While starting out in our architecture careers, we all have certain questions like how can I gain some professional experience or is this field of work right for me or how should I put my technical knowledge to use. To address all these questions the one thing you can do is to get an internship. Internship not only provides you with that window of opportunity to experience the professional world but also helps you in assessing your choices. But the next question that arises in our heads is how I can land a great internship or the process to apply for an internship.
Here are several tips to keep in mind before you jump in to your next architecture internship.
1. APPLICATION PERIOD
Most applicants make the mistake of waiting too long or waiting till the last moment to look for and apply for internships which can turn fatal and you may end up without any internship at all.
Once you have figured out the type of field you want to explore or the type of company you want to intern with, you should instantly start looking out for internship opportunities. Some companies, especially large multi-national architecture organizations open internship applications as early as one year before and also have super early deadlines on the applications. They generally have dedicated internship or graduate programmes that run annually, and application open a year before.
For internships at other architecture firms you should always start applying at least six months before the actual internship period. Hence, for internships that begin in fall the ideal time you should start applying from is June or July whereas for internships during spring the ideal time you should start looking and applying from is October or November. Though there might be some architecture firms or companies that may not post the internship openings till the last moment, none the less you can follow up with them on call or email and even drop your profile for consideration.
2. APPLICATION PROCESS
With an extremely aware and connected generation, the competition to gain professional experience, work as interns, land in globally reputed graduate or internship programmes is at an all-time high. Getting in to good architecture firms for internships is more competitive than ever before. Hence, time is of the essence here. Losing out on time during the application process is like losing out on the opportunity itself.
Once you have figured out the application period for your choice of architecture internship or to the company of your choice, you should thoroughly go through their company profile as well as the job profile or job description. Most companies keep posting internship vacancies on their careers section. However, if not you can inquire through call or email when they might open the internship positions or if you can send in your profile on email to them. You can also browse through job portals or LinkedIn to find open or vacant positions.
Once, you are thorough with the needs and requirements, you should follow the application rules and regulations to the T. This is essential for your first impression, because if you don’t abide by the application rules you can give an impression of not following their directions and this can push your application to the No pile. For example, they may ask you to submit your portfolio or resume in a certain file size or certain file type or named in a specific way. All these tiny details make a huge difference.
Another important point to keep in mind is the number of applications you make. As we mentioned, the competition is high, number of applicants are more and the positions available are not enough. Some of the organizations we know in the architecture profession have received over 5000 applications for a single internship position. Hence, apply to as many firms as possible to keep your options open. We have seen students who have applied to over 50 internships and have gotten response back from only a handful of them. Apply to at least 10-15 positions every week till the time you get one positive back and also explore different cities or countries and not stay limited to one region. Thus, you should keep in mind that the market is tough, and you can’t rely on a handful of applications.
3. USP- RESUME & PORTFOLIO
Companies or architecture firms go through thousands of profiles and portfolios every year. They are well aware of the generic type and are always on the lookout for something different and unique. While developing your resume or portfolio always remember the 8-Second rule of Attention. If your portfolio or resume doesn’t grab the attention of the viewer in the first 8 seconds of going through it or browsing through it, they as well may not be interested in the remaining of it.
Should always strive to grab attention and develop something striking with your portfolios or resumes. It should act as your Unique Selling Point (USP) rather than just an attachment with your application.
For portfolios less is definitely more. Don’t put in everything you have done till date and don’t bulk it up. Be straightforward and versatile. Put in selective work that is different, out of the box, have a lot of details and information and is some of your best work. Also, try presenting your portfolio in a unique style or format. The architecture portfolio should tell your unique story, story of your journey in this profession. Use high resolution images for what is being presented in the portfolio.
Apart from creating a unique portfolio and profile, also customize your application as per the application or job requirements. You should carefully read through the description and the requirements and can customize your presentation accordingly to suit the company or job profile. This will not only make you stand out but also let the company know the skills and knowledge you will bring to that position.
4. FOLLOW UP
Once you are done with the application process for a single organization, start following up them in one or two weeks. Do this with all the organizations and all your applications. Once you have shared your profile with them and sent in all the required material follow up in a week to ask if they would require any additional information. This not only shows your interest and seriousness in the company and the position but also allows you be on the top of your game. It also connects you to someone in the organization on a personal level and you never know if you might just stay stuck in their head for the position.
However, if they have clearly mentioned in the communication to not contact them until they announce the results or until they get back to you with further steps, then do not contact them. This will not leave a good impression and show that you are not following their directions.
Another way you can connect with the organization is through LinkedIn. This way you are aware of the company and the people there and it also gives you a chance to network and know more about the company and the offered position.
Once you are through and are shortlisted for the position then the final stage is the interview. It can be either in person or through Skype. Interview is when the organization gets a chance to meet you in person. Though must of the time interview serves the purpose of just verifying whatever you have mentioned in your profile and verify you as an individual, but sometimes it can also be to test you in a stressful situation. So, one of the very critical point is to come across as interested. It should be very clear with your personality, with your communication and with your attitude that you are willing to do anything for this position and will succeed once you have been offered the internship.
Another important point is to know the organization, the people and the position inside out. This will show you are through with their company and are highly interested in the role. Also, be punctual and be smart while going for an interview. Because as they say first impression is the last impression.
Another major point to keep in mind is not talk or mention negative points about your faculty, or your past internships or your colleagues as well. This does not leave a good mark on the assessor. So, just keep in mind these tiny details as they might make or break your chances of getting in to the right architecture internship.
Related : Non Architecture Jobs For Architects