Architecture Students, Prepare For The Post-Grad Phase


I naively thought it wasn’t going to happen to me.

My friends who had already graduated warned me: prepare for the depressing months after your graduation.

And I thought listening to a lot of inspiring TED featured talks from ivy league commencement addresses would be suffice (it helps a bit).

For many architecture students, the late bloomers (I was in the same boat), they might begin to do their portfolios. Some might get their job offers early if they prepared their portfolio on time during school and just in time to pay their student loans. Some might struggle and have a different scenario.

It’s really a waiting game and it can get frustrating and disheartening at times. I tried to be positive through this experience. Failing and falling behind has prepared me to be positive through it. A lot of students deal with this – what I’d like to call the Post-Grad Phase.

Since many of my friends in architecture school have moved back home or moved on, myself included, this is a time I wanted to extend my network and wanted to meet people outside of architecture and learn from them. In the months following graduation, I went to entrepreneurship, leadership and architecture events to meet people and learn from them. I wanted to find out what success is and open my eyes to a world that is not just architecture – and I have been inspired and motivated.

It’s important to remind yourself to stay hopeful, strong and to not be a victim to circumstances. I failed my studio a few years ago in architecture school…and I guess it’s the lessons of that experience that keep me going today.

What kept me going on during this Post-Grad Phase is the Triple P – Proactivity, Persistence and Patience.

Stay Proactive

  • And not reactive – you have to keep busy.
  • Network, network, network!
  • Attend workshops, lectures, talk to people.
  • Keep building your portfolio!
  • Learn and acquire new skills!
  • Do competitions and join design charettes!
  • Seek help – professors, career counselors, mentors!

Stay Persistent

  • There will be moments of self doubt – you have to prevail and be positive.
  • Getting hired will come unexpectedly.
  • Rejection should not be taken personally – at the interview, it comes down to how well you click and fit in the workplace, and firms might not have enough projects.

Stay Patient

  • If this career is truly what you want to do and are hungry for, you’ll stick with it through thick and thin.
  • Our professors in architecture school were right when they said that this career path might not be the most profitable path to tread in relation to other fields – business and commerce is where it’s at if you’re after profit.
  • Realize that this is a career of passion. Passion is what is keeps me going in spite of the trying moments during this transitional phase – it’s not easy, but the things you’re passionate about are worth fighting for.

Failure taught me patience, persistence and the need to be proactive. It’s about carefully reflecting on yourself and constantly looking at opportunities to improve and move on. If there is anything that my setbacks in university honed in me, it’s resilience to keep going through these moments. To climb up requires failing and learning from it – ultimately this is a career for those who are passionate about architecture and design.

To close this entry, I thought I’d finish up with one more tip – stay hopeful. This isn’t an easy phase for anyone, but be positive and look toward finding what it is you are passionate for and make it your motivating push.

Photo credit: Sander van der Wel

About the author

Ulysses Valiente is the writer and creator of The Underdog Architecture Student's Blog. A recent graduate from Ryerson University with a Bachelor's degree in Architectural Science in 2012, Ulysses does a wide array of projects based on his passion for architecture, writing and design. Realizing and understanding the struggles that design students face at first hand, Ulysses advocates through his blog for positive change in architecture education and a calls for design studio culture that cultivates and hones each and every hardworking student - even the ones that struggle and fell behind.