        It’s only fair the author have an opportunity to respond or offer clarification. I have my opinions, but I can understand the tension of searching for significance in such a peculiar profession.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +7

      I have also changed the name of the article over at arch-ninja.com to be entitled “10 lessons when searching for a job in architecture (by a recent graduate, for recent graduates)” hopefully this provides a little clarity surrounding the context of the article :)

      • Thumb up Thumb down +4

        @Tiffany
        …”I can understand the tension of searching for significance in such a peculiar profession.”
        I can’t agree more, even as current student in architecture I already feel this tension for finding such significance. Best way to understand this is by reading about Louis I. Kahn.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +10

    Careful, don’t undervalue the significance of a shitty entry level job. Knowing the qualities of a shitty boss can allow you to better your management and leadership skills down the road.
    Also, I don’t know if I agree with this meticulousness about finding your appropriate office. I fear that it is leading to (or is stemming from) a sense of entitlement which can be detrimental to your career.
    You’ve got a whole lot to learn yet that can easily change your perspective in 2-5 years. That’s why I would recommend cannon-balling into the pool instead of trying to perfect the swan dive. Just get your feet wet!

  5. Thumb up Thumb down +8

    Oh please, these days we just want a job. All this pretension that many of us have the luxury to find all these other things is just silly.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +10

      enjoy the rest of your depressing life. aspire to nothing gain nothing.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +5

      “We” being architects or cynics with low aspirations?

    • Thumb up Thumb down +38

      As ‘depressing’ or ‘cynical’ as the comment is, it is the truth. Quite a few things stood out to me, but here are a couple:

      “I invested my energy into finding a company that had the ability to support me during my education” Finding a paying internship is hard enough. Finding a firm that goes out of its way to mentor and develop you is much harder.

      “After graduating, I worked at a high profile international office, under extreme pressure for incredibly long hours” So what most people do, only at a high profile international office. Good for you.

      “After university, I traveled around Australia, Europe, Spain, the UK and the US” After university, I frantically tried to salvage my finances in anticipation of bludgeoning monthly payments, and to prevent a desperate enlistment in military service.

      My favorite, though, are the 12 checkpoints the firm must meet to be good enough for the author. I understand you go above and beyond, and a lot of your success is through personal work, but if you are writing this for the average graduate, they most positively will not be able to travel the world, casually visiting firms just to get an impression, before safely landing a job at a high profile international firm. Sure you said it was high pressure and long hours, but that’s a common denominator at most companies. Nor do many people have the luxury of finding the time and money to be counseled by a leadership coach, or go through a rigorous presentation training program.

      In my cynical view, you seem like someone on top who came from people on top. Ambition is getting out in front, and its a lot easier when you are already out in front. You seem disconnected with issues like $1000+ monthly loan payments. Even when moving to a new city, the challenge you wrote about was mental, not financial or pragmatic.

      In my own opinion, and when viewed in the context of my own life, this is so off base with reality it cannot help but ooze notions of privilege.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    A very gen Y article. It seems the author never lived through a down-cycle economy where you haven’t the luxury of most of these points. In the wrong economy your list of wants will leave you wanting. In an strong economy (like Australia’s) it is great to employ and gives the reader something to strive for. My concern is that after only two years you feel burnt out…in my experience that is a bad sign of times to come. I would say computer graphic is a great outlet…but then they pull longer hours.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Thanks for sharing! This was helpful for putting words on my own situation!

    Unbelievable that people comment negatively because you are standing up for your values! Making truely cool stuff is pretty difficult if you have no values!

  8. Thumb up Thumb down +9

    There is a fine line between being optimistic about your career prospects and having an entitlement complex.

  9. Thumb up Thumb down -1

    After reading this article I think I am incredibly lucky. I see people physically dropping off CVs at the practice I work in on a daily basis and I say ‘There but for the grace of God, go I.’

  10. Thumb up Thumb down +11

    Hi,

    Great article, and as a current job hunter, it is comforting to know that there are success stories.

    However, with such a short demand of actual graduate architects (i’m not talking about 3-5 years experience) its more about just getting a job, anywhere, anyhow, and we really don’t have the luxury of being picky. For the first 6 months after I graduated, all the firms I applied for were dream jobs. Amazing residential architects with so much variety and creativity. Now, I just want to work under any architects so i can develop my skills and escape the graduate architect curse.
    I have graduated from University 1 year and half ago, and still to date there have only been 3-5 actual graduate positions advertised. When they are, 100-200 apply! Everything else has been through endless emails, phone calls, and just rocking up to any architects office that will sit down with me for 5 minutes. Melbourne has amazing architects firms and opportunities, its just so hard getting your foot in as there are not many offices with graduate programs, or a constant intake of graduates yearly.

    Nevertheless, after 6 years of University, I have hope and will keep at and pray that it may be my turn soon.

  11. Thumb up Thumb down +4

    Hi, I just a few thoughts regarding your article
    As someone who has always been broke, how can we effectively find a job? It seems flying out, portfolios, and the entire job process is incredibly expensive (at least for me). The only thing I can think to do is take a loan, but that could end disastrously. Is it worth it?

  12. Thumb up Thumb down -2

    I am also Australian Architect and studied in Sydney. Perhaps, I am not famous yet but soon….! My journey is slightly different to the others. I have a clear mindset what I want to be “Creativity” on my earlier career. After graduation, I prior start up my company to work with couple of international projects and collaborative work space with architects’ office. It was fun, overtime work and indeed learning extremely fast in all aspect. Yeah, I am quite inspiration! Then, I employed full time role at the top australian architect’s office (over 300 staff worldwide) then work the other 2 years in medium-size studio (less than 20 staff) in Melbourne. After, I partnered with my former colleagues and continue my passion “to change people live better and our society more connect to people.” Unsure if my journey should be a role model or inspiration one since I don’t really care the “academic result” or “tutor want in order to get a good mark”. Indeed, naturally they gained me HD score as my final design studio mark. Amazing! Furthermore, I don’t start up with any internship or graduate program and my experience is “learning on the run”. Nonetheless, architect means business and they should pay graduate well (if you are skillful) Majority time, I think fast, move fast, highly sense of humor and always “smile who you face to or with”) and Hope my experience would help currents graduate or student too.

    I believe there are a number of straightforward steps that anybody can take to do this

    1) Evaluate: Look at what you currently do and the value you add to your company. If you are unemployed, look through your CV and do the same thing. What can you add to a company that you might join?

    2) Be realistic: Confidence in your ability is great, but you have to be realistic. It is highly unlikely you will be able to move from one company to another and immediately treble your salary. If you are looking for progression, speak up and ask.

    3) Set goals: You should always have a career plan mapping out what you want to achieve. Set yourself goals for each year, By setting regular, clear goals you will find it easier to accelerate your career.

    4) Research: Good preparation will make all the difference. If you are already in a role, research your sector – look at everything such as the average salary levels to understand if you can progress. If you have landed an interview, then your research needs to be even better.

    5) Positivity and Confidence: In fact, I have come across many examples where people had a great CV but they lacked the mental attitude to progress. You may not have any direct experience in a particular sector, but have you looked at your transferable skills? Being successful in one area doesn’t mean you are restricted to working there forever; it is just a case of using these achievements to sell yourself elsewhere.

    6) Get a mentor: Having somebody alongside you to provide a fresh, honest opinion can be a big help. Whether it’s somebody in or out of the working environment, a mentor can make all the difference to your career prospects.

  13. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    I really like the article – I’m right in the middle of the 1st shitty work experience and I’m looking for alternatives now.
    I think that the point of the article is not to inspire everybody to get a private couch on everything but to come up with a specific strategy of the job-hunting. Like, when you know your weak points you should work on them. If one really want to get a desired job and evolve as a professional, I bielive that one will find a way to work on oneself even if he’s low on budjet and time.
    Like, you can always find some cheap way to travel in you want brouden your outlook. Volunteering is just one them. You can watch edicational vodeos if you cannot afford tutor. Or you can attend some local workshops and master-classes, since they are free sometimes.
    And ofcourse there are times when you don’t have a chance to be picky with a job, but at least you should set your goals and use a slightest chance to archieve them.
    Me too, I don’t get lots of opportunities in my life but still I find this article very useful in forming my own strategy while considerating my own background and resoures.

  14. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    what’s all this picky BS. we’re still in a recession, and I’m not sure most students/graduates of architecture have a choice really.

    i think for most people, any architecture job that pays is good enough (can’t say pay well, because no firms pay well. 60K average for a senior architect? I made that as an junior designer at an agency).

  15. Thumb up Thumb down +4

    This is so gloriously naïve. Your list of qualities you want in a firm is quite ambitious… Have you found that firm yet?
    I think you are a fine writer, but a few more years working will give you more, and different perspective.

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    Brave curious girl who seems to be fuelled by what the world has to offer. Keep at it and dont be too hard on yourself- as you would be just with other people. Yes, take as many perspectives, talk to as many people and laterally widen your horizon beyond hardcore architecture. The perfect job is the intersection of what your interests and global need- the economics work themselves out. Focus on the first two. Beyond that what will be will be. Yes the article rambles a bit but this is the time to take in a lot and try and make sense of it. Minimalism and succinctness is an iterative attitude of slowly doing away with the unnecessary- one cannot start with it.

  17. Thumb up Thumb down +3

    impressive amount of blablabla blabla… I know it’s not easy to find a first job, an interesting one etc etc But all this litterature about the feelings, the objectives etc reflect, I think, a quite complicated mind… And in the practice of architecture, even if research, experimentation etc is important, the more you are straightforward, clear and concise, the more you will have a chance to build something. I’m quite sure that if a potential client or a builder would read this article he would immediatly think that architects are pure aliens from outerspace..

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    Ok. good intention on you…too long for me and no much in the pace of synthesis. after reading your article, the question is: You like to be an Architect or you love to write about architecture?…L ‘ Architecture is a way to create a comfortable condition in’ human being by relating in a harmonious form and function … The architecture is an ancient code that contains the basic rules rooted in nature and in life itself , interpreted , developed in a continuous evolution from ‘ experience and skills of many people that loved and continue to love her … approaching themselves with humility and lack of ego , experiencing themselves in the field to acquire the knowledge about the materials used to build the framework architectural and refining knowledge about life , how to live and relate it with the ‘ man , you get to a point of complete understanding about all ‘ architecture which consequently leads to a synthesis process that fully meets the needs of ‘ man in total respect of nature itself . The skills gained through experience allows us to solve in a short time the “problems” because the focus of the Architect capable is not fixed on them but is focused on solutions and resources that are used to carry out the project. The organization, rationalization, management strategies, even being important thei are subordinate to the intent above-described, are easy to produce and they are a necessary consequence of the realization of the work.

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    Thanks for the article…it collects the most of the thoughts I have had lately, and I agree with the search of a purpose and meaning in the job, that’s what my actual job lacks and that’s what I am going to try to find in my new job!

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    Thank you Linda for bravely sharing your approach to the graduate archi job hunt and your opinions on the kind of job satisfaction that should not be cast off as a “dream” but worked for as a realistic possibility. You may not have thought it was brave when first posting the article but in the face of the overwhelming negative comments it seems it was. The true difference between so called “entitlement” and your attitude is that you worked hard and had the courage to go about your job hunt in a different way. As long as it is true, how is it a bad thing to believe you are an asset to a company and that you are worthy of a position that appreciates this?
    Having worked in Melbourne and Vancouver for a few years since graduating I’ve recently returned home to NZ to look for an Architectural Graduate job. I have yet to focus my attention on my own purpose aside from also defining a criteria for the kind of company values I am looking for and this article has really inspired me about how to go about this search.
    The first job or jobs straight out of uni are often the “shitty” ones and unlike some of the comments I don’t think you have discounted the importance of these jobs in helping you define what you want and what you don’t want in your career. It is a luxury but one that many people do not take advantage of out of fear, to sit back at a point with a few years post-grad experience under your belt and analyse what it is that drives you. There is an unwritten expectation that as a grad you do not have the right to define your own working environment. How does this make any sense when (you hope) you had the right to choose your career so why not the parameters within which you practice architecture? Your comments about how the Architecture industry’s expected work/life imbalance is crippling our ability to work effectively really resonated with me.
    As a contrast to the responses to your article I would like draw attention to the article you referenced by Andrew. His article focuses on the work / life balance spoken about in your article, yet his received positive responses and respect for saying what most won’t. What is the true difference between his points and yours? Is it simply that he is a highly successful owner of a unique company and at this point you were still a young graduate between jobs at a difficult time for the Australian economy? It must be gratifying that your focused and bold approach to finding your own direction and a well matched company has paid off. Congratulations and thanks for posting.

  21. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Finding Architect jobs online is also next to impossible because of the mis-use of the term ‘Architect’ in other fields so you are left with 1000 ‘Data Architect’ and ‘Systems Architect’ jobs surrounding the 100 Architect jobs in general (meaning internet wide) job searches. Some sites like specialList (www.specialList.com) seem to excel at it while others like Archinet only allow Architect jobs as at least you get ‘real’ Architect jobs only, even though the selections are limited to those posted on the site.

  22. Thumb up Thumb down 0

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  23. Thumb up Thumb down 0

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