ARCHITECTURE CAREER FAIR – VIRTUAL
It is that time of year – time for Career Fair. To prove the point, below is a partial list of the architecture programs that are hosting career events in the coming month or so. Of course, some have already been held and are being held as this post is being authored.
While we did not read the fine print of each of these events, it appears upon quick review that ALL are being held virtually. Below the list of career events are some ideas about preparing and attending a career event, but clearly preparation for a virtual event is more intense.
ARCHITECTURE CAREER FAIRS – by date (not an exhaustive list)
Cal Polytechnic State University – Thursday, January 14, 2021
University of Michigan – Tuesday, February 9, 2021
Catholic University of America – Wednesday, February 10, 2021
University of Arkansas – Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Oklahoma State University – Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Morgan State University – Thursday, February 18, 2021
Texas A&M University – Thursday, February 18, 2021
Georgia Institute of Technology – Friday, February 19, 2021
University of Kansas – Tuesday, February 23, 2021
University of Texas at Austin – Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Iowa State University – Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Clemson University – Wednesday / Thursday – February 24-25, 2021
University of Washington – Wednesday / Thursday – February 24-25, 2021
The City College of New York – Thursday, February 25, 2021
University of Nebraska – Thursday / Friday – February 25-26, 2021
University of Maryland – Friday, February 26, 2021
University of Tennessee – Friday, February 26, 2021
Washington University – February 2021 – Date TBD
University of Miami – Friday, March 5, 2021
University of Notre Dame – Friday, March 12, 2021
University of Oklahoma – Thursday, March 18, 2021
Hopefully, you were made aware of the Career Event at your institution well in advance of attending allowing you more than adequate time to prepare. But, what do you need to prepare – first, you will want to be sure that your tools are all up to date – resume, portfolio, and interviewing skills? Many of the programs will have workshops on these topics prior to the Career Fair; again, you should plan to attend. Even consider connecting with the centralized Career Center to receive critique.
Resume: As in any discipline, a resume is essential when conducting a search for experience. Keep your resume simple and straightforward. Provide information from your background and experiences that demonstrates your abilities. Do not be afraid to include skills learned from studio or other classroom projects under a section entitled “Course Projects.” If you have not worked formally in an architectural office, promote your drawing, modeling or building, and design skills learned in studio.
You can add graphics to your resume. With the ease of scanning drawings and using graphic publishing software, placing an image on your resume can be powerful; however, exercise caution, as the image may make reading the resume difficult. Rather than including graphics on your resume, you could create a one-page portfolio, sometimes referred to as a “viewsheet.”
Portfolio: Perhaps, your portfolio is most important. As architecture is a visual discipline, the portfolio is a direct link between the employer and your skills. For this reason, you should provide images that demonstrate all of your architectural skills—drafting, model building, drawing, design, and so on. As well, provide drawings from the beginning of one project’s design process to the end. In other words, do not include only finished end-of-project drawings. The sequential drawings allow the employer to see your thought process as it relates to a design problem.
Interviewing: Good interviewing skills can make the difference between receiving an offer and not. Prepare for an interview by researching the firm. Think what questions might be asked of you and what questions you might ask of the interviewer. Ideally, practice prior to your interview with a roommate, colleague, or friend.
Aside from preparing your career search materials, the primary task is to review the list of firms attending and determine which are the ones you wish to target. In some instances, the list may not be revealed until the day of the event. If this is the case, ask upperclassmen on who attended the previous year or even ask the organizers of the event for a list. At minimum, do research on the firms prior to approaching a table.
Another task prior to the “race” is the preparation of your story. What is your story? When you approach a firm representation during the event what will you share? Some will call this your 30-second elevator pitch. Simply put, who are you, what are you about and what do you want.
While “training” could be argued as more important than the race, the actual event is also very important. Ensure that you workspace is appropriate for virtual connection; as well, make sure your laptop is updated on the appropriate software and power. Be sure you are dressed appropriately for the event.
Each architecture program may have a slightly different plan for the event so be sure you know what it is – zoom interviewing, networking, zoom firm information session.
First, congratulations on “surviving” the Career Fair. After the event, you will want to follow-up accordingly with handwritten thank-you cards – remember, you have their business cards. Even follow-up with the firms that you no longer wish to pursue. You may even with to write a brief personal assessment of the firm – what was good, not so good. Perhaps, this process helps you determine that type of work you wish to do after graduation.
Remember this is a process. If you have not heard back from a firm in a reasonable timeframe, feel free to contact them to schedule an interview. Be persistent and assertive.
Career Fairs hosted by architecture programs are a very important event to connect with firms, but it is NOT the only means to secure a position. Use all means available to you – job boards, networking, AIA Chapters, etc.
Best to you in your career search!
We wish you well in your quest for a career position and do let us know how we can help you.