June 8, 2011 at 7:08 pm #162304
I won’t start really looking for a full time job for a few months, but I’d like to visit some frms in Seattle and Portland to get a better idea of who’s out there and how they work. I’ve heard this is a good way to get your name out there, and that firms are less likely to ignore a request to visit their studio if they know you don’t need a job yet.
Is this true, or am I likely to get ignored or refused? What’s the best way to contact them to set up a visit?June 8, 2011 at 8:17 pm #162326Kevin J. GaughanParticipant
I think saying “most firms” have confidential projects pinned up is a bit of a stretch. I am sure most firms would be glad to show you around. Finding a contact might not be a bad idea though. If you don’t already have a friend working for one of the firms you are interested in…maybe you could find someone through Land8. Good luck!June 8, 2011 at 8:58 pm #162325Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
I don’t know if you are still at UI, but one of the classes (I beieve it is the seniors) used to do a firm visiting field trip in October every year. I would think that Steve Drown could hook you up with a list and maybe shoot a couple of emails to break the ice and “move things along”.
At minimum, he should be able to let you know which ones would be the most approachable.June 8, 2011 at 9:40 pm #162324
That would be great. I’m not sure exactly when I’ll go yet, but I’ll let you know.June 8, 2011 at 9:43 pm #162323
Thanks, Andrew. I’ll send an e-mail to Steve.June 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm #162322Miles BarnardParticipant
Roland I did exactly what you are proposing before I graduated in 1997. I just called firms up (most of them cold called) and said I was a student looking to get some exposure to different offices and could I come visit. Worked great. If you wanted to come to my office I would just keep you away from the “Confidential Project Room”. But unfortunately I’m in Maryland. But I don’t think you need to know someone at the firm at all. Go for it! -MilesJune 9, 2011 at 9:22 pm #162321
I think I’ll end up doing at least a few cold calls. There’s a few firms I’m really interested in in Portland. Unless one of my professors or someone on Land8 knows someone at Alta Planning or Nevue Ngan, I’ll have to just call them up and see what happens, I guess. But I do see your point.June 9, 2011 at 9:31 pm #162320Jason T. RadiceParticipant
You might want to send an e-mail to their generic “info” address asking if it is something they would be interested in. Often, the receptionist who answers the phone is different from the person who reads the “info” mail, which is often an assistant to the CEO/Senior partner. You might have better luck with that route, as the receptionist is often told to get rid of non-business calls ASAP. Its worked for me a few times with different proposals.June 10, 2011 at 12:51 am #162319Heather SmithParticipant
Hey Roland! I think I met your wife at Success by Six! haha…and I think you sent us an email. 😉 Steve generally does set up tours for seniors. The firms are always very nice and friendly. You are working on your masters?
And if you are the wrong Roland sorry. 🙂 We graduated from UI and live in Moscow with our own business…I don’t imagine there are too many Rolands. haha.June 11, 2011 at 5:16 am #162318Tosh KParticipant
I agree with the above, I did the same wherever I visited. Started with alumni that I knew or critics that came through the school, some firms I cold called (email with CV, cover letter explaining why I thought their firm was interesting, and a short work sample), firms I was most interested in I sent hardcopies. During the worst months of the recession many firms were reluctant but had junior staff show me around (low billable but also generally more upbeat -they did have a job while many of their peers didn’t-) and quite often a principal or senior associate would chat with me to put a name with a resume even for 5 minutes.
I tried the “I want to get a feel for how different firms operate and work” as my main reason and worked well for me. A lot of senior staff were curious to see what the trend was in academic studios, technology, etc – as it gives them an idea about what they can expect from future hires.
Good job on taking initiative – I’ll say it works well, sometimes they’ll pass on your info to other firms too… and if you team up with your friends in the program you can cover more places and help each other out.June 11, 2011 at 8:48 pm #162317
What firms do they generally visit?
I am at U of I getting my masters, but it couldn’t have been my wife, since I’m not married.June 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm #162316Heather SmithParticipant
haha…well I never knew Roland was such a common name! haha. They generally visit the big firms over in Seattle…EDAW (are they still there?), The Berger Partnership, The Portico Group, SiteWorkshop…that is all I can remember right now. My husband actually walked into 18 firms in Seattle a couple of years ago with a small portfolio on cd…never heard from anyone. If you want to visit to learn, I think they will be accommodating and helpful, nearly every firm was friendly. BUT keep your expectations low because in some ways you are looking to get your foot in the door. It is really difficult going to UI and creating networking opportunities since UW is right there and they have graduating students that also couldn’t find jobs…including Steve’s son. Perhaps that has changed…but if they aren’t getting jobs with firms in their own city it is doubly hard for us to break in.June 12, 2011 at 1:20 am #162315Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
Jones and Jones was another one.June 12, 2011 at 5:18 pm #162314Thomas J. JohnsonParticipant
If you don’t need a full time job for a few months then you should be looking now (which is what you are really doing anyway)… it’s going to take you more than a few months to find one…
It’s OK to admit you’re looking for work… Anybody with half a brain will see through your too cool coy ploy of, “I’m not really looking for work… I just want to check out your studio…”.
Yeah, uh huh, ok, whatever you say kid… (would be my first thought… followed by) If you’re not looking for work, why would I want to show you around my office? I’ve got better things to do than show total strangers, who aren’t looking for work, how my operation runs… If you want a job, lets talk business. If you don’t, then kick it on down the line…June 12, 2011 at 8:29 pm #162313
I see your point, but I won’t graduate till next spring (unless I run out of money after this semester). Of course I am looking for a job. But visiting firms in this case is more about seeing which firms I want to spend the time and energy to apply to, and getting my name out there.
It’s also partly to feel like I’m doing something constructive with my time this summer, since I haven’t found a summer job, either.
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