ARCHITECTURE CAREER FAIR – 2023
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.
Below the list of career events are some ideas about preparing and attending a career event.
ARCHITECTURE CAREER FAIRS (DATE ORDER)
Texas, University of – February 6, 2023
Ball State University – February 8, 2023
North Carolina State University – February 9, 2023
Catholic University of America – February 10, 2023
University of Michigan – February 14,16-17, 2023
Iowa State University – February 15, 2023
Arkansas, University of – February 14, 2023
Temple University – February 15, 2023
Maryland, University of – February 17, 2023
North Carolina at Charlotte – February 17, 2023
Kansas, University of – February 21, 2023
Pennsylvania State University – February 21, 2023
Florida International University – February 21 / February 24, 2023
City College of New York – February 23, 2023
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of – March 2 – 3, 2023
Illinois Institute of Technology – March 2, 2023
Washington, University of – February 22 (In-Person), February 23 (Virtual), 2023
Nebraska, University of – February 23-24, 2023
Miami, University of – February 23, 2023 (In-Person), February 24 (Virtual)
University of Tennessee – February 24, 2023
Virginia Tech – February 27, 2023
Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of – March 3, 2023
Cooper Union – March 7, 2023
Illinois at Chicago, University of – March 8, 2023
California Arts & Crafts – March 17, 2023
Notre Dame, University of – March 22, 2023
Louisiana at Lafayette, University of – TBA, 2023
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, perform 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. Upon arrival, obtain the list of firms that are attending the event; review it to determine the list of firms that you will visit. Some might suggest that you visit a firm that is NOT top on your list to “practice.”
When you approach a firm, extend your hand to handshake with the firm representatives; start the conversation with a brief description of who you are and what are you seeking – summer vs. full-time. Be prepared to answer questions and share your portfolio. After you are done with a firm, be sure to obtain a business card for follow-up. Also, take a few notes on the firm while it is fresh on your mind.
As you continue visiting firms, connect with your classmates and compare notes and experiences.
It goes without saying but be sure you are dressed appropriately for the event.
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.