One of the main difficulties encountered by students when looking for a job is dealing with a lack of professional experience. This fact is a paradox since people who apply for a trainee position have often never worked in the chosen area. Therefore, it is vital to invest in education and also to know the cultural diversity that’s available. Below we have 10 tips that serve as guidelines for students who want to build up their CV and get through the interview processes:
Networking means the ability to establish a network of contacts or connections with something or someone. It serves as a personal marketing tool whose effectiveness will depend on authentic communication, a proactive stance, and the ability to cultivate strong interpersonal relationships. In addition, it functions as a system of mutual collaboration for sharing services and information between individuals who have common interests. For example, hearing about a job opening through a colleague. Therefore, it’s important to participate in social networks related to your areas of interest and also to maintain regular contact with people who can contribute to your professional and personal development. Without a doubt, helping and being helped are rewarding experiences, resulting in beneficial partnerships for all involved.
There are numerous NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that offer on-site collaborations with volunteers and the community, in order to achieve a specific objective (their mission). The projects they do emphasize teamwork and the importance of being civic-minded. In addition, it’s an opportunity to develop your technical skills and at the same time get to know other ways of living and contribute to the transformation of a place and the people who live there.
3. PARTICIPATE IN DISCUSSION GROUPS
If discussion groups meet in your area, try to attend. Usually, texts on current and / or relevant themes are discussed. In addition, sessions of documentaries or films that portray the problems and realities of the architectural universe may be shown. If no such group exists, organize one with your peers and ask for help from your professors so that they can suggest readings and films / documentaries related to the subjects they teach. The exchange of information and opinions with colleagues directly contributes to gaining professional knowledge.
4. TAKE MORE CLASSES
Just participating in the courses for your degree isn’t enough if you want to excel professionally. You should further develop your skill set through specialized classes that correspond to what interests you. There are several options offered by public and private educational institutions, among them: distance learning courses, technical vocational courses, seminars, certification classes and technical training courses.
5. ATTEND LOCAL EVENTS
Be aware of the calendar of events in your field (architecture, urban planning, design, landscaping and construction), including international fairs, forums, symposiums, conventions, round tables, architecture and urbanism week, regional / national / international meetings for architecture and urban planning students, etc. Choose which ones you’d like to participate in from the available options.
6. PARTICIPATE IN STUDENT COMPETITIONS
Participating in a competition means fully meeting all the requirements set out in the call for proposals, whose work will be evaluated by skilled and technically qualified judges. It’s essential that the project is presented in the requested formatting since any non-compliance is cause for disqualification. All these types of experiences are valuable, even if your project doesn’t win since participating demonstrates attention to detail, discipline, teamwork, and organization in order to fulfill all the requirements. In addition, the projects you make can be included in your portfolio (see tip 10) and also mentioned on your CV.
7. VISIT IMPORTANT WORKS OF ARCHITECTURE
Researching architectural and urban projects that were or are relevant to society allows an architecture student to expand his repertoire of projects. However, seeing the places you studied in person and getting to know them is an irreplaceable experience in the training of an urbanist architect. Being physically in a place stimulates the senses of the human body because it is possible to experience different smells, noises, tastes, textures and sights all at the same time. In addition, observing people interacting with a space provides critical analysis for the architect in decision making. If you can’t travel right now, try to get to know the history and the architectural structures in your own city or even your neighborhood. There are always at least a few interesting places to visit and in many of them are free. Oh! Always bring a notebook to write down your impressions and ideas.
8. PARTICIPATE IN RESEARCH
Participating in research is the starting point for those interested in delving into a specific subject or pursuing an academic career. In general, the interested student integrates with some research group at an institution and develops a project together with the instructor, which in turn encourages him to participate in conventions and seminars, as well as to publish articles in newspapers and magazines. In addition, you can obtain research grants by sending in grant applications and project summaries whose relevance will be evaluated by the technical committee of the requested institution.
9. PARTICIPATE IN AN EXCHANGE PROGRAM
A professional who has already participated in an exchange program stands out in the job market because the experience acquired is associated with a series of challenges that the person has already overcome, among them: dealing with distance from family and friends, learning different customs, adapting to the reality of a new country and, above all, to communicate in another language. An exchange student learns the importance of teamwork and has experience with the cultural diversity of another country. Additionally, you make new friends and expand your network (see tip 1), you acquire new knowledge, responsibility, and independence and, again, can become fluent in a foreign language. There are different exchange programs, some of which offer scholarships and housing and food aid. It is important to thoroughly research the available information and look it over well to determine what destination and length of stay fit your budget.
10. MAKE A PORTFOLIO
Your portfolio is a kind of "display case", whose main objective is to demonstrate the quality of the projects you’ve done. Students who are planning their careers should gather their work done both at university and from student competitions (see tip 6) so that the portfolio ends up being creative, organized, and well structured. Make sure you always keep it up to date.
Article written by Tarsila Miyazato, Master of Architecture and Urbanism - FAUUSP. She is currently a professor of architecture and urban planning and civil engineering courses at Cruzeiro do Sul University (UNICSUL) and works as an architect at Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos (CPTM).