An architecture intern position can serve as a key career stepping stone. It can equip you with the tools and on-the-job training you’ll need to get a job in both small and large architecture firms. These days, it’s not as easy as it once was to land an internship. Some tips to help you get in:
Bring yourself up to speed
Learn about the various internship programs offered by professional groups around the country. The American Institute of Architects and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards offer a variety of intern programs.
Do some soul searching
Would you be happier working for a small boutique or a nationally known firm with offices across the US? Some big firms have openings overseas, so you’ll need to think about moving to Europe or Asia. You’d probably need to learn a foreign language to be job competitive. The internship offered may be only peripherally aligned with your current strengths or specific sub-area of architecture. You’ll have to decide if you’ll be happy working in this area.
Get a jump on it
Get on the list and sign up early for any and all internship programs being offered through your school. Don’t wait till a week before graduation before applying. Learn as much as you can, as early as you can from your school career advisor. Scour the web for firms that offer internships and dig deep into the company and its various programs.
Register for the IDP ASAP
Don’t wait to sign up for the Intern Development Program (IDP). Make sure you complete the various training areas and categories required for IDP. The good news is that Interns now have the electronic Experience Verification Reporting (e-EVR) system. It lets you go online at any time and check the training areas you’ve completed and reveals any experience gaps you need to fill.
Connect with people who are already interning
Find and talk to people who are currently interning or have completed internships with the companies you’re interested in. Ask questions. What did they like and not like about their internships? What kind and level of job did they get out of the internship?
Find a Mentor
Many Internship Development Programs provide their interns with a mentor. Ask the company you’re applying to about this. Setting an inexperienced intern adrift in a busy architecture firm and letting them sink or swim on their own can be both demoralizing and ultimately bad for your career.
Hone your portfolio to perfection
Your portfolio should showcase your diversity—both conceptually and in design execution. And make sure your presentation is top notch. It should show your exemplary talent in design, proportion and clarity. Check for typos. They can raise eyebrows about your attention to detail.
With so many college grads chasing so few jobs, an architecture internship is key to finding a job in the field and making sure your career moves in the right direction.