April 23, 2020

Are you graduating this semester and trying to figure out what your next steps are? What can you do with an architecture degree? Many people talk about the versatility of a degree in architecture but what does that actually mean? These are only a few of the questions to consider as we maneuver through the current economy so read on to find some answers.

Finding a job can be hard, even when you are allowed to meet in person. Conducting a virtual job search can be tough but there are tools in place that you can utilize. Of course, LinkedIn has a robust job search functionality but sometimes the endless results can feel crippling as you ask yourself if you’re qualified or not. So maybe it’s time to look at a few alternative search tools. AIA has a cool job search tool and it’s completely free to use! In addition to the national job board, check out your local and state AIA chapter job board. Moving can be expensive so looking locally is a great place to start your job search! But don’t forget to reconnect with your network! Try connecting to your school’s career counselor if you have one. Also, if you have a mentor or someone you respect and look up to, now is a great time to chat with them and talk through your options. Another great place to reconnect with is a firm you’ve previously worked with. They might be able to offer some additional advice as well. 

If there aren’t a lot of architecture jobs in your area but you really want to stay in the field, think about a related career that you can gain some experience from. We all know that architects do not work alone, but did you know that some of these other firms in the construction industry like to have someone trained in architecture in their office? Don’t be afraid to research firms doing essential work in essential industries like healthcare, grocery stores, federal building, education, etc. Boutique places and hospitality will not be hiring for awhile. Also think about firms outside of architecture such as construction, interior design, lighting design, or even carpentry! You never know what might peak your interest so don’t be afraid to be open to different opportunities early in your career. Additionally, you could also think about other design career opportunities in graphic design, photography, set and stage design, or furniture design. 

If you were interested in pursuing your architectural license, some of the jobs listed above might qualify for AXP Hours in NCARB’s Setting O. Setting O includes other experience opportunities that can be performed outside an architecture firm or while working for an architect licensed in a country other than the U.S. or Canada. Some of these opportunities even allow you to gain AXP experience while unemployed or working in a non-architecture field. Be sure to read NCARB’s website to learn more about Setting O hours. Additionally, you could also think about other career opportunities in graphic design, photography, set design, or furniture design.

Okay so you’ve found a few jobs that you want to apply for, now what? Start with polishing your portfolio and resume! There are a plethora of articles with tips and tricks on creating a bomb portfolio but don’t forget to start with the basics. Read articles on places like ArchDaily and Dezeen to get an overview of what employers are looking for. Here are some good first reads:

• 12 Tips For Making an Outstanding Architecture Portfolio

• 6 Tips on Creating the Perfect Two-Page Portfolio to Win a Job Interview

• The Dezeen Jobs guide to getting your first job in the design industry

• Visualizing Architecture Blog

If you’re looking for something a little more in depth, check out publications like Constructing the Persuasive Portfolio: The Only Primer You’ll Ever Need


After you submit your resume and portfolio, hopefully you’ll be called for an interview. But if you don’t hear back from the firm within a few days, send a polite follow up email to ask if the position is still available. It’s also okay to ask for feedback on your application. If you never know what needs to be touched up, how can you improve? Once a firm does decide to move forward, today’s social distancing and shelter in place orders will most likely mean that any interview will be virtual. So be sure to test your tech beforehand. And just because you don’t have to leave your home, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t dress professionally. Another thing to keep in mind is how your environment looks to your webcam. Be sure to clean up any dirty laundry or other messes you have in the background. A good rule of thumb is to sit with your back to a solid color wall with little to no items hanging on it. Virtual interviews have their similarities and differences from in person interviews so be sure to have a good idea of what to expect. To start, read this article from the Harvard Business School and check out this article on ArchDaily.

We know that times are hard right now but there’s still opportunity out there! Please stay healthy and follow the guidelines in place wherever you are physically located and remember that although we aren’t there in person, the AIAS is there in spirit! 

-The Membership Committee