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What Architecture Firms Look For: Career Advice from FXCollaborative

September 30, 2020
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We asked Shannon Rodriguez, LEED GA Human Resources Director, Senior Associate at FXCollaborative about the company's recruiting preferences, as well as advice for recent architecture graduates.

FXCollaborative leverages broad expertise in architecture, interiors, and planning to enrich our world with responsible, intelligent, and beautiful design. The firm’s holistic approach integrates client aspirations, an urban sensibility and a celebration of the craft of building. From high rises and multi-family buildings to cultural and educational institutions and urban plans, FXCollaborative has had a positive impact on cityscapes and interiors worldwide.

Do you offer internships? If so, how many?

Yes, we offer internships throughout the year. We typically hire seven to eight interns each summer. We also offer fall and winter internships, typically one to four students, and the internship doesn’t last as long as summer internships.

What specific qualities and experience do you look for in an intern candidate?

Typically we’re looking for candidates in their last year of undergrad or in a master’s program. More specifically, we look to see if they have previous internship experience, what type of software skills they possess, resume and portfolio preparation, and if they’ve volunteered in the community, or participated outside their school work in the design industry.

Do you recommend students take the ARE 5.0?

Yes. We assist our interns with tracking AXP hours. It seems over the past few years, the exam has been compressed. You can now complete it faster. We do recommend, even if you haven’t achieved all your hours, that you take the exam. Getting licensed is such an important part of becoming an architect and can advance your career. It enables you to sign drawings, as well as be included on new business proposals.

What advice would you give recent graduates about to enter the architecture workforce?

I recommend recent grads to research specific firms that they admire and see themselves working at. I think it’s important because they don’t want to apply to just any firm. Some firms may not be the best fit. I think they should consider what kind of projects they want to work with, and what type of job culture they want to be a part of.

In any form of design, you are typically selling something—whether it be an idea or a product—so gaining experience on how to work with clients and how to listen to what they need was instrumental with my transition into a residential interior designer. I also realized through that experience that my heart was in residential design, not commercial as I originally thought; I may have never known that if I wasn’t open to all opportunities and directions after college.

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What is a common mistake recent graduates make while applying to your business?

Many students are not aware of our application process, which is communicated on our website, or they ignore instructions. Typically, I will receive emails with super big portfolios or links to their website, and we just don't have the time to look through everything, or download large files. It's best to follow the application process if you want your resume and portfolio reviewed. I’d advise sending everything in PDF format which is more easily accessible.

Can you share a recruiting secret or tip with us?

Most managers reviewing resumes and portfolios have very little time, so make sure you stand out from the rest.

What do you find recent graduates are most surprised by when they enter the workforce?

Our office is very fast-paced and hands-on, which is quite different from an academic environment.

What do you think will be the major changes in the interior field in the next five years?

I think there’s going to be a significant focus on diversifying the industry with respect to attracting people from different backgrounds, in terms of minority architects and women.

How would you suggest recent graduates maximize their time with their mentors?

We have a structured mentoring program. I definitely encourage graduates to have a mentor, to help give them advice on how to achieve goals, as well as steer them in the right direction, and have someone who could be an advocate for them. Meeting regularly is important as well.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

As they’re entering the field, I recommend getting involved in the industry somehow as a volunteer. I think it’s very important to give back to the design community, whether it’s through the AIA, ACE Mentoring, or Habitat for Humanity.

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