Colorado’s unemployment rate is at an all-time low 3%, while the cost of higher education and architecture degree programs is at an all-time high.

So how can you set yourself apart as an architect and be sure to land a job?

Recently, AIAS hosted a panel discussion at CU Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning to help students and emerging professionals become more competitive in the job market.

Panelists included Kurt Basford, AIA, architect at Davis Partnership Architects; Kin DuBois, FAIA, owner  at Cornelius DuBois; Chris Nims, FAIA, associate professor and director of mentorship and internship programs at CU Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning; and Hannah Zippin, member relations manager at AIA Colorado.

During the panel, they shared their learnings from their own careers, both as architects seeking jobs and as hiring managers.

Here we’ve compiled the top five tips from the panel to help you secure your dream job and jump to the top of the pile of resumes.

1. Engage with the profession early on

It’s important to get involved with the architecture profession in a variety of ways, beyond just internships. Each of the panelists suggested joining AIA Colorado and becoming an active member—attend networking events, join a knowledge committee and participate in the annual Practice and Design Conference. As Basford says “this shows that you are committed to the profession.”

2. Build your network

Often, knowing someone at the firm can help you move to “the top of the pile,” so start building your network now. Meet with architects, share your perspective and identify who your favorite architects and projects are (something that Chris Nims loves to ask candidates in an interview).

3. Develop interests outside of architecture

It’s easy to get so focused on developing your portfolio that you forget to invest in your passions outside of architecture. Get involved in the community, volunteer, or serve on a board or committee outside of the profession. “I believe having passions outside of architecture makes you more focused when you are in the office,” says Basford.

4. Be principled

Having talent is one thing, but having character, integrity, passion and people skills will help set you apart. After all, there are many talented architects in Colorado, but if you can show that you are a good employee and a good person, firms will be more likely to want to work with you.

5. Remember that you are designing for people

Ultimately, the profession of architecture is all about designing communities and spaces that help humans thrive. As an architect, it’s important to have empathy and compassion for the client.
If you’d like to get involved with AIAS, contact president Matthew Rivera at Matthew.Rivera@ucdenver.edu.