An architectural internship is one of the most important parts of the B.Arch program where budding architects discover the industry’s inner workings and eventually become competent professionals. Once the process of applications, interviews, rejections, and being hired is over, many interns may initially feel out of their depth due to the new, demanding work structure. It’s definitely a level above the standards set in college and takes some getting used to. While it is essential to make mistakes and learn from them during your internship, there are certain habits or actions you should try to avoid at all costs.

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Architectural Internship ©Asia Internship Program

1. Taking It Too Casually

Being hired as an intern doesn’t mean you should take the work involved any less seriously. An architectural internship is a thorough introduction to the profession and will likely teach you far more than the time spent in college. It may also serve as a means for firms to assess your skills and dependability as a potential hire. Be professional in your interactions and try to ensure that you meet your deadlines. Diligent efforts will eventually improve your comfort and productivity in a professional setting, and consummately prepare you for life after college.

2. Inefficient Communication

Don’t hesitate to ask questions or present ideas as your colleagues will expect you to have doubts and require feedback. The caveat here is to avoid asking the same questions repeatedly and to refrain from requesting discussions while your colleagues are busy handling their workloads. Collect your doubts and pick appropriate times for discussion. Moreover, a simple search online may clear many difficulties – particularly software or regulation-related, that would have required others to step away from their work to teach you. Develop your written and verbal communication skills and also work on being cordial and concise when dealing with clients, consultants, and contractors.

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Communication ©Buro Koray Dunam Architects

3. Not Being Consistent In Your Efforts

It’s easy to feel disheartened when you realize that you won’t always get the sort of work you’re interested in. As an intern, you will probably be making toilet details or electrical layouts for a while before getting your hands on something that may actually engage you. Ideally, try to approach every task with equal enthusiasm, as they are all opportunities to learn and grow as an architect. Good performances on more menial tasks will prove your dedication to colleagues, and eventually, the responsibilities assigned to you will increase over time. 

4. Being Disorganized

While chaotic work schedules and cluttered workspaces may be common in college, they will do little apart from hindering your workflow, and such habits should be discarded when you enter the professional environment within an architectural internship. Additionally, not adhering to a firm’s digital and physical filing practices will have you combing through a sea of old files when clients ask for details from previous discussions or cause confusion when selecting drawings to modify. Having multiple files titled ‘Final_ProjectName.dwg ’ might make you look unprofessional, although everyone has been guilty of this at times. 

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Organized ©The Architects Guide

5. Failing To Add Value

Completing a task or not having work delegated to you doesn’t equate to a license to squander the remainder of your office hours idling. Always look for ways to add value to your workplace even if it involves taking on more menial tasks such as filing or taking printouts. Conduct research for upcoming projects, explore your firm’s library/archives and try to learn new software or skills for future assignments. Your skill sets, enthusiasm, and work ethic are huge factors for employers when they assess your potential as a hire hence, excelling at them won’t hurt your prospects. 

6. Not Networking

Soft skills such as networking are some of the most crucial aspects of professional development that aren’t touched upon in college. Knowing people within and outside the industry will prove vital over time as you build your profile. Good networkers know the right people before they become the right people to know. It can be as simple as making conversation or being polite in meetings, conferences, and events, even if you are a little reserved. Approach it with generous intentions and in time, the connections and relationships you build during your architectural internship will open doors and unlock opportunities you wouldn’t have found otherwise. 

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Networking ©Michael Smith Architect

7. Not Documenting And Reviewing Your Contributions

Interns are usually compelled to document the contributions they make while interning for their college reviews however, you should also do it for your professional portfolio. Additionally, document and evaluate unsuccessful design options to analyze why they didn’t work, as you never know which ideas might work in different contexts. Take copious amounts of notes and site images to document everything you learn throughout the internship for later review.

8. Not Being Observant

Failing to observe and learn from the opportunities offered by meeting new people, being exposed to new situations, and witnessing buildings take form firsthand is one of the gravest sins one can commit during an architectural internship. Try not to switch off at work or during meetings and also observe how your colleagues deal with their responsibilities, handle interactions, delegate tasks, and resolve issues. Pay attention to the firm’s hierarchy, dress code, and unspoken conventions. Interact with contractors and workers on site to understand construction processes holistically and apply the knowledge gained there in your work. 

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Being observant ©AIA

9. Failing To Prioritize

You will regularly hear the phrase ‘work smarter, not harder, and applying this concept is essential when practicing architecture, where there is no end to the level of detail involved. Figure out which aspects of your assigned tasks will have a real impact on the project or require attention before you start working, and consult your supervisor for suggestions regarding the same. There is no use in designing bespoke door handles or lighting fixtures when your floor plans don’t align. Tackle multiple pending tasks in order of decreasing urgency after deliberating with your colleagues. 

10. Not Managing Your Time

It’s nigh on impossible to stress this enough. Punctuality is crucial in making good impressions while constantly arriving late may lead others to question your commitment to the architectural internship. Make sure that you arrive on time in the mornings, for meetings or site visits. Avoid being the last one in, even if your office has flexible hours. Stalling on difficult or unpleasant tasks will almost certainly come back to haunt you in the end. Hence, managing your time well will help you abstain from unnecessarily extending workdays to clear backlogs. Budget your time during each workday and stick to your schedule. 

Author

Jerry recently became an architect, but is still exploring what the title means to him. He arrived at architectural journalism as it seemed to be the most logical medium to combine his education and interests. Additionally, his healthy obsessions with music, sketching, binge watching and reading keep him fairly occupied for the majority of his waking hours

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