One month down so many to go! So the month of June went by slowly, I made several job applications via Indeed to architectural firms. I also connected with a few seniors who were here before me for advices, referrals, and experiences on how best to go about building a successful architectural career in Canada. They were very helpful.
To start with, in the course of my discussion I observed a trend where fellow immigrant architecture graduates of younger ages (30 years and below) mostly pursued the route of CACB certification, internship, and professional registration thereafter while older graduates/architects, specifically those with years of foreign experience in architectural practice pursued alternative routes of construction management or supervision, project management, etc.
Finance and time factor may be the reasons why. Like we know, working in an architect’s office is very demanding and pays less when compared to construction supervisory or managerial positions jobs and it’s the same thing here in Canada.
Having said that, let’s go back to my job application. In the month of June, I made applications to several major architectural firms for the positions of intern architect, architectural designer, interior designer, landscape designer, architectural technologist, BIM specialist, and CAD drafter. I even applied for a part-time Revit and AutoCAD tutor position when responses weren’t forthcoming.
In the course of the application, I stumbled on several repeated requirements for jobs in this area, these include;
- Work experience in Canada
- Portfolio of previous design works
- Degree in Architecture
- Registration or willingness to register with the relevant association (registration required if applying for intern architect position or technologist)
Of all the items on the list, I only had the third one, sadly I didn’t get any reply on all my applications except one. Here, I applied for an intern architect position which I shouldn’t have because I am not yet CACB certified (to know what CACB means read my previous post). The response went thus:
Thank you for your interest in XXXX Office! We have reviewed your application and have decided not to proceed with your candidacy for the Intern Architect opportunity at this time.
We will keep your resume on file and will reach out if something else comes up that is a better match for you.
Towards the end of June, I decided I would have to begin building my resume to meet all the aforementioned requirements. Luckily, an architect friend of mine informed me of an architectural firm in Calgary that accepts foreign trained architecture graduate and gives them the opportunity to undergo a 1-month training internship. He told me to check LinkedIn.
Of course, I jumped on LinkedIn and search out the firm. Their name is FarMor Architecture. I read through their page and came across the advert requesting foreign-trained architecture graduates. It reads:
Free Training for Newcomer Architects
We have been offering free training at our practice to newcomer architects who can not get into our industry due to lack of Canadian experience. We offer one month of free training, teaching trainees the Alberta Building Code 2014, construction drawings in the first two weeks and get them to redraw a previously completed project. We don’t get the trainees to work on any revenue-generating projects for us, walking them through an accessible apartment building. Most trainees find jobs afterwards. We hope this can be something that other architecture firms can offer so that we collectively raise the bar.
Our admission criteria:
1. A Masters degree or a 5-year Bachelors degree in architecture from a reputable university eligible to be accredited by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board 2. Eligibility and willingness to get registered with the AAA as an intern architect at a later date. 3. Newcomer or recent immigrant to Canada in the last three years. 4. No previous job in architecture in Canada for more than three months. 5. A minimum of CLB score of 8 or overall IELTS score of 7.5; if the home country language was not English. If you are an eligible candidate for our training, we will be happy to talk to you.FarMor Architecture LinkedIn Page
So I made my application and got a response to resume and participate in the internship for the month of July. To make your application or enquires, follow them on LinkedIn and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you will be landing in Calgary, Alberta and interested in this internship, you can explore it as this 1-month Canadian experience will boost you resume and knowledge of the practice of architecture in Canada. Here, the provincial building codes and land use bylaws are very strictly adhered to. Also the popular method of construction is wood frame construction. You will need to get familiar with thermal and acoustic insulation, water, vapour, fire and damp-proofing of wood frame assembly during construction.
I was lucky to apply and get a spot immediately but sometimes you may need to apply in advance (a month or 2 in advance).
I am also informed that there is a bridging programme for foreign architecture graduates organized by Athabasca University in Alberta but you need to be referred by the CACB. Refer to their website for more information.
For those going to Toronto, Ontario, you can participate in the bridging programme for architectural graduates/foreign trained architects in Toronto. It is organized by JVS Toronto. I am not very knowledgeable about the nature of their programme but you can do your research on their website.
Back to my internship, FarMor Architecture is a small but growing firm of architects. Its internship programme is free and the trainee isn’t paid as well. The training is done in the office and you are expected to resume and close the same time as other staff. What may also be of interest to you and a source of inspiration is one of their interns? He trained in Nigeria, University of Lagos to be precise, recently got his CACB certification, is now a member of Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), an Intern Architect with Alberta Association of Architects (AAA) and Farmor Architecture.
At FarMor Architecture, I was exposed to the Alberta and British Colombia Building Code, National Building code and Wood frame construction which is the popular construction method here. I also redrew old projects in order to apply what I learnt.
The following are some of the resource materials I read. However, Building codes and a few other books aren’t available online so you will need to buy them.
- Alberta Building Code 2014, Volume 1 & 2.
- British Colombia Building Code, Volume 1 & 2.
- Tree & Shrub Gardening for Alberta.
- 2014 Illustrated User’s Guide – National Building Code 2010 Part 9 Housing and Small Buildings book.
- 2018 international Building Code illustrated Handbook.
- 2017 National Energy Code of Canada for Building.
I did some research on the following Engineered Wood Products (EWP) on Google and YouTube and you should too: I-joist, OSB- Oriented strand boards, LVL -Laminated veneer wood lumber, Glulam -Glue laminated timber and CLT- Cross Laminated Timber.
I recently finished my training at FarMor and I am set to pursue my architecture career as never before. The benefit of undergoing this internship is first to learn, secondly to get Canadian experience, thirdly to get a relevant Canadian referee you can use on your resume and fourthly to get publicity from the firm as they usually write about all their trainees on linked on.
Below was published on their LinkedIn page about me;
Meet Ehimen Ebhomien! Ehimen moved to Canada last month with a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Architecture from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. He has over 8 years experience in the practice of architecture. Ehimen became a registered architect in 2015 in Nigeria and that is when he established his own architectural practice offering architectural consultancy services specializing in residential, commercial and institutional buildings. He taught at the department of Architecture, University of Benin, Nigeria and went on to being Acting Head of the same department. Ehimen is calm, hardworking, willing to learn and motivated. Before leaving Nigeria, he was a Ph.D student with interest in the effect of Artificial Intelligence on the practice of architecture. In his spare time he writes about architecture in his personal blog. Ehimen has been a trainee with FarMor Architecture in Calgary for the last 4 weeks, where he extensively studied the Alberta Building codes, timber frame construction and redrew construction drawings of a completed project. He is now ready to hit the road running! #RAIC – IRAC The Alberta Association of Architects #CAA Consulting Architects of AlbertaFarMor LinkedIn Page
The next item on my list is to update and improve my portfolio of works, host it online as well as produce a PDF copy. This will be attached to subsequent resumes.
So, that’s it for July, I wish you all the best in your plans. I hope you’ve learnt something. The major thing is to have a plan, be steadfast and keep trying. Stay tuned for more blog post on the journey of a Nigerian architect in Canada.
You may want to read Sojourn Of A Nigerian Architect in Canada #1