Jose R. Pareja, AIA – More Than Just a Small Business Owner
In our first blog entry, I mentioned how I am at a point in my career where I feel like I can give back and benefit the future generation of architects and the architecture community.
Having been involved with many projects and small to large architecture firms, I have a wealth of information to share regarding how to obtain your first job, what areas to specialize in, how to connect with the decision-makers at architecture firms and so much more.
I currently serve on the board of a not-for-profit organization called Arquitectos. My position as a Student Liason requires me to uphold our mission of providing development, mentorship, and community assistance and further enriching the architectural profession through different cultural views and practices.
Upon joining Arquitectos, the board members and I noticed that the student chapters of our organization were growing organically. We created the position of Student Liason because we knew that it was important to bridge the gap between professionals and students so that we could help with career development, especially in such a competitive and selective architecture employment market.
Recently, I have visited and presented to all the student chapters. This includes UIC Arquitectos, IIT Arquitectos, and the newly formed University of Illinois Arquitectos! During these presentations, I discussed the power of networking and explained that sending your resume to 20 different architecture firms is not the best route to obtaining your first job.
I also announced that this was the first year that Arquitectos was awarding two $1000 scholarships to two members throughout the student chapters! In order to receive the scholarship, students need to write an essay that answers how they will give back to the community upon obtaining their license. Since this is a core principle of the Arquitectos mission, it is important for future architects to understand that community involvement is a crucial aspect of the profession.
The best part about holding this position is the opportunity that I have as the owner of JP Architects, Ltd. to give back to these students. Not only am I able to provide them with useful advice; but I'm also able to obtain employees and interns through the student chapters of Arquitectos and help them develop into professionals!
Upon leaving the presentation with each student chapter, I make sure to hand out a business card to each member. I let them know that if they ever need anything or have any questions, please reach out as I would love to help! I also advise them to participate in the fundraising events that Arquitectos conducts, as these are situations where you will meet your future employers.
Jose at the UIC Arquitectos Event
Although the Student Liason position takes up a lot of time, I also make sure to participate in community events. I recently showcased my business at a small business event hosted by the Burbank Chamber of Commerce and Midwest Business Consulting and another hosted by the Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce. JP Architects, Ltd also attended the College and Career Fair for District 218 on October 26.
Lastly, I am also on the Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce Board and Village of Oak Lawn Architectural Review and Design Commission and actively hold membership in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Business Networking International (BNI).
Being involved with all these organizations and events, while also owning a small architecture firm, has really allowed me to reach the public, gain a following and make a difference in the lives of customers and future architects. I encourage every small business owner, regardless of industry, to get involved with their industry and community organizations!
Until next time,
Jose R. Pareja, AIA