How To Attract and Hire The Best of the Next Generation of Architects with Nick Serfass, AIAS National Executive Director

This week on EntreArchitect Podcast, How To Attract and Hire The Best of the Next Generation of Architects with Nick Serfass, AIAS National Executive Director.


In his role as Executive Director of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), Nick Serfass focuses on driving the organization toward relentless “forward progress”, so that it creates a more impactful future for its student members and the profession of architecture.  Nick holds alumni status as a Virginia Wahoo, Miami Hurricane and Auburn Tiger. He is also an architect when necessary.
Listen to Nick’s origin story back on EA050: Big Changes with AIAS Executive Director Nick Serfass.
Tell us about your role at AIAS?
Nick is the operational captain who makes the events, programming and services move forward. He’s also working to bridge the gap between academia and the profession. He works to connect students to the profession and help them succeed with the right tools and resources. A lot of what they’ve done is a ton of storytelling: about the profession, about what students need to know, and highlighting the great content the students put forth.
They’re trying to get more eyeballs on the organization so that more people become aware of who they are and what they’re doing. That way, they can grow the community and it’s impact on the profession. The more people who know about AIAS, the more opportunities our members have to engage.

They’re consistently creating products, programs and services to have a story to tell about.

How can architects be attractive to the next generation of architects?

For students, there are so many avenues to research firms in depth than there were before. You can find out a ton about small firms by diving into their social media. The biggest challenge is that students go to the website and can’t find a lot of information to get excited about working there.

For firms, document and create. Show young architects what you’re doing, and put out vulnerable and authentic content for them to connect with. 

All students bring different interests to the table, but today they’re searching for firms that are passionate about those topics too. If they can’t identify what a firm is excited about, they can’t make that connection.

Do you think the website is the most important thing to update?

Your website is your face, that’s where people will check you out. After that, social media and other digital platforms can add to your marketing strategy.

If all you see is one static homepage, how can someone identify if they’re a fit or not?

How can architects improve their websites to connect better with this new generation of architects?

Make your website image and video heavy. Our phones are powerful, they take great photos and videos and the platforms available to us make it so easy to share. has a lot of imagery, graphics, and video imbedded. The goal is to catch someone’s eye. This is a creative industry: showcase your creativity.

The point of your website is to tell a story about your firm. You can design it however you want when you’re doing that. Identify your story and build from there. As long as you’re getting it out there, you’re doing better than many people. Anyone can pick up social media and entry level employees can help with graphics. Use this as an opportunity to reach all sorts of new people you’ve never been able to reach with a relatively low barrier for entry. 

Are blogs still relevant?

There is value to written content. Most blogs in past years are kind of articles. Now, we have more listicles; they’re bulleted and feed into the lack of attention that people have when they’re scrolling through and looking for the highlights.

What are your favorite social media tools?

For architects, Instagram matches the creativity we bring. As architects, we’re always in front of great images: a working drawing or a building in front of us. Instagram also allows the story function for you to document little client interactions, contractor feedback, and more. It plays into the industry and skills that architects have.

What’s your advice for keeping the younger generation excited and interested?

The way Nick approaches it is to try to find out what motivates someone. What do they want in the future? What are their goals? How can you help them get there? As they’re drafting drawings, talk about your background and how you got to where you are. All of us have a next step, and if someone is helping us get to the next step, we’re going to work really hard for them. At the end of the day, the relationships are still there even if someone moves on to the next company.

What’s coming up for AIAS?

They’ve created a robust platform to storytell, and that’s positioned them to create products and services and iterate on them to see if they’re working or not. On social media, they’re working to push things out and get feedback from different outlets.

What is the one thing that small firm architects can do today to build a better business tomorrow?

“Document, don’t create. You don’t have to create to get on social media, just document. Show what you’re doing, be authentic and vulnerable, and tell your story. Share what you’re doing in the day-to-day.”  – Nick Serfass, AIAS

Connect with Nick online at Follow AIAS on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Look out for AIAS FORUM coming to your city soon!

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