© Annie Spratt. Image Courtesy of Architect-US
Looking for a job isn’t fun. It’s nerve-wracking for the applicant and it’s often time-consuming for the potential employer as well. It can be even worse if you’re job-seeking internationally, hoping for a position with a top firm in the United States. For an applicant from another country hoping to make the move to an architecture career in the US, the process can seem overwhelming: rules and regulations, visa issuance processes, and loads of supplementary documentation necessary for immigration.
Top Architecture Firms enrolled in the Architect-US Programs. Image courtesy of Architect-US.
© Wojtek Witkowski. Image Courtesy of Architect-US
However, with a little help, landing that job or internship at a well-known firm is a great way to get your foot in the door and begin your career in the States. It is just a matter of reaching out to a professional career program and trusting initiatives that encourage professional exchange for international architects looking to work in the US.
Architect-US is a global platform that works with top architecture studios in the United States to help applicants through the whole job/internship entry process - providing advice with the interview process, mentoring with the portfolio, securing a J1 visa, and most importantly finding a job in the US. Architect-US has found hundreds of applicants paid jobs and internships at prestigious studios such as OMA, SOM, SHoP Architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Handel Architects, S9 Architecture and more.
As an international applicant, navigating the visa process can be worrisome. It not only takes valuable time away from you, but it can be complicated to coordinate with a firm, especially when they are looking for someone to fill that position right away. So, getting the right information and covering all the essential points will save you time and stress. All these beneficial tools and guides are given to every participant that enrolls in the Architect-US Program. Below are some tips from Architect-US on how to make yourself a stand-out applicant for a job or internship at a top American studio. Here are the five main points we found most interesting from their recommendations:
© Colton Duke. Image Courtesy of Architect-US
1. Be Prepared
The unfortunate truth is that most companies are looking to fill a position quickly, with local candidates often having a better chance. So anything and everything you can do to be one step ahead of the game will greatly benefit you in the process.
It’s important that you have clear expectations when jumping into the application process, and the only way to do that is by putting in the time to do research. Unfortunately, researching on your own will not always give you the right answers, it can, in fact, add more confusion to the process, so you probably should rely on trusted sources that can really help you understand all the information.
Architect-US ensures that all of your uncertainties during your job-hunting or visa process are answered by an experienced professional in the field. Even knowing the appropriate compensation for someone with your experience level before an interview can be critical.
Starting from a practical level, always be sure to have extra copies of your CV/resume and portfolio when you’re interviewing for a position in case they want to keep a copy of your documents. Of course, also be prepared to talk about your work and past job experiences and how they’ve made you an ideal candidate to join your chosen firm. Also, have specific questions ready to ask your interviewer(s) to show your genuine interest in their studio’s work.
Lastly, the company you’re applying to will almost certainly run an internet search on you, so prepare your personal online brand as well. It’s helpful to have an up-to-date LinkedIn or other professional profile and to make sure any additional social media accounts are either future-boss-friendly or set to private.
© Jonathan Farber. Image Courtesy of Architect-US
2. Touch up Your Resume and Portfolio
As you all know, the architecture field is very visual, and your portfolio is crucial when it comes to a selection process. Remember the portfolio is the Architects' business card!
Often times, people don’t know how to make their portfolio stand out. What is the right format, or even, what to include? A valuable tool that the Architect-US' team offers applicants is a mentor to guide them, make their portfolio shine, and differ from others.
"Revising my portfolio was very frustrating and I was very happy that Architect-US made several revisions and suggestions that ultimately shaped my portfolio and best displayed the projects which I had worked so hard in."
-Architect-US intern working at SHoP Architects
© Sawyer Bengtson. Image Courtesy of Architect-US
Though it may be tempting to list every one of your impressive accomplishments from the past decade, your chances are better if you keep your resume clear and concise to avoid distracting from your most important experience. The same goes for your portfolio - be sure to curate. Keep your layout simple, avoid too many filler images, long texts, and focus on pulling together a cohesive, well-composed presentation of your strongest work. Double-, triple-, and quadruple-check everything for typos and correct grammar!
Finally, when you are ready to send your documents, be sure the file isn’t so huge that it’ll crash their inbox and avoid sending a resume without a portfolio. It is a creative field, after all, so show them what you can do! Nevertheless, if you still have any doubts about showcasing your work, you can always send your portfolio to their team so that they can give you a guided revision on how to improve it.
©. Image Courtesy of Architect-US
3. Be Yourself
It's not Architect-US' words but their participants'! Through their experience and feedback, one of the best ways to stand out is to be yourself. So show interviewers what you’re passionate about instead of trying to conform to what you think they’re looking for. Make sure you look and act professionally throughout the process, but don’t forget to be true to yourself as well or your discomfort in playing a role will show. It helps to have some stories ready about past work experiences that you think emblemize who you are and how you work. If you prepare yourself ahead of time for some of the typical interview questions, you’ll be more relaxed and able to give more authentic answers than if you’re nervous during the interview and feel like you need to come up with something quickly.
Remember that if you are applying from out of town or abroad, demonstrate how you can bring cross-cultural values to the team; sharing your own cultural insights, past experiences, and point of view will give you an edge in the interview process. Here is an inspirational testimony to reinforce these ideas.
4. Meet People and Learn New Skills
Any chance to learn a new skill, software, or tool will benefit you in the long run and unique knowledge can differentiate you from the pool of applicants. You also never know when a personal connection might become a job opportunity. If you surround yourself with fellow professionals in architecture and related fields, you can build meaningful relationships and also get to know the local design community. Look for mentors who have skills and experience in roles that you’re interested in and they can help guide you as you progress in your career. All of the experiences and contacts that you pick up along the way will be carried out throughout your entire career and will benefit your future endeavors.
“I remember last year I was kind of lost and desperate to find a good job. Architect-US mentored me along the process and arranged interviews with several firms. In a few months, I was starting at OMA, living my American Dream in the city that never sleeps!”
-Architect-US participants working at OMA
© Ben Duchac. Image Courtesy of Architect-US
5. Don’t Get Discouraged
If you don’ get the first job you apply for (or even the first ten), don’t give up! If a firm doesn’t hire you right away, they may hang onto your information and you could still be a candidate at a later date! Be persistent and send your portfolio to lots of companies. If you don’t apply, you’re only limiting your possibilities. The simple fact is, the more people who see your work, the more chances you have of finding your dream job so make sure to use every tool that is available to you to make your dream of working in the U.S. a reality.
“After many tries of looking for a career opportunity in the U.S., the endorsement of Architect-US meant everything in the selection process with the company. They transmit responsibility and feasibility. Definitely, what makes the difference.”
-Architect-US participant working at SOM
Don’t beat yourself up, the application process is tedious and difficult for everyone. If after all of these tips you haven't been successful at landing your dream job, you can always reach out to Architect-US and see what they can do for you. Once you have been informed on the right steps to take and what the best options for you are, you will see that the application process doesn’t have to be that hard!
Learn more about Architect-US here.