Happy new year! Its unbelievable how one year goes so fast. It seems like only yesterday I was happy to have landed my first job as a graduate architect. Well, it’s that season again for many new candidates. Some of you already have jobs, some are looking for a job and others are taking their time, giving themselves that important break before they dive into the world of 9 to 5, (or rather in the architects case, 7ish to 7ish) If you are still searching, and especially those searching in new places that they haven’t been attached to before, here are a few helpful tips to consider.
1) BE PATIENT
Yes, this by far is the best policy while searching for a place to work. Some people will be lucky enough to get a job almost immediately they begin their search, while others will not. In the latter case, to avoid frustrations you should be patient. The best way to avoid frustrations is to have many options. Do your research on where you want to work, write your resume and letter tailored for that exact place, even your portfolio can be tailored to show more of what they want. Send your application online as well as in person (I found personal delivery of an application increases your chances of a response) Follow up either by phone, email or in person, or all the above, then wait. If a response is delayed or just not forthcoming from one place, NEVER over-think it or associate it with yourself or your abilities. Sometimes the market is just saturated. So swiftly move on. Make sure you enjoy the process and the time before you land a job. Share with other job-seekers and find out what worked for them and where you can find openings. Lastly, keep yourself busy with other things.
2) CHOOSE THE RIGHT MENTOR
In the world of Architecture especially in Kenya, your first job should be a fairly long term job. We need at least two years experience before our BORAQS exam, so switching jobs can be a setback for those in a hurry to register. So choosing a place and mentor is a very important task. This is the person that will influence your professional life. So once you are called for an interview, in addition to the background information you gather before the interview, always ask to mingle with the staff of your future firm. If you find that the working environment is favourable to you, (this not only includes the boss but any other senior and junior staff in the firm that will contribute to your learning process) then go ahead and join. If you are skeptical about anything, weigh the pros and con and decide if it is worth it working there, you do not have to accept an offer.
3)DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF WITH OTHERS
All creatures are made equal but others are more equal than others, right? Wrong! When you begin your professional journey with comparisons you quickly lose sight of the core goals. You need to recognise that this is a personal journey and you can only offer what you have and not what others have. So take time to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Always keep improving yourself by working on your weaknesses and strengthening your strengths further. Just because so-and-so got or is likely to get a first class honours and you aren’t does not make you any less deserving of that job!
4) IT IS A LEARNING PROCESS
Anew born human baby cannot walk on the first day let alone the first six months. Some may even take up to one and a half years or more to do so. Likewise, we all have to learn the trade. It is a process that some grasp in a few months and others take longer. Take the process in stride and open up your mind to learn new things. You do not have to prove that you are the most knowledgeable! You should be like a dry sponge ready to soak up new information. Even though you assume you know so much, there is so much more to learn and even much more to re-learn. Sometimes we are so hellbent in our old ways of thinking that we have no room to learn new innovations and technologies. Sometimes the greatest asset we have to offer is an empty mind.
This is by far the most contentious issue when it comes to job hunting. It is so emotionally entangled that it can destroy ones confidence. Firstly, you must realise that it is just business! There is nothing personal in an offer. So that said, be wise! Do your research, if you haven’t already. Ask people what the normal rate is. Value the services you are bringing to the table and consider the time you are willing to offer the firm. Be confident and have an upper and lower limit.
Some firms have standard remuneration rates, however that does not mean you cannot ask for more. But if the firm does not have standard rates, always start with your upper limit. If the offer is too low, do not consider it just for the sake. Always remember to speak in terms of Net pay(take home) and not Gross pay. Also do not be pressured into taking a job on the spot. If you need time to think, ask for time to consider the offer. Lastly, it is your decision! After you accept an offer, make sure their is a written agreement of the same (insist on this) Always hold up your end of the bargain! Give what you promised.
I hope that helps, learn all you can, do not stop improving yourself and most of all remember, this is just my two-cents!