Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Student Tips - How to write a letter of intent

Blogger has a very useful tool that shows me what keywords people are searching for and other useful statistics. So I saw someone searched how to write a letter of intent and I thought what a great idea, let me write about that !!

Writing doesn't come naturally to me but I am somewhat articulate in my verbal communication. So I'm using that strong trait and I'm writing as if I'm speaking. Writing this blog definitely helped me get comfortable with the whole idea of writing. I sometimes have my husband or my friends read over and give me feedback so I'm becoming more and more confident on my style. I suggest everyone take up at least writing a journal so you get used to expressing yourself well.

Getting back to the point, a letter of intent (or a statement of purpose) is something most schools require you to do as a part of the application documentation. They want to hear what you have to say, why are you studying what you are studying, what makes you unique and what should they take you.

When SciARC visited our school in February, they said don't be afraid to show who you really are; it's better to go on the bragging side. Show why and how you are unique. One of the most common "cheesy" reasons student give as what got them into architecture was playing with Lego as a kid and SciARC said, stay away from that.

I had trouble writing down all the accomplishments without sounding like bragging. I like to be modest and that totally felt wrong. So one day I got an inspiration to write it from the third person's perspective - meaning referring to myself as she and her. In the end, I produced a pretty cool letter of intent. Some people felt it was a bit flamboyant - some loved it. Most importantly, I found a way to express everything i wanted to say and who I am in a single piece of paper and I love how it came out.

The thing about writing is, from the little bit I know, you have to find your own voice. I guess this is true about many things. We, as architecture students, constantly look to find our own unique style. Creativity has a lot to do with the unique language / voice / style.

Take time to write the letter of intent. Don't try to wing it or come out with it in 2 hours. Some people naturally have this ability - but I think most architects do not. So ponder on what you want to say (you can't tell your entire life story in it) and how you want to say it.

Here's a link on some general tips:

Good luck..!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Student tips - What is a good resume & why is it important to have a good resume?

A resume shows who you are at a glance to a potential school or an employer. A resume is useful not only when you are applying to schools or for a job but also you need a resume when you apply for scholarships, awards, when you want to submit an article to a journal, if you want to have a book published, if you want to get an interview with the media or simply to impress an important contact.

A resume should capture your qualifications, your strengths and your character. It should display your skills, your abilities and should give an idea of the person who you are. I have realized over the years that resume formats differ from country to country. So you may want to do a search on the web or buy a resume writing book to pick the best format you like.

At the top of your resume, basic information such as your name and your contact information should be listed. When you put your email, make sure to put a formal or a professional email address. I have seen some people have email addresses like**, etc. While this may seem funny, it doesn't reflect professionalism. In my opinion its always better to give an impression of professionalism and maturity and then expose the fun / funky side of you at the interview, etc.

If you are applying to a school, for a scholarship, award or anything academic:
  • Make sure to include your educational qualifications, starting from the most recent at the very top.
  • List your work experience, even the part time jobs - mention the post / title, duration you were employed there, duties performed (short and sweet), and how many hours you put in a week, if part time.
  • List all your awards, recognitions, honors you have received in and out of school.
  • If you have done any community work, make sure to list them too
  • List your skills, interests
  • Since you are an architecture student, add some graphic work to it to impress the reader. Don't over crowd it, don't make the graphic standout more than content itself. But make it "you".
Good luck on putting together a fantastic resume !!

** Fictional email address. Did not intend to make fun of anyone and used just as an example.