1. Don’t restrict yourself in old-guard firms
The youth are the future. It is important that firms embrace the ideas and enthusiasm of the youth. Be observant as to what the millennials in the office are doing. Make sure emerging professionals are valued in the firms you are interviewing with for full-time employment.
Extremely true — pay attention to the firms you are interviewing with! It is a two-way street — you should like the firm just as much as they like you — which means they need to value you as a young emerging professional. Your firm should help you grow as a professional in the office and outside of the office. Not only that, but they should assist you in designing your own career, and provide you with leadership chances.
2. Networking is a huge tool for advancement
Get to know everyone in the Architecture community and allied fields (all ages and experience levels). Don’t underestimate the value of AIA membership and networking opportunities. In order to get yourself new opportunities that match what you are looking for the best way to go about it is through your network of personal and professional connections. By introducing yourself to new people and having your positive reputation proceed yourself, then you have a better chance at making a strong first impression.
3. Don’t burn bridges, ever
The Architectural world is way too small. Your actions and decisions will be remembered.
The architecture community can feel very small. If you make a job change and leave on bad terms, more firms than just your old one will hear about it. If you do something crazy or make a really poor decision, word will spread. There are definitely times when a job change is necessary for your career. Just make sure you handle it in an appropriate, professional manner.
4. Voice your opinions often
The best ideas are never incorporated into projects unless they are heard, presented and defended. Many processes in firms and details on projects can be improved if you simply point out a better solution to decision-makers. An improvement is always appreciated by principals and clients.
Find a firm that is willing to listen to you. If they actually let you be directly involved in designing and they ask for your opinion and for other examples that are representative in the design world then they are a top firm. A lot of firms have gotten better about including young professionals in the design process, but not all of them. Make sure you ask in an interview about their design process and how you can be included.
5. Differentiate yourself when you can
Develop your unique skills and abilities. Demonstrate how they make you a better employee and contributor. Potentially utilize these skills to go out on your own.
Firms love young talent with new skills and software capabilities. They also love it when they can come to you for anything: working on construction documents in Revit, working on design in SketchUp, producing a few renderings, making some Photoshop fixes or changes, etc. They love the fact that they can put me on any phase on any project and I can immediately plug in, and the same goes for the other young professionals in our office.
When considering your next career move, plan proactively and create Portfolios that include your best work. Consider looking into finding a mentor with Architect-US, and improving your Portfolios with our Portfolio Plans and Career Advice Program. We provide coaching and personalized mentorship, so you can have a professional and experienced take on your next steps in your career, as well as a great team to confide in.