By Laura Thomas
On her September 14 blog, Audrey Treece was discussing networking and the value of it and she is right. This is a topic I had wanted to touch upon and since Audrey has gotten the ball rolling, I will continue this discussion.
For many, architectural networking will begin in school. Professors are a great place to start networking as they have many connections. A lot of students upon graduation keep in touch with professors for a variety of personal, professional and educational reasons. The professors can then contact prior students and ask about summer internships or current projects to apply to studio work. Fellow classmates are another great networking way to help each other out for a variety of reasons as is obvious just by how we interact with each other in studio.
What I want to warn or point out to everyone in case it isn't obvious is that in studio and your other classes, you are always presenting yourself, your abilities, your character, your ambition, your initiative, your integrity, and your work ethic to everyone. This is important as it can affect you more than most realize. If your a slacker who doesn't participate, who waits until the last minute, who has the I don't care attitude, I don't want to work with you in studio or in real life. Look at every person in your studio as someone you want to receive a letter of recommendation from. Think of your class and who you would write a good or bad recommendation for. What do you think your fellow classmates and professors would write about you for a recommendation?
Perfect example of bad recommendation is a girl that I went to undergrad with. I hated her and everything about her personally and professionally. One day years later, she walks in for an interview. After her interview I went to the partners and begged them not to hire her. Told them multiple reasons why they shouldn't hire her. Unfortunately, they did and soon realized that while her resume and stolen work from other people looked like the good choice, she wasn't and was soon let go.
As for good recommendations I have set people up with jobs and they are the ones who while working with them proved to me to be outstanding and worthy of me to put in my word that they are the best and that you'd be crazy not to have them as part of your team. My Aunt connected me with the director of Robert Morris University who was looking for instructors for some courses. I declined as I was coming to grad school but set them up with a former boss and a former coworker who are still both teaching a class there and loving the extra money. When I needed someone to replace me at Nestle I contacted everyone I knew but no one was interested due to having to relocate. I then contacted Jim, my favorite boss and asked him if he knew of anyone that would fit the bill. Jim contacted his brother in law (also an architect) who then contacted Stephanie, who he felt was perfect for the job. Turns out he was right and I was soon training her to be my replacement. She made such an impression on me that when Jim told me they had a position open at the firm I immediately thought of Stephanie and how perfect she would be for the job. Turns out I was right and she has been working there for the last month and her and the firm are all very happy.
It doesn't seem fair that people are getting the good jobs based upon who they know but why are firms or businesses going that route and not advertising when a position becomes available? The main reason is because the unemployment rate is ridiculously high and when a job is advertised the resumes start pouring in and trying to wade through them all to find the diamond in the rough is not an easy task. If they can avoid that by finding a person that is qualified and sent with high recommendations, they're going to take it.
What I want everyone to take from this is to always be mindful of your words and actions as they can open doors for you or cause them to be slammed shut in y our face.