A Letter from our CEO & Founder on Building upon the Black Spectacles Mission
Where We Started
It’s been an incredible journey thus far building Black Spectacles from an idea to where we are today. We got started in 2010 with a goal to democratize access to high-quality design software learning and then in 2014 expanded to help architects get licensed. As I think about all the years of work we’ve done, it’s incredibly humbling to become the leader in architecture test prep and know how many people we’ve helped get their architecture licenses. Along the way, we built a wonderful team of about 30 full-time employees, close to a hundred freelance architects who’ve helped us develop content and guide our curriculum over the years, and countless friends, mentors, and advisors who have helped grow Black Spectacles into what it is today.
Our Bigger Mission
A few years back, before the pandemic, we set our sights on deepening our commitment to the architecture community and began to search for ways to help architects in addition to our software learning and test prep. I realized there’s more we could do to help architects in addition to education and licensure. We decided that we want to help you thrive throughout your career; so you can achieve your goals and so that the public can benefit from the powerful impact that architecture has on people’s lives. So when we decided that aim would become Black Spectacles’ core purpose - our north star - we developed some ideas for how we might achieve this new mission.
First, we decided that we would overhaul our test prep materials so that they truly lived up to our core value of World Class in Everything We Do. We’ve been rolling out that new material for the past year and expect to be finished with this overhaul within the next year. We also developed some ideas for additional educational content to help you as you move along in your career, and those new learning product lines will begin to be introduced in 2023.
Back when I was applying for jobs, I was struck that there was no digital version of an architect’s portfolio. As you know, the best and most contemporary idea for an architect’s portfolio was to design it in InDesign, export it as a PDF, and upload it to Issuu. I discovered that other creative disciplines had contemporary versions of portfolios - for example, graphic designers had sites like Behance and Dribble where they could post their work and share it easily and digitally.
Spectacular solves this problem for architecture by providing an elegant, contemporary online portfolio for architects to host and easily share their projects. This way, when it's time to pursue a new career opportunity you don't have to upgrade to the newest version of Adobe InDesign, relink all of your lost project images and files, and initiate the massive undertaking of rethinking your portfolio. Instead, you can simply add any new projects to your Spectacular portfolio and email a link to a prospective employer.
In addition, as we all know, most architects don’t get published until they’re 50 (or 40, if they’re lucky), with a fully built project under their belt; so we created Spectacular to provide you with opportunities to get your work featured on Spectacular's homepage, which will attract prospective employers and help you move forward in your career, faster.
As I continued to grow Black Spectacles I was confronted with the need to hire a team. Over the course of about five years, I interviewed countless people and adopted some of the leading ideas on how to interview, evaluate candidates, onboard new employees, and ultimately how to help them become successful at their job. I also had to adopt many of the tools to attract and recruit potential candidates. In short, I learned a ton about recruiting.
In my career in architecture, I learned that the secret to getting your dream job is that it’s all about who you know. This secret is problematic because it doesn’t facilitate a diverse candidate pool and it makes it hard for architects to change lanes in their careers. This approach is popular because there isn’t one great place for firms to find the right architects and architects to find the right career opportunities. Instead, there are disparate job boards and career pages scattered throughout each local architecture community; most are generic and don’t allow the architecturally specific details necessary for architects and firms to find the right match.
We’ve endeavored to help solve this problem in the world of architecture by providing architecturally unique and specific information about an architect's profile and portfolio via Spectacular. We’ve also endeavored to build the largest job board in architecture so that there’s one place to host the richest pool of firms and qualified candidates. In addition to building the biggest job board that’s hyper-specific to the world of architecture, we aimed to create a platform where architects can work to build and expand their network beyond their local architecture community. We believe that by democratizing job search in this way, we can accelerate the profession of architecture.
In addition, the pandemic has changed the way we work. Spectacular will help facilitate the shift in the work culture of architecture to one that includes freelancers and facilitates architects who only want to work in hybrid or fully remote settings.
The Professional Network for Architecture and Design
Eventually, it all came together - what if we build the professional network for architects. What if we created a place for us. A place where individual architects could develop their portfolio of projects, post their resume, and ultimately craft a clean, elegant profile. What if we created a place where firms could do the same thing to find the architects they need in their offices. To create awareness so that individuals can find firms they really want to devote their time to. What if we gave them a platform to not only host their profiles but to elevate their profiles by getting their projects featured for the whole profession to see. Those ideas have manifested themselves in a new platform that we are seeing the launch of today, which is called Spectacular. Spectacular has officially launched and we invite you to create your profile today.
Spectacular is a really big part of working to achieve our goal to help architects thrive in their careers. The goal is for architects to have one place for their portfolio, to discover the firms they want to work for, to find and connect with old classmates or colleagues, and to create new relationships.Final thoughts
Over the next few months, you’ll see changes on both Black Spectacles and Spectacular that bring these two platforms together. I want to personally thank all of my teammates, family, friends, freelancers, mentors, and advisors who have helped us along our journey. None of this would be possible without the trust and support from our individual and group members over the years. I’m really excited to continue on our journey to support the architecture community with lifelong career tools.
Marc Teer, FAIA
Founder & CEO
Black Spectacles | Spectacular