December 06, 2012

Stay Profesh: The Value of Networking

If you recalled from my recent blog posts, I have always been gravitated and valued being engaged with architecture student and professional associations as an undergrad. They are a great way to meet and network with people in the field. From my involvement with the AIAS at times, and from attending the AIA NY – Emerging New York Architect’s Future Now Summit, last September (blog entry link below), I wanted to find out if there are similar groups that advocate and value architecture and design in hometown, Toronto.

Last Tuesday, I decided to signup for a membership Toronto Society of Architects and attend their Year-End Bash at Ryerson University`s Mattamy Athletic Centre (Formerly known as the Maple Leaf Gardens). I did not know what to expect, as this is my first time checking out their event and signing up for a year-long membership. As I keep busy on current work, projects, and the job hunt, I hope to attend and get involved in their future events as a volunteer to stay engaged with the architecture community and culture in Toronto.

I believe if you really want to be in architecture field, or a recent graduate getting your foot in the door, you need to be engaged and informed locally about the architecture industry. Every recent graduate and architecture student has a series of tools to their arsenal, one aspect is to network and be known and establish their personal brand. Especially for those students who plan to go back to school for their M.Arch, you want to keep up-to-date with the local architecture scene. For all you architecture grads on the search, you need to exhaust all your means of searching. One of them is networking to garnish your resume, portfolio, online and in-person applications.

Now networking is hard, especially if you are new to it or if you are shy it can be intimidating (which I was when I was a young lad in high school). This scenario was a bit new to me as this was my first professional networking event, specifically catered to professionals in the AEC industry –different from architecture student/emerging professional events. However, as you network, I realized that it takes time to practice. You have to get out and just do it. I have noticed this with other new grads: be tactful when you are looking for work, treat each connection as an information networking than spilling the beans that you need work. There are better ways to leverage a conversation: Ask about what advice they would give to students and new grads. Ask what they love and enjoy about their job. Find out more about them foremost. These professionals have banked experience and gained insight valuable to students and emerging young professionals.

At the networking event, I met and talked to a wide range of different professionals – architects, architectural illustrators, cash control consultants, marketing, enthusiasts, interns, architecture-industry recruiters and here is some advice that I received from them:
  • There are a lot of jobs out there – Tap into the hidden job marketbut also realize you have keep your skills up-to-date as training is onerous on employers. You got to provide value – keep proactive and keep acquiring skills.
  • School is not the determining factor to fit into the industry
    I've realized it right after being done school, but heard about it that night, your grades and GPA do not entitle you to a job. Your work and volunteer experiences are critical foremost. However, the most valuable part of your university education is to give you the framework and tool set to learn how to learn, to be resourceful.
  • You have to stay persistent, passionate, and active in the job hunt. Don`t lose hope. Some good architecture interns I have met have told me about some of their strategies on the job hunt. The job hunt is like a full time job – it requires a lot of effort and optimism: calling up forms, submitting your application, making your portfolio, catering your resume and cover letter, with a high degree of specificity.
If you found success and value in networking, Is there any tips you would pass for architecture students and recent grads? It's another arm that needs training to effectively find out information about the industry. Would love to get comments from our readers!

P.S. I like to thank the Toronto Society of Architects for holding such an awesome event that consisted. This was an event of good food, good drinks, good people, and good times. I look forward to attending more of your events as a new member this upcoming year!

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