Recent Grads in the A&D Industry
An Inside Perspective

It is crazy to think how the world has changed in the past couple of years. In that time, the A&D community has had a great deal of movement from talented locals exploring new opportunities at firms, end users and even starting up their own shops. One group in particular has faced career challenges in ways those before them never had: the recent grad. 

The following is an interview of two recent graduates in an informal Q&A style: Person A is a recent graduate with a Bachelors of Interior Architecture and Person B is a recent graduate with a Masters of Architecture.

What tips and tricks are you using as a recent grad?
Person A: I asked the program director from my school for connections with their contacts as far as job openings and getting my foot in the door. We had a professional development class where working professionals came into the class to give a presentation. We were able to later connect with them on LinkedIn which gave you start to creating a network.
Person B: Asking questions. It feels obvious, but asking as many questions as possible is really important to me. Finding the right people to ask certain questions: BIM experts, lab design experts, etc; and finding people I can learn from who are experts in certain fields has really helped me so far.

What was your interview process like?
Person A: I interviewed over winter break with one company - initially for an intern position but they needed a full time intern. They kept my info so then when they were looking for a summer intern, they reached back out to me. We connected on a video call, and then via email to stay in touch. It was really surprising that they didn’t ever need me to interview in person, but they seem to have a really good hybrid workplace approach. I also interviewed with another company via phone, then on a video call, then in-person interview.
Person B: Mine was fairly straightforward. A professor from my school put me in touch with somebody who was looking to develop a lab design department and after we had an introductory conversation we set up a more official interview to see if it would be a good fit. It was!

How does the interview process align with your original expectations?
Person A: I was surprised the company I interviewed with reached back out to me rather than me having to reach out to them about the position. They have a great approach to the hybrid work place, going in 3 days a week to their Boston office plus the ability for me to work from other offices if I need too.
Person B: For the most part, yes. I knew having connections from school would be useful in getting my foot in the door and I was lucky enough to find a place that was doing interesting work early on in my job search process.

How are you presenting your portfolio?
Person A: In college, we developed our portfolio first semester senior year, focusing on creating visual identity, creating business cards, creating a cover letter and resume. This was later expanded on in the professional practice course. The portfolios are digital through issuu. I did submit my portfolio to one company prior to interviewing but did not present it in the actual interview. I do have experience presenting my portfolio to freshmen and some working professionals, where they provided me feedback that I was able to incorporate before graduating. It was suggested that we get our portfolios printed hard copy as well.
Person B: Currently my portfolio is entirely online. I have a version that I can print physically, but both due to the pandemic and the nature of my work, digital has been easier and more effective.

Are you part of any industry organizations yet?
Person A: Not yet. I am doing research right now to find what is a good fit. I have attended an IIDA event before via zoom.
Person B: I am a LEED AP, but I have yet to fully immerse myself in any more direct organizations. Soon though!

What has your onboarding experience been?
Person A: The company I work with uses CET, which is the program used to develop furniture layouts, so I have been watching lots of videos to learn the software. I'm also learning a lot about the particular furniture brand I work with - not just the textiles or the furniture but learning about the people and the designers. We have daily meetings with team for staffing for various projects, which is great insight listening to various teams, project scopes and understanding how projects are staffed. It’s a very flexible place to work which is super important to me.
Person B: I’m becoming a part of the onboarding process. With remote work being a large part of the workplace, that was a big portion of the initial onboarding, but now that I am settled in, the biggest part has been setting up standards, tools, templates, and working on making sure people know about the tools we have available to us.

How do you plan to expand and grow your network now that you’ve graduated?
Person A: Connecting with colleagues on LinkedIn, going to events, and meeting other designers (especially in the Boston area). I don’t plan on staying in Boston forever, but while I’m here I want to take advantage of meeting as many people as possible.
Person B: I plan to expand my network through connections with the people I work with, organizations they recommend, people they introduce me to, etc.

What advice would you give up and coming grads?
Person A: I would stress the importance of making networking connections. Even if it is someone coming into your class for a presentation, immediately add them on LinkedIn to start networking so they can have your contact info to reach back out to you for potential opportunities for post-graduation. We had a Professional practice course - having tons of working professionals coming in to talk about their position in the industry. This also gave us lots of exposure to the various industry organizations.
Person B: Be communicative, talk to people. Even if they aren't hiring, or it turns out that the office doesn't feel like the right fit, there may still be an interesting conversation that can lead to opportunities that aren't immediately evident.

It is important for firms, manufacturers, and collaborators alike to understand what this generation is looking for in a future employer, as well as the challenges they are facing as they enter the industry. In doing so, everyone can better assist them and be the mentors they need to keep the legacy of the A&D industry alive and thriving.


It’s hard to believe, but Thursday, June 30, 2022, will be my last day as your IIDA NE Chapter President. Although it is bittersweet, I have learned so much and could not have accomplished all the things in one year without our amazing Board and volunteers!

Although our events were mostly virtual during my year as President, I still got the chance to talk and connect with so many of you. During my term (August 2021 – June 2022) our board set forth a very thoughtful and lengthy strategic plan. I’m happy to report that as a Chapter, we were able to tackle almost every item on the plan. Here are just a few of our accomplishments, some of which you’ll see launched in the upcoming months.
  • Successfully and safely pivoted back to in-person and hybrid events
  • Created a new Board position and appointed our first ever Vice President of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
  • Worked with IIDA HQ alongside our EDI Committee to include Associate members in chapter voting
  • Launched a series of four anti-racism workshops for our volunteers (because our volunteers are amazing, critical and we can’t do what we do without them!) and after a thoughtful application process, we were the recipient of a 2022 Catalyst Grant from IIDA HQ to help fund this
  • Started to collaborate more between various committees on our events
  • Created a K-12 Task Force
  • Went through a Chapter rebrand with a new website launching this year which is partially being funded by the 2021 Catalyst Grant from IIDA HQ
  • Created a mentorship program focusing on the transition from Student members and Associate members
  • Due to increased revenue in our chapter sponsorship program and overall reduced chapter expenditures, the 2021 bottom line outperformed budget by 57%
Thank you all for being such an amazing community. It is all of you that make this work fun for me and I couldn’t be more honored to have served as your IIDA NE Chapter President. Don’t you worry, I still have one more year on the Board as Past President so I’m not going too far.


Be sure to check in with the IIDA New England calendar for upcoming events (both virtual and in-person) offered in our community. Here's a sneak peek at some upcoming events:

Also, be sure to keep an eye on our IIDA New England job postings, which are updated regularly!


Check out the list of IIDA New England Emerging Leaders Class of 2021! (Class of 2022 list coming soon)

Do you have an idea that you would like to share with the design community or see highlighted here in The Wire? Share your ideas here

Stay tuned for the next Sponsor Highlight!

Workflow collaborated with several manufacturers and local fabricators to provide quality solutions that met the design intent of CBT, as well as the budget and technology needs established by Veson. This project represents a partnership in design and furniture solutions creating a flexible, collaborative, and productive work environment for Veson's creative problem solvers. The Veson project was named one of the @IIDANE Best Workplace Projects in 2021. 



Follow IIDA New England on social media and visit our website to keep up with the latest and greatest!