New year, new job?

I never had any problems getting a job. I guess I’ve been exceptionally lucky and have had a neck for good timing. Well, after a month of traveling around Australia being a tourist, it was finally time to start the job hunt! I didn’t really have a plan or any expectations of how this would go because I didn’t really know the job situation down here. Just figured I’d have to get here first and then start trying.

But as I spent some time thinking about a job, I also started thinking about what, where and how. Of course, I’m picky, I don’t want just any job. I want to work for at least a semi-inspirational architecture firm, in a midsize town or small city with direct access to the ocean and surf. So, naturally the job market narrows.

I started my job hunt in Byron, which has about eight or nine active offices according to Google maps. 50% of these where a one-person firm located in their homes, so they were taken off the list. Two other offices I could literally not find. Also, they did not pick up the phone and the website was less than updated. One office however, stood out as an extra desirable one and I worked up the courage to stop by with my portfolio and present myself. As this was the first office I stopped by, I was REALLY nervous, but figured this was the only way of getting ahead of others emailing the office for a job. Worst scenario, the director would be busy and tell me to email them instead.

I walked in and pretty much everyone in the 20m 2 big office turned around and looked at me as I presented myself and asked for the director by name. He got up and I awkwardly walked into their little open/cramped landscape to do my little presentation while EVERYONE (meaning 5 others) was listening.

“ Hello, I’m Elise. How are you? (pause for polite, short answer) I’m a recently graduated architect who just moved here from Norway. I’ve been looking at your projects, which I REALLY like, and I was wondering or HOPING that you might need another hand in your office?”

Luckily he smiled, and asked me to sit down. I practically landed an interview right there. He asked me a bit of what I like as an architect and went through my CV and portfolio. During our conversation he then said that he was impressed by my work (might just have been polite though) and liked my way of thinking, but he had already hired a new architect literally two weeks ago…

I was heartbroken! I had been eyeing this office for so long, the director was so nice, it would have been perfect! But the worst thing was, because I wanted to print my portfolio in Brisbane I hadn’t stopped by the office while I was Byron THREE weeks ago. F****CK!

After that I went by another office but was simply told to leave my CV. I didn’t even bother to visit the last two possibilities as I felt I could have drawn better architecture playing the Sims. I also started feeling that just maybe, Byron Bay was a little too small and a little too “Bondi” for me. I also started wanting a decent gym with classes.

Realising that I had to look outside of Byron I started making a list of desirable offices. I Googled my way down the Australian East Coast from Noosa at the Sunshine Coast in the north to Geelong south of Melbourne in the south. Using the map function I dragged the map with “Architect” written in the search field and the visited every website for every architecture firm. Only about 50% of the offices I researched had done architecture I would put my name on. This might make me sound a bit snobbish given the situation I’m in, but I choose to blame on my Scandinavian heritage and still not having exhausted all my options.

As Australia day was coming up on the 26th , Charlotte (my fellow Norwegian down here) called me inviting me for the holiday and suggesting that I might just want to stay with them for a bit while contacting offices. And to be honest I had no plan other than working my way through my recently orchestrated list and that could be done pretty much everywhere. So I packed my bags and cancelled the rest of my stay in Byron for a more homey existence at Charlotte’s place.


 I have now been in Ipswich almost three weeks. I’ve had one interview, and I’m waiting for two other possible ones. I’ve been in contact with 20+ offices, calling them first and then sending through my CV and portfolio hoping that they’ll remember the girl who gave them a call from all the other emailers. Most directors react with a little laugh after I’ve given them my quite direct presentation, but I’ve been commended for it as it separates me from the crowd I guess.

But as I’ve worked my way down the list and I still don’t have a job, it’s time to make the decision on whether work opportunity or recreation possibility takes priority. Do I now move into the city, which means no surfing, just to get a job within architecture or do move to a desired town and take a job doing anything while hoping there will be an opening with an architecture firm soon?

Getting your hopes up every time you contact a place you want to work for and then being disappointed when they turn you down is hard. Most people know what that’s like. Not knowing what to do as you feel you run out of options is even harder. But the worst is that you are in a foreign country with pretty much no home, family or social life to take the edge of. I’m starting everything over, at once. And it sort of sucks right now. But, I’ve had some luck as well. I have Charlotte taking on the role as a big sister and giving me a home for the moment with her very patient partner, Ashley, and two charming dogs. That really does make a difference, and makes it a whole lot easier to keep trying.

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