Get familiar with some challenges you may face during your time in the U.S. - from Social Security info to traveling home for Christmas.
[Interviews] Series Revamp!!! Paula Hernandez & Her Story!! First installment now up for all to see!!
At such a young age, Paula Hernandez
was already planning her way to New York City
. Her father had lived and experienced the American Dream in Boston at a young age as well, and his stories animated her to replicate her father's footsteps.
At the start of the interview, CEO Patricia Garcia
leads the segment with the mission statement for this new [INTERVIEW] series
, wherein she states that,
"...it is important to make sure that we all understand the value of fighting for your dreams and learn the important lessons along the way."
The aim of this series is to provide our community with the opportunity to learn and connect with JOB+J1 Visa Program
participants that have fought for their dreams and succeeded! 👍 Although Hernandez
more recently, she has a very interesting story to tell.
When she was just out of university, Hernandez
could not keep still. She started applying to job opportunities all over the world, but more specifically in New York City
. She viewed her strong English skills as an asset that could be valuable for for international firms based in USA
. After a couple of months she got the chance to interview with Handel Architects
and got the job!! She mentioned that they valued her experience Interning at a firm in Amsterdam
during her Master's at ETSAM
Her advice for young professionals
just starting off in the industry is to not lose faith in bad times! Always take the opportunity to try new things and go beyond your limits! Keep studying and improving yourself! Think of new ways to help firms adapt to post-covid reality. Hernandez
highlights the value of programs such as ERASMUS
and any other organization that gives young professionals the chance to gain new valuable skills.
Hernandez was proactive and applied for the H1B before leaving back home. They approved her H1B, and so she was able to get ahead of the curve.
She also got a second job via her network! By having strong references and people knew she had a strong work ethic so they offered her a job in London
. The reference letter was a key animating factor for KPF to hire her! So make sure your professional network is strong and ever growing.
Learn more about her recommendations for those wanting to work abroad, her perspective on the future of the Architecture industry, and her tips and tricks for getting new opportunities!!
Medical care and coverage during your j1 Visa Program
Having medical care and insurance is very important when it comes to living in the United States. As some of you may or may not know, any sort of procedure or medical appointment during your stay can come out to be costly. So, it is important that you have the necessary insurance that will cover you during your work period abroad. In the case that you were wondering, Architect-US
provides accident and sickness insurance for the entire length of the program with the Global Benefits Group
. While some host companies may provide you with an insurance of their own, you can rest assured that we will provide you with one as well. Helping you avoid having to pay extra for basic coverages that may end up being very expensive. Our program has been specifically designed to help you as much as possible during your stay and to meet the criteria that will give you a safe and rewarding experience. As such, you will be provided with 24/7 medical support available in different languages in the case of any medical emergency.
The US requires that all J1 Visa holders have medical insurance
. That also applies to your accompanying spouses and/or children. Also, as a requirement by the US Department of State, the minimum j1 Visa health insurance plan must meet medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness and a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness. In the case that you have any other questions about your Health Insurance you can always reach out to one of our team members or take a look at the GBG
website for more in depth detail. You can also take a look at their brochure
that explains the key benefits or their health coverage plan.
The 6 laptops you should consider when making your next purchase for your workstation
As architects and designers, we know just how important it is to have a desktop or laptop that can handle the software that we use on a daily basis. It can be very stressful to be working on a render or any type of project and your computer gets stuck, or even worse, is not capable to handle the model at all. Nowadays, probably one of the preferred computers for architects is a laptop. It gives us the ability to take all of the hardware with us and allows us to move instantly from home or the studio and get right back to working on the project. There is of course that compromise of mobility and the computer’s capacity, which is something that you have to think about, but you should also know that most laptops out there are just as powerful as desktops. If you find yourself working in the studio all the time, a desktop will work just fine, but if you are one of the architects that have to move around a lot you might have to consider a laptop. Our team at Architect-US
has put together a list of some of the best laptops out there in the market
that you should look into when buying your next workstation.
1. HP ZBKOOK 17 G5.
This computer has been described as the most powerful laptop. It has just as much power as any desktop out there and it is able to run multiple high-demand programs at once. It includes professional graphics by NVDIA P5200 and will give you the necessary power to work and present architectural models with incredible clarity and outstanding rendering qualities.
2. Levono ThinkPadP1.
A great choice for architects on the go. This laptop is know for its thin and light design and will work with the software you need just as well as its competition. It has 32GB of RAM, NVDIA Quadro P2000 graphics and 2TB of storage, giving you the juice you need as a designer.
3. MSI WS65 Mobile Workstation.
A great choice for any architect looking for a computer with a balance in power and weight. While this specific laptop may be slightly heavier than some of the competition, they have added superior graphics and a 8th
Generation Intel Core I9 Processor to give you that edge. This computer has also been optimized to run different applications by Autodesk and Adobe.
4. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2.
If you are someone that enjoys having a touchscreen then this is the laptop for you. The Microsoft Surface 2 Laptop allows you to use the interactive touchscreen display for intuitive control in your design applications. Equipped with 16GB of RAM, an 8th
Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and up to 1TB SSD, this laptop is built to handle demanding architectural software like Revit, 3ds Max and Rhino.
5. Lenovo Thinkpad P50.
If you decide to go for this particular one you should know that its best feature is that it is designed to deliver for architects that are specializing in architectural visualization. It has a bigger cache size for faster modeling and drafting and it includes a error correcting tool that benefits complicated renderings.
6. ASUS VivoBook S.
The good thing about this laptop is that if you are looking to spend a little less money in your computer while still getting all the necessary power you need to run the software, you will also get a quality computer that is low in weight and thickness. It has VivoBook S’s Intel Core i7 7500U CPU and it certainly lives up to the expectations of the higher-end competitors.
We have received questions from architects in the past on our opinion for the best computer out there. While these are some of the most powerful and “up to the task” computers out there at the moment, there are several others that will also handle the work that you need. It is just important that you take into consideration the investment that you want to make in your computer, and also that you think about the different specs that you need to get the most out of your workstation.
Make sure that you read up on what the CPU, GPU, RAM, and the different types of screen sizes and resolutions.
The 4 ways in which you will benefit from the J1 Visa Program
The Architect-US J1 and Job+J1 Visa
programs are a great opportunity for international architects to pursue an internship or trainee position in some of the top architectural firms in the United States. If you have been dreaming about an opportunity to work in the U.S., this program is a great opportunity for you to do so in the least amount possible and with all the help you can get so that all of the aspects of a difficult visa process essentially become stress-free and easy to accomplish. The team at Architect-US will guide you along the way, and in this post has outlined just five of the many ways in which they know you will benefit from this exchange program:
1. Learn about U.S. history and culture
Possibly one of the most important aspects of this program -apart from the offered position- is that it will give you the opportunity to integrate yourself into the local culture of that city. You will be able to experience first hand what people in the city are like, the vast variety of cultures in metropolitan cities of the U.S., local and international foods, and learn from the different cultures activities that will teach you all about the history of the city and the U.S.
All positions offered to candidates participating in the Architect-US program are compensated according to the set minimum wages of each State and according to your academic background and years of experience
. It will also give you an opportunity to earn money that you will be able to save for your future endeavors and travels.
3. Friendships and Networking
Big cities in the U.S. are heavily populated and have a wide variety of different cultures and people that you can learn from. During this experience you will be able to meet locals and people from different parts of the world giving you the opportunity to form strong bonds and hopefully future career opportunities
. You will be able to attend different networking events offered by your Host Company and ones organized by the city that will grow your personal and professional connections.
4. Professional and Personal Development
This opportunity will boost your career in many ways as it will give you a platform to enhance your Portfolio
. You will also be able to learn from some of the world’s most prestigious organizations and top leading companies and apply that knowledge into your future in the profession. As you will go to the U.S on your own, you will also have to find ways to tackle daily aspects of your life independently, helping you build self-confidence and self-esteem.
Architect-US offers you access to one of the most competitive markets out there and will provide you with an experience and values that will impulse your international career. This will become a truly memorable, and life changing experience, so what are you waiting for?
Some projects I was working on in the US
This are some examples of projects I was working here in the US
I worked on the Hyatt Hotel, a big project , all the architecture part and interior design part of 2 building with 8 floors.Is one of the bigger projects I was working on in the US
. At the beginning I was doing the design part for all the common spaces. All the concepts and ideas for the host desk, business center, restaurant, bar, meeting and gathering room. The theme of the concept was Seattle/ pacific northwest/ Natural beauty. I worked also in the carpet design, really interesting too!
Dong Ting Chun Restaurant, is a Chinese restaurant. I worked on all the design of the restaurant. The design reflects the love of good design and passion for food. Took cue for their interiors from the Dongting Lake landscape, colors and textures from a fishing zone.Casual noodle shop that specializes in traditional Hunan noodles cuisine with industrial style.
The industrial metal look and concrete finish allows the restaurant to blend harmoniously with its surrounding neighborhood.
Cascade Key 88 house
Color and texture inspirations are taken from NORTHWEST REGIONAL STYLE
, intentional design choices that best suit the environment of the house being constructed to taking advantage of phenomenal views of all of the natural beauty that the this property offer. Use of locally harvested wood, stone, natural materials and soft color palette helps the
home meld into its environment.
On the website of the Studio 19
you can see the projects!
What happens if I want to finish my program before the official end date?
We encourage you to live out your American Dream to the fullest, but ending the program is not a problem as long as you have a good reason for doing so. You will have to sign a early program termination letter (which we will send you) and you have to let your Host Company know of your decision at least two weeks in advance.
What if a J1 participant loses their passport while in the USA?
The participants need to contact straight away their national embassy or consulate in the U.S. to request scheduling an appointment in order to get issued a new passport. The J1 Visa stamp has to be renewed only if the participant will travel internationally and will need to re-enter the United States of America. Please contact us if this is the case, so we can help you.
How do I apply for a Social Security number in the USA?
The Intern / Trainee has to apply for the Social Security Number at the nearest Social Security Office with their passport, DS-2019 form and an the Employer Letter (which we will send you). However you will get more detailed information on the steps to doing it right before going to the U.S. in the Pre-Departure Orientation Session by Architect-US and ASSE.
If I already have a Social Security Number can I still use that number?
Yes. If you have taken part in a J1 Visa program before (or have an SSN from before for another reason), the Social Security Number you were was issued has a lifetime validity. Therefore, there is no need to apply for a new card.
What if I change my home address during the Program?
There is no issue to change addresses during the Program but you must report any change of address within 3 days. Further instructions will be included in the Pre-Departure Orientation Session that we will provide you with before your arrival in the USA.
Are the ASSE Monthly check-ins mandatory for the program?
It is mandatory to keep your contact information up-to-date and accurate as this is Department of State law and you risk immediate repatriation and other penalties if you do not comply. Therefore, it is a requirement for all participants to complete a monthly check-in every 30 days during the Program.
How do I find housing?
One of the biggest challenges finding an affordable place to live in U.S., but it is not imposible. You can search on the Internet, you can ask your Host Company
for suggestions or you can contact an Agency. We will add you to the Architect-US participants chat
so the rest of the community can give you some advise as well. Either way, you need to take into consideration factors such as safety, price, convenient transportation to the office and distance from it. We provide helpful information
on this and other topics in our BLOG
Am I allowed to travel outside the U.S. during my Internship / Training?
If you wish to travel outside of the U.S., Mexico, and Canada during your Internship / Training, you must obtain a travel validation through our partner ASSE and you cannot be out of the country for more than two weeks (in total) for the duration of the Program. For more information, please write your Program Advisor.
Can I apply for a J1 visa extension?
Yes, if your Host Company proposes you stay longer than the originally established end date, you may apply for J1 visa extension, which will be approved up to the maximum length permitted for your category (J1 Intern - 12 months, J1 Trainee - 18 months). For example, if you are a YTainee and got an offer from an American company for a 6-month program but after starting there they like you and ask you to stay for as long as possible, you could extend the program for an additional year (so the final program length is 18 months).
How long can I stay in the U.S. after the Program?
You must leave the U.S. within 30 days of the end of your Internship
/ Training Exchange Visitor Program
. It is not recommended to travel outside of US
(including Mexico and Canada) during the 30-day Grace Period
(read more about it HERE
Can I have a second job during the Program?
No, you are forbidden to have any other source of income in the USA while on your J1 Exchange Visitor Program. The J1 Visa is issued only and specifically for your approved Internship / Training Program. If you have any other working activities besides your sponsored Internship / Training, you are violating the visa regulations, which means immediate visa and program termination, along with other penalties applied.
Can I change my Host Company during the Program?
We do not encourage Host Company Transfers and allow them only in extreme cases. You may change Host Company only if there are serious reasons for it (if you are not getting paid as established in the Training/Internship Placement Plan, the environment is unsafe, the agreed learn goals are violated, etc). In this case, the participant must contact their Program Advisor at Architect-US immediately, and the case will be reviewed in detail.