You may be seeking that dream job but it’s not as easy as we sometimes think. Actually, looking for a job can turn into a job itself! What it takes nowadays to beat the competition and “sell” yourself depends on the company you are willing to work for. If you are targeting global multi-disciplinary companies, which seem unreachable as they have already set very high standards, you need a hint or the chance to take a look into their recruitment team’s kitchen. Here is a closer look at AECOM – a global company making our outdoor environments a masterpiece. We hope this interview brings you a step closer to who they are and what they are looking for in their future employees.
- As a global company receiving numerous applications daily, you have created a platform for applicants to upload their resume and fill out their experience. How do you process this information? How does the database of applicants serve the company on the long run?
[Annissa Deshpande, Corporate Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition, AECOM] We have a globally integrated internal talent acquisition team, which is dedicated to all recruitment activities at the company, including reviewing the talent that applies to AECOM. The database of talent serves as a terrific source of talent that is interested in working for AECOM. We regularly search the database as new opportunities arise.
- Depending on the position that needs to be filled starting from the entry level up, what is the first thing that you’re looking for in an application?
[Blake Sanborn, Senior Associate, Landscape Design, AECOM] Design talent. Some things can be taught but a sense of aesthetic is not one of them. We are looking for problem solvers who know how to form an idea and edit throughout the process.
- Does it matter which country or university your potential employees come from?
[Deshpande] We think that the diversity of our studio is an asset to our global practice. Our goal is to ensure our workforce reflects the communities in which we work. We do have graduate programs in all of our geographies and academic alliances which we leverage as our first source, but we realize that new sources of talent are coming up daily and we are open to leveraging these.
- How about the professionals with a high level of experience? Does it still matter which university they graduated from or is experience what tips the scales?
[Deshpande] We believe experience tips the scales and built work trumps all. A well-constructed project is the best indicator of future success. We look for senior designers who are capable of navigating challenges that occur between conception and construction and can demonstrate this based on their experience.
- How about the interns? What does it take for a graduate to be approved for an interview? Is it the resume, the portfolio, the university or everything all together?
[Sanborn] AECOM conducts an annual internship competition for landscape architects and related disciplines called Urban SOS. The competition format is open to all each year. In addition, certain studios elect to provide in-house internship opportunities. The various design studios willing to house interns advertise on the website and review portfolios and resumes of students enrolled in accredited programs. The top candidates are contacted to arrange a phone interview as the final step. We look for students who are personable, talented and hard working.
- Who takes care of the first sorting of applications? How does the process go on? Who makes the final decision?
[Sanborn] As the hiring manager in the San Francisco landscape architecture studio I have received candidates from our online posting, from colleague recommendations, and transfers from other AECOM studios. The resumes and portfolios are reviewed by a hiring committee within our studio. That recommendation results in an interview process which includes the design principals in the office. The leadership group makes the final decision about who to hire based on the overall impression at the interview.
- What do you think of internships as an obligatory step to starting a professional career? Do you think architectural education needs to be rethought in order to get better trained graduates who can directly join the practices?
[Sanborn] Internships are a great way to introduce students to the rigor of practice and reinvigorate a practice with the fresh eye of an academic. Many fear that students will arrive with “grand ideas” and no sense of functionality. What we see more often is actually the reverse: overly calculated ideas with uninspiring and formulaic results. We appreciate a balance of art and science.
- What would you think of simply having a compulsory training like in many companies, substituting the internship?
[Sanborn] I would think that would be too little too late. The earlier the exposure to the office the better.
- What advice would you give to professionals and students willing to be part of a global company like AECOM?
[Sanborn] Be yourself. Unlike “signature firms,” we are not looking to force your hand to meet our “design style.” We are looking for fresh talent who bring their own sensibility to the work.Annissa Deshpande is the Corporate Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition at AECOM. In this role, she is responsible for all talent acquisition activities at AECOM, which include developing strategies to source top talent and aligning talent acquisition to the company’s strategic goals. Annissa joined AECOM in 2008 and has worked in Human Resources and Finance roles at the company. Blake Sanborn is a landscape designer with global experience who has built projects on three continents. Blake’s experience as lead designer and project manager has produced a green portfolio ranging in scope from concept design to construction documentation. His design process uses digital media as a means for integrating ecological, social and built environments within the context of landscape. In addition to project work, he has played a key role on numerous international competition teams including MASDAR Central Plaza and Seoul Grand Park, which were recently awarded to AECOM. Interview conducted by Yuliya Georgieva AECOM website Enjoy what you’ve read! Support us and pick up one of our awesome T-shirts and hoodies today, Click the link