The Oxford Dictionary defines an internship as “a period of time during which a student or new graduate gets practical experience in a job”. But there’s so much more to it.
An internship is a trailer of the bigger picture that lies ahead of you professionally. It is where you put all your years of mind-numbing theoretical studies to practice. You learn everything from the tips and tricks of the trade to the importance of time management and communication skills. Any firm that you may intern with enriches your subject knowledge. However, in large firms, the scale of the firm extends to the projects, clientele and workforce that further enhances your internship experience.
The brand value
To begin with, the gargantuan gap between university education and formally entering the practice is bound to make young interns anxious. Bagging an internship with a large firm is reassuring in terms of the recognition a renowned organization awards to the talents of a newbie. It instils a sense of confidence in the interns that they will be trained by distinguished professionals motivating them to put their best foot forward. In the long run, a large firm’s name on your resume adds value to it, instantly catching the eye of your future employers.
With geographical borders beginning to blur in terms of the global outreach firms enjoy today, the demographics are continuously changing. This results in a diverse clientele and an equally diverse workforce. As an intern, it exposes you to people belonging to a plethora of backgrounds culturally, socially and economically. You learn to embrace such diversity at a young age and imbibe each of their unique qualities. The large workforce pushes you to create your own identity among the sea of employees. Opportunities are plenty, but you have to be willing and vigilant enough to grab them.
Finding your true calling
The diverse clientele brings forth an array of projects to be worked upon from housing to commercial and educational to hospitality. Within each project, there’s a ton of consultants involved, be it a climate consultant or a landscaping consultant. Working on such a variety of projects helps you find your calling. It exposes you to a deluge of career options related to architecture you could specialize in, which you wouldn’t have been aware of or given serious thought to otherwise.
The requirement and importance of teamwork have been written about extensively. In a field like architecture, working in a team becomes even more essential as it involves collaboration at multiple stages, the very first being a healthy client-worker relationship. Multiple people are involved in the successful implementation of a project. Apart from the client, you need to work with various consultants, engineers and even on-site workers for a fruitful outcome. Many a time, discussions with co-workers turn out to be beneficial in terms of the inputs they may share regarding your designs. The experience of the seniors also exerts an impact on your way of working and design thinking in a practical situation which differs greatly from your way of dealing with design problems in college.
Effective Communication Skills
Another factor that has been stressed enough is effective communication skills. In architectural practice, communication skills probably hold the highest place because of the nature of the profession. You have to understand that you design for a client so first you have to figure out their needs and expectations and design accordingly. There might be a difference in opinions or ideas as well, and unlike a juror in your viva, you have to bring back the design to the client with the revisions they asked for. If there are constraints because of which some of their ideas cannot be incorporated, then you have to put your view forward as well. It is important to understand here that you can’t burden them with the jargon. Instead, you have to break down the entire project into layman’s terms to effectively communicate your ideas with the client. After all, your design is only as good as your communication skills.
Working in a large firm, you’ll often be faced with short and frequent deadlines that might take a toll on you physically, socially and emotionally. Faced with such challenges in your initial working days, you’ll adapt with time and learn how to manage your time. It is only with appropriate time management that you’ll be able to maintain a work-life balance. Remember, “it is patience under immense pressure that turns a dull piece of coal into a shining diamond.”
Having spoken about the experiences gained while working in a large firm, what is it that really sets the firm apart? There are countless architects the client could have approached but what different do you offer that the client hires you? A comprehensive marketing strategy is responsible for putting up firms on the map. This is accompanied by developing an image and a USP for the firm. This is yet another skill set to be acquired by an architect because, at the end of the day, you have to sell your idea to the client. This is something that gets ingrained in your mind while working in a large firm.
To pursue architecture professionally, the work experience from internships is invaluable which cannot be obtained in a college setting. So, keep your eyes and ears open for there’s a lot to learn in a limited time frame. Also, make sure to develop strong networking because your contacts today might turn out to be your future co-workers.