AAP Connect Hosts Fourth Architecture Career Forum

students and alumni seated at panel discussion in L. P. Kwee studios at AAP
The 2017 Architecture Career Forum alumni panelists speak with students about their profession in L. P. Kwee Studios. William Staffeld / AAP
Five members of a discussion panel seated, one speaking in foreground
During the 2017 Architecture Career Forum panel discussion, Stephen Moser (B. Arch. '81), right, speaks to students about his professional experience. William Staffeld / AAP
Five members of a discussion panel seated, one speaking at left center
Panelist Erica Cho (B. Arch. '15), center, of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, discusses the architecture profession. William Staffeld / AAP
students and alumni speaking at reception in L.P. Kwee studios at AAP
Katie Donahue (M.Arch.II '15), center, of Handel Architects speaks with Stephanie Chueng (B. Arch. '18), right, among other attendees at the reception following the panel discussion. William Staffeld / AAP
students and alumni speaking at reception in L.P. Kwee studios at AAP.
Sisi Yu (B.Arch. '18), left, and Yue Gu (M.Arch. '16), right, of RAMSA talk after the panel discussion. William Staffeld / AAP
May 8, 2017

AAP's career services office, AAP Connect, held its fourth annual Architecture Career Forum this spring. Each year, AAP Connect invites Cornell architecture alumni who now work at different firms around the country to campus to speak to students about the profession and conduct interviews for full-time employment and internship opportunities.

In response to three years of incrementally increasing demand, the 2017 forum was expanded from three days to a six-day event that divided the program across two separate weekend sessions. The first session was held from March 6–8, the other from April 13–15, with concurrent interviews and other events taking place in Milstein and Sibley halls.

This year's separate sessions allowed AAP Connect to welcome more alumni back to the college than was possible in years past. The 2017 forum saw 140 students take part in 420 interviews, an increase from the 105 student participants and 290 interviews held in 2016.

"We hosted 40 alumni at this year's forum," commented AAP Connect Director Jennifer Micale. "Graduation years among the group ranged from 1981 to 2016 — offering a wide-range of perspectives to both interviewees and students who attended the event's panel discussion."

The following offices participated in the 2017 forum:

  • 450 Architects
  • Arrowstreet
  • BLTa
  • CannonDesign
  • CBT Architects
  • Gensler
  • Handel Architects, California
  • Handel Architects, New York City
  • HKS
  • HOLT Architects
  • Jacobs
  • James Carpenter Design Associates
  • Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF)
  • Laguarda Low Architects
  • Little Diversified Architectural Consultants
  • Moody Nolan
  • Payette Associates
  • Perkins+Will
  • Perkins Eastman
  • Pickard Chilton
  • Rafael Viñoly
  • Robert A. M. Stern
  • Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
  • Solomon Cordwell Buenz
  • Stephen Moser Architect
  • Studio V Architecture
  • Weiss/Manfredi
  • ZGF Architects

After interviewing during the forum, Alex Zink (B.Arch. '17) was offered a designer position at Payette Associates that begins this summer in Boston. "At the forum, I had the opportunity to make new professional connections and learn more about the structure and practice of each firm," says Zink. "I'm excited to work for Payette — it's a highly collaborative environment, so I look forward to gaining experience working on construction drawings with the hopes of getting my license in a few years."

The April session also included a candid panel discussion with 16 alumni who fielded questions from attendees that ranged from those concerned with portfolio submission to women's experiences in the workplace. A reception followed the panel discussion and provided further opportunities for conversation between current and former architecture students ahead of the weekend's scheduled interviews.

"This was an awesome event, not only for the students but for us as well," says Dan Choi (B.Arch. '13) from KPF. "It was great to meet students in person which not only helped us to get a better sense of who would be the best fit for our office, but also provided us time to communicate with students about their amazing work and our experience at KPF."

While the Architecture Career Forum is primarily focused on connecting employers — specifically alumni who are familiar with Cornell's architecture programs — with students seeking career opportunities, the event has many other benefits for participants and attendees.

"At the forum, the students receive truly relevant and applicable advice on how to follow up after an interview, how to network, and how to achieve a healthy work-life balance," says Micale, providing a broader perspective. "AAP Connect strives to provide professional opportunities of all kinds for all AAP students and alumni — creating strong relationships which benefit everyone involved."

By Edith Fikes