Architecture professional experience or internships have gradually become more than just being part of the academic curriculum or a tick mark on a to do list as an architecture student. They have now become a career defining process that will add to your skill set, allow you to add professional projects to your personal portfolio and also help you figure out your future specialization or career goals.
Students now a days have become more and more aware and informed and conduct the necessary research to look for right architectural firms or organizations for an internship or professional experience before landing in to one. This post is here to aid your research in to understanding and deciding on how to get an internship experience for an architect or architecture student at the right place. It will give out the 5 tips that no one must have told you about and will definitely help you on knowing what architectural firm is right for you.
Geography stands as an important criterion while deciding to practice architecture internship or gain some professional experience. Geography or the physical features like terrain, topography or climate often shapes and influences the design of a building. Vice versa, the building should be developed in accordance to the physical and social features to blend in and perform well in that region. Hence, a number of architects or architecture firms specialize in the geography of the region that they are based out of. Their designs and buildings are often in sync with the surroundings and moreover complement the terrain or topography of the region.
Thus, deciding the geographic area while picking out an architecture firm is of key importance as different regions have different building characteristics and specific building requirements. For example, a coastal region will require buildings to be built on stilts, whereas, buildings in hilly regions will require slope stabilization or stepped foundation. Hence, deciding the geography out of hilly, coastal, plain, plateau, desert or cold climate regions, hot climate regions or wet climate regions while looking for an architecture internship is equally important.
Additionally, as a plus point looking for architecture firms in specific geographies allows you to explore those regions both for professional and leisure purposes.
With demography here we mean urban, Peri-urban or rural areas. Demography is a great aspect while deciding on your internship experience. Some firms specialize in metropolitan areas and some chose to focus on rural areas or rural buildings. Other factors that you will get to play with while practicing with such firms is population density, city composition, growth, movement and social influences. Each area, be it urban, Peri-urban or rural has its own characteristics and deciding on one specific demographic area based on your interest and inclination will allow you to specialize in the same.
Another important point that you should keep in mind while selecting a firm for your architecture internship or professional experience is their project portfolio. It means the range of their projects or the type of projects they work on. Now, either the firm’s portfolio could be of a singular type with focus only on a single type of projects or it could be varied with a variety of project types.
The types of projects that an architectural firm might take up is ether residential, commercial, hospitals, hotels, office complexes, industrial, public/government buildings, mass housing, mass-transport buildings, etc. Hence, if there is a project type that you already are sure about and want to pursue further or if there is something unique that you have not explored yet, the internship is the right time to do so. And, this can be judged via a firm’s project portfolio and the projects undertaken by them.
Scale defines the size of the projects that the architecture firm takes up. This can be an important point for you to consider while deciding on the right firm for your professional experience as it will also define the range of projects in your own portfolio. Hence, if you want to maintain the uniformity of your portfolio, then decide on the scale based on what you would like to pursue further down the line, that is large scale or small scale projects. Large scale architecture projects can include residential or housing societies, convention center, IT parks, etc. Whereas small scale architecture projects can be individual residents, office buildings, shops, etc. Another point to note here is a project type can be either small scale or large scale based on the capacity it is addressing. For example, a hospital with 300 beds is small scale where as a hospital with 1200 beds is large scale. Hence, even if you are going for a specific project portfolio type you can still decide based on the scale the firm is catering to.
Reviews about the firm, its reputation, work culture and environment are something that everyone tends to skip or misses out in their search for a great firm for their professional experience. However, it is something quite important to the process as it will make or break your experience during your time there. Every architecture firm, big or small has reviewers either on Google, Glassdoor or other architecture forums. Apart, from these, reviews from past employees or past interns either from your own college or other colleges are also helpful in the process and should definitely be checked out. Hence, this is something that everyone should definitely keep in mind, that is to go through the firm’s reviews or testimonials while selecting them. After all, nobody wants to land in to a tricky environment, specially when they have just started out in to the professional world.
Some of the other frequently asked questions while looking for architecture firms or internships are’
Whether architecture internships are paid?
Though most of the organizations pay stipend to the trainees or interns, there still might be some organizations that may choose not to pay. Nonetheless, this can be negotiated during the interview stage, keeping your expectations in check. However, if they still decide on not paying and the experience and exposure is worth it and the organization is a great fit for you, you should definitely pursue it.
How long does an architecture internship last?
There can be multiple factors that affect how long the architecture internship will last or the time available for you to pursue an internship or professional experience. It can be a 1-Year or 6-month semester internship, two to three-month summer internship or also a one-year or longer internship once you have graduated. But this should be made clear in the beginning while communicating with an architecture firm for an internship experience.