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Resume Advice for Architecture Students

Designing a resume as a beginning architecture student can be tough, especially if you don't have a lot of experience. Here are a couple of basic tips that every architecture student should have when designing a powerful resume.

Essentials

Every resume should have the following:

Your full name, a reliable phone number, a physical address, and an email address.

If you do not own a phone that's okay, an email address is equally if not more important. When creating your resume, make sure that you are using an email address that does not contain inappropriate characters. Typically, an email address that is seen as professional is "your name or initials" followed by the @ and the address domain. It is best to avoid using an email address that contains a variety of random characters and numbers.

Oftentimes, as a student, you can just use your college email address for your resume.

In addition to that, your email address should also have:

Your ongoing education, work experience even if it is not related to architecture and a set of skills that you would like to share with the company you are applying to.

It is important to note your education with the company you are applying for and when or if you have already graduated. If relevant, you should add what groups you participated in during college, like AIA, especially if you assumed leadership roles.

If you have been to more than one college before, you can put both in your resume if you have the space, but only if it is relevant to your architectural education. If you went to college before to complete general credits before transitioning to architecture school, you do not need to put that in your resume. You also should not put your high school education in your resume, even if your experience was directly tied to architecture.

Dont's: Put your portrait on your resume. It opens you up to discrimination when you give a potential employer the opportunity to judge you based on your face.

Do's: Put your name, large and bold on your resume so that HR can notice your name as they sift through their candidate applications. You can have an awesome resume, but it would be a pain for them to find your name.

Dont's: Put your GPA, unless it's exceptional.

Bonus: If you joined competitions and won you could also add that, but you could also create an entirely new section within your resume that highlights your achievements and accomplishments and integrate that there along with projects if any you have worked on.

Choosing Fonts

Choose a simple and familiar font for your resume. You can have two fonts at most to distinguish headings from a set of text. But too much can make your resume look cluttered and disorganized, which might turn off potential employers.

Rule of thumb: No Comic Sans, No Jokerman, and No cursive fonts.

Color Theory

Architecture as a field, in general, is very "anti-color". Although I am not entirely opposed if you add a splash of color here and there. I am actually very "pro-color" myself outside of architectural design, but because color has a strong connotative, cultural, and possibly even personal emotion attached to each one, it's best just to stick to a few bunch of colors to avoid provoking and offending anyone with your resume. You have to be lucky to find the right firm that will appreciate color if you are on the pro-side of the spectrum.

Avoid bold and saturated colors. General consensus is that a muted, earthy palette (grays, tans, browns, light blues, light greens, olives, mustard, light orange) is what is considered to be "socially acceptable" when compositing the look to your resume.

If you want to play it really safe, just use black and white, and in rare instances use shades of gray to distinguish different types of text throughout the resume. This advice might seem highly counter-intuitive because your resume is not given the opportunity to allow your personality to shine through your presentation, but when firms have to sort through a variety of different applicants, you design for legibility not for your character.

Work History or Experience

Having a work history will help your potential employer know that you are at least familiar with how to work in a professional setting. Do not worry if you just got started, any experience is good experience depending on how you frame it.

Do not add work experience from a previous job that was incredibly brief or where you really felt like it was not a great fit for you. You want to add something onto your resume that you were highly proud of, and if you have nothing nice to say about your previous employer it's okay to not add that to your resume.

If you are really sparse on architecture experience, there's plenty of things you could potentially add. Don't worry if there's a lot of white space left over, your employer should be able to understand since you are a beginning designer. A resume is just a tool to help you reach the interview stage, but once you are there it is your personality and enthusiasm that really helps you hook and land the position for your career!

You can add events that you helped participate in. Since some events actually account towards your AXP, this is appropriate and highly acceptable to add to your resume. If you volunteered at your school in some other way, you could also add that to your resume. During my time in college, I was also a teaching aid, a docent tour-guide, and a volunteer which were all classes that I took that contribute to my resume. A particular class where you took a more proactive or leadership-like role is definitely a plus.

If you did not participate in any particular classes, you can also write about what small jobs you took at college. Some people that I worked with in college took on a paid position of working for the laser-cutting and woodshops near our studios, which are definitely something worth bragging about.

If you really do not have any work experience related to architecture, such as retail or cashier positions you might have taken while you were in high school or early years in college, I think that would be perfectly fine if that is your situation. Just try to frame how your work experience there can be applied to an architecture office or studio.

Don't: Put a position where you were let go less than 3 months unless it was a contract position. Employers would naturally assume this is a red flag for a candidate.

Do's: Add a position, while brief that you were very happy with, and explain how that position can help you apply previous skills to this new job.

Skillset

It is important to have a section listing all the skills that you have. Program-wise and hands-on. It might be very common to add a rating to each one since you might be asked those questions in the interview stage anyways. However, this information is somewhat superfluous because it isn't clear who is making these judgments. It also adds a bit of clutter and wastes space for more noteworthy achievements on your resume.

Don't: Add a logo/icon of each program that you know how to use. Do not assume that your employer is familiar with the icon's meaning.

Do: Simply add the program's most familiar name to an aggregated list.

Hard skills vs Soft skills

Hard: Hard skills are skills that can be measured objectively. Examples are physical modeling which can display the individual's ability to craft their architectural work or drafting which is a skill that an employer can gage by observing that person's knowledge.

Soft: Soft skills are skills that are more subjective. Examples include the candidate's knowledge in color theory, which is a complex and abstractive use of color. Public speaking can also be considered a soft skill because it is a broad subject that can be approached in multiple and acceptable different ways.

Bonus: Revit is very popular among many architecture firms, with AutoCAD in second. Make sure when listing your programs to put Revit first, AutoCAD second, and whatever rendering program you prefer in third.

Hierarchy

Most importantly, is figuring out how you want all of these laid out. It might be based on a case-to-case basis, but here are a couple of layouts that are typically the norm.

Your personal information: Your name, address, and contact info should always be at the top, because in the Western world, we read from left to right, top to bottom. Your name should be the very first thing your employer can see.

Education: Place your college education immediately after your personal information section. It should have the only parts in it. Your college's name, maybe its city and state, your major and minor if applicable, and the start date and projected graduation date. If there are any particular achievements such as volunteers or school presidency they should be placed there with a meaningful description.

Noteworthy Projects: If you have any noteworthy projects you would like to mention on your resume, (examples being designing a high-profile project) you can put them somewhere before you mention your experience and job history to let your employer know that you have worked on projects you are particularly proud of. For me personally, I have worked on so many projects, I just decided for myself that the best decision is to note each one on each of my previous jobs. But that is likely for someone that is more advanced.

Skillsets: Programs, hard skills, and soft skills should have their very own section in the format of your resume. Sometimes put them in the next section after your education box, but for me I have a vertical column for my skills on my resume. You do not have to copy this necessarily if it does not fit with the style of your resume. What matters is that your employer is going definitely notice and can find your skillset on your resume.

Experiences: Your positions or relevant experience history should be placed on wide, vertical columns that your employer can see. Each job description should contain the name of your company or place of work, with a time frame, and a meaningful description. You can add the location, and if your previous architecture experience did not have a physical office, you can say either "remote" or where your jobs typically took place at.

Time Frame: When it comes to describing the time frame, describe the month and year you started there and were there last. You don't need to add a specific day if you do not want to, this is more optional. Do not add how many months you were there, as describing the date you started first and last is sufficient information.

Just stating how long you were there without a date or year makes it difficult for the employer to gage how many years you have been working as a whole.

Job Description: A meaningful description of your work means explaining concisely how working with that firm's principals or managers really helped you to grow as a worker and how you can use those skills that you have learned and apply them to this new position.

Achievements: If you have achievements that you would like to add, put them at the bottom of your resume. What is most important to your employer is work that you did long-term.

Conclusion

A good resume for a beginning architecture student is one where your contact info is visible, your skills are appropriately arranged, your education is stated, and your experience highlights how they have helped you grow as an individual. I hope this article was helpful if you really needed to learn how to reorganize your resume. Please comment or message if you have any particular feedback about this advice. I would love to hear your thoughts, and if it was helpful that would make me very happy.

Take care.

Michael Go.

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