UTSA’s College of Architecture launches new career preparedness initiative

By Nicole Chavez

(January 24, 2013) -- In an effort to help prospective graduates fully prepare to enter an ever-changing and competitive job market, UTSA’s College of Architecture (CoA) has modified the traditional, one-day career fair model and will present a new initiative this semester. The CoA’s Symposium on Professional Practice will be a series of interactive panels in which invited speakers from the professional community will deliver informational sessions, share industry insights, and engage in open dialogue with students.

The symposium kicks off on Monday, January 28 with the first session, Getting Started: Diversity of Practices and Offices, held at 5:30 p.m. in the Monterey Building Gallery (MNT 1.108) on the UTSA Downtown Campus. This panel will be moderated by Richard Mogas and will include Mary Ann Mitchell, Principal of O’Connell Robertson, Michael Rey of Overland Partners Architects, and UTSA alumnus Derrik Godwin of Michael Imbimbo Architects.

Prior to the recession, the CoA held traditional career fairs each spring as a way of allowing prospective graduates to network with area employers. The new initiative is an attempt to reclaim the optimism of the career fairs in years past, while realistically enabling our graduates to plan for their professional destinies in more strategic, informed ways.

A series of three panel sessions, paired with a one-day shadowing event, will be held over the course of four months during the 2013 spring semester. Each session will be composed of three panelists from San Antonio’s architectural community and moderated by a recognized architectural practice leader who will pose ideas and field questions from the audience. On the shadow day, each architecture graduate student will be paired up with a design professional to gain insight into the daily routine of office productivity, studio formations, and workplace relationships. A variety of office environments, firm sizes, and emphases of practice will be represented in both the panel sessions and the shadow day.

The following are examples of the important topics that will be discussed over the course of the sessions: portfolio creation; the process of pursuing jobs; the ways firms evaluate potential employees; interview strategies; how the workplace has changed in recent years; and what recent graduates should know in order to succeed during their formative first years of practice. See schedule below for complete details.

The Symposium on Professional Practice was borne out of discussions by the CoA’s Dean’s Advisory Council, which formed a subcommittee to fully realize the idea. Led by Greg Papay, Partner at Lake/Flato Architects and Chair of the Dean’s Advisory Council, and faculty member Rick Lewis, the subcommittee approached local design professionals and firms to support this endeavor, many of whom graciously offered to volunteer as panelists or shadow hosts. In addition to reinforcing the launch of graduates into the profession, all involved hope to foster a more productive, innovative, and enduring building industry workforce in years to come.

For more information, contact Nicole Chavez, CoA Development Associate, at nicole.chavez@utsa.edu or (210) 458-3121.


Schedule for the CoA’s Symposium on Professional Practice


Getting Started: Diversity of Practices/Offices
Topics: Entering into practice via multiple routes; design career strategies; organization of firms; working in large or small firms; alternative paths of practice

Date: 5:30 p.m. Monday, January 28, 2013
Location: Monterey Building Gallery (MNT 1.108), UTSA Downtown Campus
Welcoming Remarks: Alicia Treviño (Principal, DHR Architects), Dean’s Advisory Council
Moderator: Richard Mogas (Richard Mogas Architecture)
Panelists: Michael Rey (Architect, Overland Partners Architects), Mary Ann Mitchell (Principal, O’Connell Robertson), Derrik Godwin (UTSA alumnus with a wide range of experience, Michael Imbimbo Architects)


Shadow Day: Design Professional Shadowing
Day-long event in which each of the approximately 30 architecture graduate students will be paired up with a practitioner. Followed by after-work gathering at the Center for Architecture for a social hour and informal discussions between students and practitioners comparing experiences. 

Date: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, February 1, 2013
Welcoming Remarks: Lloyd Jary (President, Lloyd Walker Jary & Associates), Dean’s Advisory Council

Getting Down to Business: Job Search, Interviews, and Portfolios
Topics: Approaches to seeking a job; preparing for the interview and types to anticipate; putting together the portfolio in a variety of ways/platforms

Date: 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 4, 2013
Location: Monterey Building Gallery (MNT 1.108), UTSA Downtown Campus
Welcoming Remarks: Boone Powell (Principal, Ford Powell & Carson), Dean’s Advisory Council
Moderator: Mike McGlone (Principal, Alamo Architects)
Panelists: Matt Wallace (Architect, Lake/Flato Architects), Helen Pierce (Architect, Alamo Architects), UTSA alumnus Luis Vargas (Dado Group Architects)

Being Successful: Individual Achievement While Working as a Team Member
The panel will address the strategies for individual success and gratification in practice, and how to set goals for achieving such. Emphasis will be on the first two to three years of experience in the professional workplace.
Topics: the collective success of firms; creating a good workplace; landing work; cultivating new and desirable clients

Date: 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 8, 2013
Location: Monterey Building Gallery (MNT 1.108), UTSA Downtown Campus
Moderator: Frank Rascoe (SHW Group)
Panelists: Brita Pearson (Perkins and Will Architects/UTSA CoA alumnus), Edward Hernandez (Open Studio Architects/UTSA CoA alumnus), Rebecca Schenker (Weave Architects)