Monday, November 22, 2010

Lulu's Mailbag: How to toot my own horn on a competition design?

More Lulu's Mailbag again! I really appreciate folks sending me questions, by the way--it makes for a more interesting blog. I can tell you what I think is interesting, but I'd rather hear your questions. Today's question is from J, a return reader/Mailbag Writer, who says:

I graduated in December 2009 from IIT and one of my last Studio's I worked on was a Design/Build studio(spring 2008, summer 2008). Designing during the spring semester a small field chapel in Germany and building the design over the summer. The project went extremely well, an amazing time, an incredible experience professionally and definitely the high point of my B. Arch. Two years have passed and we've received some great attention. [links to various websites and magazine publications here] The Chicago AIA Chapter gave us a Distinguished building - Honor award [for this project].

I'm wondering how to call attention the project, outside of everything I can present in my portfolio. Do I mention the project being published in a book? I know the internet article is only of little importance, as anyone can publish something on the Internet, I'm just wondering if there is a way to mention the book gracefully. Outside of just calling out the Award on my resume is their a better way?

Wow! This is great news indeed, and I don't know why you wouldn't walk into an interview with this news on a t-shirt that you not only wear but also shoot into the potential office with a t-shirt cannon. Okay, I'm kidding (kind of), but I think you can make this more apparent in your cover letter as well as your resume. If you have a section on your resume called "Honors and Awards" or "Competitions", you can describe the project briefly and then list the Chicago award and then say "Featured in Awesome Architecture 2010 (Little, Brown Publishers, 2010)". You should use that section of your resume to describe all the places that the project has been featured as well as any and all awards it has received. Further, you can mention the award and publication in your cover letter or introductory email to a potential firm: "I would be excited to bring my design skills to your firm; my senior studio design team's work received the Chicago AIA's Distinguished Building Honor Award for 2010 and was featured in a recent architectural publication." Furthermore, you can use this project as a way to discuss your usefulness as an architect trying to detail something--after all, having actually had to build something you drew, you have a unique perspective on design and construction. Be sure that you describe the "I built it too!" part on your resume. Do you have any pictures of you and your group actually working on it? Arrange those on a page in your resume, or even better you could provide a link to a blog or website that shows everyone the project. The website might be dedicated to your work alone, or it might be dedicated to the project alone (sketches, final boards, in process construction photos, final product, list of and links to awards).

And speaking of online presence, I'd still mention the internet article about the project. Yes, any fruitcake can publish something online (I'm "Exhibit A"), but it might be on a website with which a firm is familiar, and they might go, "Oh, cool! I saw that building! That was this guy? Get him in here!" It also might excite a not-so-into-design firm: "Neat! This guy's a good designer; maybe he can help us class up our strip malls!" However, bear in mind that if you send your resume to a firm that's more about production than awesome design, your honors may not have as much impact. That's okay--keep tooting your own horn, and don't sweat it.

If you have a topic you'd like to see discussed here, or a burning question about the architectural profession, feel free to ask me in the comments or drop me a line via email in the sidebar. Thanks, and have a great Thanksgiving!

No comments:

Post a Comment