University of South Florida

College of The Arts

University of South Florida

2019 Architecture Career Expo Provides Students with a Path to the Workforce

Friday, February 15, 2019

Gensler architect Higor Arruda speaks with a USF student and USF School of Architecture and Community Design Director Robert MacLeod

Gensler architect Higor Arruda (center) speaks with USF School of Architecture and Community Design Director Robert Macleod (right) and a USF architecture student.

Late last month, 13 architecture firms gathered at the Marshall Student Center for the third annual School of Architecture and Community Design Career Expo.

“It’s great. I really like it,” said Ayda Doost, a USF architecture student in her final semester. “You can get a lot of experience in a very short period of time.”

The event gave USF architecture students and graduates the chance to network, learn, and practice their elevator speech with architecture professionals.


“The students that we see coming out of the college here are really top notch”

- Anthony Catalano, TM Partners

Doost came to the expo as part of her mission to have a job before graduating. The expo was the first time she had seen so many different architecture firms represented in one place. She is looking for a position where she can leverage both her technical knowledge and design skill.

She already holds a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, Iran. Doost is currently completing her thesis for her master’s degree in architecture. She says the USF architecture program has given her a strong background in design, which merges well with her technical and engineering background.

Tiffany Achanccaray, a recent architecture graduate from 2018, also attended the expo. She enjoyed having the chance to speak with so many firms in an open and relaxed setting. The experience gave her the chance to practice interacting with firms before a real interview.

Achanccaray would like to find a position that would give her the chance to move back to Europe, such as in a firm with international offices.

Firms at the 2019 Career Expo included: Empad, Sweet Sparkman, Straughn Trout, BDG Architects, Gensler, The Haskell Company, Gresham Smith, Baker Barrios, TM Partners, Forum Architecture & Interior Design  Inc., API Plus, Long and Associates, and Beck Architecture.

For Anthony Catalano and Laney Brown of TM Partners, it is their third time returning to the event. Their office is based in Sarasota and specializes in healthcare architecture. They also have a larger office in Nashville, where they offer healthcare, mixed-use commercial, and other architectural design services.

Brown herself is an alumna of the School of Architecture and Community from the class of 2014. She reflects on her experience studying at USF and how it has helped her reach where she is today.

“I think the architecture school gave me a base in design,” said Brown. “It felt like I got a really well-rounded education and some of the practical aspects of architecture.”

Brown also works with recent USF architecture graduate Cody Weiss, who graduated in 2018.

Catalano and Brown are looking for new talent to join both of their offices. Catalano explains why TM Partners continues to return to USF for the architecture Career Expo.

“The students that we see coming out of the college here are really top notch,” said Catalano. “So it’s a great place for us to meet really good students coming out into the workforce. … I think it’s a great win-win for businesses and the students.”

At the table next to TM Partners were Javier Valencia and Higor Arruda, two architects from the international architecture firm Gensler. Their firm spans 49 countries, yet still offers its Tampa employees a welcoming architecture school-like environment with a small feel. Both Valencia and Arruda are USF architecture graduates — Valencia graduated in 2009, while Arruda graduated in 2011.

They maintain strong connections to USF as alumni. Their Tampa office currently employs 9 graduates of the USF architecture program, which is more than any other school. Additionally, Arruda taught as an adjunct faculty member at the School of Architecture and Community Design for two years, and Gensler architects return to USF for student critiques as much as they can.

“I think the architecture program here is really amazing,” said Arruda. “It has grown so much.”

Banner photo (top): Laney Brown (right) and Anthony Catalano (center) attend the 2019 USF School of Architecture and Community Design Career Expo. Catalano shakes hands with an expo attendee.