One of the most interesting and significant events in an architectural student’s life is the Internship or Professional Practice. The process of learning the art from a practicing architect is a much-anticipated subject for a student. An internship is that period where students learn to test their skills and put to practice the theories they have learned in schools. Such is the importance of an internship that can mold a student’s thought process, philosophy, and decide his future endeavors in the field.
Getting a good architectural firm for an internship is definitely every student’s dream and most often than not, many students put in all the hard work to create their best design portfolio to impress the architect they want to work under. Students go to lengths to showcase their best works, all polished and shined up into the portfolio. All students do their best work in the portfolio, at times they do get confused as to the choice of firm/architect they want to train under. Though schools teach the different theories and philosophies of architecture, what they lack to impart is the nitty-gritty of real-world practice. The different types of architects and their practices are almost unknown to the majority of the students.
With the advent of technology and an ever-increasing number of architects coming into practice every day, the type and scale of architects and the large spectrum of practices under an architect’s work umbrella may confuse a student. Students are themselves unaware as to what kind of work they would like to do in their internship due to the fact of not having enough knowledge or perspective as to what they are asking for. Students try to choose a firm/architect of their liking without much guidance or help from anyone. This often leads to students choosing an internship firm of not their liking and doing an unsuccessful and unsatisfactory internship.
The majority of the students who have already done their internship felt that they could have got a better firm or their internship could have been much better if only they were well informed. What kind of work do they want to do? What is it that they want to learn from their training? What kind of firm they want to work under – A big, medium or a small-sized firm? This dilemma needs to be answered beforehand when choosing a firm/architect one wants to work under.
A simple solution to this student’s dilemma would be to look into themselves and assess their own qualities. A S.W.O.T analysis of their own skills and knowledge and what one wants to learn from this endeavor. Some points students need to consider before deciding their internship:
Knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses helps to put into perspective the kind of internship they would like to have. What they like and don’t like and what they are comfortable doing in their job further helps in this decision. Once a student is aware of this, it becomes easier for them to choose the architect/firm. When involved in professional training, the student should feel confident backed by their own abilities and skills.
2. To go small, medium, or large?
With architectural practices available in all shapes and sizes, it becomes difficult to choose what kind of firm to intern under. All kinds of firms have their own positives and negatives. Students need to address this problem and try to choose it according to their liking. Large firms may have the benefit of having to work on large scale projects and one may get to work on it. They may get to know the working style and functioning of large-sized firms.
On the flip side, one may not get enough attention from the master/ senior architects and not be able to practice a number of different jobs in the training. Medium-sized firms have the advantage of getting all kinds of works, and also the attention and guidance from senior or principal architects. This type of firm is the favorite for intern trainees because of its advantages.
In a small-sized firm, a trainee may get full attention and guidance from the architects as well as to work on a variety of jobs and in detail. One of the disadvantages of small firms is the uncertainty of the workflow and a student must take into consideration before applying for an internship.
3. Place of work
A student may opt to work in a firm in their own hometown or a different place/city based on preferred choice. Some students may even apply for international internships to get better exposure and training. This choice is based on a student’s liking and preferences although it is a better option to intern in the city/place away from one’s hometown. This helps in making a student independent and puts them outside of their comfort zones. Students also need to consider the different aspects involved (economic, urban/rural, scale, and size of the place which directly relates to the kind of work the firm may get) beforehand.
4. Future Endeavors
Many students tend to go on and select a thesis topic of their liking from the kind of work they have performed in their professional training. So much so that it may even influence them to consider a similar topic for them to pursue their masters. This is a major factor as to why a firm/architect needs to be carefully decided for the internship. Also many a time, due to a successful internship, many trainees get a job offer from the firms they work under. This makes it even more sensitive to choose a proper firm of their liking.
5. Global Perspective
Apart from self-assessing and considering all personal choices, one must also look at the global perspective and the new opportunities that have opened up in the field of architecture. Knowing the trends and demands of the market, and choosing a firm already catering to such new avenues will definitely help a student build a strong profile and anchor his growth in practice.
The Architectural internship is an important decision in a student’s life and needs meticulous planning to convert it into a success. It is all the more important considering the large impacts it makes one’s career and practice. All aspiring architectural students looking for an internship in the future should carefully plan an internship as per their needs.