Here are a few words of advice from Dallas Architect Laura Davis, AIA to students and interns beginning their careers in architecture.
Be confident. Be different. Be brave.
I know. It’s easier said than done, especially in this market. I am giving you permission to not listen to the grumpy people around you. A pity party is no place for you. If that’s where you’ve been hanging out, then put down that half empty glass of ‘poor me punch’ and walk out. No. Skip, hop, and jump out of there as fast as you can.
From now on you are the most amazing, valuable, and charming architecture intern anyone has ever met. If you are on the hunt for a job, then throw out the old methods and embrace the New Approach.
The New Approach is a three pronged method for building your personal brand. Let me elaborate:
- Time to get off the internet and go explore your interests
- Find a charity, community group, art show, sports team or special event to volunteer for
- Do the new activity for a length of time that you can build relationships with those around you (preferably those who are more connected and further in their careers)
- Once you identify your interest area, don’t just show up, step up to a leadership position
- Perform with passion, humor, integrity, commitment, creativity, and consistency
- Treat the activity as you would a paying job – you never know who is watching
- As you continue to build relationships, get to know the leaders around you
- Surround yourself with influential people who can act as mentors
- Let it be known that your are looking for an opportunity in an architecture firm and ask for referrals to architects and firm owners they may know
- If you don’t come across a direct referral, then ask for connections to referral partners – engineers, interior designers, contractors – other professionals who work with architects
- When you get an introduction to an architect, ask for some time to sit down with him/her to get to know them, show genuine interest in the firm, their projects, and your industry
Here’s what I hope you gain from this post: You can no longer rely on blindly emailing resumes or even cold calling firms to produce invitations for interviews. If I’ve learned anything over the last two and a half years of being a business owner, it’s that the world revolves around relationships.
You have to focus your energy on building your network of people who can connect you to other people. Treat it like a full time job. The more influential people you can meet and stay in touch with, the more personal advocates you’ll have on your side.
When a job opening comes available that fits your qualifications, to whom do you think the employer is more likely to grant an interview? The unknown name behind a random resume or the wonderful young intern they met at the last volunteer meeting last week? I know who I’d want to talk to.
Dallas Architect Laura Davis, AIA is a Principal and Director of Marketing at HPD Architecture LLC. She has been in your shoes more than once. Laura and her partners offer custom design services for residential, commercial projects in the North Texas, Dallas area. For more information please call 214.751.2300.