3 Tips to Get An Architecture Job With No Experience

Whether you are just finishing up your architecture degree or looking to make a career change into architecture, this will give you a few tips on how to go about getting an architecture job with no experience.

This role is traditionally referred to as an “intern”, although the exact nomenclature may be changing. For the purposes of this post I will refer to the position as an “internship”, but keep in mind this has a very broad definition.

To help you with your architecture job search, I've created a mega-pack of free resources that includes architecture resumes, cover letters, and an extensive collection of application documents. Click for a free download:

From my career coaching and personal experience, here are the top techniques I have found to get a job with little to no architecture experience.

#1 Create a brag sheet (no experience required)

The first step in beginning your job search is to know yourself. Creating a brag sheet is common practice in applying to grad schools and is a way to identify what you can offer a potential employer.

A brag sheet is just like it sounds, it is a list of anything and everything that is worth mentioning about yourself. This is especially important for someone with little or no relevant architecture experience.

You will need to leverage experience gained in unrelated areas (teamwork from restaurant job, building experience from construction, etc.) and/ or academic work.

This brag sheet is just for you to see so don’t be afraid to put down absolutely everything you can possibly think of:

  • List every single job you have ever had (related to architecture or not)

  • Put down every project you have ever done (school and professional)

  • Every professional qualification you have or have ever had.

  • Every degree you have

  • Every continuing education class or seminar you have been to

  • Every professional affiliation you are a part of or have ever been a part of

  • Places you have lived / visited

  • Sketches /  drawings you have done

  • Renderings or photoshop work

  • Volunteer work

  • Design competitions

  • Challenges / problems you have solved

Once you have this document it is surprising to many how much work experience you will have to pull from; even if you are a recent graduate with no architecture experience. 

This should be kept as a personal resource that is continually updated. Read through everything you have put down and use it to create a collection of the most relevant experience.

These shortlisted items will give you a basket of work experience to build your resume. For example if you worked on an interesting project or competition in one of your design classes that can be listed as a potential highlight of your resume.

If you help your uncle refurbish houses on the weekends... it can all be used to build an effective and relevant resume.

I create a resume from scratch for every job that I apply. A lot of people groan when I mention this but I said I would help you create the perfect architecture resume, not keep your weekend open.

For help with building your resume see my post on How To Write The Perfect Architecture Resume.

#2 No Architecture Experience? Think Big

Many mid-size to large architecture firms have intern programs. Keep in mind these programs have deadlines (usually in the spring) so you want to make sure you keep an eye on the openings and offers. Students will often wait until they are finished with their classes to apply to jobs but often applying in June is too late.

For example HOK offers an intern program:


Interns work full-time during the summer months. Occasionally, part-time internships are available during the school year. All internships are paid. Depending on the school’s curriculum, academic credit is also available.

Continuing your full time summer gig into a part time position is a great way to build your resume. If you spent your last two years of college working part time, it better positions you to land a great job at graduation.

Personally I believe all internships should be paid, the only exception I make is for academic credit. However, taking an unpaid internship should be a last resort.

#3  No Architecture Experience? Think Small

Finding an architecture job with little or no experience is often about taking the initiative.

The first architecture internship I had was in a tiny town where I was living over the summer after my third year of college. Looking back I should have tried to get in with an office even sooner. They were a three person firm and was literally the only architecture office in town.

Around the early spring I went by their office to see if they needed an intern. They told me they didn’t have enough work for someone full time and they didn’t have a computer for me either.

However, since I had a full time job lined up (not related to architecture) I offered to work part time and after hours so I could use one of the computers. They agreed so I would go in after my primary job for a couple of hours that day building models and using whatever computer was available.

The system worked really well and it helped to kick off my professional resume. Being very proactive is key to getting a position, you need to keep all your options open and don’t worry about being rejected.

Architects are generally nice people and are especially nice to young architects trying to get started in their career. We have all been there.

If you meet with someone and they don’t have a position for you, be sure to ask if they know if anyone else is looking for help. The architecture community is quite a tight-knit community, so he or she may have a friend who needs some help.

Hopefully these tips will help you get a great architecture job. No experience required.

To help you with your architecture job search, I've created a mega-pack of free resources that includes architecture resumes, cover letters, and an extensive collection of application documents. Click for a free download:

Thanks for reading, see also my posts on:

The Two Page Architecture Portfolio

The Top 5 Architecture Interview Questions

Where To Apply For Architecture Jobs Online

Good luck!

Brandon Hubbard, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C

Have a suggestion for a future blog post? Please let me know in the comments below.