Career Chronicles

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Student Spotlight: Julia Andor (SoAD '23), AIAS

May 19, 2021

If you’re getting ready to graduate or search for career opportunities, you may be wondering how you can effectively sell yourself to hiring managers based on the couple of odd on- or off-campus roles you held. There’s that externship you had in the summer between sophomore and junior years, and the campus tour guides you led senior year, but mostly you’re worried that your mish-mash of experiences didn’t teach you any noteworthy professional skills. Here’s the thing: All of your job responsibilities can be spun into transferable skills.

We caught up with rising senior, Julia Andor, to find out about how she’s making the most of her campus experience as the president-elect of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), NYIT Chapter.

Where did you work? What was your position and what were your responsibilities?

I was the secretary of the American Institute of Architecture Students this past year, and I am currently the president-elect. The responsibilities of the secretary are primarily focused on outreach. I ran the Instagram account and chapter email, which became increasingly important as we moved online. I was also responsible for taking board meeting notes and taking attendance at events (a task I admit I am not the best at). But the position, like any on the board, is what you make of it—I chose to take on further responsibilities based on my passions. I established the mentorship program, joined forces with the AIA on Long Island, curated/hosted events, and created relationships with administration and Career Services because I care about the AIAS and how we can provide for students.

My responsibilities as president will gear more towards the national AIAS and as more of a floating worker throughout our chapter. On a national level, I will coordinate with our Quad director and national board to ensure our members are aware of all the resources the AIAS has to offer, and I will also continue to coordinate with outside organizations like the AIA. We don’t follow our roles in an extremely rigid manner, so I plan to be involved in all aspects of event planning, some very exciting committees we have planned for next semester, and membership outreach.

What was your favorite thing about your experience? What was the most challenging?

My favorite part of the AIAS this year was establishing our mentorship program, which was our biggest volunteer effort over the past year. It was also the most valuable tool we could have imagined in terms of getting the freshmen involved in the AIAS. Not only did they get mentors to help them navigate their first year of school, but we got to show them all the great things the AIAS has to offer. Every new member serving on the AIAS board got involved because of our mentorship program. We recently sent out a survey for feedback, and students shared that they found the program invaluable in a time where they couldn’t be at school in person. Hopefully, the same is true when we have classes in person again. Mentors were required to host weekly meetings with their freshmen as a “check-in.” We recommended that they do work together, talk about specific concerns (ie. portfolios, resumes, model making), or just chat. The goal was to keep the relationship fairly informal and give the students a mentor rather than a coach.

The most challenging part of this year was getting students interested in virtual events—it was hard at first, but the mentorship program was a great untended tool for our engagement! The freshmen mentees always attended events and engaged with the chapter. Other than that, we really ramped up our Instagram posts and email engagement both through their design and frequency. We found that posting 3-4 days before the event and then sending reminders in the days leading up to the event worked best for getting engagement.

What was the most memorable moment or your greatest accomplishment of your experience?

The most memorable part of this year was hosting our Architectural Equity Panel, where we had the privilege of discussing social justice, architectural education, and advocacy with an amazing group of panelists. Architecture is often framed as a profession that has a straight path—graduate, get licensed, and design buildings. Our panelists ranged across all facets of architecture and served as examples that designers can be socially conscious and fight for what’s right, while still being architects and designers.

What was the most valuable skill you developed that can be applied to your future career?

The AIAS has provided me with countless opportunities to develop my leadership skills. Leadership is important in every field, but especially in the realm of architecture and civic engagement. I plan on taking my career in a different direction than just practicing architecture. I hope to work in community organizing or public service in designing equitable communities. This is all connected to the realm of what we aim for at the AIAS. I intended to serve as a leader throughout my career to work towards a more equitable, sustainable, and accessible future. I’m not exactly sure where this path will take me, but this leadership may look like running a non-profit or serving as a government official.

What surprised you the most about your experience?

I was surprised how many students are willing to join events and programs over Zoom. If I had to guess, I think we averaged around 20 students per event. Our largest event was the Reverse Crit, which had 50 attendees and our career services events always had high attendance. We had a similar turnout to our in-person events, which is a feat considering we can’t incentivize our virtual events with pizza.

What advice would you give to another student about making the most of an internship, job, or other career-related experience?

Find what you’re passionate about and reach out to anyone and everyone that may be able to help you move forward on that path!

How has this experience helped you grow as a professional in this field?

The AIAS has introduced me to friends across the country, mentors in the field, and countless people that are working towards the same goals as me. It’s easy to feel stuck in the straight path of your degree, but there are so many options and paths you can take! The AIAS has helped me realize that.