With the COVID-19 event, the prospect of a summer internship or a full-time job may seem out of reach right now. No one knows how and when this pandemic will resolve itself, which must feel completely defeating to a student or a recent graduate. But firms and businesses will reopen again and there are things you can do now to position yourself for success. Take this time you normally wouldn’t have to get yourself and your work organized.
1. Get a Resume Crit – find a contact through your local American Institute of Architects chapter, or a principal you know or someone in a friend’s office to do a markup of your resume. What do they notice first? What’s interesting to them? What do they want to see on a resume? What do they not? Ask them to be brutally honest – the more honest they are, the better positioned you’ll be.
2. Get a Portfolio Crit – do the same thing with your portfolio. Put your best work upfront but not all your work; you want to pique their interest, so they look all the way through the portfolio and leave them wanting more. Most people will be attracted to talent in a stunning rendering, the thoughtfulness of diagrams, and the cleanliness of working drawings – not a lot of text – so look for the right balance.
3. Make a LinkedIn Profile – like it or not, LinkedIn is where a lot of recruiting happens. Talent acquisition managers and recruiters tread the pages daily looking for someone who clearly shows their passions and abilities. Be brief, professional and memorable. Professionally memorable, not goofy memorable. Employers have to put you in front of a client, after all. This will be one of your network channels. Learn how to use it. That’s what it’s for.
4. Research Firms – figure out how you’d like to shape your career and find firms that do the kind of work, in the kind of atmosphere, that you want. Do you want the rush of a large, often-published firm, or the increased responsibilities that a small firm might afford you? Read online journals, research firms and watch for their open positions. Even if you don’t get a job with them now, you should always have a short list of your dream firms for someday.
5. Make Connections, Start Your Network – you will always need a network. People you’ll help when you can, and who will do the same for you when they can. People in all stages of their careers and from different walks of life. Never forget to ask what you can do for someone. Call a firm and ask for a 20-minute informational interview with a leader but use your time wisely. If you get time, ask if you can stay in touch.
6. Get Licensed or Accredited – it may seem like the last thing you want to do after graduating and you may not have the means for it at present, but if you can sit for your licensing exams or gain LEED or WELL accreditation, you’ll have something a firm can use the first day you step into your new position. That’s currency.