February 24, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
University of New Mexico
School of Architecture + PlanningWebsite
Tamarah Begay: One of the largest trends in the job market given the pandemic is the usage of different online and virtual platforms for interviews and meetings. Not only are these platforms being used to communicate ideas and design but to connect and link professionals to job seekers. This has allowed the industry to have shifted to predominantly working remotely. There has also been a rise and increase in anti-microbial materials, space planning, and incorporating a cleaner HVAC and air quality system into buildings. This can include using hard surface floors and furniture without fabrics to allow for ease of cleaning and to help reduce the spread of germs and incorporating specialty air filters or lights. The industry has also seen an increase in wanting to incorporate outdoor spaces within designs.
Tamarah Begay: Certifications and licenses that can be locally, nationally, and universally applicable are most impactful for a future job prospect to have. Being a licensed Architect and having or being LEED certified is of great impact for job prospects on all levels. Staying up to date on continuing education courses and staying knowledgeable about new products or methods should be a habitual update to one's personal knowledge bank. Bringing versatility and diversity to the work place in any form, whether it is through licenses or courses, is beneficial and can have a great impact.
Tamarah Begay: Salaries have changed a lot over the time I have spent in the Architectural Field. Minority women are now getting the recognition that they deserve in a field that has predominantly been ruled by non-minority males, and although it still is not equal, we have gained admission to higher compensation than we used to receive.
Arizona State University
Marc Neveu Ph.D.: The pandemic has had an interesting effect. At first, everyone froze and thought all work was going to stop. We are a year in and many firms are as busy as they were a year ago. Still, it is different for different markets, and there is some caution about projects scheduled a year from now. That said, money is relatively cheap at the moment and that is good for construction.
Marc Neveu Ph.D.: Here is a baseline of technical skills, usually related to the software used in the office, but software changes. I was in a conversation recently with Christiana Moss, who is a partner at Studio Ma, and she had a great quote. She needed recent graduates "who could be useful." This meant being able to think on their own, to ask questions, and to be able to take on a project without the need to be told how to do everything. We don't expect graduates to know everything they need to know to build a building, but they should be aware of what they don't know and be able to ask good questions, work collaboratively, and also independently.
Marc Neveu Ph.D.: I was first hired into an architecture office over 25 years ago, so I can say with some confidence, that salaries have gone up! Many offices, however, are very different than when I graduated. Not all, but many are much more integrated with other disciplines. There is an incredible group of firms in the valley, like Construction Zone, who do both design and construction. Others, like Ryan Companies, are integrated from Development through Facilities Management. By owning more of the entire process, rather than just the design, firms are able to generate more revenue. As a student graduating today, I would be better position to have an architecture degree plus an additional credential - in construction management, real estate development, or even sustainability. In this way, you can leverage your position in an office to be more valuable.
Anonymous Professor : With regards to trends during the pandamic ... I think that there are huge opportunities to be had, if the graduates have their acts together. I network with my former students who are now partners or upper managers in companies. The era of Monday morning meetings in conference rooms is over. In the future, networking with colleagues and clients will be done via some distance system. So the Zoom classes taken today will prepare students for the boardroom tomorrow. Quit whinning and see the opportinities waiting the be catured ... they are there ... the challenges with distance learning will separate the 'wheat from the chaf' ... those who can adapt to a new way of thinking will survive ... those who cannot will be quickly sent to the scrap heap. But, graduates cannot act like young spoiled people. They need to have skills and abilities ... AND ... people skills ... big time ...
Anonymous Professor : With regard to student graduates with the license issue and their potential, it's all about and their ability to think ... my contacts tell me that they want people who can look outside the box ... and be flexible to change ... and make no mistake about it ... the future is all about a willingness to change and be flexible to change. Professional license requirements is a think of the past ... it's all about what you can do now.
Anonymous Professor : With regard to money and employment compensation ... those who can be willing to try new things and move with the flow will do well ... very well. Those who cannot, it's McDonald's and minimum wage ...
A footnote: ... the people I contact do not care about who you are, what you are, or how you are. So things like pronouns, and victimization, and excuses, and hanging on to reasons for failure will not cut it in the workplace of the future ... learn ... grow ... and you will have success ...