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Student job hunt: 10 top tips

The outlook for graduates emerging from Part 1 and Part 2 this summer looks bleak. Stuart Piercy draws on draws on his experience of career ‘ducking and diving’ to pass on advice to students

1) Everybody is looking for work: students, qualified architects and developers. So when sending speculative CVs, be precise, make your point and don’t waste time with a self-indulgent pitch about your work. Do your research and work out what you can bring to the studio.

2) Studios will be interested in your ability to be adaptable so now is the time to learn new skills. Practices are also using this quiet time to refresh their portfolio, website and marketing material, so think InDesign and Photoshop, even web tools.

3) 3D and CGI will always be useful to a studio that is pitching or hitting competitions hard so brush up on CAD and find out which software the company already uses.

4) Be flexible. Be prepared to work freelance for short burst of time to cover competition work. If you work two days a week for one firm there is nothing to stop you working the other three for a different practice. In smaller studios take your own laptop and offer to work for a week at no cost to see how you fit in. Be warned: do a maximum of a week because although architects do free pitches all the time, working for free is never a good practice to get into long-term.

5) Go where the work is: schools, affordable housing, MoD projects, healthcare and infrastructure.

6) Parts of Europe are still fairly buoyant so be prepared to travel and possibly learn a language. It’s better than hanging around Clerkenwell in the cold.

7) Don’t be London-centric. Expand your search to the rest of the UK – perhaps in your university or home-town where living costs will be cheaper.

8) Graduates in architecture have valuable skills across many design disciplines so look beyond architecture: interior design; exhibition design; product design and manufacture; CGI; computer game design; film…

9) Unfortunately the adage ‘it’s who you know, not what you know’ applies to architecture so find a use the network you have and make new friends.

10) Win a competition and start a practice – the odds are against you but what the hell.

Stuart Piercy is a partner at Piercy Connor Architects

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