Let’s pretend that you’re an architecture student … highly educated, extremely dedicated, and yet – not an architect. It’s time to get your architectural sea legs under you and get a job in the office of an architect – or a lot of architects. How does this happen? Why would you do this? What can you expect? So many questions … Welcome to Ep 118: Architectural Interns
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My Internship Experience jump to 5:28
Did you have any internships while you were in school?
I had a few, and the range of value between them varied wildly. In one of the first internships I had, I showed up for work on the first day (in my brand new professional I have a job new clothes) and they made me mow the grass out in front of the building … with an electric lawnmower. In another internship, I worked one summer at a firm that had around 60 employees and it was not a particularly positive experience. I was in the Construction Administration department, which had two old dudes in it, and we didn’t even sit in the space where everyone else was – it was like a glorified hallway around in the back that just sort of bloated out. They sat in cubicles that were probably around 8×8 and I sat in the crack of space that was between them. For the most part, nobody ever talked to me and one day during the last week I was there, one of the admins took pity on me and took me out to lunch, and gave me a watch. This was not the most educational of experiences because all I did was log submittals, check shop drawings, and transfer comments between the original marked-up set (if I didn’t check it myself) to 9 other sets.
Managing expectations should come with the role of internship but there is zero chance that someone coming to work in my office would ever have an experience that rivaled the ones I went through. We have all sorts of programs put in place specifically so there is rewarding work to be done, real responsibilities handed out, and you are assigned a specific individual whose job it is to check up on you, make sure you’re engaged, and take you out to lunch. This all seems pretty reasonable to me and this seems like it should be a minimum of what you should expect.
The Objective jump to 17:47
Why would someone want to do an internship in an architectural firm? For a myriad of reasons – but mostly because the variety of office types, cultures, market sectors available to work in, and the size of the firm all add up to a different sort of work experience, and until you’ve had some experience in these offices, you don’t really know what you want to do, or where you will thrive the most.
I used the yellow pages to look up firms whereas now people have access to the company’s website and can see a firm’s portfolio and get a sense of who and what an architectural firm is all about. With the amount of information that is currently available to students, the ability to understand the culture, office environment, project type, and on and on, the ability to curate a more specific experience is definitely achievable. Websites, Instagram feeds, even if you want to track down individual people within the office that you might want to work with, it is all within your abilities.
- Learning about what architects do
- Get a feel for different size firms – is there a difference between the intern experience when comparing a small firm versus a large firm? Understanding what it means to work on small residential projects, core and shell office buildings, healthcare, higher education, municipal works, etc. You want to get a feel for the size, types, and lengths of projects. It is through this variety that you are better served to get a feel of the different types of firms before settling on what you think you might actually want to do.
- Understand different project types – some firms (and my firm is an example) work in many different market sectors so having an understanding of the variety of project types and asking which group you might be working with is something that should be discussed.
Architectural Interns – Timing jump to 22:56
When is a good time to get an internship? The easy answer is as soon as you possibly can because there is value to the experience at almost any point in your development. Actually getting an internship early on in your education is much more nuanced and frequently harder than you might think it should be.
We generally like to start looking at bringing interns in after their third year of architecture school even though that is not always a hard and fast rule. There seems to be a light switch that goes off with most architecture students and there is a big jump between 2nd and 3rd-year students. Even at this point, architectural students don’t really know enough practical matters, and typically almost no technical matters, so their ability to meaningfully contribute to the tasks at hand is limited so frequently end up being relegated to less technical assignments (model building, preparing renderings, etc.). We have an internal goal of challenging our interns and so for the ones that come in with the right attitude, there is almost no room they can’t enter or a meeting that they can’t join.
How to Get a Job as an Architectural Intern jump to 30:02
- Take advantage of career fairs because Face time will always trump emails – figure out ways to get in front of potential employers. If the firm is having an event, a partner giving a lecture, or maybe someone from the firm is manning a house that is on a local home tour, you should make it a point to show up and say hello. Now instead of just a name, you’re a name AND a face which is a big difference.
- Don’t expect an internship just because you sent in a resume. Everyone has a resume and it takes much more to get the attention of a potential employer. In fact, if all you do is send a resume … they’re always hiring at the Post Office.
- Make sure that you take advantage of your personality and that your resume looks like something an architect designed and not someone who wants to ultimately work for IBM. I am a big fan of the “Interests” section on a resume. I’ve said it before but this is the area where you can put all the baton-twirling, bear-wrestling, cheese-grilling type activities that round you out as a human being. If you were to add “model train collector” on a resume that came to my office, one of the partners would be sure to ask you about it. It might not be much, but these days anything short of cat juggling that sets you apart is probably worth adding to your resume.
- Use the full potential of social media in your search for an internship. Today’s interns have networking tools at their disposal that their potential employers couldn’t dream of when they were hitting the pavement with their resumes. If you’re not following the Instagram posts of a firm you want to work for, you are dropping the ball.
- If you get an interview, or you have something scheduled at a career fair, take 30 minutes and get to know something about the firm.
- Make sure that any and everything you send in is free of spelling errors. I don’t know of a single person who regularly looks at resumes and doesn’t shut down as soon as they find a typo.
- Honor the employer’s time. I don’t want to see your entire history of academic work. Include 2 or 3 projects that exemplify your best projects in a file of no more than 3MB. File sizes of 8MB or larger don’t even get opened.
- Do not send a resume in Word format. Please, please PLEASE do not do this – it’s not difficult to PDF things these days so sending in a raw format document just makes you seem lacking in technical skills. You should also follow up with people who take the time to meet with you if you get that far. Send an email to your interviewer a day or two after the interview so that you can keep yourself on their radar. It might also be a good idea to expand or comment on something from the interview, just to show that you were paying attention and left with something.
What the Rank jump to 52:54
We are continuing our streak of ranking non-food-related items but based on how we answer today’s topic, things might get a little hairy …
Today we are ranking [drum roll please] ….
The Worst Three Types of Beards
|Andrew’s Worst Beards||Mutton Chops||Chin Strap||Soul Patch|
|Bob’s Worst Beards||Mutton Chops||The Old Dutch||Soul Patch|
I don’t think beards have ever been more popular as a choice of grooming than they are right now. The only difference now between the late 1800s is the variety of beards that are typically worn. Knowing that we would be ranking beards, it seemed pretty reasonable to search the internet for some sort of graphic that would help aid us in not only our beard options but know what each of these different styles of beards is called.
There are so many beards on this chart that I sincerely hope I never see when I am out and about. The Mighty El Insecto?? Oof … that one is pretty icky.
Ep 118: Architectural Interns
It is a right of passage that every architecture student seeks out an architectural intern position during the time they are in school. It is a critical part of their development and will eventually contribute in a meaningful way towards helping them decide what they might want to do once they graduate. It is likely that there will be both positive and negative experiences, but both will provide information that will guide you on your journey toward doing what you want to do. Even when I look at my own journey, there is no question that the decisions I made early on were influenced by my own intern experiences. Do yourself a favor and get a job as soon as possible, look for a variety of experiences, and try and start figuring out what you do and don’t like about this profession – your future self will be grateful if you can narrow down your options.
There are a number of articles on this site that are specific to being an architectural intern. If you would like to continue reading or you are looking for something more specific, you should look here : Architectural Interns