Saturday, November 12, 2011

Volunteering for an Architecture Firm

I'm in grad school for my masters' degree in architecture. As you are probably aware, jobs in architecture, especially in entry level positions, are slim to none. I am pondering about working at a firm as a volunteer to become familar with the workings of an architecture firm. I'm 40 years old(I hope that my age does not make a difference), I do want to become an architect, more than anything. How should I approach an architecture firm to work as a volunteer? 

I have a technical diploma in AutoCAD 2010. In school, I'm currently learning Photoshop CS,Adobe Illustrator and model making, and I'm experienced with Word,Excel,Outlook, Powerpoint and Publisher. If it means anything, I've designed and built furniture for the past 5 years. Any advice you can give me will be greatly valued and appreciated.

I can certainly appreciate that securing a position within architecture is challenging, but I would NOT recommend that you "volunteer" for a firm as a means of gaining experience.  First, it its strictest form, it is against Federal Labor Laws.  If you work for a firm, they are obligated to pay you minimum wage, at least.

Based on what you have shared you have talents to offer a firm and should continue your efforts to secure a paid position.  You may need to cast a wider net of employers including furniture design.  As this point, you want to develop your skills and ideally you wish to work for a firm, but others might benefit from your past experience and skills.

Begin to network with your faculty or alums of your institution to find possible leads. 

As an alternative to volunteering in a firm, consider volunteering for a non-profit or shadow an architect, but please do not work for free.

Best - Dr. Architecture

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