“So I suppose you plan on marrying rich?” This was the response I was inappropriately given after sharing my major with an adult at a friend’s graduation party one summer. Although it probably was meant to be more light-hearted than I interpreted it, there is a slight, yet unsettling truth behind the implication of this comment. Yes, architecture students and other design or art-related majors sometimes struggle finding jobs more than other students. However, there is a widely held misconception that the majority of recent architecture graduates are unemployed "starving artists" searching for their big break in the prefessional world.
As a third-year Architecture and French & Francophone Studies double major, I am well aware of the struggles some architecture students nationwide have faced with employment in past years. Luckily, the economy has improved since, but jobs for recent architecture graduates (or anyone nonetheless) are never guaranteed. Unlike some other majors who are offered jobs after interning junior year, most architecture fifth-year students are not offered full-time jobs until the spring before graduation following Notre Dame’s Architecture Career Fair.
Luckily for us, firms from across the nation send representatives to South Bend every spring seeking students who have the unique skills, such as hand drafting and watercolor rendering, which are taught at a select few programs nationwide. Beginning sophomore year, architecture students are invited to attend the Career Fair, although priority is given to 4th and 5th year students. This event has lead to countless opportunities for a majority of students, including internships and full-time jobs. If nothing else, younger students get the chance to learn about the different firms and gain experience interacting with the firms' representatives.
Additionally, the Notre Dame Career Center provides all students with the necessary resources for the professional world. The Career Center offers resume and cover letter guidelines, mock interviews, and students can even schedule appointments for help with internship or job searching. Career fairs and other networking events are also sponsored by the Career Center and offered to students throughout the academic year.
Landing an internship as an undergraduate architecture student is definitely attainable. Proactive third-year students have interned at a variety of firms the summer before their fourth year after contacting firms and sending out portfolios. Even more fourth-year students work at firms across the nation before returning for their final year of studies at Notre Dame.
According to the First Destination 2014 Report, compiled by the Career Center, over 98% of Notre Dame Architecture graduates entered full-time employment. Over 23% of those graduates headed to the US Northeast to work in firms. Some graduates even landed jobs outside of the United States as 7% of the 2014 graduating class in the School of Architecture worked internationally.
Even though the Notre Dame School of Architecture is known for teaching classical design, not every graduate works at a firm that exclusively designs in this manner. Several students work at firms focusing on residential design while others work at larger firms, which design apartment complexes, public buildings, and luxury resorts. Popular firms for Notre Dame graduates include Robert A.M. Stern Architects in New York City, Andrew Skurman Architects in San Francisco, and Liederbach & Graham Architects in Chicago, just to name a few.
Although I know it will be a stressful time for everyone searching for jobs in the School of Architecture during my fifth year, I am confident that we all have the tools needed to find a job suitable for our individual interests. The Notre Dame network is unlike any other, and as long as my classmates and I are proactive in the process, something great will come our way.