At least once in everyone’s career, whether by choice or circumstance, a job seeker will have to endure the stressful process that includes identifying, applying to, interviewing for, being offered, negotiating the terms of, and ultimately accepting – or rejecting – a job.
During my own job searches, I have found that my biggest asset is my strong network of personal and professional connections. Without them, looking for a job would have been a far more painful process. Here are some suggestions for how to network your way into a job:
- Classmates: Stay in touch with classmates; you've had similar experiences and probably travel in similar circles. They know people, and so do you. Perhaps someone's firm is looking to fill a position? Speak to friends, family members, previous employers (with whom you've presumably remained in contact), the girl at the gym, the guy at the grocery store, etc. You never know whom they know -- or who they know who knows someone else!
- School: Speak to your school's career counselor or alumni director. Are there school-related events in which you can participate so that you can meet people? Do they keep their own job postings? Do you have access to an alumni database?
- AIA: Attend an AIA event or program and/or join a committee. Local AIA chapters are always looking for volunteers. This is a great opportunity to meet people who share at least two common interests: architecture and the AIA!
- Social Media: Use social media to your advantage. Websites like LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. will be great resources. Do your research. Contact firms to set up an informational interview and/or firm tour. Many firms – despite their ability to hire – will still be interested to meet potential candidates for when positions become available. Also, architects love to talk – and will happily share their personal experiences. Usually the AIA has an updated list of the local FAIA members. Seek them out as they are especially supportive of the young professionals and would gladly share a tale or two!
- Consultants: If you've worked in a firm before, talk to your consultants. Your product/material reps are also great resources. They are in architecture offices all day long and know which firms are hiring. They generally have good relationships with people in those firms and might be able to facilitate a meeting for you.
While it’s more helpful to forward your materials to someone directly if a firm is hiring, it's important to note that, in most cases, you can still forward your materials to a firm, regardless of whether or not it appears to be hiring. Many firms don't have the time to keep their career postings up-to-date and others keep generic ads active as a way to solicit resumes from the current pool of job seekers. This allows a firm to make a quick decision when new work comes into the office. You want to be at the top of their list!
Finally, don't get overwhelmed. It may take years to establish an effective network. But, when you do, you will be delighted to have such a strong support system. And remember:
- Smile. Everyone you meet is probably just as nervous as you are!
- Say "thank you.” People are more likely to help you again if they know how much you've appreciated their help.
- It's a two-way street: What can you offer to the relationship? Give your new connection another reason to keep in touch.
About the author:
Lori Apfel Cardeli, AIA joined Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS in Washington, D.C. in February 2012. The firm focuses on affordable housing and multi-use residential projects. Previously based in New York City, she also has experience in sustainable learning environments, high-rise residences, and high-end homes. Mrs. Cardeli received a B.S. in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis (2004) and an M.Arch from Columbia University, GSAPP (2007), where she serves as an inaugural member of the GSAPP Alumni Association Board and Co-Chair of its Alumni/Student + Careers Committee. As an active member of AIA, she was selected to serve on the Education Proposal Review Committee for its 2013 National Convention, participated in YAF Summit20, and is a two-time presenter at National Convention. Mrs. Cardeli is a registered architect in New York State.
Mrs. Cardeli may be contacted, as follows: